There are a few people who just seem to have handled puberty better than the rest of us: Zac Efron. Nick Jonas. Josh Peck. But the king of them all might be Matthew Lewis, who transitioned from an adorable Harry Potter star to a full-fledged sex symbol, with the photoshoots to prove it. Lewis' transformation is so impressive that his name — or at least, his character's, Neville Longbottom — has practically become synonymous with post-puberty blossoming. Yet while fans might find this hilarious, Lewis tells Bustle that he's not entirely OK with being a heartthrob.
"It’s definitely not something that I’m comfortable with," Lewis says. "I never wanted to put myself in the limelight as any kind of attractive actor or heartthrob or whatever. It was never something I saw myself as, and I still don’t."
That's not to say he's not pleased with the compliments; all the attention is "incredibly flattering and humbling," he says. But he personally doesn't view himself as a sex symbol, and so the idea of "Neville Longbottom-ing" being a thing isn't something he's necessarily thrilled about; in fact, he says, it makes him "nervous." Explains Lewis, "I don’t particularly think I’m very good-looking, to be quite honest. I’m very self conscious and very critical of myself."
Millions of fans might disagree (I mean, do you see the photo above?!), but Lewis is sincere; the actor says with a laugh that he truly doesn't understand "what it is that people are so looking at." Still, he knows he "can't complain" about getting so much complimentary attention, and he's not above occasionally posting some of the very photos that help his heartthrob status. Yet Lewis makes it clear that while there are worse things than being called a sex symbol, he would prefer to be known as an actor first, spokesman-for-the-marvels-of-puberty second.
And, fortunately for him, he's not alone in being a bit taken aback by his public image. When those now-famous Attitude photos first broke, none other than Harry Potter author JK Rowling chimed in with her shock over seeing the guy formerly known as Neville Longbottom in such a.... revealing light.
Sorry to disappoint them both, but with Lewis becoming a bigger and bigger star, thanks to roles in projects like Me Before You and Happy Valley, it's unlikely that the compliments will stop anytime soon. Lewis-as-a-heartthrob is here to stay, but hopefully, the increased exposure in movies and shows will cause more fans to recognize Lewis as an actor, too, not just a sex symbol.