Rupert Grint Press Archives

Child Stars Have Something To Prove

Written by Susan Dunne

It’s hard making the transition from child star to adult filmmaking in a way that can be taken seriously. Jodie Foster is the gold standard of how to do it right as an actress. As a director, Ron Howard is many kid stars’ role model.

The list of those who did not succeed is staggeringly long.

Two child stars are attempting to make the crossover with help from the Tribeca Film Festival in films whose themes are so adult that no one will ever doubt that they’re not kids anymore.

“Harry Potter” star Rupert Grint branches out in his first non-Ron Weasley role in Jeremy Brock’s “Driving Lessons.” In this “Ordinary People”-like story about an 18-year-old with a harsh, distant mother (Laura Linney) and a kind but ineffectual father (Nicholas Farrell), Grint’s Ben gets a summer job as an errand boy for Julie Walters’ Evie Walton, an aged, foul-mouthed, diva-esque actress. Walters, who in “Harry Potter” plays Grint’s mother, here plays the Judd Hirsch therapist role, encouraging him to rise above his parents’ problems, spread his wings and fly.

And boy, does he ever. Ben learns to drink and swear and discovers sex with a sweet young Scotswoman. (There were a few gasps, and a bit of embarrassed laughter, in the audience when the baby-faced redhead says goodbye to his new friend with, “Thank you for having me.”)

The subject matter is so grown-up that the film’s publicist, Michael Kupferberg, was a bit concerned when he observed the audience at Sunday night’s gala premiere, attended by Grint. “About three out of four were young girls, from about 13 on up,” he said.

“I saw all of them, and I thought, this’ll be interesting,” Kupferberg said. “I don’t know what they were expecting, but this is definitely not a kids’ film.”

Linney and Walters stand out, Walters especially, having great fun with her over-the-top role. But Grint does well for himself opposite the two excellent actresses.

After the premiere, Grint flew directly back to England, where the next “Harry Potter” film is in production.

But he can relax about his post-pubescent career. He has made his presence known quite nicely, in a well-made film set in the real world, far away from Hogwarts.

The little girls who adore him will just have to grow up and get used to it.

Original article found at Hartford Courant I May 5, 2006

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