He’s not a Republican running for office, but Rupert Grint has built a career out of fear. Or at least out of his ability to look frightened.
At the ripe old age of 18, the British actor is famous the world over for playing Ron Weasley, the occasionally bumbling — and often terrified — red-haired pal of Harry Potter in all four film versions of J.K. Rowling’s popular fantasy novels about pubescent wizards. Aside from a part in the regrettably named “Thunderpants”, in which he played the best friend of a boy with a flatulence problem, the “Potter” films have been Grint’s big-screen legacy to date. The fifth film, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, is close to wrapping at Leavesden Studios outside London. Taking a break from that shoot, Grint spoke by phone about what really frightens him, including spiders and the love scene in his new movie, “Driving Lessons” (see review on Page 35), a coming-of-age drama that was a change of pace in almost every way from what he’s used to. In the film, Grint plays an awkward teenager who takes a part-time job as a personal assistant t o an eccentric actress (Julie Walters, who coincidentally plays Ron’s mother in the “Potter” films).
The moment we have all been waiting for!“It’s sort of like two extremes, really,” says Grint, ticking off the obvious differences between “Driving Lessons” (low budget, six-week shoot, no sets or special effects) and the “Potter” series (large budgets, shoots of up to 11 months, elaborate sets and effects). Oh, and there were no eight-legged monsters to deal with in the new movie either.
That’s a relief for the actor, who in real life shares Ron’s deep-seated fear of arachnids, a running theme in the “Potter” films. “Yeah,” Grint says with a nervous laugh, “in the second film [“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”], there was a pretty heavy spider theme in that, which I didn’t really like. Aragog was a really big, sort of massive spider puppet, which was pretty nasty.”
Not as nasty, apparently, as the live one that “Phoenix” director David Yates recently tried — repeat, tried — to get the actor to act opposite. “There was going to be a scene where they dangled over a spider by my shoulder,” recalls Grint, audibly uncomfortable. “They were doing tests with these real tarantulas — sort of baby ones — and they were doing loads of tests with me holding them. And I hate — I, I don’t like spiders at all. I couldn’t really do it in the end.”
Playing Ben, a gawky 17-year-old who has his first sexual experience with an older Scottish lass in “Driving Lessons”, posed a similar, if less insurmountable, problem. “I was really sort of dreading that scene,” Grint says. “I was really quite nervous about doing that. Because you’ve got the whole crew watching. It’s really sort of a small set. You do feel very self-conscious, and it’s a bit embarrassing.” Putting him at ease, he says, was that the actress, Michelle Duncan, was “really nice” (and, um, 27 at the time).
“I think, in a way, because she was a little older, it probably helped a little bit,” Grint says. “Because she was probably a bit more . . . I don’t know.” He pauses, as if struggling to avoid using the word “experienced,” because of its, you know, ungentlemanly implications.
Because she was a bit less nervous, perhaps?
“Yeah, sure,” he says, letting out a long exhalation of breath that sounds very much like relief. “That did help.”
Still, the worst was yet to come. That came, according to Grint, during a screening of the film with his parents and siblings in attendance. “I was embarrassed,” he says, even though, in the end, “everyone was all right about it.”
So, does he have a girlfriend of his own? “No, no, I don’t actually at the moment, no,” he answers. When asked about whether that might be because he shares some of Ben’s tongue-tied, er, ineptitude around the opposite sex, Grint fumbles for the right answer. “Most people relate to the, especially, sort of like the, sort of, um, around girls and that, he’s — there’s trouble there, I suppose.”
I’ll take that as a yes.
The eldest of five children — a role reversal that Grint says ironically helps him relate to the character of Ron, who is the second youngest of seven — the actor lives with his family in Hertfordshire, England, where his leisure interests include golf and the guitar. “I’m trying to learn,” he says modestly of his incipient ax-wielding skills. Having said goodbye to formal education at 16 to concentrate on acting– “I didn’t really like school that much,” he says — he sounds in many ways like the stereotypical aimless teenager, only with a much better-paying job.
Speaking of finances, Grint says he’s “not totally sure” how much money he has. “I don’t have a lot to do with it,” he insists, explaining that his father handles all his money. So what’s his allowance look like? Well, his most recent indulgence was the purchase of a Mini Cooper — something that should go well with his new driver’s license, earned just last month after two attempts. “I was doing a three-point turn,” he says sheepishly of his first failed attempt in July, “and I didn’t look behind me.”
Looking forward, Grint says he can’t see moving out of his parents’ house for at least another year or two, as he finishes work on the remaining three “Potter” films. While nothing official has been signed, the actor says he’s committed to working on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which is scheduled to begin shooting next summer. After that, Grint hopes to give Ron Weasley one last run, when the film of the book Rowling is currently writing — projected to be the final installment in the series — gets made into a movie.
In between, he says, he’d love to do more small films along the lines of “Driving Lessons”. Films that allow him not just to explore other characters than Ron — a role that will, when all is said and done, have consumed an entire decade of his young life — but to take on larger and more complicated acting assignments.
“It’s quite scary, obviously,” he says about the challenges inherent in stepping out of “Potter” co-star Daniel Radcliffe’s (not to mention Ron Weasley’s) shadow. “It’s quite a big step, really.”
Original article found here: Washington Post | November 2006
By Dixie Reid
In ‘Driving Lessons,’ Rupert Grint steers clear of his ‘Harry Potter’ persona.
SAN FRANCISCO — Jeremy Brock had a father who was a mild-mannered church vicar and a mother who was a tyrant. At 21, he got a job cleaning house for British actress Peggy Ashcroft, who won an Oscar for her supporting role in “A Passage to India” (1984). And when he could no longer stand to live at home, he took up residence in Ashcroft’s basement.
From those true-life experiences comes the British coming-of-age saga “Driving Lessons” (opening Friday in Sacramento), written and directed by Brock, who also co-wrote “The Last King of Scotland.”
Portraying the fictionalized version of Brock is redheaded Rupert Grint, best known as the perpetually astonished Ron Weasley in the “Harry Potter” movies. He’s in town for the day, decked out in T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, and lounging on a sofa at the Ritz-Carlton before returning to London to finish up “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” due out next year.
“It’s going to be good, good fun,” Grint says of the upcoming Potter film.
In “Driving Lessons,” he plays 17-year-old Ben Marshall, an awkward, shy lad whose father (Nicholas Farrell) is a mild-mannered vicar and whose mother (American actress Laura Linney, with an English accent) is a tyrant.
Brock recently told the Los Angeles Times that he made Ben younger than he was at the time “for the simple reason that I was very, very naive. I wanted to capture an age where it was acceptable to be that naive.”
And he made “Driving Lessons” while his parents are still living.
“My mother has Alzheimer’s now,” Brock said. “I couldn’t have written the movie until my mother was outside a place she would know. Some might say I am ruthless. All I would say is the film is obviously taken from my family experience, but it’s fiction, too. The fights that (Ben) has to break free from his home are a universal story.”
The movie takes place during Ben’s summer break from school.
His evangelical mother has him attending Bible classes, wearing a eucalyptus-tree costume for the church play and helping out at an old folks home. Under the pretext of giving Ben driving lessons, she is having an affair with the church’s youth minister (Oliver Milburn).
