Beyond the Wand – Tom Felton

Published last month (October 2022), this is a really fun autobiography, even though I have to admit that I have never managed to get on with the Harry Potter books or the films. However I have heard Tom being interviewed a few times and his totally laid back and unpretentious style, so unlike the character of Draco Malfoy he plays in the films, drew me to this book pretty well as soon as it came out. I wasn’t to be disappointed. The foreword is by Emma Watson.

Tom is likewise eloquent about his friendship with Emma and several times states his admiration for her along with Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint especially over the very strange childhoods that these three child actors had. As the filming schedule of the Harry Potter was relentless all three existed in a bubble of private tutoring alongside their filming commitments. These were the only three to have this regime however, Tom along with all the other child actors went to a normal school but with random absences to be on set and he freely admits that he took advantage of this to bunk off school as it would be assumed he was working on Harry Potter. At thirteen when he started filming the series he was also significantly older than the three stars, Daniel and Rupert were eleven and Emma just nine years old and that age gap is important when you are so young, this all meant that whilst he wasn’t particularly close to the other three at least at the start of the movie series his friendship with them all has continued long after the films stopped.

Obviously most people reading this book will be looking for insights into the making of the Harry Potter films and yes that is covered with chapters talking about the various actors he worked with and what he learned from their vast experience. The cream of British acting talent were involved in the films over the years and even though at the start Tom had hardly heard of a lot of them he certainly learnt to respect their talent and almost used the films as an ultimate acting class. But, if like me, you haven’t seen the films then there is still a lot to be got out of this autobiography and Tom’s confusion when people treated him as the character he played, abusing him for what Draco had done is genuine and quite funny.

Tom also isn’t shy about writing about his failings, either a one off shoplifting offence done under peer pressure from the other lads at his school or during the time his elder brother Chris was his chaperone on set them disappearing all night to go carp fishing. Chris is a well known angler and Tom also loved nothing better than getting his equipment out and fishing through the night. Indeed when it came to filming the green screen quidditch sequences each actor had a photograph on a pole which marked where their eye line was supposed to be in each shot, somebody had Cameron Diaz, Tom had a particularly attractive carp. He also covers his time avoiding and then eventually spending time in rehab after his drinking and cannabis smoking got too much after the Harry Potter films had finished and he had moved to Hollywood. All in all this is a very honest book and well worth a read.