Harry Potter actress reveals how J.K.Rowling helped her overcome an eating disorder
Fans of the Harry Potter series know the films back to front. But the truth is, we'll never know what truly went on behind the scenes.
Take Evanna Lynch, for example. From the outside, the actress had it all: beauty, fame and a part in one of the biggest movie series ever. However, a little-known fact is that the young actress had been battling an eating disorder around the time she was cast as Hogwarts student Luna Lovegood.
The now 27-year-old star recently opened up about her experience on Dancing With the Stars, revealing that the author of the fantasy novels J.K. Rowling was the person who helped her to overcome anorexia - before she was even cast in the films.
At age 11, Evanna was hospitalised with an eating disorder and spent the next two years in clinics battling anorexia nervosa.
She described the condition as a way to make herself "feel worthy", stating: "I soon found that it was a way of getting attention that I could control. People would say, 'Aren’t you amazing that you exercise so much?' I was hungry all day, cold all day. But the punishment made me feel worthy."
As a young girl, she had fallen in love with the Harry Potter books and the character of Luna. In 2016, she told The Irish Times that the kooky Ravenclaw was a world away from her obsessive calorie-counting existence, stating she would open the books and be "free".
"All I thought about was numbers," she said. "I’d open those books and I was free. I loved Luna because she was different. She wasn’t making a statement or doing it to be defiant. And she didn’t feel out of place because she wasn’t judging herself or others. I’d read her and I’d feel safe and relaxed. I didn’t think: Oh, she’s just like me. I thought: I want to be just like that."
Soon after becoming a fan of the novels, she began a correspondence with Rowling; the relationship developed out of sheer luck, with Evanna stating that she believes management picked out the letters the author might find interesting.
They remained pen pals, with the writer sending Evanna letters as she went in and out of hospital.
On Dancing With the Stars, Lynch - who danced the Viennese Waltz to the Harry Potter theme song, 'Hedwig's Theme' by John Williams - revealed just how much Rowling was involved in her recovery.
"Her books and her kindness really made me want to live again," she said. "I loved the feeling of creating and acting, more than I loved the feeling of being skinny or of being perfect."
She continued: "Anyone who's had an eating disorder knows it completely takes over your life, and the only thing that could actually take my attention apart from that was the Harry Potter series."
In January 2006, Lynch auditioned at a casting call in London for the role of Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pitted against 15,000 other girls, she was put through to a screen test with lead actor Daniel Radcliffe and was cast at the age of 14.
Despite their prior correspondence, Rowling had no idea she had been chosen for the role, with the author seeing Evanna's name on the list of people who had been cast and going to check it was the same young girl she had been writing to.
In 2016, Evanna claimed that the pair were still pen pals, all these years later.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please don't hesitate to get help as soon as possible. Call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline on (800) 931-2237 or message the Crisis Text Line by sending "NEDA" to 741741.