Things also are quite strange at home, where Mrs. Marshall has invited the elderly cross-dresser Mr. Fincham (Jim Norton) to move in with the family.
Life becomes even more bizarre — but certainly more fun — when Ben takes a job assisting Evie Walton, an eccentric retired actress (Julie Walters, with a prosthetic osteoporosis hump), who has awarded herself the title “dame,” drinks entirely too much and gardens like a demented Edward Scissorhands. She is zany and unpredictable and kidnaps young Ben for the adventure of his life.
Walters also plays Grint’s mother in four Harry Potter movies, including “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” (She did not appear in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” 2005.)
“She’s so easy to get on with,” says Grint. “She’s really nice and fun. It was good having someone I knew, because this was my first thing outside the Harry Potter films.”
Apparently he’s forgetting “Thunderpants,” the 2002 comedy about a boy whose gas-passing abilities help him to become an astronaut.
“Driving Lessons” did offer Grint his first onscreen kiss, with Scottish actress Michelle Duncan, who is 10 years his senior.
“I was quite nervous,” he says, laughing. “She was older, so that helped make me feel more comfortable, but it was actually quite awkward because all the crew was watching. And then it was worse watching it with my family. That was embarrassing.”
And this leads to some quick, and only slightly embarrassing, questions for young Mr. Grint:
Have you ever kissed a girl offscreen?
He laughs. “Yeah.”
Do you have a girlfriend?
“No, I don’t. I’m just really busy at the moment. We have another month of filming on the next ‘Harry Potter.’ ”
What’s on your iPod?
“Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes. I mainly listen to rock.”
What’s your favorite English football (soccer) team?
How did you get your name?
“Actually, my name was the one that my parents pulled out of the hat. Really. There were other names they put in this hat, and they pulled out ‘Rupert’ first.”
Do you still live at home?
“Yes. I can see doing it for another few years. I’ve got it pretty good.”
What do your parents do?
“My mom sort of looks after us. It’s a big family, five of us kids, so it’s quite the full-time job. My dad sells Formula One (racing) memorabilia, liked signed photos.”
You’ve been in all four “Harry Potter” movies, with three to go in the series. Have you bought yourself anything extravagant with your earnings?
“I treat myself here and there. I got myself a car, because I passed my driving test last week. I got a Mini Cooper, a black one.”
Did you know how to drive before getting behind the wheel in “Driving Lessons”?
“No, I was only 16, and I didn’t start learning until I was 17. They let me drive on proper roads and mainly in Scotland. On major roads, they wouldn’t let me drive.”
Did you pass your driving test on first try?
“I passed the second test, failed the first one. It was only one thing: I was doing a three-point turn, and I didn’t look over my shoulder.”
Ben Marshall vs. Ron Weasley?
“They’re very different. Ben has got real problems with his mom and dad. He’s got a really strict mom, and he’s pretty shy and doesn’t say much. A bit of a geek, not very confident. Ron has a good family and is pretty confident.”
Original article found here: Sacramento Bee | November 12, 2006
‘Harry Potter’ star Rupert Grint in ‘Driving Lessons’
by David Lamble
Rupert Grint is the embodiment of the perfectly brought up English schoolboy; alas a schoolboy who never particularly liked school (except art, where he shines), but who at age eleven â€“ an age when the majority of British kids face a dreaded exam that will determine their future â€“ composed a silly rap song that got him cast as the very shy Ron Weasley in the projected seven-film Harry Potter saga.
In Driving Lessons, the new British comedy, literally a road comedy, a bashful redhead named Ben (Grint) struggles to get out from under the clutches of a grinch-like religious mother (the amazing Laura Linney sporting a very authentic accent along with an air of icy disdain) only to find himself camping out with a wildly eccentric lady of the theatre (the scene-stealing Julie Walters of Educating Rita and also Harry Potter fame).
Driving Lessons is based on writer/director Jeremy Brock’s own experience as the socially inhibited son of an English vicar who suddenly found himself working as an assistant to the legendary Dame Peggy Ashcroft. In the film, Ben at first takes after his henpecked preacher dad. Neither male is willing to cross his formidable mom, who combines moral scorn for the modern world with her own indiscretion, a sly affair with the handsome young man portraying Jesus in a church play. In that drama, poor Ben is stuck playing a tree, not even a burning bush but rather a suspiciously passive eucalyptus tree.
Driving Lessons is an updated variation on a sublimely old fashioned theme â€“ the tale of a young lad gaining knowledge of the world and learning to overcome a degree of shyness that’s akin to a kind of social autism. In an early scene, poor Ben reads a soppy romantic poem to the very girl it’s about. “You’re too weird,” is her all too predictable reaction.
Ben next answers an ad placed by an older actress, Evie (Walters) who has a way of inflating her resume, disguising the fact that her most recent credit is a mildly silly nighttime TV soap that’s a favorite with gay men. With Ben, Evie constructs her myth about being a Shakespearean actress, leading the boy out of his shell and into some meaty
Rupert Grint (left) and Julie Walters in Driving Lessons.
speeches from Othello and Coriolanus.
Evie tricks Ben into driving her to a Scottish literary festival â€“ totally disregarding the fact that Ben has failed his driving test and must only be on the road with a licensed adult, which Evie isn’t. The auto slapstick takes Ben to Edinburgh and his first real date with a very forward festival publicist (Michelle Duncan).
Driving Lessons climaxes in a frenzied tug of war over Ben’s future between Walters and Linney, featuring some of this year’s best female acting outside of the fabulous Running with Scissors.
Growing up in the Northern London suburb of Hertfordshire (pronounced Hartfordshire) Rupert Grint endured only a mild “stink” about his flaming red hair â€“ the usual taunts of “carrot top” or peculiarly British, “ginger.”
Perched on the back of an expensive sofa in a suite at the Ritz, Grint is a slight lad by today’s steroid standards â€“ five foot ten inches. The red hair and blue eyes (with just a hint of green) frame a round face that is constantly going from engaging grin to full out smile as his favorite word “cool” and least favorite, “embarrassing” duke it out â€“ in a London accent with just a hint of Cockney: his descriptions of his first movie sex scene, the differences in acting with Linney versus Walters, passing his driving test in real life, putting his school days behind him and finally, two months past his eighteenth birthday, looking ahead to a screen career that seems to have limitless potential. Grint listens with interest as a film publicist describes a recent encounter with actor Daniel Craig, now moving into his prime as the latest James Bond.
On the script for Driving Lessons , Grint said, “I was doing the fourth Harry Potter film, Goblet of Fire, at the time. There was just something really refreshing, really different about it. I met Jeremy Brock, the director, and really got along with him, and then I found that Julie (who had played his mom in Harry Potter) was going to be in it.”
Driving Lessons “is a much more grownup film,” said Grint. “We just sort of film around London â€“Harry Potter’s got all these amazing sets and big studios â€“ it was quite hard to get used to this much smaller sort of environment: no special effects, no blue screen sort of dragons.”
Of his first adult sex scene, Grint said, “I was really dreading it. I was really nervous, because you’re in this tiny little room, the whole crew watching. It’s quite scary. There were so many takes, once you got into it, it was alright. The worst part is watching it back with your family. That’s the thing that really gets embarrassing.”
