“I think I’m scary like my character. I live in a family of seven, I’ve got a red-headed sister, and I live in a Burrow!” (Rupert at his first Press Conference)
t was a day before his 12th birthday, on 23 August 2000, that Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe were introduced to the world as the children playing Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter in the upcoming two films in a press conference in London.
A month later, on 29 September 2000, Rupert started filming the first scene for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at Goathland Station, which actually was the last scene to be seen in the film.
“Rupert was so strong in that moment.” (Chris Columbus about the chess scene, Sorcerer’s Stone Ultimate Edition DVD)
One of the most memorable scenes of the first film was the “Chess Scene”, in which Ron sacrifices himself to enable Harry to reach the Philosopher’s Stone. Not only was this Ron’s heroic moment in the film, but also Rupert’s and director Chris Columbus‘ favourite scene to film. As a souvenir, Rupert got to keep a piece of the giant Chess horse.
Filming on Harry Potter also meant a lot of fun on the set, and Rupert quickly became friends not only with Daniel and Emma, but also with James and Oliver Phelps, who played Ron’s twin brothers Fred and George. Rupert and Dan became known as little pranksters, once changing the settings of Robbie Coltrane‘s mobile phone to Turkish.
Having always enjoyed drawing, Rupert made an “unpleasant” caricature of Alan Rickman, which Alan – to Rupert’s horror – noticed and kept – because he liked it so much. Alan also gave Rupert the advice to relax his face when he would start corpsing – a good advice that “didn’t work, really”, according to Rupert.
With Rupert spending so much time on set in Leavesden, Nigel Grint gave up his job selling Formula 1 memorabilia to become chaperone for his son, and to accompany him to publicity events around the world in the years to come.
“My friends treat me pretty normal. My teachers suck up a bit.” (Rupert on about.com, 14 November 2002)
As they were still attending school, the young actors were only allowed on set for four hours each day. This not only meant a longer production time, but also that Rupert and his co-stars were required to spend five hours each day in tutoring on set.
As Rupert had never been a particular academic person, it turned out to be an advantage to have 1-on-1 lessons, where he had to focus far more than at school.
When he was not on set, he returned to Richard Hale School in Hertfortshire, where he continued his studies, having finished only his first year of secondary education finished by the time he was cast for the film.
Despite receiving a round of applause from his classmates when he returned to school, his friends and family continued to treat him normally.
Having finished filming on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Socerer’s Stone in April 2001, Rupert became the first of the young Harry Potter cast to appear in another feature film, and began shooting Thunderpants on 22 April.
“And then we got together on time, and that was just a no-brainer. He was so completely Alan.” (Peter Hewitt, Thunderpants UK DVD)
Having met director Peter Hewitt and casting agent twice (once to read for them, and once for a screen test in costume), he was given the part of Alan A. Allen. Feeling somewhat “pottered-out”, Rupert was quite happy about having his hair permed and wearing false teeth once he realised that his friends were not going to tease him, and enjoyed playing a character so different from Ron Weasley.
Filming for Thunderpants ended on 19 June 2001, giving Rupert the chance to enjoy the summer before facing the millions of Harry Potter fans while promoting the first film’s cinematical release.
“When he first started he was really cute and really shy. My abiding memory of him is at the first premiere and Grant, my husband, and I looked at Rupert and there was a beautiful little moon face, and he looked like a rabbit caught in the flashbulbs. He was such a sweetheart, you wanted to cuddle him.” (Julie Walters, The Sunday Times, November 2010)
When the World Premiere took place on 4 November 2001, Rupert was happily surprised by the amount of recognition the first Harry Potter film received, feeling somewhat “shocked” by the amount of fans who had come to Leicester Square to see the new stars of the film in person and hoping to receive their autographs. Rupert and his young co-stars had suddenly become worldwide-known stars.
“Dan and Rupert sometimes get the giggles in the afternoon which is excellent. It thoroughly amuses me. And I encourage it on all possible opportunities.” (Mark Williams, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets DVD)
Only three days after the films worldwide cinematical release on 15 November, Rupert returned to the franchise’s set at Leavesden to start filming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Rupert’s favourite scenes were those in the flying car, the filming of which felt “like a theme-park ride”, and vomiting slugs, which tasted “quite nice” and had different flavours such as chocolate, lemon, orange and peppermint. Rupert revealed that he could put up to two into his mouth.
On the other hand, Rupert did not enjoy the scenes with the giant Acromantula Aragog due to his arachnophobia. A scene in which a baby tarantula was meant to climb up Rupert’s leg had to be cut as Rupert was too scared to make it through the scene. While Chris Columbus called the scene the funniest to shoot because Rupert’s acting was pure comedy, Rupert revealed in 2010 that he still could not stand to watch the scenes.
Following the box-office success of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Rupert was soon recognised as an upcoming talented actor, receiving many positive reviews for his portrayal of Ron Weasley. He won the Special Achievement Award for Outstanding New Talent at the Satellite Awards as well as the Special Award for Most Promising Young Newcomer at the Young Artist Awards, and received a nomination from the British Critic’s Circle for Best Newcomer. In addition, Rupert, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson received a nomination for Best Debut at the Empire Awards, while Rupert, Emma and Tom Felton were nominated as Best Ensemble in a Feature Film at the Young Artist Awards.
12 May 2002 marked the day of the World Premiere of Rupert’s first non-Harry-Potter film Thunderpants. While a World Record in simultaneous Whoopie Cushion farting was proken at the premiere by cast, crew and fans, the film was only released in few countries, but became a fan favourite over the years.
“They live in the same area, they are the same age and hearing that Tony wanted to see the film so badly, he just wanted to see if he could do anything. Just to see him, talk to him on the phone, just to be his friend, really. […] It meant a lot to us that he wanted to do something and we were prepared to do what we could.” (Jo Grint, [source])
On 29 November 2002, Rupert visited Tony Chapman, a 14 year old old Harry Potter fan who lived near Rupert and suffered from leukaemia. Rupert himself had read about Tony’s story in a local newspaper and had asked his parents for help. After arranging a meeting, Rupert and Tony spent the day together discussing Harry Potter and playing video games. Tony died only five days after Rupert’s visit.
“Meeting the people, going to things like the New York premiere, coughing up the slugs and seeing the final thing is really good.” (Rupert at the CoS Press Conference, 22 October 2002)
Having finished filming the second Harry Potter film on 26 July 2002, the World Premiere on 3 November seemed to have attracted even more fans than the first, and again, the film became a box-office hit in the weeks following its cinematical release.
Having spent two years in the spotlight, Rupert was still getting used to being recognised by fans, but did not mind being approached as the feedback was usually positive. He was still being treated normally by his family and friends, still having to clean his own room at home. Also, Rupert used his earnings from the Harry Potter films to buy a larger house for his family.
When Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released, it had already been announced that Chris Columbus would hand over the director’s chair for the third film of the franchise to Alfonso Cuaron. Something wicked was meant to come this way…