Rupert Grint's magic world of hex, drugs and rock'n'roll

The Harry Potter star has grown up and even gets naked for a movie about a hedonistic Belfast youth. But he'll still miss the role that made him famous, he tells James Mottram

It's just before 6pm and Rupert Grint has finished for the day. I feel like saying "Hard day at the office?" But I don't. After all, the red-haired one from Harry Potter must be feeling it right now. He's been filming the final instalment of the hit franchise based on the J K Rowling novels for just over a year now. "We haven't got long left," he says. "Just the final parts of the second part of the film." Not that exhaustion has set in yet. Rather, a feeling of uncertainty has enveloped him. "It'll be strange saying goodbye," he says.

With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows split into two films (the first due out in November, the second in July 2011), it will be some time yet before we bid farewell to Grint's character, Ron Weasley, and all the other Hogwarts pupils. But for the 21-year-old, a life-changing experience that began half his life ago is due to end this June when filming finishes. "It's a weird feeling actually," he admits. "I never really thought it would end. I never really saw this day coming."

In truth, I'm expecting to find a rather nervous figure before me. It can't be easy facing the prospect of unemployment for the first time. While most actors are hardened to it, Grint, and his co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have probably been institutionalised by their time at Leavesden Film Studios, the former Rolls-Royce factory on the outskirts of Watford that has been the home to Harry Potter since shooting began in 2000. "I don't know if I'm good enough to have a long career," he told one interviewer last year. "I've got a bit of an inferiority complex about my acting. My self-esteem is quite low in that sense."

Yet judging by his reaction today – and proving that Radcliffe was correct when he described Grint as "the most totally laid-back person you'll ever meet" – he's changed his tune. Quietly self-assured, while still as modest as the ripped jeans, T-shirt and dirty red- and-white-striped Converse boots he wears suggests, he simply shrugs when asked if he's worried about his post-Potter future. "I've loved every minute of Harry Potter," he says. "Yes, it'll be quite sad to see it go. But I'm also looking forward to being a bit more free and seeing what else comes along."

Admittedly, with estimates putting his wealth in the region of £9 million, such a safety net must help soften the blow. But there's more than money to consider in what must be akin to the feeling of leaving home for good. "It's been such a tight crew since the first film," he says. "Not many people have changed. It's a real family atmosphere. And the place as well... Watford in general really. I've spent more time there than anywhere. I don't know. It'll be weird not going there every day." He considers this for a second, then laughs. "I'll probably get over it."

Like his co-stars, Grint has already started making preparations for his departure. As far back as 2002, he featured in children's tale Thunderpants, and has since appeared alongside his Potter co-star Julie Walters (who plays Ron's mother) in the coming-of-age comedy Driving Lessons, "the first grown-up thing I'd ever really done", as he puts it. But while that saw him portray a shy teenager not a million miles from himself, his latest film, Cherrybomb is something else. "It was quite scary. It felt like a massive step. Filming in a different country, with a different accent, a crew I didn't know... it was a little bit daunting."

Directed by Lisa Barros D'Sa and Glenn Leyburn, Cherrybomb is a Belfast-set drama with lashings of sex, drugs and drink that might raise a few eyebrows among the Potter faithful. "It wasn't a conscious thing to do something completely controversial and shock people," argue Grint, who plays Malachy, a straight-A 16-year-old who works on reception at a leisure complex. While it may not be an episode of Skins, it's still a valid attempt to portray teen life realistically, as Malachy and his wild mate Luke (Robert Sheehan) find themselves competing for the affections of new-girl-on-the-block Michelle (Kimberley Nixon).

Playing the nerdy sidekick to the more charismatic hunk may be something he's already used to thanks to Potter, but Cherrybomb does boast it's fair share of sex scenes between Grint and Nixon, who came to prominence in the 2008 Noël Coward adaptation, Easy Virtue. It's certainly a far cry from the rather chaste kiss he shared with Jessie Cave, who played Lavender Brown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. "That was just a kiss, really. It was suggestive more than anything," he says. "This was a lot more intimate. It was quite nerve-wracking. I was quite nervous about it."