While discussing American religious protests to Harry Potter, I show Rupert my article on Jesus Camp in which an American Evangelical woman is quoted declaring, “Harry Potter should be put to death!” I ask him whether the fundamentalist mother played by Laura Linney in Driving Lessons is a rare figure in Britain. “It does exist, but it’s not really as big as it is out here,” he said. “I’m not religious â€“ I went to a Catholic primary school, there’s certainly a few people like Laura’s character in there. It is quite a strange sort of world.”
On becoming Ben: “Jeremy, because it’s sort of about his life, was really good about giving advice and being really clear about what he wanted.”
On failing his driving test in real life: “I had an embarrassing amount of lessons and I failed my first test, it was stupid: I was doing a three point turn and I didn’t look over my shoulder. I passed my second test last week and now I can drive my Mini Cooper.”
On getting into great shouting scenes with Julie Walters: “That was something I’m definitely not used to. Playing Ron, I’m usually just sort of being scared all the time.”
On Laura Linney as his movie mom: “Laura’s really cool. She’s quite scary as my mom. She was quite funny.”
Grint is still close to his Potter film mates. Daniel Radcliffe is set to be in a major play on London’s West End, and Emily Watson has just passed her exams with straight “A’s.”
While waiting to shoot the sixth Potter film next summer, Rupert giggles at fan web sites, one saluting him as “the Ice Cream Man,” enshrining a long ago childhood ambition into a bit of nutty web buzz. His last word for me is the lovely, “Cheers.”
Original article found here: Bay Area Reporter | October 26, 2006
Celluloid Dreams Interview
with Tim Sika 90.5 FM, KSJS-San Jose CA.
Rupert conducted this interview during his Driving Lessons promotion in L.A.
Transcribed by Andrea Helmer
TS: Ben is a shy teenager living in London who is trying to escape from the clutches from his stern and religious mother. He finally gets his chance when he meets a retired actress who whisks him off to Edinburgh, where he learns to drive, camp, perform Shakespeare in a garden, dance, pick up a girl and connect to his poet within. Driving Lessons is the name of the movie, its the directorial debut for Jeremy Brock who penned the screenplays for Mrs. Brown and Charlotte Grey. It stars, Julie Walters, Laura Linney and Rupert Grint, his first starring role after completing 4 Harry Potter films as Harry’s best chum, Ron Weasley. His film credits include of course, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire and the upcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He’s also appeared in Thunderpants which I have to talk to him about and he joins us now on behalf of Driving Lessons. Thanks Rupert.
RG: Oh yeah no its good.
TS: Its just saying that title makes me feel silly. Though this is a smaller kind of quieter film than what you are accustomed to because obviously you have to carry it to some extent, was there any trepidation on your part? About acting away the safety and familiarity of Harry Potter?
RG: Yeah definitely I mean its quite a big step for one thing, its so much more sort of grown up film as well which is something sort of most different.
TS: Yeah yes it is. Yeah grown up from what we’ve seen you do before.
RG: Yeah definitely yeah and its a much bigger part as well I mean so um, no its a lot of new sort of things that uh, experiences I was um, going through and it was just a really good, good fun thing and a really sort of refreshing thing to do cause it was just so different and um no I really enjoyed it.
TS: A coming-of-age-tale, um, I would think that would disconerting um, I mean when you made the film you were close in age to the character you were playing, so having to actually like to do that, you know in the context of a movie would be I would think a little disconcerting um, and I want to talk to you about that but I liked how the title of this movie is sort of a metaphor for life lessons which…
RG: Sure yeah
TS: …..is kind of neat and um, I understood that they were based loosely on director uh, Jeremy Brock’s experience with working one summer when he was your age for uh, for actress um, Dame Peggy Ashkrof did he, did he ever talk to you about those experiences when he was directing you?
RG: Yeah he did um I mean we had a few sort of rehersals before we um, before we started filming. I mean I went to his house and he sort of showed me like pictures and sort of talked about it and um, yeah I think that really helped I mean he was really good on set as well sort of giving advice and sort of telling me what to do, he was really sort of clear of what he wanted.
TS: Were a lot of these things depicted in the movie were they, were they similar to what he had gone through?
RG: I think so, I mean it is sort of loosely based.
TS: Romanticized a little bit
RG: Yeah definitely but um, yeah I mean he was really nice, nice guy Jeremy yeah.
TS: Yeah, as a Julie Walters and Jeremy Brock tell it and this seems so easy you seem like a very modest and shy guy in real life.
TS: And in this movie you’re playing a very modest and shy character, um which I would think would make it easier to tap into the character, but also a challenge because you know, like I was saying earlier in the scenes where you’re required to take big steps outside of yourself, like I’m thinking of the big kissing scene in the 12 takes that the director took of it.
RG: Yeah (laughs) Yeah there are a lot of new things like that um, that scene in particular I was quite nervous about but um, cause your like on this tiny set and all the crew watching and it is quite embarassing but um…..
TS: Was it a closed set?
RG: Ehh…sort of yeah, um, but I mean once we did it, I mean we did it as you said it, we did do it a lot of times, it was a lot of takes, but the worst part is watching it back with your family, that’s when it gets a little weird.
TS: I suppose (laughs) Well at least they kind of make it look, you know probably all the awkwardness that you felt you don’t obviously don’t see that in the movie, unless its in context of the screenshow.
RG: Sure yeah
TS: Casting someone with the experience of Julie Walters uh, opposite an up-and-coming actor like yourself, uh, I think it worked really well, did you glean anything from that experience of working so closely with her? She’s just amazing in this film.
RG: Hmm, she’s wicked yeah I mean, I’ve worked with her before in, cause she was my mom in a…
TS: Of course
RG: Harry Potter films so it was nice sort of having someone you knew as well and uh, I mean she’s always so funny and really easy to get on with, so um, no she was wicked yeah.
TS: The frustrating thing about seeing her in HP is we didn’t really get to see her…
RG: No yeah
TS: …very long its like ‘oh there she is’ and…
RG: Sure yeah
TS: …but waiting then she’s gone (laughs)
RG: Yeah well actually in this 5th one she’s got a much bigger part and uh…
TS: Oh she does!
RG: Yeah , we see that the Weasley’s all get together in this one so its good.
TS: Um, I understand that he shooting schedule of this coinsided with the quadruple bombings in London on Jly 7, 2005 and the aborded bombings on July 21st and did that siginificantly affect the film at all?
RG: Um, yeah it was quite scary actually, I mean we cancelled filming that day obviously and um, we caught a bit of the aftermath as well I think the day, it must have been the day after a couple days after, we had to evacuate this building, cuz there was some sort of threats on the sort of over-bombing, but nothing really came of it, bt it was quite scary, but um yeah.
TS: Was it liberating for you to use the f-word in this movie?
RG: Yeah (laughs) it was actually yeah, I mean I was goanna say its a much more grown-up film and its sort of swearing and all these new things so um, so no yeah, it was quite good actually yeah.
