Ron ‘changed ev­ery­thing’

Six years af­ter Harry Pot­ter ended, is Ru­pert Grint ready to make peace with his past? Chris Har­vey

Weekend Herald - - Review - Finds out Ru­pert Grint, 29, says he and his

Iwas 10 when ev­ery­thing changed,” says Ru­pert Grint. “And it did change ev­ery­thing.” The man who was school­boy wizard Ron Weasley in the Harry Pot­ter films is sit­ting op­po­site me talk­ing about life be­yond Hog­warts. The fran­chise (com­pleted in 2011) made him rich, but he has a strange re­la­tion­ship with money — “I only have one pair of shoes”. It also made him fa­mous, but he has an odd re­la­tion­ship with fame, too — “Oc­ca­sion­ally, if I walk quickly and wear my cap, I can kind of blend in a lit­tle bit.” And it made him feel dif­fer­ent from the rest of his gen­er­a­tion — “I do feel like I’m the only per­son who’s not on Twit­ter.” Grint is 29.

His de­ci­sion not to be on Twit­ter, he says, is not a protest against mod­ern life, it’s just that he wouldn’t know how to project him­self be­cause he likes to pro­tect his pri­vacy. He still gets asked to pose for self­ies al­most ev­ery day by Pot­ter fans, but his de­sire to stay out of the spot­light is so well known that his at­ten­dance at a Lon­don the­atre per­for­mance of Harry Pot­ter and the Cursed Child was re­ported in the me­dia as a “rare Ru­pert Grint sight­ing”. “My pres­ence was noted,” he says, with irony, when I men­tion it. “See­ing some­one else’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Ron is like an outof-body ex­pe­ri­ence,” he adds. “It’s very sur­real. I feel like there’s so much of me in Ron, it’s hard for me to de­ci­pher who is what.

It was quite emo­tional in a weird way.”

Grint is boy­ish and dif­fi­dent, softly spo­ken. He may have found it hard to de­tach him­self from Weasley, but since Pot­ter he has been pretty busy. He’s made some in­ter­est­ingly off­beat in­de­pen­dent films, such as the “Stan­ley Kubrick faked the moon land­ings” com­edy Moon­walk­ers (2015); he’s acted on stage in Lon­don and on Broad­way; and he pro­duced and starred in the tele­vi­sion spin-off of Guy Ritchie’s Snatch — unloved by the crit­ics but al­ready com­mis­sioned for a sec­ond se­ries.

Now he’s ap­pear­ing in a Sky One com­edy, Sick Note, as Daniel, a waster who is di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal can­cer. Sud­denly his boss, his par­ents, even his girl­friend start be­ing nice to him. Then he finds out that it was all a mis­take but, rather than lose the ben­e­fits of the mis­di­ag­no­sis, he de­cides to keep his mouth shut.

“I’m drawn to the dark side of hu­man­ity, and find­ing hu­mour in that is some­thing that in­ter­ests me,” says Grint. “I love the way the lie spi­rals out of con­trol and other char­ac­ters be­come tan­gled in it. Daniel is tricky to play, though — he’s not the most like­able char­ac­ter.”

To his credit, Grint makes Daniel like­able and funny, al­though he in­sists he’s the straight man of the piece. He’s act­ing op­po­site Nick Frost, who he says is re­lent­less in his com­pul­sion to make peo­ple laugh. Just be­fore a take, Frost would be look­ing at his phone, then come out with a line like, “Oh my god, He­len Mir­ren’s died, poor He­len”. “And then it was ‘Ac­tion!’,” says Grint, “and I wouldn’t be able to get it out of my head.”

He seems com­fort­able play­ing com­edy. But is he the sort of per­son who lies in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions? “Yeah, I do it with­out even think­ing. I’m not one of these peo­ple who say it like it is. That can be al­most rude. I lie fairly of­ten, not big lies, mainly get­ting out of so­cial events I don’t want to go to.”

