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Driving Lessons Interview – Julie Walters and Rupert Grint bring out the L-plates

By Helen Ohara

It’s not often we put our money where our mouth is, cause it’s not very hygienic, but we’re prepared to do so now – Julie Walters is a shoo-in for a BAFTA nomination next year for her role in Driving Lessons, her new comedy-drama with Harry Potter alumnus Rupert Grint. She plays the eccentric elderly actress who brings Grint’s shy vicar’s son out of his shell, and it’s one of the best performances you’ll see all year. We caught up with both the film’s stars in London this week, to get the lowdown on their characters, the new Harry Potter film and what they’re planning next… So last time you two played together you were playing mother and son. Now you’re playing someone old enough to be his granny, Julie, someone a lot older than you are. Julie Walters: Well that’s kind of you to say. I don’t know how much older than me she really is – I think the drink has taken its toll. And her tragedy, of course.

Was it fun to play a completely different relationship that way? Rupert Grint: Yes, it was good.

Julie Walters: It’s exciting to work with the same actor in a different way. It’s new. And it’s a completely different relationship, although there is a bit of maternal stuff in it. It’s not the same as Mrs Weasley, who’s very maternal. She’s the maternal instinct personified, in many ways. Evie is the opposite, but she’s able to let Ben realise a part of himself that he can’t possibly do at home.

Did you have any models for your characters? Julie Walters: Well, the script is the main thing. It’s based on a relationship that the director, Jeremy Brock, had with Dame Peggy Ashcroft. I mean, this character is not Dame Peggy Ashcroft, I hasten to say; she’s based on an aunt of Jeremy’s. So it’s different. But it’s difficult to say that anything is based on any one person, because actors are always watching other people and bits go in. So there are probably bits of all sorts of people in the past, from teachers at school onwards, that have influenced that character.

Rupert, I guess this is sort of your first adult role – was it scary? Rupert Grint: Yeah, it was a bit scary, because all I’m used to is Harry Potter and the same people and the same sort of routine. So I was quite nervous coming on, but it really helped having Julie there because obviously we’ve worked together before, and there were lots of friendly people on the set, which made it much easier. And Jeremy was great as well.

Given that the story is semi-autobiographical, did you have a few good chats with him about your character? Rupert Grint: Yeah, yeah. We went out a few times and talked about it. Obviously he was really good because he wrote it as well. He knew exactly what he wanted, he was really cool.

And as a first-time director, how was he? Julie Walters: He was fantastic.

Rupert Grint: He was really cool.

Julie Walters: You’d never know that he’d never directed anything before; he was really, really good.

So how is Harry Potter 5 going? Rupert Grint: It’s going really well. We’ve been filming for about – we’re more than halfway through. David Yates is settling in really well, he’s really good.

Julie Walters: Yes, it’s going very well.

So what’s next? Julie Walters: Ruby in the Smoke – it’s a TV film. It’s about 90 minutes, and it’s an adaptation of a Philip Pullman novel. I play a very, very nasty lady with false teeth, very dramatic.

Rupert Grint: I want to do something other than Potter, because there’s quite a bit gap between films, but I don’t know what yet.

Original article found here: Empire Online | September 10, 2006

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