J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter book series made a life-changing impact on actress Evanna Lynch in more ways than one.
More than a decade ago, Lynch, now 27, was cast in the Harry Potter films as Luna Lovegood — a character that helped change her life for the better.
“My most memorable year would be 2006, which is when I booked the role in Harry Potter, because I was the biggest fan,” Lynch said of the most memorable year of her life on Monday’s Dancing with the Stars. “It was just my great love at that time. So then suddenly I was in the world, living the dream.”
“I just adored the Harry Potter franchise and Luna Lovegood was my favorite character, so it was just like a lot of things to process at once,” explained Lynch, who booked a January 2006 open casting call for Luna.
But beyond playing her favorite character, Lynch shared that Luna “helped me through a really difficult time.” The actress revealed that in her adolescence, she battled an eating disorder.
“When I was like 11, 12, I was battling an eating disorder. Anyone who’s had an eating disorder knows it completely takes over your life,” she said.
During that difficult time, the Harry Potter book series served as a positive outlet for the actress. “And the only thing that could actually take my attention apart from that was the Harry Potter series,” shared Lynch, who began writing to Rowling, the author and creator.
“I started writing to J.K. Rowling and she wrote back and we became pen friends after that,” said Lynch. “I was in and out of hospital and I would be getting these letters.”
Reflecting on the dark period of her life, Lynch said that Rowling’s “books and her kindness really made me want to live again.”
“I love the feeling of creating and acting more than I love the feeling of being skinny or of being perfect,” said Lynch.
For her DWTS performance, Lynch and pro partner Keo Motsepe danced a Viennese Waltz to the Harry Potter theme song, and earned a 27/30 for the magical number.
“Being in Harry Potter changed my life because it proved to me that I could do something, that I had something to offer the world,” said Lynch, who clarified that Rowling had no part in her casting.
“We were pen pals. We were writing to each other for years, but then when the open audition happened, it happened within two weeks from the audition to getting the part and I didn’t have a chance to tell her,” she shared. “That letter that you saw was her reaction to when she found out.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
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