CD: And the other thing, I…I don’t know if I was suprised about this with the piece with the just the film, but it was, I know that it seems to sort of um, indirectly sort of saturize um, strict religious upbringing, but its a it was a very spiritual film. And that was refreshing and it was really nice, I mean not just about life lessons but there’s that wonderful speech that the Vicar gives about uh…
CD: Freedom and what it means to be a good Christian he says you know, if you strive to do good, if you don’t seek to hurt or betray others, if you’re true to yourself, treat others as you’d be treated and um..
TS: That’s something that I think doesn’t hurt the uh..you know that political landscape to prescenese that ever now and then because I think sometimes people get lose sight of that.
RG: Yeah oh yeah definitely.
TS: Were you raised in any particular religious belief?
RG: Uhhh..no I mean no not religious family at all really, but um I did go to a Catholic uh..pre-school sort of primary school and uh…yeah so yeah we saw a few characters like Laura Linney, Laura Linnye’s character in that there was a few of them out but um..I mean its not really I mean sort of the evangetlism isn’t really that sort of big in England as it is in here.
TS: Were there, were there nun’s and priests about?
RG: No no actually there wasn’t actually
RG: No it was pretty new age sort of stuff but um, no it was Cath….
TS: And it was Catholic! That’s interesting.
RG: Yeah it was different.
TS: What were some of the things they were like…
RG: Well we were always sort of praying like sort of 4 times a day and like after every, after every meal and I mean it was quite and we sort of had like school mass and we sung hymns and it was it was alright.
TS: And they incorporate church into the curriculum
TS: Yeah I remember cause I, I did that to. I remember we would go to mass…
TS: …as part of the
RG: Sort of yeah definitely
RG: Bible studies and stuff like that.
TS: Exactly um we’re talking to Rupert Grint uh, an ensemble cast member from Jeremy Brock’s Driving Lessons um….I’m sure you’ve been asked this before but um, you prepared a rap song in your audition for Harry Potter, do you remember it?
RG: No (laughs) I can’t, everyone asked me that.
TS: Oh really, you don’t remember any of it?
RG: No, I’ve still got the tape actually.
TS: Oh really?
RG: I haven’t seen it in ages yeah but its….
TS: What did you have like a musical background?
RG: Oh no!
TS: Or was it just sort….
RG: Oh no it was just like something I sent, there’s like a news program in England called Newsround and its like a news show for kids and they were sort of advertising sort of kids to sort of um, audition for the parts cuz they were looking, looking for kids and um, yeah I sent in an, an application forum with a picture and my height and details like that so um, I didn’t get anything back for a few months so I sent in, I made this video tape, my mom filmed it and it was just, it was just like a little rap song of how much I wanted to be and little stuff like that.
TS: You just did it on the lar
RG: Yeah definitely cuz just, sort of had nothing to lose really, so might as well. And uh..yeah, I did that and there was about 6 auditions after that and…
RG: That was it really.
TS: Five or six, you were yeah it was, you were what 11?
RG: Eleven yeah
TS: Eleven, does it seem like what 7 years?
RG: Yeah I know it is weird, I mean especially when you look back on the early ones its sort of how much you’ve changed.
TS: Yeah, yeah you were…..all you guys were really tiny in the 1st movie.
RG: Yeah yeah
TS: And then you went through a sort of all went through a physical change around the same time.
RG: Yeah yeah
TS: That that would have been weirder if like say one of the boys voices would have still been way up there.
TS: The other one would have..but you guys all pretty much were changing…..
TS: …at the same time.
RG: We were quite lucky yeah
TS: Which is kind of serendipidess
TS: Uh when you landed the role of Ron Weasley in the 1st Harry Potter film, did you know at least intellectually that your life would be y’know forever altered? I’ve always wondered to what degree…
TS: ….y’know how when could reasonbly prepare for something like that.
RG: Well I mean I was quite young at the time, I didn’t really sort of realize how big, big these films were going to be, I mean I knew that books were quite popular all over the world.
RG: (laughs) I think it was the 1st premiere, there was um, so many people there and it was quite amazing and it is quite weird now getting recognized in the street and sort of people coming up to you it is quite weird and sort of hard to get used to , but um…
TS: Do you watch the films very much? The early Potter films?
RG: Umm…I haven’t seen ’em in a long time no uh..but I mean you sort of flick through these on TV sometimes and its quite sort of strange but its good in a way cause it sort of brings back sort of memories in the 1st one cuase we had a good time doing them.
TS: You’ve uh…appeared to deal with all the attention of the last what 7 years as we said pretty well um…does your family keep you grounded, I would assume huh?
RG: Yeah definitely, I mean I come from quite a big family, I’ve got uh…
TS: Your the oldest right?
RG: Oldest of 5 yeah
TS: Five yeah
RG: So um…yeah it is quite uh…
TS: Do they ever sort of deflate you when your ego’s running or anything?
RG: (laughs) Uh….idk, they’re all pretty they’re uh…no they’re all good and sort of supportive and that so its good.
TS: Um..has the success for the Potter films has it made it easier to aquire or create other projects which interest you like this film Driving Lessons ?
RG: Um yeah in a way I suppose but I mean its always been quite hard to fit things in a round the Potter schedule, cuz when we’re filming for like 9 months of the year and its pretty full on so its quite hard to get things in, Driving Lessons was good cuz it was only 6 weeks so um…
TS: An indie movie
TS: Yeah shooting quickly and cheaply
TS: We’re talking about Julie Walters just before and about her experience and stuff and what it was like working with her and everything, I imagine the Harry Potter films afforded you also, the valuable experience of working alongside uh…an incredible aray of seasoned actors. Can you talk about the ways that you’ve y’konw grown personally and as an actor by interacting with these people?
RG: Um..not they don’t really sort of teach you anything particularly, but just sort of being around them, is really, pretty cool I mean there’s so many…
TS: It raises the bar huh?
RG: Yeah definitely yeah and you got people like Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman, there’s a load of new ones in this one actually so its been uh…yeah its been pretty amazing yeah.
TS: Are you familiar with uh..a lot of those actors’ work I mean like, like if you’ve seen any of Julie Walter’s films?
RG: Yeah definitely like sort of, Educating Rita and stuff like that and um…I mean in the early days I really wasn’t really, I didn’t really know too many people and um…I mean it was quite scary sort of meeting them for the 1st time, especially people like Alan Rickman, he’s quite, quite scary but um…
TS: (laughs) Yeah
RG: No they’re really nice people and really sort of easy to get on with and so no they’ve made it really good for us yeah.
TS: Each Harry Potter installment has been helmed by a different director, except for the first 2 which of course were directed by Chris Columbus, um…considering the basis for these stories, that their authoured by one person, J.K. Rowling, how do the directors individual styles imprint on the characters that everybody knows so well and how they do those approaches or how have these approaches affected the characters continuity in your own minds, you know when you shifted over to somebody new was there ever like an adjustment period that you, that everybody had to go through or did the director just kind of sort of know what was already there and then just culitvated that?
RG: Yeah I think, I don’t know I mean we’ve had some really good ones and its all been quite, quite different and um, this new one we got now um..David Yates he’s really cool, I mean he’s really nice, much calmer than the other ones we’ve had before and he’s….
TS: Much calmer?
RG: Yeah much sort of laid-back, he’s really sort of open to you sort of putting your own thing into it and um, I mean we’ve had ones who were really really good fun and crazy and Mike Newell as well, he did the 4th one, he was really crazy and didn’t really care what he said he was really cool.
