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Rupert Grint talks about his splashy Broadway debut and looking back (or not) on his Harry Potter years

Written by
Diane Snyder

It’s been a dramatic year for Rupert Grint. The man who will forever be Ron Weasley to legions of Harry Potter devotees made his professional stage debut last fall in a London revival of Jez Butterworth’s thriller Mojo. (Notices were mostly positive for his jittery portrayal of a thuggish speed freak named Sweets.) Now Grint is on Broadway, in an updated version of Terrence McNally’s 1986 showbiz comedy It’s Only a Playset at the chaotic opening-night party of a new Broadway show. Of course, Grint isn’t the only Harry Potter alum to have tested his talent onstage. Daniel Radcliffe has starred in three Broadway shows in the past six years. Grint’s Great White Way debut, however, places him in the middle of a seasoned ensemble that includes Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullally, Stockard Channing and F. Murray Abraham. The morning after his 26th birthday, a friendly but low-key Grint talked about his Broadway debut, a prospect he deemed “quite scary.”

How did you end up in this production? Were you looking to come to Broadway?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, ever since my first taste of theater last year in the West End, when I did Mojo. This just kind of came up. I was quite hesitant at first, but it’s such a fun play and a great cast that I had to do it.

You were hesitant?
Yeah, just because of the scale of it. I thought I might be a little bit out of my depth. Everyone in this cast is so experienced—people I’ve watched while I was growing up—it was quite overwhelming. I remember on the first day just looking around the table, thinking, Oh, my God, this is real. But it’s been a really good rehearsal process, and I feel comfortable. They all know comedy so well.

Your character, Frank Finger, is this wunderkind director who feels like his work is a sham. It’s nothing you relate to, I hope?
[Laughs] No, not quite. He’s not like other characters I’ve played before. He’s quite over-the-top and angry. He’s been praised since leaving RADA for everything he’s done, and he’s a bit sick of all the attention and the rave reviews. He’s already been knighted. He wants a bad review to kind of get him back on track. And he’s a kleptomaniac. It’s a fun character.

He’s also British. That’s new from the original.
The script has had a lot of updates to include social media and the way people view reviews now. It’s interesting to see people read reviews about themselves. I don’t think audiences think about that when they read reviews: about the person that it’s about. Watching a group of actors and directors reading reviews is quite an interesting thing.

Do you read your reviews?
I avoid it whenever I can. It’s scary.

Is this your first time in New York for an extended period?
Yeah, it is. I used to come over almost every year for Harry Potter promotional things, one week here and there, but this is the longest I’ve been here. Sometimes I do feel quite far away from home, but it’s a great city, it’s got such energy. I’m really enjoying it.

Is it hard to be out and about here, or do you just blend in?
It depends on where you go. I have managed to kind of blend in. People want pictures, but nothing too crazy. It’s quite manageable. I wear a hat to cover my hair as much as I can.

I guess that is your most identifiable feature.
Or people think I’m Ed Sheeran.

Yes! I read that you play along when people think you’re him.
I do play along.

Did you catch Daniel when he was in The Cripple of Inishmaan?
When it was in England. He was great. My other friend was in that as well, Conor MacNeill. It’s quite inspiring. Whenever I’ve watched Dan, he’s just completely alive. It’s great to see him up there.

Daniel said recently that he didn’t like looking at his work in the Harry Potter films. Do you have a similar response?
I don’t really look back on them. I don’t really watch them. Occasionally I catch glimpses when they’re playing on TV. It’s like watching high-quality home videos, watching me grow up. It’s quite strange. I’m really quite proud to be a part of them. They were a huge part of our lives.

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