He’s the old­est of five chil­dren, born in Es­sex but raised in Hert­ford­shire where his fa­ther sold For­mula One mem­o­ra­bilia. “It was a nor­mal child­hood in a happy home,” he says. “I was al­ways quite a shy kid — act­ing was my way of deal­ing with that, I think, pre­tend­ing to be some­one else.”

He per­formed in school plays and for a lo­cal the­atre group. At school, his gin­ger hair at­tracted the usual play­ground abuse: “I’d al­ways get called, like, ‘gin­ger pubes’. It’s never re­ally af­fected me too deeply, but I think that [prej­u­dice] is chang­ing now be­cause of peo­ple like Ed Sheeran.”

Is it true that he gets mis­taken for the singer? “Not so much now, but it did hap­pen quite a lot,” he says. “I even met Leo Sayer at For­mula One and he was ask­ing me about my mu­sic. I just played along with it.”

He’s a big mu­sic fan — “I’ve al­ways been a bit of an out­sider; I never re­ally know what’s go­ing on in the charts. Al­though if I’m hon­est, I’d rather have been in a band [than be an ac­tor].”

Grint has played a gui­tarist — in the 2013 film CBGB, about the fa­mous New York club that launched the Ra­mones, Talk­ing Heads and Blondie. It starred Alan Rick­man as the club’s owner Hilly Kristal. When Rick­man died last year, he joined a small but grow­ing list of Bri­tish act­ing greats and Pot­ter stars who have passed away. That must be hard to get used to? “It is. It hap­pened very early on with Richard Har­ris.” (Har­ris played Al­bus Dum­ble­dore in the first two films.)

“It’s odd. I can’t claim to know them very well but it does feel like griev­ing an un­cle, be­cause we grew up on those sets and the peo­ple around us were part of the fam­ily.”

When he says he grew up on those sets, he means it lit­er­ally. “We had to do a min­i­mum of three hours a day ed­u­ca­tion and then go straight on set, but that could be bro­ken up, so we’d be on set for a few hours and then have 15 min­utes of school. They built a school in the stu­dios be­cause there were so many kids.”

Was it a very chap­er­oned en­vi­ron­ment? “It felt very free, ac­tu­ally. We had our own play­ground men­tal­ity, and there were the same kinds of so­cial cliques you’d find at school.”

Who does he keep in touch with from the films? “Quite a few. I see Tom Fel­ton [Draco Mal­foy] now and again, and the twins [James and Oliver Phelps, who played Ron’s big broth­ers Fred and Ge­orge Weasley]. We spent so much time to­gether — it was such an in­ti­mate process, es­pe­cially for me, Dan and Emma. It was ev­ery day for about 10 years. Ev­ery­one as­sumes we’ll see each other all the time so­cially, but it’s not re­ally the case. We’ll al­ways have quite a strong bond, though, be­cause it was a huge part of our lives.”

He’s aware of his post-Pot­ter ca­reer be­ing com­pared with the star­rier ones of Rad­cliffe and Wat­son, but it’s not some­thing he thinks about. “It’s fun to see them do­ing new things,” he says. His wealth is be­lieved to be about £25 mil­lion ($47m). He’s in­vested part of it in prop­erty, which his fa­ther helps him to man­age. He did go through a phase of buy­ing un­usual ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a hov­er­craft, but that hasn’t been used for a while, he says. “There was a time when I was turn­ing into a weird, Michael Jack­son-type fig­ure — just in terms of col­lect­ing weird things, but I think I’ve grown out of that a lit­tle bit,” he says.

Grint has been through one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary child­hoods imag­in­able. But for all the money and adu­la­tion that came with it, he seems a re­luc­tant celebrity who hasn’t made peace with his fame. The ghost of Ron

Weasley hangs over him, and it has made him un­sure of him­self.

Even his con­cept of age is “a bit hazy”, he notes, “I was 29 this year and

. . . I still feel like a teenager. I don’t know when that will change. I can’t imag­ine ever play­ing a fa­ther role in a film.” The Daily Tele­graph cast­mates Emma Wat­son and Daniel Rad­cliffe (inset) will al­ways have a close bond.

Harry Pot­ter

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