Today’s book review is about BEYOND THE WAND by Tom Felton. This is a memoir full of acting nostalgia as well as a glimpse into Tom’s life before and after filming the Harry Potter movies. I read this via audiobook, which I definitely recommend if it’s an option!
Author: Tom Felton
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publish Date: October 18, 2022
Audio Length: 6 hours, 36 minutes
Narrator: Tom Felton
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From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton’s life on and off the big screen.
Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. For the next ten years, he was at the center of a huge pop culture phenomenon and yet, in between filming, he would go back to being a normal teenager trying to fit into a normal school.
Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world. He tells stories from his early days in the business like his first acting gig where he was mistaken for fellow blonde child actor Macaulay Culkin and his Harry Potter audition where, in a very Draco-like move, he fudged how well he knew the books the series was based on (not at all). He reflects on his experiences working with cinematic greats such as Alan Rickman, Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, and Ralph Fiennes (including that awkward Voldemort hug). And, perhaps most poignantly, he discusses the lasting relationships he made over that decade of filming, including with Emma Watson, who started out as a pesky nine-year-old whom he mocked for not knowing what a boom mic was but who soon grew into one of his dearest friends. Then, of course, there are the highs and lows of fame and navigating life after such a momentous and life-changing experience.
Tom Felton’s Beyond the Wand is an entertaining, funny, and poignant must-read for any Harry Potter fan. Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.
BEYOND THE WAND is a memoir about how Tom began acting, became a star, and lived life post Harry Potter. He opens with a description of his family and how he grew up. This sets the scene for his happenstance fall into acting. Although Tom wasn’t brand new to the gig in his role as Draco Malfoy, he didn’t come from a family of acting. So it was interesting to listen to his approach to the whole world of as well as how he became curious about acting.
As one might expect, a large portion of BEYOND THE WAND is about Tom’s experience on the set of Harry Potter. It absolutely spurs a lot of nostalgia for readers (primarily us millennials) who grew up with the series. He shares entertaining stories about his cast mates, including Alan Rickman (RIP), Helena Bonham Carter, and Rupert Grint. A particular favorite of mine was the giggle jar. Anyone who held up the filming because of giggle fits had to put money in the jar. Tom also provides plenty of accolades for the director Chris Columbus, who apparently was great at directing children on set. But what I found most heartwarming was that he found a kindred spirit in Emma Watson. This has been alluded to over the years, most recently in the HBO Harry Potter reunion.
But Tom was far from the perfect child actor and he shares some of the mischief that somehow got managed. The last few chapters of the book take the reader through life after the filming of Harry Potter ended. When something that momentous in one’s life ends, it can take time to adjust to that shift. Unfortunately, Tom found himself filling up his time drinking and an intervention sent him to rehabilitation. So BEYOND THE WAND touches some on mental health and learning to look beyond the perceived stigma of receiving help.
I went into this book with few expectations and ultimately quite enjoyed listening to BEYOND THE WAND. The author of the Harry Potter series is a hot topic these days (and not in a good way). But Tom’s memoir is a good read for those looking for a dose of nostalgia and a peek into life beyond the set walls of Hogwarts.
Content warnings: alcoholism
Reading format: Audiobook
Nonfiction Reader Challenge
I am including this BEYOND THE WAND book review as part of the Nonfiction Reader Challenge to fulfill The Arts category.