Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films), is cautioning Potterheads to be wary of participating in obsessive fan culture.
Prior to Lynch’s appearance in the films, she was a die-hard Harry Potter fan herself, posting on fansites and penning hand-written letters to cast members. She confessed that she reflects on those days with uneasiness.
I was a really obsessive Harry Potter fan. I started reading them when I was about eight, and that was just my whole identity for a while. It’s quite embarrassing.
It was through Lynch’s fan letters that she would become a part of the cast. Struggling with anorexia from ages eleven through thirteen, Lynch would often write to J.K. Rowling and describe her difficulties. The pair developed a long-distance friendship as Rowling frequently responded, becoming her confidant.
During the release date of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix novel, Lynch was hospitalized and feared that she would miss it. Rowling arranged to meet her in-person for the first time that day on a one-hour hospital release, bringing along a copy of the book that she had personally signed. It was then that Lynch revealed her wish to portray Lovegood in the corresponding film — she had felt a personal connection to the character due to the way that she embraced her unique qualities. Rowling agreed on the condition that Lynch would also agree to recover from her illness first.
It turns out that meeting her idols face-to-face was exactly what Lynch needed.
The whole fan culture I think is a bit unhealthy, being obsessed with a person. Because when I met Daniel and Emma [Watson] and Rupert [Grint], I knew everything about them. I knew their pet’s names, I knew their birthdays, I knew their parents’ names. And I had to pretend I didn’t. My whole identity was poured into theirs and to kind of adoring them that I was just suddenly confronted with like, ‘Who the hell am I?’ When they asked me what I’m interested in, I can’t, what do I say? And then I realized being an obsessive fan is kind of — it’s disempowering.
When Lynch began to receive her own obsessive fan letters, she decided not to respond, believing that it would be detrimental to both her fans and herself.
It was so weird to go from being a fan who used to stalk Daniel Radcliffe to being someone that people would send fan mail to.
Lynch’s experience as an actress caused her to view the cast in a more human light, understanding that her prior actions were harmful. Today, she advises young fans to avoid obsessive behavior, re-asserting that “fan culture is kind of dangerous and you can lose yourself in it.”