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British star Jessie Cave went through a challenging transformation after joining the Harry Potter films, her first major acting role.
In an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Independent, published on Wednesday, June 30, the 34-year-old actress and writer recalled struggling emotionally and feeling that she was treated differently after she put on several pounds after making her debut at age 20 as Lavender Brown in the 2009 movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
"I gained a lot of weight after doing Harry Potter, just because I wasn't starving myself," the actress shared. "And I was growing up and that's just what happens."
Jessie reprised her role in the subsequent seventh and eighth films in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2. Filming on the series conclusion began in 2009, less than a year after wrapping production on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Jessie said that when she returned to reprise her role of Lavender, she "was treated like a different species." She did not elaborate on who behaved this way towards her.
"It was horrible," she said. "It was probably more me and my insecurity, knowing that I wasn't fitting into the same size jeans, but it wasn't a time where actresses were any bigger than a size 8 [size 6 in the United States]. And in the previous film I had been, and now I was a size 12 [size 10 in the United States]. So that was horrible. It was a really uncomfortable experience."
Jessie described to the newspaper what it was like living in the Harry Potter spotlight. "But you get a bit bigger, or you're not as relevant, and it goes off, and you have to make your way in the dark," she said. "I definitely felt invisible when I gained a little bit of weight. And since then, it's made me have weird issues with weight and work. And it's so f--ked up, but it's just how it is. Women have to deal with that all the time."
In 2015, in another interview with The Independent, Jessie recalled how she felt at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which was released in July 2009 after being delayed for six months due to a recession. "And in that time, I gained a load of weight," the actress said. "I ended up going to the premiere looking like a Grayson Perry vase. After that, nothing happened. It was a really amazing wake-up call."
In 2011, Jessie released on YouTube the short parody film What's In Your Shop?, describing it as "what goes down in Hollywood." She plays herself and meets with a fictional Hollywood acting coach, who criticizes her for her glasses, hair and "puppy fat." The woman also dismisses Jessie's Harry Potter acting credits, saying, "Lavender? OK, that means nothing to me. You might as well say to me you played a cactus." The acting coach then tells her to fill in her eyebrows, get laser eye surgery, dye her hair, buy Spanx and lose 60 pounds."
Of her real-life experience trying to expand her acting career in Hollywood, Jessie told The Independent in 2015, "I was treated like I shouldn't be there, that I should go straight back...It was the most traumatic experience of my life."
After the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was released in 2011, Jessie continued to act mainly on British television, appearing in roles in the miniseries Glue, the Black Mirror episode "Hang the DJ" and the series Trollied. She also had a small part in the 2012 film Great Expectations.
Nowadays, she is a mother of three, including an 8-month-old baby boy. She continues to act and is also a published author. Her debut adult novel Sunset was released on June 24.
"If I'd stayed thin – unnaturally thin, unhappily thin – I would have probably got more acting roles, and then I wouldn't have started writing," Jessie told The Independent in her most recent interview. "And then I don't know who I would be now because writing is who I am. I'm almost grateful that I gained all that weight."