TS: You said calmer and then what occured to me was that its such an intimidating franchise really…
TS: …I mean y’know I’m sure all the directors are thinking ‘god I don’t want to screw this up!’ And yet they still probably want to put..
TS: …their own input on it.
RG: Yeah definitely I mean I suppose it is quite a responsibility especially cuz its, sort of the other ones have been quite successful and um..no I suppose it is quite an impression but um..no they’re really, the scripts are are so good and then the stories are sort of strong so um..you can’t really go wrong.
TS: Its funny because um…twice you’ve brought up this 5th one, I didn’t have to…
RG: No (laughs)
TS: Um and as we speak its Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix it waits release its coming out when, summer right, of 2007?
TS: Can you tell us anything about it?
RG: Um, yeah I mean..
TS: We know that Julie Walters has a bigger role.
RG: Yeah definitely yeah
TS: Right? (laughs)
RG: Its um…its a lot darker this one, and um..we’ve had a really good time doing it actually its um..we got a new writer and the same, a new director and no its, its been really fun yeah.
TS: Now every time that um…the three of you, the three principles are asked if uh…your game to see the series through to its conclusion, um 7 films for the 7 books, it seems your the first to answer the affirmative.
RG: Yeah I mean I definitely want to sort of stick ’em out because I really do enjoy ’em its a really good atmosphere there and just had a really good time doing them and can’t see why not.
TS: But you guys will probably be like 20 or something no!
TS: Twenty or twenty one if you do all of them.
RG: Its goanna be yeah…
TS: Watching yourself grow up before your eyes on screen.
TS: That’s a sort of like the ultimate home movie.
TS: Um…Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson and yourself, the three Harry Potter principles um..comparitively have other credits to your names then the people you’ve been working with or certainly at this point, have you guys ever had discussions amongst yourselves regarding other work or other directions your taking um..professionally?
RG: Um…I don’t know, I mean I’m just sort of um..sort of seeing what happens, I mean I want to do these next 2 ones and doing Driving Lessons makes me want to do more stuff like it cuz I did have a really good time doing it and um..I think they’re really good fun so um..yeah. I’m just going to see what happens really.
TS: You’re you’re very goo…..
TS: …..in the film um…getting good notices all over the place.
RG: (laughs) Cool thanks.
TS: Yeah um, we mentioned in the intro a film you did uh..after I think you had done the first Harry Potter in between, maybe it was one another one of those in-between films called, Thunderpants.
TS: You played a juvenile, mad scientists mentor with no sense of smell…
TS: …who harnesses your friends exceptional gift for flatulense.
TS: See not a lot of people know about this movie.
RG: I know yeah.
TS: I wonder why? (laughs)
RG: Yeah exactly (laughs) yeah
TS: Its just uh..what is a lot of fun to do?
RG: It was actually yeah, I mean I did it after the first, first film I suppose the first thing outside the series so um….no it was a good experience, it was good fun yeah.
TS: Has there been anything particularly enjoyable about you know, going round the world talking about Driving Lessons I mean you’re doing it all the time for Harry Potter, um..is that any significantly different?
RG: Yeah, I mean its just sort of nice to just to talk about something different really.
TS: Something different
RG: Yeah so um..its good like I’ve been to a load of new places, I’ve never been here before.
TS: San Francisco really?
RG: I really like it yeah, but no its good I definitely want to come back.
TS: I would think that would be one of the most frustrating aspects of being able to visit like all these like Venice and San Francisco, Paris or whatever..
RG: Yeah just seeing the hotel rooms
TS: You’re in the hotel rooms yeah.
RG: But its good thought, its quite good.
TS: Now in general how do they treat you? When you visit places around the planet?
RG: Yeah no really well
TS: Pretty good
RG: I’ve had a really good time yeah
TS: Um…I want to ask you about the rabid fan base that the Harry Potter films have, on our website we always print ahead our guests and I think and you were on there I guess last week or whatever and we got the most amazing response.
TS: More than we usually get. Uh…and I just thought, ‘Well wow!’ You know there’s a rabid fan base here, so how do you um…deal with that, you seem so unphased by all the world wide attention.
RG: Yeah I mean it is, I don’t know it is quite quite strange and people coming up to you in the street and that is quite strange and um..quite surreal sort of thing but um..no I mean they’re always really nice.
TS: What’s the weirdest thing somebody that you didn’t know came up to you, recognized you form the films said to you?
RG: Yeah, there’s quite a few strange sort of strange things, like get sent presents and stuff like that is quite strange.
TS: What do you do with all that stuff, do you keep it or….
RG: Yeah sort of keep it and try and sort of reply but um…no its good when you get sort of like, they send werid stuff like uhh…pajamas and these sort of T-shirts that they make..
TS: Like pajamas for you?
RG: Yeah like, Spongebob Squarepants pajamas
TS: Oh ok..well you like that show don’t you?
RG: Yeah (laughs) I do
TS: I read that somewhere, anyway so uh…Driving Lessons, you want to say anything here in conclusion about the movie. Why should people come see it?
RG: Um..I don’t know cause it just uh….its a really sort of um..its about um..its quite different u..its a strange sort of friendship that two people have and uh…its quite a good sort of road road trip.
TS: Agreed, we’ve been in conversation with Rupert Grint, the film is Driving Lessons where the two contemplate and its also very entertaining. Rupert Grint what did she say in the movie, “For your aid in sucker we thank you.”
RG: Yeah (laughs)
CD: So thank you
RG: Oh cheers thanks
TS: You bet, I’m Tim Sika for Celluloid Dreams 90.5 FM KS?? And online at celluloiddreams.net.
Originally Aired on CelluloidDreams.netI October 24th, 2006
Rupert Grint is best known as the redheaded Ron Weasley in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies. But he managed to take some time off from wizarding school to star alongside Laura Linney in the coming-of-age movie ‘Driving Lessons,’ in theaters this Friday. Grint plays a young boy trying to find relief from his overbearing mother (Linney).
AMNew York talked to Grint just before the movie opens.
So, how did you come to be involved with the film? Well, I was doing the fourth Harry Potter film and got sent the script. [The filming] was only going to be six weeks, so it was quite easy. I met with Jeremy [Brock, the writer/director] and he was really cool. It just sort of happened from there, really.
I know you were working on getting your own driving license, has that come to pass? Yeah. I passed on Saturday.
So how about your character. Is there anything in your personality that relates to him at all? Not really. There are a few sort of teenage things, like his actions around girls. They’re quite awkward and strange, and I can generally relate to that.
Was this your first onscreen kiss? This was my first.
Was that something that was exciting or was it awkward? I was actually quite nervous about that, because it’s quite a big step. It was really weird because you have the whole crew watching you. It makes you really self-conscious. But she [actress Michelle Duncan] was really cool. She’s older, so it helped a little bit. Watching it back is the worst, especially with my family. They laughed their hearts out.
How was this film different from filming Harry Potter? There were no sets, for one. We filmed all around London. It was only six weeks and the budget was pretty small.
There’s a scene in which you resist some wine because you say you’re underage at 17. Just to clarify, what is the drinking age in the UK? Eighteen. You can pretty much do whatever you want at 18.