While he does get his top off, Grint admits he's uncertain whether he could echo what Radcliffe did on stage for Equus and go full frontal. "I don't think I could. Just being on stage would be quite a scary thing, let alone with no clothes on. It takes a lot of courage." Yet he feels Potter obsessives will accept him in this more mature role. "I suppose, as I'm getting older, the fans are getting older with me." Has he ever fought with a mate over a girl, like Malachy, I wonder? "I never really did. I haven't had the chance!" Comments like this make you realise how curious it must be to experience your formative years growing up on a film set.

But if Grint hasn't spent his youth chasing girls, he's as grounded as they come. Born in Harlow, he still lives in Hertfordshire, where he was raised and began acting in school plays. Preferring a round of golf to a night out on the tiles, he doesn't come across as a movie brat on a path to self-destruction. Frankly, he doesn't have the constitution for it. "I suffer really badly from hangovers," he says. "I need two days to recover." He's even avoided that most distressing of stigmas – playground teasing over being ginger-haired. "When you're at school, people call you 'ginge' and that. But it's never been anything nasty. I know some gingers get a hard time over it. But I'm pretty grateful for it!"

Another reason he's arguably grateful for his red hair is that it hasn't quite turned him into a teen sensation. While his face doubtless adorns many a teenage girl's wall, he doesn't really suffer from the hysteria that greets Twilight star Robert Pattinson – just two years older than Grint – wherever he goes. "I get recognised occasionally but nothing like that," he says. "It's crazy. You just can't really go anywhere. I've got a much more manageable existence. Must be pretty..." He stops for a second, imagining such an intrusion into his life. "It's just come from nowhere [for him]. It's such a quick thing. Good luck to him."

The eldest of five, Grint's equilibrium evidently stems from his upbringing in a strong family unit. "We're quite close," he says, before acknowledging that it's "been a weird few years" for his family. "It's been quite life-changing for everyone really. It's been quite an adjustment." While his father runs his own business dealing in Formula 1 memorabilia, even turning tyres into coffee tables, Grint tells me the whole clan have "been all over the world" with him for the premieres and promotional duties. "There are some good perks," he grins.

Yet it's clear he's not going to spend much time pining for Potter. Already making further provisions for removing the spell its cast over his life, due later in the year is Wild Target, a remake of the 1993 French film Cible Emouvante about an ageing assassin (Bill Nighy) suffering a midlife crisis. He plays Nighy's apprentice. "The character is closer to me than the one I play in Cherrybomb," he says. "I can probably relate more. He's quite laid back." So it's true then? "I suppose, yeah. I am quite relaxed. Not much fazes me. I don't get angry a lot."

Still, if Grint is looking for a role to eclipse Ron Weasley, he may already have found it. He's currently attached to a project to play Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, the British ski-jumping record holder who became a hero of sorts for finishing last in the 1988 Winter Olympics. "Nothing's final yet but I'm quite up for it. It's always been quite a big story in my family. My dad's always told me about the legend of Eddie the Eagle. He was a bit of a joke really. But he did actually jump, and set the British record." For the record, he's never skied in his life. "That might be a good thing!" he winks.

A comic tale of a plucky underdog, it rather sums up Grint's career to date. Maybe he'll never stray too far from this comfort zone. But with Ron on the run with Harry and Hermione in the final Harry Potter instalment, at least we'll get to see Grint in a more action-oriented role in Deathly Hallows. "I have hair extensions for the latter part of the film," he explains. "Ron gets a bushier hairstyle because they're living rough and camping out. Me and Dan have got stubble as well!" Ron Weasley with facial hair? Perhaps it shows Rupert Grint is ready to leave Harry Potter after all.

'Cherrybomb' opens on 23 April. 'Wild Target' and part one of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' will be released later in the year

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering