Harry Potter’s first crush, Katie Leung, looks nervous as she greets Total Film, but she warms up nicely to our questions on acting, school and that kiss…
Are you used to this now, because last time you were completely new to meeting the press?
No, I don’t think I am used to it because it’s not like I’m constantly doing it, it’s twice a year, so there’s a big gap.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked?
What would I change if was queen.
What was it?
I said I would make everyone ride bikes in London, the drivers here are mental!
How different was it second time around?
I enjoyed it just as much, it was different because I came back to familiar faces and surroundings, and so it’s kind of like a second home for me now. So I felt much more relaxed in front of the camera, and learned to ignore it.
Which must have been hard because you didn’t have acting experience before hand did you?
Yeah sometimes, say you’re talking to somebody and the camera slides in front of you, it’s hard not to follow it with your eye. But you do get used to it.
How did you find working with the two directors, Mike Newell and David Yates, because they are very different aren’t they?
Yeah, I think that they are very different to work with. I kind of had that special bond with Mike because he took part in picking me for the role and he was great. But then David was very gentle and soft spoken and he would take me to a corner and give me his opinions on my character and ask my opinions. We’d have a little discussion about it and he’d tell me about how my character was going through a very tough time and how she was very emotional. The way he said it made me want to cry! He was very good at putting me in the mood for my character.
How do you find it watching yourself on screen?
I don’t particularly like watching myself. Sometimes the voiceovers would play things back, like the kissing scene they played back three times and I just couldn’t watch it any more! But I was pretty pleased with it. It’s hard; I don’t really see it as myself when I’m watching it.
How about seeing yourself on a cinema screen?
It’s really, really strange. When I watched it at the cinema, it was one of the biggest screens in London, with thousands of other people and there’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to sit and watch! Hopefully the reaction from the audience tells you whether you did a good job or not.
With a film this big though, you must see yourself all over the place – on trailers on TV, a poster on a bus…
Yeah, that happened when I was promoting the film in Japan last year. They had my face on the side of a bus! It was really strange to travel half way around the world and see yourself on public transport!
Where did you get to go to promote the film?
I got to go to China and Hong Kong and I went to the New York premiere. I’d never been to any of those places before, so it was definitely an experience.
Did you get to do any sight-seeing or was it all promoting?
We had a few days to go off and visit a few places and we had a tour guide showing us all the sights, so we were very well looked after.
Did you get to take your family?
I took my dad with me because he didn’t get to go to the first premiere; I took my mum to that, so I thought it would be nice to take him away because he works really hard. It was strange though, when we were there at the premiere in Japan and I was doing interviews, he was just standing at the side watching. He said he didn’t really see me as his daughter but as Cho Chang.
Did your dad think that this would change you life the way it has when he gave you that initial push into acting?
No not at all. I mean, I think I definitely didn’t realise it was going to be on this scale, you know doing all of these interviews, the premiere, the fans and getting to travel everywhere, it’s definitely not a bad thing! I’ve really enjoyed it.
Is it all hard work on set or do you have a bit of a laugh too?
We do have a laugh; it’s just such a great feeling being around kids, I guess there’s less pressure there. None of my scenes involve the adults, so I was safe there! There are so many people working on one scene that when one person screws up, everyone does. So you try your best not to.
How do you find living away from home?
Well I do miss my family and my friends, but what I found was that I spoke to my family more on the phone than I ever would have done if I was still at home.
The kiss. When you were building up to it, it must have been quite daunting, who was more nervous, you or Daniel?
Well I’m not sure how nervous he was, but God, I was so nervous! People were constantly mentioning the kiss and my friends were laughing at me. Things were always changing in the schedule too, so it could have been brought forward a week and you wouldn’t have known. The funny thing was, I was having sleepless nights over it and when the set day came, Daniel felt ill so we had to delay it for another week, so I had another week of worrying and sleepless nights! And when we actually did it, it wasn’t even a big deal! We had a bit of a laugh before hand, you know, ‘have you had your breath mints?’ so it was fine, it wasn’t 30 takes like everyone said it was!
Do your friends rib you about it?
No, I think they’re quite envious! They keep asking me how it went, but now when I think back to it, it went by in such a blur, that nothing bad sticks in your mind.
What kind of reactions do you think you will get from fans? You had some nasty ones when people found out they were going to kiss…
I don’t know. What I’m hoping for is that it is going to reflect everyone’s perception of how the kiss scene is in their minds. Hopefully when the audience see it they will think back to their first kiss, you know it’s meant to be a very awkward moment but a sweet and endearing moment as well. A lot of people are looking forward to it because they have watched Harry Potter grow up and it’s got to happen!
Have you helped Evanna on this film, as she is in the position you were this time last year?
Yeah, she did look incredibly nervous and I had been through that. We stayed in the same apartment when filming and I got to know her a little better. We went to the park and watched movies together. I think she handled it really well and she’s such a big fan of the films that when I introduced myself to her and said hi I’m Katie, she said I know! She is so brilliant.
What sort of reaction have you had from fans since the last film?
I don’t get recognised very often, which is good! But you do get the odd few that come up and just tell you they loved the film. Most of them aren’t sure, and they come up and say ‘are you the girl from Harry Potter’? Sometimes I’ll say ‘no but I get told that I look like her a lot’! But it’s always nice things they say, like that they really liked the film.
Do you think Harry Potter as a starting point has spoilt you if you go on to do other films?
I don’t mind, I can’t really be picky as an actress, I’m still at early stages and I’d like to do other things. I’m still not sure if I want this to be my career. I’ve applied to university, but I might do both!
Have you pre-ordered the final book?
Yes I have! From Waterstones. I’ll probably be there queuing at midnight to find out what happens!