With nearly a million followers on Twitter and on first-name terms with one of the most iconic authors in the world, Evanna Lynch from Co Louth has made a name for herself as one of Ireland’s great acting exports.
She’s in Galway for the premiere of her new film at the city’s Film Fleadh, but only flickers of fame have brushed her (photograph from Evanna Lynch Facebook/Faye Thomas).
With a blue hat tilted on her head, she’s confident, soft-spoken and tells everyone in the room to continue their conversations rather than listen to her do her interview. A make-up artist floats nearby – but it’s her friend from home who’s newly qualified.
Stardom struck early: at just 14, Lynch was cast in the role that would define her – airy and courageous Luna Lovegood in J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster Harry Potter series.
Almost identical to the character she played at the time – J.K. Rowling said Lynch was the only one whose voice she heard when she wrote about Luna – nearly a decade on, Lynch has certainly become much more her own person.
Though she is happy to free herself from the shackles of Potter, she sees it now as a good learning ground and a way she can capture the attention of directors of future projects.
“People still call me Luna,” she laughs. “I wouldn’t be where I am without it. I was very shy when I was young and I think it’s really hard to be shy as an actor, because you have to be quite aggressive and get out there. You have to want to meet people and for them to see you. It’s only opened doors for me. It’s up to me if I want to change it or challenge it.”
Fame has brought her a lot, opening the doors to Hollywood, and she uses her voice to promote what she believes in, urging her fans to back same-sex marriage and campaigning for animal protection.
But fame isn’t why she’s in it. She auditioned for Luna because she felt like she was her, in a way, rather than to build a career as an actor.
“I didn’t get nervous the way I sometimes do now, because I was 14 and I absolutely loved the films and books. I didn’t think of the pressure and what people expected of it; I was just enjoying it so much. Sometimes I look back and I’m glad I was so naïve! But I’m grateful that I had that.”
Now she’s embracing the opportunity to tackle new roles and says she has more freedom and creative input with indie films because they don’t have “all these fans attached” to them.
Since Potter, Lynch has appeared in the television series Sinbad, comedy GBF, crime thriller Dynamite: A Cautionary Tale, and toured in a production playing the wife and assistant of Houdini.
In her latest film, My Name Is Emily, she plays a 16-year-old girl who goes on a road trip with her friend to get her dad back.
“Her mum has died and her dad doesn’t deal with the grief very well. Her dad starts to lose his grip on reality and he’s put into a home. She decides she wants to bust him out of there. She learns that her parents weren’t perfect, and learns a new kind of love from Arden,” Lynch says.
Director Simon Fitzmaurice has motor neurone disease and scripted the film through iris-recognition technology. Lynch was “intimidated” by the pauses of his communication at first but quickly became accustomed to working with him.
“You can say exactly what you’re feeling,” she says. “No small talk.”
She fell in love with the script and character immediately, and thinks the film is “very much Irish”.
“The countryside is all there in its full glory. We shot in Wicklow a lot and I saw places I’d never seen before. I really need to spend more time in Ireland, it’s so beautiful. I think it’s the perfect place for this film [to premiere],” she smiles.
She has also just shot a BBC drama which will air in the summer about comedian Lenny Henry’s teenage years, in which she plays his Irish girlfriend.
“A complete gold-digger. She’s not a very nice character, but I found her really cool,” Lynch grins. “Very ambitious and sassy. I admire people like that.”
Lucia Joyce is her dream role. “She’s odd but bold. Simon and I talked about her. He said he based a lot of Emily’s character on her. She lives in the shadow of her father but she was such a bright and brave person. I think it’s sad that her story isn’t told. And I’d love to be in Artemis Fowl.”
She’s a Potter fan at heart, though, and says she’s very excited about the upcoming London play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
“I just love that [J.K. Rowling] is constantly feeding us more. I don’t think any of us are willing to move on from those stories that we grew up with. I don’t think she wants to move on either. I love that she’s always reinventing it or finding new ways into it.”
A film adaptation of a Potter book written for charity, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is also in the works, with Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne signed on for the lead role Newt Scamander.
Lynch is keen to be involved and says she has asked Warner Bros if she can play “some creature so you can’t see my face, but I’m there”.
“I’m fascinated by that world and to see what the wizards are like with American accents. I’d love to be [in it] but I think I have my place in the universe,” she declares.
A version of this article appeared on the UTV Ireland website here.