It’s so satisfying when a popular book lives up to the hype because then it isn’t hype anymore, it’s a consensus. Such is the case with Beyond the Wand by Tom Felton, an absolute delight to read! You may know Tom better as the evil Draco Malfoy of the Harry Potter film franchise, representing bullies everywhere with that classic combination of arrogance and cowardice.
Happily, the man behind the bleached hair (yes, man, he’s 35 now,) is much more down-to-earth than his sinister alter ego. But it came at a price, as is the age-old story of many child stars. The youngest of four boys in a loving family, Tom started acting early in life. But it wasn’t until the Harry Potter films when he became recognizable, a fame that steadily increased with the popularity of the books and movies. A heady thing for a young man trying to figure out who he is off the movie set, and one he still has to navigate with caution.
There are some drastic ups and downs, but the majority of the book is ideally paced for the modern attention span. Many celebrity memoirs are filled with superfluous, uninteresting details. This one is not. Tom Felton gives the people what they want, which is a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like to grow up among a core cast of actors, many of whom are British screen royalty. The chapters are anecdotal, insightful, interesting, and fun. There are Potter plot spoilers, however, so you might want to be familiar with the series before reading.
My favorite parts are when he writes about antics on set and what it was like to work with so many heavyweights like Dame Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Isaacs, Sir Richard Harris, and Sir Michael Gambon. His gratitude towards these respected actors is genuine and palpable, as is his love for his acting peers, the other young people who bore the enormous responsibility of breathing life into characters beloved throughout the world.
I cannot say enough good things about Beyond the Wand. If you love the Potter film series, this memoir is better than any special features you’ll see on a DVD. It’s a fast read that shows the growth of a young man striving for normality in a very abnormal world. I highly recommend it.