updated 06/20/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 06/21/2014 AT 1:45 PM ET
He’s long since changed out of his Slytherin robes, but Tom Felton still loves dabbling in the Dark Arts.
The British actor, 26, best known for his role as Harry Potter’s nemesis Draco Malfoy in the films, is currently starring as a ruthless Silicon Valley prodigy in TNT’s new crime drama, Murder in the First.
“The nice thing about this character is, it’s the same as Draco: People instantly see others as good or bad, and realistically people aren’t like that at all,” Felton told PEOPLE at the VIP and media preview of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios in Orlando on Wednesday.
“To be able to humanize these characters who come across as bad is a joy for me. I like to find sympathy for people who are often begrudged by society.”
Still, his signature role has led to some strange fan encounters.
“It’s always a bit of fun for me, the dark side of things. I’m not actually thinking of being a reckless criminal or evil mastermind. And some people are,” he says. “Some people revel in the darker side of it, which is a little odd. I’ve had a couple of proposals from people who want to adopt me. A few requests to change my name legally to Malfoy. Gifts of homemade potions and spells. I have to admire the level of dedication.”
Although Felton was enjoying the experience of revisiting his wizarding roots at the new Diagon Alley, he was also mourning the recent loss of his beloved 7-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, Timber.
“This is Timber’s bandana on my wrist,” he said, pointing to a red fabric bracelet. “She wasn’t well a few months ago in Los Angeles and she got diagnosed with cancer. We had to take her back to London and she passed away a few weeks ago. She was a very sweet soul and she’ll be missed.”