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Potty About Lavender

Potty about Lavender

I’m a big JK Rowling fan, so even though I try to feign a cool, composed look, I’m very excited to be meeting the actress who plays Lavender Brown, Ron Weasley’s girlfriend in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

We meet for tea in Claridges and Jessie arrives, straight from her rehearsals for Arcadia, a Tom Stoppard play. She has beautiful, flawless skin – which is not surprising, as she sups a non-alcoholic fruit cocktail.

At just 22, Jessie is at the start of her career and seems genuinely bewildered as well as thrilled to have bagged a film role. “To be in a Harry Potter film is still the most bizarre thing,” she says.

However, it wasn’t an overnight success story as the film auditions began back in 2007, when around 200 people were seen for the part. The second auditions were open, with over 7,000 girls vying for the role. It was only on looking back that Jessie realised what she had achieved. “Once I got cast, I realised they must have auditioned close to 8,000 people. It was a mind-blowing lottery kind of win.”

The Ealing-based actress believes it was all down to a strong chemistry with Rupert Grint. “I did really fancy him! In a girly, innocent kind of way – not a weird way at all. I didn’t want to scare him and I’d never tell him. I think that really helped the energy. That’s what David Yates [the director] said to me. We kept making each other laugh, we just clicked.”

Ambition also played a big part in securing the role. “I wanted it so much,” she says. It wasn’t easy getting to the auditions as Jessie was filming Summerhill (based on life at the progressive and rather bohemian school in Suffolk), which was hundreds of miles away. She and her mother brainstormed ways to get there on time, including hiring a motorbike to bomb down the motorway. “In the end, my mum was there on the dot to take me down, and arrived by the skin of my teeth. The amount of energy that went into that day probably helped. I don’t think anyone wanted it more than I did.” Then there’s the instinct and understanding of the role as Jessie really got under the skin of 16-year-old Lavender Brown, recognising similarities between them. “I remember at that age I was utterly obsessed with boys.”

When she was at Latymer school, her little gang would follow unsuspecting lads around. “We found timetables of boys we fancied. We knew at any precise moment where this boy would be. We used to place ourselves wherever he would be. If he only knew how desperate I was!”

Personally, I think Ron Weasley made the wrong choice in opting for Hermione as Lavender is such a delight, with her untrammelled sexuality. Jessie agrees to a certain extent. “She is a goer when you read the book. But she has so much heart and she really just loved him.”

Alas, as with many first loves, it ends in disaster as Ron finally plucks up the courage to end his relationship with Lavender. “She’s too desperate. She’s not the right girl for him. She’s too obsessed, too girly. Hermione is the right one for Ron.” Jessie can’t harbour too many grudges against the alpha female Hermione, as the Gryffindor girl saves Lavender from a Death Eater in the next Potter film.

In fact, Jessie’s role as Thomasina Coverly in Arcadia seems to have marked similarities with Hermione’s character. “I play a child genius who is way ahead of her time mathematically. It’s a great play about love, the chaos theory and maths.” The play began its run at the Duke of York’s Theatre in June and continues until September.

Home for Jessie is her much beloved Ealing. “I’ve always lived in Ealing apart from a brief horrific stint in Pinner. We moved back as soon as possible once we realised how great Ealing was.”

She loves pottering around the area, especially Oscar’s coffee shop and organic food shop As Nature Intended. The young actress is just loving blending in and being part of her neighbourhood, involved with local establishments such as the Jill Wildman Dance Gallery. “She does the most amazing classes, it’s a great community thing. She’s done so much for Ealing.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is out on 15 July 2009

Article found here on Westside MagazineI Published July, 2009

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