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Rupert Grint has put his Harry Potter days behind him and found his Mojo in gritty stage debut

article-2378253-0D2BB96A000005DC-979_306x423Rupert Grint, whose career has been dominated by the eight Harry Potter movies, is taking up a life of crime.

Grint will make his stage debut as a pill-popping petty crook alongside Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey’s Mr Bates) and Ben Whishaw, Bond’s latest gadget wizard Q.

Daniel Mays, who won acclaim for his portrayal of Ronnie Biggs in ITV’s drama Mrs Biggs, and in movies such as Made In Dagenham, completes the high-octane quartet who’ll lead a revival of Jez Butterworth’s scorching debut play Mojo, set in the Soho underworld of 1958.

This confirms my recent scoop that revealed Grint had participated in a rehearsed reading of the play.

Ian Rickson, who staged the original 1995 production at the Royal Court, told me rehearsals will start in mid-September.

Producer Sonia Friedman added that Mojo will run at the Harold Pinter Theatre from October 26.

Grint will play a minor hood called Sweets who pops amphetamines like Smarties and does a sort of double act, full of comic menace, with Mays, as a character called Potts.

Rickson explained how he met Grint and then placed him in the Mojo read-through.

‘I’d seen the Potter films with my daughter and always thought Rupert was truthful as Ron Weasley.

There’s something ordinary and centred about him, and in this world of Mojo you want that grittiness,’ Rickson told me.

He noted that he’d spoken to David Yates, director of the final four Potter pictures. Rickson recalled that Yates had told him Grint had ‘hidden depths’ as a thespian.

Not only that, Rickson and his associates are keenly aware that Grint’s fan-base — a post-18 audience weaned on the Potter pictures (believe me, Mojo is not suitable for children) — are ideal patrons.

‘A whole lot of people who might not see Mojo will come and see it,’ the director said.

That was the same calculation behind Daniel Radcliffe’s appearances in Equus, current hit The Cripple Of Inishmaan at the Noel Coward Theatre, and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying on Broadway.

Plus, there was the added bonus of charting Radcliffe’s growth as an actor and his determination to tread dangerously on the boards.

In a sense, Grint’s treading dangerously, too, though more for what his hoodlum character observes.

A severed body found in two bins, for starters; and the psychotic, Kray-like behaviour of Whishaw’s character, the deceptively named Baby, who’s on stage armed with a revolver when he’s not twirling a cutlass .

Butterworth’s dialogue has its own threatening power: an argot that rocks ’n’ rolls to a cut-throat rhythm.

The backdrop to Mojo concerns the kidnapping of pop sensation wannabe Silver Johnny by a gang rival, and how Baby gets his revenge.

Brendan Coyle plays another gangster, Mickey, a number two ruthlessly clawing his way to become number one.

Rickson and Butterworth, who went on to write the landmark play Jerusalem, have worked together several times and have been going over every line in the play and tinkering, just here and there.

Rickson, a music buff, said that working on Mojo again was like ‘going back to that early album and re-mastering it’.

A cast of this calibre is going to be one of the hot tickets of the autumn season.

Original article found | JULY, 4th 2013

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