As most Harry Potter fans know, the series could very well have been titled “Neville Longbottom” instead. Sweet, accident-prone Neville could easily have taken Harry’s place as the Chosen One. Neville actor Matthew Lewis, though, says the story would have played out rather similarly: No one can save the world alone.
Near the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Albus Dumbledore reveals the entirety of the Chosen One prophecy that Sybill Trelawney had spoken years before. Upon hearing it, Harry realizes the prophecy is about him — but Dumbledore doesn’t let him take all the glory right away.
“The odd thing is, Harry,” [Dumbledore] said softly, “that it may not have meant you at all. Sibyll’s prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course, was you. The other was Neville Longbottom.”
Pottermore, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s interactive website, posted an interview with Lewis to Twitter on Monday in which Lewis detailed what Neville’s Chosen One journey would have looked like.
“Could Neville have been the Chosen One?” Lewis says. “Could he have achieved what Harry did? I think yeah, absolutely. But the thing is: nobody in this series did anything on their own. Even Voldemort didn’t get to his level of power on his own. Harry saved the day because he had friends and people who loved him. I think, had it been Neville in that position, he would have had a similar experience. Both the characters are incredibly and fiercely loyal and that breeds loyalty in other people. So I think Neville would have had plenty of people getting his back. Harry would have been there in Neville’s role getting his back.”
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Neville pulls the Sword of Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat, proving himself a true Gryffindor, brave and loyal, at heart as he stood up to Voldemort upon Harry’s “death.” The move didn’t really come as a surprise to most Potter fans, especially long-suffering Neville fans who knew the character had more potential than a punchline.
Neville proved his potential in Deathly Hallows, and he could have achieved even more than that.