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
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