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Jessica Rawden

The Intense Ordeal Harry Potter’s Tom Felton Went Through In Order To Have Draco Malfoy’s Blonde Hair

Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter.

You know Tom Felton. The fan-favorite Slytherin has remained a constant in the Harry Potter fandom in the years following the release of the last movie. He even wrote a book Beyond The Wand that came out recently and shared intimate details about the making of the popular films. One detail I’d never realized had to do with the actor’s hair, which was apparently a gigantic ordeal to get right as the Harry Potter cast was coming together. 

When I say gigantic ordeal, I’m not overselling. In fact, Felton wrote about the experience of becoming Draco in his memoir and compared the process of bleaching and tinting his hair to “fire ants” “nibbling” at his scalp. You have to remember at the time Felton was a pre-teen –-old enough to have a bit of personality and not be pleased about the ordeal, but young enough to not really have a say in what was happening to him. 

Ahead of even landing the part of Draco Malfoy, producers decided to test him with blonde hair and see if Tom Felton would, in fact, be their Slytherin villain. Shortly after he called Emma Watson “an idiot” at the first audition for the role, the arduous hair-bleaching began. 

You had to act the part, but more importantly you had to look the part. They decided that they needed to see what I looked like with white hair. It meant the first of many bleaching that would become a staple in my life for the next ten years. It took longer than expected to establish my first Malfoy hairdo. You can’t just go from one color to another, especially when going lighter. It’s a matter of applying layers of peroxide and then topping up with tint. The peroxide burned my scalp the first time around. It felt like fire ants were nibbling at your scalp. Agony.

Bleaching one’s hair is no small matter. In fact, to make a comparison to another fantasy franchise, Daenerys Targaryen herself Emilia Clarke actually tried bleaching her hair that white blonde color for Game of Thrones final season. Prior to that, she’d worn wigs to play the character. She ultimately ended up frying her naturally brown hair so badly she had to literally chop it all off. So, I’m just saying, going that blonde is not for the faint of heart. 

Meanwhile, Tom Felton had no such luxury. In Beyond the Wand he revealed that it took “six or seven” rounds of the excruciating coloring to get Draco Malfoy to be looking pretty fly for a white guy on the big screen. 

Then, they said they’d have to do it all again and I begged them not to. My plea fell on deaf ears: I was straight back in the hairdresser’s chair. It initially took six or seven rounds over a matter of days to achieve the color. It was important to the filmmakers that the coloring was just right. They needed to see how the Malfoy blonde looked next to the Weasley ginger or the Granger brown.

Not only was the experience not pleasant, but Felton also revealed he got teased at school for his light blonde locks. He was 12 at the time he auditioned for the role –around middle school aged – and also has said he was "bullied" for looking the way he did while Potter filmed, though he later got used to it. Meanwhile, his on-screen dad, played by his pal in real life Jason Isaacs, got to wear a wig to play Lucious Malfoy. (Though actually Isaacs had to “had to tip [his] head back” in order to keep the wig on straight, so problems all around.) 

These days, Felton is back to his natural brown color, after revealing it would be one of his “greatest reliefs” to be done with the blonde hair processing before the final movie’s release. Yet, he also confessed that he couldn’t help having “grown quite oddly attached” to the look. He has said he’d be willing to reprise his Slytherin role, so I’m willing to bet there’s a part of him that misses his Draco look at least a little – just maybe not the “fire ant” part accompanying it. 

You can order your own copy of Beyond the Wand now. And keep your eyes peeled, as there will likely be some more blonde hair shenanigans going one when the new Max Harry Potter TV series casts its actors. 

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