Potter Goes Punk
Rupert Grint Talks About ‘CBGB,’ Harry Potter, and His Butt
Rupert Grint tells Kevin Fallon about playing a punk rocker in ‘CBGB,’ life post-Potter, and, um, his butt.
On a given night in the late ’70s, you might have been able to find punk-rock icons The Dead Boys playing at New York City’s hallowed venue, CBGB. You might have seen lead singer Stiv Bators slash his stomach on stage. Or you may have seen Bators nearly knock himself out with a microphone stand in the throes of particularly passionate, anarchic performance. Or, if you were there on one legendary day, you may even have seen Bators receive a blow job from a CBGB waitress while performing.
Sharing the stage with Bators was Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome. In this weekend’s indie release CBGB, which chronicles the famed club’s rise to prominence, the flame-haired punk legend is portrayed by perhaps one of the last people you’d expect to stand on stage while a costar receives faux fellatio: Harry Potter star Rupert Grint.
He Who Played Ron Weasley is now a 25-year-old actor admirably leaving his Potter past behind him, and as Chrome he does his own fair share of embracing punk. Take the widely circulated scene that leaked earlier this month, for example, of a leather-clad, dog collar-wearing Grint as Chrome dropping trou to prove “the carpet matches the drapes.”
Click the link. Now we’ve all seen Ron Weasley’s butt.
We chatted with Grint about embracing his inner punk, leaving his Potter image behind, and, yes, his butt.
I can only imagine how much fun this was to film. Everyone dreams of being a rock star when they’re a kid. Now you get to play one.
\Yeah! There’s just something about that idea. I always wanted to be in a band, especially in a punk thing. It’s such a performance—all these crazy, ridiculous things they did on stage. It just seemed like such a good time.
And you got to act out all those ridiculous punk things in this movie.
It was really fun. It’s quite an intoxicating thing. Even though on stage we weren’t really playing the instruments—we were just kind of moving about on stage—we really felt the crowd and the music. We transported into that world, into that time. We all did really feel like rock stars, too.
How into punk rock were you before you signed on for this movie?
I loved the music. Mainly the English point of view of punk. The Ramones I was a big fan of, the Talking Heads, the Clash, Sex Pistols…all those bands. It was one of the reasons I wanted to do the film, so I could access all that music. I actually learned a lot about the club, too. I only really knew of it before. It was a fascinating time, learning about how brilliant this place was and how many amazing fans performed there. It was such a great experience.
Did you ever visit the club?
To be honest, I really didn’t know what it was, what it meant. I obviously knew the name. I think I even had a T-shirt with it on.
Those T-shirts became more popular than the club itself, I think.
It’s funny. People probably didn’t know it was a venue.
I remember back during peak Harry Potter days, journalists liked to compare you guys to rock stars, for the fan hysteria that surrounded your movies. But I think it’s safe to say you didn’t behave like ones, at least not the ones depicted in this film.
No, no, no. [Laughs] Oh, it was just ridiculous things that they did. I didn’t really know about the Dead Boys. I had to look them up as well and listen to the music. There were a few videos up on YouTube that I studied. It blew my mind the kind of things they did. It was amazing.
What’s the most punk rock thing you’ve ever done?
Hm…I don’t know. I never really had that feeling where you’re rebelling against something. I never had an interest.
When you put on the dog collar and you were wearing all the leather, did you feel any “punk” spirit take over you?
Yeah! The clothes are such a big part of everything. When you put them on, you do feel like—I didn’t smash anything up or anything like that, but you do get this attitude a little bit. I loved the clothing. It was really helpful in getting deep into that world.
Now I’m sure you’re aware, but of all things, the clip of you dropping your trousers to prove that “the carpet matches the drapes,” that was one of the first clips released here to drum up publicity for the movie.
Wow. I’m sorry. No, you’d think, because I’m quite—I’ve always been a bit weird about nudity. It’s not something I’d had an interest in kind of exploring. But this just happened and it felt right, somehow. Punk and everything. It was just quite a simple thing. On set, it’s easier than you think. Yeah. It’s good.
Between the clip from this movie and then the obsession over Daniel Radcliffe’s nudity and sex scenes in Kill Your Darlings, there’s a strange obsession with the idea of you Harry Potter stars taking off your clothes.
It’s so weird. This is not really on the same scale as that. It’s just a flash of ass. [Laughs] It’s something that’s quite shocking for people who have grown up with us since they were 10-year-olds to suddenly see…a lot more of us. It must be weird for them.
Does it frustrate you that these are things that get focused on when you’re releasing these films?
I don’t really think about it too much, really. It’s just one of those things. Part of the challenge there is to kind of separate from that, those roles. I think it’s going to take a long time to completely detach ourselves from that, because it was such a huge, massive thing. It’s just part of what we’ve got, I guess. It doesn’t bother me.
Are you choosing roles and signing on to films like this with the hope that they’ll distance you from the Potter memories?
I’ve never kind of consciously gone out and tried to detach myself. Some of it is just that I pick things that I like the script for and the people around it. I think that sort of thing—now that we’re all getting older, drugs, nudity, and those things are going to come hand-in-hand with that growing up, as far as the parts we choose.
So Cheetah Chrome actually has a cameo in the movie. Was he on set a lot when you were filming?
Yeah, he was. He was on set for the whole time I was there. When he was on set, it put a lot of pressure on you. You want to kind of do him justice, especially since I can’t play the guitar. He was an amazing guitarist. So I felt self-conscious when he was there, but he’s actually a really nice guy. But it was nice just talking to him, listening to his stories.
Did he tell you all the crazy stories from his days at the club? What’s the craziest?
I suppose the whole whipped-cream incident. So weird. His daughter, who was on set as well, she had actual photographs of the actual day, so we could see what was going on. It was, um…amazing to see that.
Could you even imagine a rock star pulling something like that off these days, with iPhones and Instagram?
Right! It’s so crazy.
What’s it like working with Alan Rickman (who played Professor Snape in the Harry Potter franchise) in this totally different capacity?
It was weird! I really love Alan. He’s always been one of my favorites. It was just kind of strange to see him in this whole new character and in such a completely different environment. I haven’t seen him much outside of the Potter set after we wrapped, so just seeing him in another environment is odd. It’s kind of like Snape is suddenly a different person. It was weird. But he’s great, and it was nice to have someone who knew your face on set. He made the whole thing a great experience.
So now that you’ve done this movie and played a rock star, any plans to try out doing the real thing?
I’d love to. But I don’t know…I think that ship’s sailed. It’s a dream, but I don’t think I’d really be good at it. I’m not a natural musician. But it was really fun to pretend. I’d like to pretend again.