Are you getting used to all the screaming, fanatical Potter fans? A little bit, yeah. I’ve been recognized a lot more recently. I don’t know if it’s something you get used to, it’s really weird. They’re always really nice so it’s never a problem.
You were recently getting ready to film the Thestral scenes in the fifth Harry Potter movie. Have you finished those yet? Yeah, we did those the other day. It was really a good time because they had to make a mold, a specially made harness that goes under your legs, because in the film it has to be invisible. [The Thestral is a magical horse-like creature that is only visible to those who’ve witnessed death.] They put you on this crane and lifted you up in the air. That’s been my favorite scene so far.
And that was done on a green screen? Yeah. We’re working on a lot of the final scenes now, the Dumbledore’s Army stuff.
What’s next for you? When does ‘The Order of the Phoenix’ wrap? We’re finished the middle of November, I think.
And you get a break after that? Yeah. We don’t start the next one until next summer, so there’s quite a big break. I’m going to try and do something else in-between.
I’ve heard you’re afraid of spiders, are there any in the new film? They were going to put in a scene where a spider comes down on my leg while I’m hiding under a tree, and they were going to use a real spider. So they were doing tests with different spiders, letting them crawl on my leg. They ended up cutting it because I couldn’t really deal with it.
Were they using tarantulas? Yeah, baby tarantulas. They’re horrible.
Original article found here: AM New York | October 18th, 2006
With only a few school plays to his credit, Rupert Grint infamously won the role of Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series with an audition tape featuring a rap that extolled his suitability and desire for the part. Grint filmed a role in kid’s movie Thunderpants thereafter, but the new Driving Lessons offers him a chance to step into more adult roles. I spoke with Grint during his stop at San Francisco’s Ritz Carlton.
Groucho: Do you remember first catching the acting bug, as they say?
Rupert Grint: Yeah, I always sort of—I’d done a few school plays, at school. And I’d always sort of been involved in the drama there. But yes, I’ve always had sort of an interest in it.
G: You don’t know what drew you to it?
RG: I don’t know. Not really. I mean, no one in my family ever really—my dad was once on the shopping channel, QVC, selling stuff. (Laughs.) Yeah, right.
G: In your own school plays, I take it you played a more interesting role than the eucalyptus tree.
RG: (Chuckles.) Yeah, definitely, yeah. It was really good to get into something different—even from Ron, really. It was a lot more, sort of—harder, I suppose. ‘Cause Ron’s mainly just—just looks scared all the time, and this was something really—some really good, different things to go through.
G: How would you describe the character of Ben?
RG: He’s quite sheltered. I mean, he’s from a religious family, and he’s got no friends. He’s a bit of a loner. He goes through quite a journey through the thing. And he sort of comes out of his shells, as it goes on. As he meets Julie Walters, her character, he sort of changes slightly, sort of becomes more independent and grows up a bit.
G: How is it that the Julie Walters character draws him out, do you think? What is he responding to there?
RG: I think—I dunno. I mean, I suppose the first time they met, he’s like—she’s someone he’s never sort of—the sort of character he’s never seen before: she swears, she drinks, she steals things. And she’s just—just I dunno. They just somehow really get on, have this strange friendship. Yeah. Yeah.
G: What’s the status on your own driving? I understand that you passed your test.
RG: Yeah—last week.
G: It took you a while to do that, though, right?
RG: (Laughs.) Yeah—it was my second test. And I’d been learning for too long. It was like—oh, I don’t know how many lessons I had. Just too many—I’ll enjoy driving—it’s good.
G: And it’s not a publicity stunt to delay your driving?
RG: (Laughs.) No, yeah.
G: It would suit the film, wouldn’t it?
RG: Yeah, definitely, yeah.
G: How is driving changing your life? I guess you haven’t had much of a chance to figure that out yet, huh?
RG: Sure, well, yeah, ’cause I only just passed. But yeah, I mean it is completely sort of freedom now. You can sort of go where you want. I’ve got a car, as well. I’ve got a little Mini—Mini Cooper, so, yeah.
G: I heard that you nearly wiped out the crew at one point with the car in the film.
RG: Oh, yeah. We were doing this scene. And I didn’t really get to do too much driving on it. But I mean, I did a few sort of private roads. And we were doing this scene where I had to drive down this sort of hill, park it up, and get out of the car and do something. And this hill—there’s the crew about sort of five foot away from where I’m supposed to be stopping. And, yeah, I drive up there and get out of the car, and suddenly the car starts to roll. Roll towards the crew. And I had to dive in there and pull the handbrake. It was quite close, actually.
G: How did you prepare to play this role? I know it was in part based on Jeremy Brock’s own life. Did you ply him for more details about his own experience?
RG: Uh, yeah, we had a few—the whole cast had a few rehearsals where we did read-throughs. And I went to Jeremy’s house, as well, and we did a few sort of like sessions with him. And he used to talk about stuff, and show me pictures of his—when he was a kid. No, it was really useful, that. And then on the set, as well, he was really good for like—really clear at giving advice on that. Because he wrote it as well. And he sort of, um—it was sort of his story. So he was really good at sort of giving advice on that.
G: One of the themes of the film is how Ben’s faith affects his development, really. How did you see that: in what ways does it help him? In what was does it hinder him?
RG: Yeah, erm. I’m trying to think—it does sort of keep him in this shell, really. And his mum doesn’t let him do anything. She’s really sort of overprotective and quite scary. (Laughs.) Yes, I suppose it doesn’t really help him much, really. Yeah.
G: Do you have a strategy for embarking on a career as an adult actor?
RG: Uh, not really. I mean, I’m just—I want to do the next two Harry Potter films. And just see what goes from there, really. And maybe do some other stuff like this, in between, because it was a really good experience.
G: It’s probably hard to imagine life after Harry Potter, I guess.
RG: I know, it’s going to be weird when it all ends, ’cause it has been a big part of my life, really.
G: When you travel around for films and do press like this, do you get to do touristy stuff?
RG: Yeah, a little bit. But I usually don’t get much time. I mean, this—I’ve never been here before, and I got here last night. And we’re leaving later today, for Dallas or something. So, yeah, it’s a shame we don’t get much more time.
G: I understand you didn’t get on in school. Why is that, do you think?
FG: I dunno! It was—I mean, I liked the sort of social side of it, and my mates, and that. But, um, it was just the learning thing; it was just—I just didn’t find a subject I could really—except for art. I really got on there, but—. And if I could do anything—’cause I can always go back. I mean, I did my final exams, and left when I was sixteen. I can always go back and do a course in something, but I can’t really see it. I mean, ’cause—I dunno, it just didn’t really, didn’t really—
G: And you’re pretty determined to keep at the film, right?
RG: Definitely, yeah, I mean, I really enjoy it. It is good fun. Yeah, it’s good.
G: Do you have aspirations to branch out into ever writing or directing?
RG: Erm, I haven’t thought about it, really. It’s always sort of an option, I suppose, in the future, but I can’t really see it. (Chuckles.) Right at the moment.
G: I know you can’t talk about specifics, but could you describe what your latest director, David Yates, is bringing to the series?
