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Rupert Grint

July 05, 2009

While working on the series' sixth film, the actors talk to Times writer Geoff Boucher about 'The Half-Blood Prince,' music, friendship and getting older.


'Potter' trio looks beyond graduation

There were so many faces. "Thousands. It felt like every kid in England wanted to be in the first 'Harry Potter' film." That's how producer David Heyman remembers the crush of casting options a decade ago when the Hollywood's massive and magical spellbinding franchise began with the key decision of picking its young wizards. They found their Hermione in the daughter of two attorneys who seemed as driven as the character. Ron was discovered in a videotape audition plucked from a mailroom mountain. The future Harry himself was spotted by Heyman in the audience of a theatrical production and encouraged to try out. "It was kismet," Heyman said. It led to the biggest and best show-biz decision of the past decade. The little children are now young adults and, somehow miraculously, they have thrived in the face of fame, fortune and relentless pressure. "There wasn't a Britney in the bunch," one Warner Bros exec said with unceasing relief. Interviewed more than a year ago on the Watford, England, set of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (the film, due July 15), was postponed to position it in the summer marketplace) the three stars -- Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson -- talked to staff writer Geoff Boucher about the past and the future and, most of all, all the magic.


Rupert Grint may walk on red carpets, but with his glum smile and complete lack of pretension he seems as unaffected as the pub regulars enjoying afternoon beers back in his home village of Watton-at-Stone.

Grint will be just 21 next month, but he seems older around the eyes and, like his character Ron Weasley, he doesn't seem as driven as the other two members of his famous trio. Daniel Radcliffe wants to be the Laurence Olivier of his generation, and Emma Watson is sorting through a handful of career options, but Grint, well, he seems to be meeting the future with a good-natured shrug.

"I was thinking about what it's going to be like when we're done, after the last movie," Grint said. "It is going to be really weird, actually. At the moment it seems quite far away. I don't know what I'm going to do, really. I'm going to miss it, I think, because it's been my whole life for a long time. I really enjoy it as well, every year we've come back and done it. All of this, this is what I know. . . ."

Grint was sitting in his hushed dressing room at the cavernous "Harry Potter" set outside London, which has a pingpong table, a miniature billiards table, a huge television, a dart board and a giant cardboard cutout of his character. It's a dorm room for a fellow who never had any interest in college (unlike costar Watson, who had her choice of universities) and only adds to the sense that Grint is a lucky and carefree passenger on the "Potter" express.

That impression doesn't hold up to scrutiny for everyone. Alfonso Cuaron, director of the third "Potter" film, for instance, predicted that Grint was the most likely member of the "Potter" trio to go on to future stardom. Asked about that, Grint winced in embarrassment.

"Dan is the one who is very driven; he's ambitious and he knows there's quite a few things down the road. I am a little bit more laid back. And Emma, I mean, she's really cool. We all get on really well; she's just a really good mate."

Grint said Watson is "like a sister," which made for some awkward scenes in "Half-Blood Prince."

A major part of the film is young romance, in particular the love triangle involving Grint's Ron, Watson's Hermione and newcomer Jessie Cave as the smitten Lavender Brown. That provides a lot of this installment's humor, as does Ron's bid to be a Quidditch player.

About an hour before the interview in his dressing room, Grint was poised atop a gyrating contraption that is used to film the flying-broomstick sport (think high-impact aerial lacrosse). On command, Grint stared into a wind machine, pumped his fist and bellowed in triumph. But between takes he looked pained.

"It leaves you sore in the, uh, bicycle-seat area," he said after climbing down. "It's not as fun as I thought it would be."

Grint said he had caught a glimpse of the first "Potter" film on TV a week earlier and was struck by how young he and his friends looked as they ran through the castle. That got him to thinking about endings, both of the novels (which wrapped up last year) and the films (which come to a close in 2011).

"I think it's going to be sad when this, all of it, when it's all over. Reading the last book, there was so much talk about who was going to die. So I was half-expecting, I mean, me, Dan and Emma to not survive. Or our characters, I mean. I was pleasantly surprised, though. I'm glad that it ended the way it did. We all make it."

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