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Don’t Tell the Kids: Ron Weasley From the Harry Potter Films is Growing Up

By Maureen Paton

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My street-cred with teenage girls will go sky-high now that the copper-haired Rupert Grint has landed, as if by magic, in the back of my cab. Instantly recognisable all over the world as Harry Potter’s best friend Ron Weasley, the Hertfordshire-based Rupert is on a flying visit to London with his dad Nigel and wants to revisit one of the panoramic locations where his latest film was shot. So off we head to Primrose Hill where our driver, David from Barking, even lets Rupert sit in the front of his parked cab as a consolation prize for having just failed his first driving test (for not looking behind him while performing a three-point turn don’t tell Professor Dumbledore).

Rupert whose father sells Formula One memorabilia can’t wait to get behind the wheel, not only as a homage to the flying Ford Anglia in the Harry Potter films but also to what he calls ‘my first grownup film quite scary and more of a responsibility’.

For Rupert, who has just turned 18, is about to surprise and even shock his fans with the road movie Driving Lessons, a comedy written and directed by Jeremy Brock, the screenwriter of Mrs Brown. Not only is its language decidedly adult (surpassing Ron Weasley’s favourite expression, ‘Bloody brilliant’, so much so that Rupert bashfully admits, ‘My nan didn’t really approve of it when I took her to a screening’), but Rupes also gets his first bedroom scene.

So already he has managed to upstage Harry Potter himself, the actor Daniel Radcliffe (whose own first grownup role will involve appearing naked on a horse in a stage revival next April of the play Equus). But don’t panic and immediately lock up your Rupert-mad daughters: all we see in Driving Lessons is a lingering pre-coital kiss, followed by Rupert’s bare shoulders and chest above the sheets afterwards. Bless! Still, going to bed with the girl who recently played Princess Diana on TV (Michelle Duncan in Whatever Love Means) does add a certain kudos to a chap’s CV. ‘It’s pretty tastefully done,’ says a relieved-sounding Rupert, ‘although that snog was quite scary. But Michelle was really good; and it helped that she was a lot older [21].’

Driving Lessons is as much a rite of passage for Rupert as for his character Ben, a sensitive teenage poet who hits the road with a flamboyantly misbehaving Julie Walters. All the onscreen drinking and cussing made for a pretty lively reunion with Julie, who also, of course, plays Ron Weasley’s mum in the Potter movies. ‘Mrs Weasley would have a fit at all the swearing and I wasn’t expecting it, either,’ he admits. ‘I was a bit shocked. But Julie was a real giggler like me. I got told off really badly for “corpsing” by the director of the first Harry Potter film, but I’ve sort of got over it now.’

He has grown up in other ways too, for Rupert, who left school after taking his GCSEs two years ago, has started shaving every other day and has even taken up golf the ultimate showbiz sport. His debut in the first Harry Potter film was smartly followed up with the role of a geeky genius in the family comedy Thunderpants when he was 12 (‘they permed my hair for that, which was a bit embarrassing’), but he’s not allowed to touch his considerable earnings until he’s 21.

‘I’ve stayed in touch with all my mates, and the only thing that has changed is getting recognised.

Sometimes it’s hard to maintain a normal life when you’re filming for most of the year and when you get pursued up the street by screaming fans. It’s a bit weird, and hard to get used to.

But they are always very nice about the films, so it’s not really a problem,’ says Rupert, who doesn’t have a girlfriend at the moment. He is currently finishing filming on the fifth Harry Potter, The Order of the Phoenix, and will then start work on the penultimate instalment, The Half-Blood Prince.

Even though Rupert finds co-star Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) ‘quite intimidating, but cool’, he says, ‘the films have been so much fun to do’.

The franchise has taken him all over the world, as well as to the royal box at the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations.

‘She was sitting right behind us!’ he marvels with the wide-eyed look of awe that has become his trademark.

As Ron would say, bloody brilliant.

Driving Lessons is on general release.


Original article found here: INS News | September 12, 2006

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