RG: Yeah, he’s really different, actually, to the other ones. He’s much more sort of laid-back, and much more calm—than the other ones we’ve had. I think, he’s really good at sort of giving us—he’s given us a lot more freedom this time around. And sort of lets us do a bit of our own thing—which is quite good. No, it’s really good, actually. We’ve got a new writer, as well [Ed. Michael Goldenberg], who gives it sort of a different feel. So, no, it’s going to be interesting, this one.
G: I’m very curious what the culture is like on a Harry Potter set. I know it might change based on the director. Do the actors set the mood? Does it chnage with each director?
RG: Yeah, it’s quite amazing how each director brings their own atmosphere to the set. Mike Newell was quite funny, because he’s crazy. He did the fourth one, and he didn’t care what he said; he was really—would swear at us if we got it wrong, sort of shout at us. He was really funny. And obviously Chris Columbus was great for the first two, and Alfonso’s crazy—we’ve had some really good ones, actually. Yeah, so it was good.
G: When the cameras aren’t rolling, do you have much time to hang out with the other actors, or do you find yourself retreating to your trailer? What’s that like?
RG: Yeah, well, I’ve got, um—yeah, but, um…now I’ve finished school, I’ve got much more time off-set. And I’ve got a really good dressing room up there. I’ve got table tennis, pool, and TV and—yes, they know where I am, in my room, so it’s good.
G: What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to to avoid being recognized in public?
RG: (Chuckles.) I dunno, it’s um—it’s quite hard, really, having so much hair, in this color. It sort of does stand out. So it’s quite hard to—no, I mean, I try caps and that. I mean, they’re always really nice. And it never gets crazy, so. It’s never really been sort of too much of a problem.
G: The film is about lessons, and you learn your lessons from Julie Walters, who plays your mother in the Harry Potter films. What sort of acting lessons have you learned from working with folks like Julie Walters or Robbie Coltrane or the great British actors you’ve worked with?
RG: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know really. I mean, you don’t really—they don’t teach you anything particularly. It’s just really good just to sort of work with them, really. It’s pretty amazing, the sort of people who worked on the Harry Potter films. Erm. But no, it’s just really good to work with them. Working with Julie again is wicked ’cause she’s so funny. She’s really cool.
G: Do you ever observe methods that they’re using, or do you work with an acting coach? What’s your kind of acting method?
RG: I dunno, really. I suppose you do in a way, yeah. You’re always sort of watching what they’re doing, and that. No, it’s quite interesting. No, but in the early ones, we had, like, a voice coach, on One and Two and Three. Yeah, so that sort of helped us a little bit then…
G: And do you plan to ever trod the boards again?
RG: Erm, I dunno. I mean, I only ever experienced it on a really small scale, so it’d be a whole different experience, I think, on a big sort of stage. But I dunno. Yeah, I mean, definitely—it is quite a sort of a thrill about doing it; it does give you quite a buzz. But, yeah, maybe that’s something in the future. I know Dan [Radcliffe] is just about to do a big play in London, yeah.
G: Alright, well, thank you very much.
RG: Cool, yeah.
Original article found here: Groucho Reviews | October 18th, 2006
Rupert Grint Takes a Break from “Harry Potter” to Star in an Independent Film
Rupert Grint stars as Ben, the straitlaced 17-year-old son of an overly religious mother and a vicar, in Driving Lessons written and directed by Jeremy Brock. Instead of being out having fun like the other kids in his class, Ben has to spend his summer vacation taking driving lessons from his mom and attending bible class. Fortunately for Ben, his life’s turned upside down when he takes a job assisting an eccentric retired actress (played by Julie Walters).
The Appeal of Driving Lessons: “I wasn’t really looking out for anything, it just sort of came. I was doing the fourth Harry Potter film and it came up after that. I just really liked the script and it was just something really different. I’d been filming the fourth one for about eleven months and I just wanted to do something different. I love sort of being Ron, it’s just sort of good to do something different so that’s why.”
Reuniting with Julie Walters: Working with Walters on Driving Lessons was a much different experience than working with Walters on the Harry Potter movies. “It’s quite different,” said Grint. “Obviously they’re completely different characters. It was actually really good having Julia there because I knew her before in the Harry Potter films. We were only filming for like six weeks [and] it was good to have someone there you sort of knew. She was really fine, really easy to get on with, so she’s cool.”
Grint says it was a bit strange seeing Walters take on a character so unlike Harry Potter’s Molly Weasley. “It was, yeah, especially with all the swearing and that. Some of it was quite shocking. The first scene we rehearsed was the camping scene when she swallows the key. She’s very funny, and she’s really cool.”
Adventures in Driving: “I had to drive down this road and then park it on this hill. Down the hill, just about five feet away, was our camera crew and they were just filming the front of the car. And in the scene, you had to get out of the car and do something, I can’t remember now, but I drive up and we all get out of the car and I forgot to put the handbrake on, the parking brake on and the car started to go down towards the crew. That was quite a close call. I had to dive into the car and put the brake on. That was kind of scary.”
Grint didn’t get his driver’s license until after he’d finished the film, which meant he was driving around without a license. “Yeah, only on private roads,” joked Grint. “They didn’t trust me on major roads. There’s a load of ways to get around it, like I had a driving double. We had this guy over there with a ginger wig who just drove around all these roads. That was quite strange.”
On Real Life Driving Lessons: Grint now has his license and instead of tooling around in something expensive and fancy, he prefers his Mini Cooper. After what he calls an ‘embarrassing amount’ of driving lessons, he managed to pass the driving test – but not without a few hitches. “My test, I was really nervous. I failed my first one, but I passed my second attempt. It was quite scary.”
What portion of the test did he fail? “I was doing a three-point-turn, and I didn’t look over my shoulder or something. Something stupid like that.”
Rupert Grint Gets the Girl in Driving Lessons: “Actually I was really dreading that scene,” confessed Grint. “I was really nervous because, obviously, you’re in a tiny set and the whole crew is watching you. It is a bit nerve-wracking. But, no, it was alright in the end. The worst part is watching it back with your family. That’s the embarrassing part. It’s not too bad.”
Ben from Driving Lessons vs Harry Potter’s Ron: Which character is more like the real Rupert Grint? “I’ve always felt like I could relate to Ron. I can’t really see much in common with Ben. I suppose I have a sort of teenage side, his awkwardness around girls and that. I can sort of relate to that. No, I’m most definitely…I’m sort of more Ron, I think.”
Going From a Huge Production to an Independent Film: The difference between working on a Harry Potter movie and Driving Lessons is like night and day. Even the trailers are smaller on an independent film. “Obviously because it’s a smaller budget, you notice the few differences like that. I’m used to like having a dressing room and stuff like that, and being based in a studio. That was one of the most different things, because on this we weren’t in a studio. We were just going around London, and it was really good fun though.”
Original article found here: About.com | October 18th, 2006
Rupert Grint just passed his driving test. He’d failed once before, he admits. Now, finally, he can take his new, black Mini Cooper out for a spin.
“I can’t wait to get on the road,” he says. And not to worry – he’s a much better driver in real life than he is on film, he assures.
He would have to be.
As Ben – a shy, gangly teenager growing up in a repressed, religious household – he grinds gears, lurches forward and back and runs over curbs and shrubs, all in the first few minutes of “Driving Lessons,” an independent film from first-time British director Jeremy Brock. The movie opened Friday.
