Former Child Star Says Being "Normal-Sized" Cost Her Roles
"I eat healthily, I’m a normal-sized woman, and I’m still regarded, probably, as a fat actress."
Jessie Cave beat out 7,000 young actors when she was cast as Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter franchise, but the experience wasn't always as fun and carefree as looked. Between filming two of the movies, Cave's body changed, which made her more aware of her appearance and was the start of Cave realizing that being what she calls "normal-sized" meant she might not get cast in roles.
Now, Cave is still an actor, and also a writer, podcaster, artist, and comedic performer. She opened up about her experience with Harry Potter and her career afterwards in a new interview with The Guardian. Read on to see why she's now "terrified" of costume fittings and to get her insight on how she's viewed in the entertainment industry.
Cave says she wasn't a "fit" for the industry when she was in Harry Potter.
Cave was cast as Lavender Brown, a Hogwarts student and the love interest of Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), for the sixth movie, 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. She then returned for the final two movies of the series. She landed the role by chance after signing on with a talent agency because her brother had.
"I was not a right fit for the industry at that time," Cave told The Guardian in the August 2 interview. "Lavender Brown is conventionally pretty, no glasses, small. By the time I went back to do the last film, I had gained a bit of weight, and I wasn't that person any more."
She was "treated like a different species" after getting bigger.
In a previous interview with The Independent in June, Cave also shared the reactions she got on the Harry Potter set regarding her changing body. "I gained a lot of weight after doing Harry Potter, just because I wasn't starving myself," she said. "And I was growing up and that's just what happens."
She said when she returned for the last two films, "I was treated like a different species," but did not say who treated her this way. She continued, "It was horrible. 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 eight [U.S. size four]. And in the previous film I had been, and now I was a size 12 [U.S. size eight]. So that was horrible. It was a really uncomfortable experience."
Speaking more generally, 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***ed up, but it's just how it is. Women have to deal with that all the time."
She had a demoralizing experience with a costume director.
Cave shared that on one of her projects—she didn't specify which one—a costume director grabbed her stomach, "which was just horrible." She said she tried to laugh it off, but it affected her.
"Now I go into the costume fitting for any job and I'm terrified," the 34-year-old said. "I'm prepared to be told something unkind. You're treated like a different type of thing; you're not somebody with feelings who has thought about what pants they're going to wear that day because they're going to be seen."
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She's noticed that her weight affects whether or not she gets a role.
"I've definitely considered losing weight—and when I have lost weight, I tend to get a part," Cave said. "I mean, it's not rocket science. But I eat healthily, I'm a normal-sized woman, and I'm still regarded, probably, as a fat actress."
She also shared that when people working in a project's costume department are kind to her, it's especially touching. "Now when they're nice to me, and they are sensitive to how I may be feeling about my body, or that I may be breastfeeding or whatever, I almost cry," she explained.
Cave has kept busy in her post-Harry Potter years.
Despite the struggles she has faced as an actor, including losing out on roles, Cave has had a very busy life and career since the Harry Potter movies. She's appeared on the shows Black Mirror and Call the Midwife and is about to star in the comedy series Buffering. Of her acting, she said, "I've just kind of stayed on the quirky path, and that's fine … I realized the other day that the last four roles I've been cast in, I've worn these glasses. Someone's going to realize I'm [playing] the same character."
Cave is also an illustrator and sells her art online. "That's my day job, and as long as I've got that I feel quite safe," she said in the interview. She hosts a podcast with her sister, Bebe Cave, called We Can't Talk About That Right Now. She performed standup in her own comedy show. And, earlier this year, she released her debut novel, Sunset. As for her personal life, she has three children with her partner, comedian Alfie Brown.