Evanna Lynch was meant to be in front of the camera, watching her in My Name is Emily one can’t help but be disarmed by her charm, sense of humor, and the effortlessness with which she makes us root for her. In the film she plays the title character, a teenage girl living in foster care, who recruits her new classmate (George Webster) to accompany her on a journey to find her father (Michael Smiley), who she believes is in danger. Emily is Lynch’s first leading role, and she commands the screen with the same power she did as a little girl when she made her debut in the Harry Potter series as the quirky Luna Lovegood. I spoke to the talented actress about taking on her first leading role,
When did you realize you needed to play Emily?
Emily was fearless, I felt we had so many things in common, I liked the way she saw the world, she’s very practical and isn’t afraid of anything. I really loved her when I read the screenplay and knew I wanted to play her.
One of my favorite things about the film is that it’s not a romance, it’s more about Emily’s journey than her relationship with men. That’s refreshing in a film about young people.
Yes that’s true, I like that Emily says what’s on her mind, she’s brave, she thinks about who she and is interested in finding out what happened to her father. I don’t think she really has an interest in boys at that moment we meet her in the film.
You were one of the most seasoned players in the film, since it was director Simon Fitzmaurice’s feature length debut, and your co-star George Webster’s as well. Did you give them any advice?
I would never condescend to others on set like that. I like my place in the set, David Yates taught me during the Potter movies that it was important to do your job well and learn about the work others are doing, so I concentrate on working on my character. Making this film in fact it was George who would calm me down when I was nervous or thought I wasn’t going to be good. He helped me stay focused. Michael Smiley is also a veteran actor though.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you made some of your characters vegan, so I wonder if you gave Emily any secrets as well.
I’m a vegan because I believe in compassion and equality for all, so I believe many of the characters I’ve played reflect those values too. We shot the film a long time ago, so I don’t remember very specific secrets I gave her...however when we shot the film I was writing in my journal a lot, and I wrote about feelings I believed Emily would have.
Most of your characters are compassionate and kind, but your character in GBF was quite the opposite of that. Why was it important for you to play a character so removed from your own values? Nowadays, why do you think it’s important that we see people in movies who have nothing in common with us?
That’s such a complicated question. I thought the Women’s March was just great really, but I saw some hateful signs insulting Donald Trump and I don’t think it’s right to do that. Insulting him doesn’t help the cause, especially because he’s someone who is obsessed with his image, so things like that don’t help. I don’t believe that people are born hateful, they learn that as they grow up, so it’s important we see how other people think. Donald Trump grew up in a family who was only interested in making money, and the business world, so he didn’t learn about compassion and kindness. And that’s what it comes down to in the end, but like you said, it’s important that art shows us the other side. We need to have compassion for people who don’t think like us too.
You played Houdini’s wife onstage in the UK, would doing a musical be something that appeals to you?
I would love that, but I don’t think it’s going to happen soon because I don’t have a very good singing voice. I’m a good dancer though, and I would love to do something like Cats, I think I’m ready for that because I’ve spent so much time studying cats, how they move and behave. But I wouldn’t want to inflict my singing voice on anyone (laughs).
You went from being a fan of the Harry Potter books to inspiring J.K. Rowling to make the character in the books more like you played her in the films. Having gone from fan to muse, I wonder if there are other aspects of filmmaking that interest you, something like directing for example...
Directing no! (Laughs) I respect what directors do but I know I wouldn’t be able to do it. I really like to write though, I do it all the time. I’m just a little afraid of showing what I write to people, however I’m going to start a blog soon, maybe that will make me less precious about it. There are so many things about writing I still don’t know about, I’m sure you would know about those things more, but I’m really excited about doing it.
My Name is Emily opens in theaters on 02/17.