Grint, 18, is known to a generation of moviegoers as Harry Potter’s red-headed, chess-loving sidekick, Ron Weasley. Born in Hertfordshire, England, where he lives with his parents and four siblings, he made his film debut in 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Three more “Potter” blockbusters followed. One more has been shot. And as fans of the Potter books by J.K. Rowling know, that leaves two to go.
“He’s used to films with lavish budgets,” says Brock. “We had six weeks and a budget that probably wouldn’t have covered the catering on ‘Harry Potter.'”
Grint didn’t mind. He was eager for a change. And this certainly beat his co-starring role in “Thunderpants” (2002), an epic saga about a boy’s ability to – yes – break wind (his only other non-“Potter” film).
In this film, he is both literally and figuratively in the driver’s seat, at the center of a coming-of-age drama and acting alongside heavyweights from Hollywood and London. Laura Linney, donning a British accent, plays his shrewish, moralizing mom, and veteran character actor Nicholas Farrell plays Ben’s wimpy minister dad. Julie Walters – also an Academy Award nominee – plays Evie, the eccentric actress who hires Ben as a companion and jolts him out of his straitlaced life.
“I suppose the quiet, emotional scenes were a bit tough,” says Grint, sitting in a suite at the Essex Hotel in Manhattan last week. “I’m not used to that. In ‘Potter’ films, I’m usually just scared,” he says, opening his eyes wide, as if suddenly consumed with the horror of losing a Quidditch match.
“He’s completely instinctual,” says Brock. “There are shots of him when he’s had the big argument [with Evie], and he’s standing there conveying enormous amounts of emotion.”
Ready for his close-up
The chap can handle a close-up. We see him register the obvious disconnect as his teary-eyed mom utters the mantra of the minister’s wife: “We’re God’s ambassadors – we show the world a smiling face.” Or the quiet disappointment as his father buries himself in bird books. Shorup-ship-see, shorup-ship-see – he tries to teach Ben the skylark’s call. Ben stands there, quiet, pained, aching to break free.
“Primarily, with him,” says Brock, “you remember his stillness.”
By the time Evie takes him on a free-wheeling road trip to Scotland, audiences will no doubt be eager to see how much young Grint can cut loose.
Drinking beer, salsa dancing with a sexy lass – Ron Weasley never gets this kind of action at Hogwarts.
His first kissing scene “was a big step,” Grint recalls. “I was quite scared. The whole crew is watching. Although the worst part really is watching it with your family after,” he says, chuckling.
His partner? “She was really cute,” Grint says of Scottish actress Michelle Duncan, who plays the romantic Bryony. “She was a bit older, too, so that helped. She was about 24 or something.”
Ah, the charms of a mature woman of … 24.
“He is living it on screen,” says Brock. “[Grint] is the age of this kid, going through the same things. We all felt that. He was growing up on screen.”
Grint’s father, Nigel, who accompanied his son to Manhattan, smiles proudly when asked about his son’s accomplishments. (The Grints seem a teenager’sdream – they allowed their son to graduate from school early, at age 16, to pursue acting full-time. “It was hard to juggle film and schoolwork – plus, I didn’t really get on at school, ” says Grint.)
And how is Rupert’s driving for real?
“He had proper lessons from a school of motoring,” says Nigel Grint. “And then we practiced. He was driving quite well after a few lessons.”
After facing off against the likes of three-headed dogs and Draco Malfoy, what’s a little parallel parking?
Original article found here: newsday.com | October 15th, 2006
By Krista Vitola
After appearing in numerous Harry Potter films and having fans worldwide, Rupert Grint is the first of the three to step out of his character and do another film for a change, “Driving Lessons”, where he’s paired his other Harrp Potter co-star Julie Walters and Laura Linney. Grint plays Ben, a young lad who spends weeks attending bible classes and having driving lessons with his mom until he meets an eccentric actress who challenges his beliefs. In speaking with blackfilm.com Rupert as well as Director Jeremy Brock talked working on the film and doing something other than Harry Potter.
After working on the big budgeted Harry Potter films, how do you adjust to working on something smaller like “Driving Lessons”?
Rupert Grint: It was quite nerve wracking going into it. It was a lot different doing Driving Lessons because we shot on location.
In casting Rupert, did you have any concerns?
Jeremy Brock: No, not at all. We had discussed when I sent him the script. He read it and we discussed what it would entail. I actually knew that he wanted the balance of shooting a film in six weeks. That generates an energy that feeds off itself.
How difficult was it to go from this back to Harry Potter movie?
RG: Well, one scene took about a week to shoot or maybe even longer, whereas with this film, we were filming 2-3 scenes a day. It’s a completely different movie.
How did the two of you get together for this film?
JB: I had seen him in all of the Harry Potter and I just thought that he’s an incredibly gifted, natural actor and I wanted that particular quality because the character then has to carry and convey feelings of inadequacies and frustrations all on his face and that’s what he’s so good at.
RG: I was actually quite scared about that because you got the whole crew watching and that was a bit scary and the Michelle Duncan, girl was really good because she’s helped us all.
What was it like working with Julie Walters outside of the Harry Potter films?
RG: It was good having someone I sort of knew because I was a bit nervous about coming in to a new filming environment because I’m used to the ‘Harry Potter’ way of doing things
Do you have an appetite for many independent films?
RG: Yeah, definitely.
In the film, Julie Walters’ character challenges you. Did she do that to off-screen as well?
RG: Yeah, I suppose. She would ad-lib some scenes and challenge me to do the same.
What did you like about the role?
RG: I liked that he was socially different
How was working with Laura Linney?
RG: The great thing about her is that she’s a tremendous actor. She made it comfortable when you’re in an uncomfortable situation. It felt fin with her playing my mom.
How did you feel about directing the film?
JB: I love the process of directing. I love the way it’s like 3-D writing and I found that enormous rewarding. I love the idea of writing about something that I can relate to. I wanted to write about my life in suburbia and I wanted to stick to the story about this amazing relationship I had with (Dame) Peggy Ashcroft.
Can you talk about your driving skills and how’s it going?
RG: I passed my test Saturday. It was second attempt. I’m embarrassed on the amount of time it took me to do it. I took 60 driving lessons.
How were you able to drive in the film without a license?
RG: Well, I was 16 at the time and I wasn’t allowed to because you have to be 17. We had some private roads and it was done quickly. We found a road in Scotland that was on a farm.
Where are you now with your career? Is this what you want to do for a living?
RG: I’m having a real good time doing movies. After the Harry Potter films, we’ll see what happens from then.
Do you think you will stay friends with Daniel and Emma once it’s over?
RG: I think so. We’ve been friends for six years now and have gotten to know each other quite well.
Was your real mother as religious as the character and how did that affect you once you moved out of the house?
JB: To the extent that this is a movie about friendship as well as being a movie about faith and the father articulated one particular point of view, which is the one I find more comfortable. Mom was even more angelical and evangelism has tended to be in my experience to be very constrained and that’s how I experienced it because it’s driven by what they tell you rather than what you think. The father’s son is the key in the movie for the son to make up his mind.
DRIVING LESSONS opens on October 13, 2006
Original article found here: blackfilm | October 12, 2006