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‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Star Anthony Boyle on Being a Malfoy

April 2, 2018 by Gabe Cohn
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Anthony Boyle (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

This is a story about a boy who grows up quite different from his peers and then, one day, almost out of nowhere, is given a task he has to complete while the whole world watches.

No, this boy is not Harry Potter. He’s a part of our world, the non-wizarding one — for most of the day, at least.

When Anthony Boyle was cast as Scorpius Malfoy, son of the infamous blonde-haired bully and Harry’s nemesis Draco Malfoy, in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” it was as if someone had decided to skip a few chapters in Boyle’s career. “It was my first play, and I’d left drama school like seven months early,” he said. “I was thrown into this massive beast. I kept thinking every day I was going to get fired.”

The play itself, a sort of epilogue to the book series, was written by Jack Thorne, who conceptualized the story with J.K. Rowling and the director John Tiffany. The plot picks up where the final scene of the book series left off, with the heroic teens of the original story now parents. The school rivals’ offspring — Albus, son of Harry, and Scorpius, son of Draco Malfoy — become best friends. Living in the shadows of their fathers’ reputations, they find common ground. At 23, Boyle is preparing to make his Broadway debut in the U.S. premiere of the play, which opens at the Lyric Theatre on April 22.

Like Scorpius, Boyle was entering a world where people have expectations of what his character would be, where many viewers can practically taste the smirk when they hear the name “Malfoy.” In rehearsals, Boyle did his best to ignore the pressure of the hype. “I think it might just cut short some of the creativity and influence some of your choices in a scene,” he said.

Not that many years earlier, Boyle had been home in Belfast googling “auditions.” He grew up in Northern Ireland, but he never felt like he fit in. Most boys liked soccer; he liked poetry.

Boyle’s first big break came when an acting teacher at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, a conservatory in Wales, saw him in a local production and asked Boyle to apply to the school. His second came when, after seeing him in a production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s “In Arabia We’d All Be Kings,” several agents met with him and one — the one who took him out for burgers — signed on to represent him. Soon after, he landed the role of Scorpius.

“I remember reading the first couple of scenes,” Boyle said. “Scorpius loses his mother quite early on in the play. There was just so much pain in him when I read it, and there was a lot of humor, but often people cover up great pain with humor. There’s something about the role that I just completely fell in love with. I just think that I knew who he was almost immediately.”

When Boyle walked onstage at the Laurence Olivier Awards last year to accept the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, he’d been bracing himself for disappointment. He’d flown his parents out for the last awards show, and had felt embarrassed when his name wasn’t called. For the Olivier Awards, he would ease up, have a laugh, and, the night before, practice what he calls the “grateful loser” clap. He didn’t need it. Now, he keeps the award on his mantelpiece.

Boyle avoids letting the hype influence his performance. “I focus not on the idea of being a wizard, but on the idea of being this 14-year-old who’s very lost and very mixed up. As opposed to, you know, the weight of the cultural impact that Harry Potter has had, or the gravity of this,” he said. “It’s all a bit much, isn’t it?”

In preparing for the Broadway run, he realized how much more sure of himself he felt, and how his growth outside of the show has changed him. “When I was rehearsing, I kept trying to do the ‘right’ thing,” he said of preparing for the original West End run. “Now, during the rehearsal process and tech, I’ve been able to just be a lot freer and a lot more confident with the things that I’m doing.”

Styled by Antonio Marion
Grooming by Dana Arcidy
Shot on location at Ward III

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