Rupert Grint: Life after Harry Potter
As the final film hits cinemas today, Rupert Grint tells Kate Whiting of his plans for the future following a decade starring in one of the most successful movie series ever
Of the trio of young actors who’ve steered the multi-billion pound Harry Potter ship over the past 10 years, Rupert Grint appears to have emerged the least scathed by the huge avalanche of attention.
Daniel Radcliffe recently admitted he'd crumbled under the pressures of fame and become dependent on alcohol, while Emma Watson admits she fights hard to maintain her autonomy in the face of an A-list lifestyle.
Perhaps this is why, while Radcliffe is currently singing and dancing up a storm on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and Watson (whose shorn locks show she's happily rid of Hermione Granger) is plotting to continue her education at Oxford this autumn, Grint appears less eager to move on.
“It's just been a really weird year since we finished. I've felt quite empty,” says the 22-year-old redhead from Hertfordshire, who today sports long sideburns and a smattering of facial hair denied him in his Ron Weasley years.
“Initially I was looking forward to freedom, because these films have taken a big chunk of our lives. It's revolved around them every year for a decade.
“But I've felt a little bit lost without it, not really knowing what to do with myself. Just being on set, and that camaraderie we established over 10 years, it was like a family and suddenly I don't have that anymore. It's a big adjustment. I underestimated that, but I think it will get easier.”
Unlike his peers, Grint had never acted before he sent the Potter producers a rap of reasons he wanted the role.
“One day I was just a Harry Potter fan and the next, I was in the films, which I could never have imagined,” he says.
Diplomatically addressing the news of Radcliffe's reliance on alcohol, he admits while there have been “restrictions” and pressures that come from the responsibility of bringing the books to life, he says the positives far outweighed any negatives.
As Ron, Grint was always the funny man to Radcliffe's straight guy, but in real life, he's thoughtful and chooses his words with care. Besides, there's nothing funny about this final outing.
It's darker than many of the others in the eight-film franchise and sees Hogwarts school become a battleground, as Harry and his friends enter a bloody showdown with evil Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. One of the lighter moments comes when Ron and Hermione finally kiss after years of mounting tension.
“That was a tricky one, because this scene has been built up for quite a long time and it had to look believable — like we wanted to kiss each other, which I struggled with,” he says.
“Most guys would probably kill to be in my position, but I view Emma in a completely different way. It really is like kissing a relative, which is a bit creepy.”
The other surreal moment came when he was aged 19 — and given a beer gut for the final scene of the movie.
“That's a re-shoot,” he says. “The first attempt was pretty terrifying — I looked like Donald Trump.”
Over the years Grint has done other non-Potter work, including last year's comedy thriller Wild Target with Bill Nighy and TV comedy Driving Lessons with Julie Walters. He feels he's earned his acting chops on the Leavesden sets.
“There was definitely a moment halfway through, where I started taking things more seriously and caring about getting it right. Previously it was a bit of a party. It was probably on film four where I started to change.”
Film four, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, released in 2005, was also one of the best reviewed and the darkest so far.
While he may not be able to see much beyond Potter at present (“It all looks a bit blurry,” he says), those who've worked with him will attest that Grint's future is bright.
Producer David Barron says: “Everyone thinks of Rupert as this great comedic talent, but he's got real acting genes.”
Perhaps to prove this, Grint's chosen a low-budget World War II drama as his first post-Potter film.
Comrade, based on the true story of German and English bomber pilots forced to shelter together in a harsh Norwegian winter, was filmed in April and the actor plays a Liverpudlian RAF gunner.
“It's not so much about the violence of war, as a story of survival and two groups of enemies forming this friendship,” he says.
As for coping with the loss, he's been watching footage from the early films and his first screen-test with Radcliffe and Watson: “There's this weird detachment, it feels like a different person.”
And as Ron, Hermione and Harry all know, friendship is key, so he'll be catching up with the other two when he can.
“It's been difficult to get in the same room since we finished. Dan's in America and Emma's ... somewhere.
“I think we'll always be in touch. All three of us have shared a really unique experience which is going to keep us close.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is in cinemas now