INTERVIEW: Slytherin’s Scarlett Byrne Reflects On Her Role As Pansy Parkinson

To many Harry Potter fans, the name Pansy Parkinson is held in contempt with the likes of Lucius Malfoy. Throughout her time at Hogwarts, Pansy continuously hurled insults at Harry and seemed to revel in making other students as miserable as possible. As a matter of fact, there is very little evidence in the books that humanize her character or even create the smallest bit of empathy. So what does it take to portray this malicious individual on the big screen? What sort of person is cast for this type of role? The answers may surprise you.

Scarlett Byrne acquired the role of Pansy for the final three movies of the Harry Potter series and her personality couldn’t be farther from that of her character. This past weekend I was able to catch up with Scarlett Byrne at LeakyCon 2018. We sat down to discuss her time on set and gain a better insight into the mind of the infamous Pansy Parkinson.

 

Obviously your character comes across as an extremely evil person. Even JK Rowling despised her and stated that she loathed her. What is your personal take on Pansy Parkinson? Is she really that terrible or is there another side to her?

Over the years I have heard people say, “I really do think that she is misunderstood and believe that she is capable of having real friendships since she was one of Draco’s closest friends.” Perhaps there is a part of her that is able to love and feel goodness, but she is not a very nice person. She is a bully. I imagined her as every girl that had been unpleasant towards me throughout school. Usually the reasons why someone decides to treat another person poorly is because of their own insecurities or unhappiness, so I feel sorry for her more than anything else.

What do you think happened to Pansy after the conclusion of the books?

I don’t know. To be honest I've never really thought about it.

You were also sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore. Here is your opportunity to clear up the negative outlook that most people associate with the Slytherin house.

Slytherins are determined and extremely ambitious. It's easy to forget about all the great wizards that came from Slytherin when the house has an overall negative reputation for producing evil wizards. But they're not all bad. When I was first sorted on Pottermore, there was a huge part of me willing and hoping to be in Slytherin. I'd be interested to retake it and see if I was still sorted into the same house.

Pansy was the only student in Hogwarts who was in favor of turning Harry over to Voldemort at the Battle for Hogwarts. There is a theory going around that she did this in an attempt to save the school from attack rather than out of hatred for Harry. Do you think there is any truth to this?

I do think there is truth to that. That was my own interpretation when we started filming that particular scene. It obviously wasn't a nice thing for Pansy to do to Harry but I do feel like it came from her fear of not wanting to die. I'd like to think she wanted to save the school and not just save herself.

You first auditioned for Luna Lovegood but went on to audition for Pansy when you did not get the part, a huge contrast in personalities. How does someone go about auditioning for Pansy? Did you throw chairs and cuss out the casting agents or what?

They were very different. I’ll be honest; I can’t remember the sides that I got for Luna. I can’t remember in depth what the scene was specifically, but again the characters are so different. I remember going in there with Fiona Weir’s casting team. You get an audition for Harry Potter and you think, “This is never going to happen but this is really cool and really fun,” I had just started out and hadn’t had an agent for that long. I remember going into that room and it wasn’t until a whole year later that they called me back in. It is funny because Evy and I are such good friends, and I couldn’t see anyone else to play Luna aside from her. She is totally perfect at it. I feel so totally grateful that I got to go back into the room and got Pansy.

So how did you go about auditioning for Pansy? Did you go in throwing chairs and cussing out the talent team or what?

[Laughs] No I didn’t! When you get an audition for Harry Potter you think, “This is never going to happen but this is really cool and a great opportunity.” I remember going in for Luna and meeting casting and it wasn’t until the following year that they called me back in for Pansy. It's funny because Evy and I are such good friends, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Luna because she is the perfect Luna. I was told throughout the audition process for Pansy that the movies were going to become darker and that there would be more focus on Draco. The audition scene was from the book where Draco and Pansy are talking together on the Hogwarts express on their way to school.

Pansy was annoyed and disapproved of a wide array of things. What are some of your biggest pet peeves?

One of my biggest pet peeves is lateness. It was actually my New Years resolution this year to be more aware of other people's time.

What was your favorite off set moment while filming the movies?

There are so many. It's so hard to pick one moment. I feel so grateful for the experience and for all the wonderful friendships I made and still have to this day. I loved being on all the different sets and will never forget the first time stepping in the Great Hall. We had a lot of fun in the green room where we would hang out between shooting.

You have been to several of these conventions. Why do you keep coming back?

Simply because Leakycon is the best convention. From the fans, to the volunteers, to the team who are responsible for putting the weekend together, everyone is just so wonderful. They are passionate Harry Potter fans through and the through. The Leaky team is dedicated to piecing together a convention full of creative panels and events that make it a unique and memorable experience for any Potter fan. When all these people get together and celebrate this one thing we all care about it turns out to be a very special experience for everyone.

 

While it may have been confirmed that Pansy is truly as horrible as everyone thinks, Scarlett was a pleasant contrast (even if she does have a wavering loyalty to Slytherin). Who would have thought that we live in a world where Luna and Pansy are best friends? Hopefully we will get to hear a little more from Scarlett next year if she returns to Dallas for LeakyCon’s tenth anniversary. Keep an eye on LeakyCon’s website as they update it with guests and information throughout the year!