Rupert Grint for “Driving Lessons”

When one first noticed Rupert Grint as the awkward, funny Ron Weasley in the first Harry Potter all those years ago, who would have known that the gawky redhead would end up the trio’s most successful actor? Grint, relaxed, tired and a young man of few words, clearly had no idea that at a mature 18, success has come his way. He admits that doing Potter “really changed my life. I remember the auditions really well. how I was really scared and then I remember the day they sort of said we were going to be in it. That was amazing and really, really cool, so it’s been a really good ride.”

As Grint wraps up the latest Potter adventure, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix due out next year, Grint currently finds himself literally and figuratively in the driver’s seat. In between shooting the Potter blockbusters, Grint is starring opposite his Potter mum Julie Walters in the more low-key British comedy/drama Driving Lessons. In a very different role, the actor plays an awkward teenager with a ferociously religious and over protective mother, who lands a job as an assistant to an eccentric actress, fostering a relationship that results in both growing up in the process.

Grint says that he has no particular criteria in choosing a role outside of the Potter franchise. In the case of Driving Lessons, “It just sort of came up when I was doing the fourth film. I was just reading the script and it was just something really different. I’d just been on the fourth one and for about 11 months, so it was just good to sort of be so different.” Grint also loved working with Julie Walters in a very different capacity. “She’s so funny and really easy to get along with. Also it’s a really different sort of character she’s playing rather than Ms Weasley, so it was quite a shock to hear her doing all this swearing,” Grint laughingly recalls.

But Walters is not Grint’s only leading lady in Driving Lessons. While Harry Potter ends up in love as the franchise continues, Grint is seduced by a gorgeous 20-year old Scottish actress in this film. “I was really not looking forward to it and was really very quite nervous,” Grint laughingly recalls of his first love scene. “After all, you’re in this tiny sort of set and the whole crew is watching, so it is a bit embarrassing, but the worst part is watching it back.”

Life is great for the humble star of one of the biggest franchises in history, but Grint takes it all in his stride. “I left school when I was 16 because [ wanted to do this.” Prior to landing Potter, the young actor says he always wanted to act. “I mean I’ve always been involved in like street plays and stuff like that at school and just got involved in drama.” Yet he never expected the somewhat surreal adulation that came with the Potter films, especially during the films’ premieres. “I’ve never really gotten used to it and it does get pretty crazy. But the fans are always really nice and there’s never really been a problem.”

On the latest Potter, Grint says there are marked differences between David Yates, director of Order of the Phoenix, and Mike Newell, who helmed the last one. “He’s really cool, really laid back and a lot calmer than Mike Newell, who was really loud, would swear at you if you did it wrong and he was absolutely crazy. David’s a really nice guy.” Not giving too much away to non-Potter devotees, Grint promises the next film will be the darkest to date, “and I think they get darker as they go along. This one is supposed to be definitely darker with Voldemort coming back and so I think it’s much more sort grown up.”

Despite the cast’s ascending ages, Grint confirmed that they’re all signed for the final adaptation. “I definitely will do it”, he says. As for life after Potter, Grint isn’t looking too far ahead, as he still loves the franchise. “I’m just having a good time doing the films. I just want to go on, maybe do some other little stuff in between and just see what happens.”