Rupert Grint is a former child actor who doesn’t behave like a former child actor. That’s according to M. Night Shyamalan, director of “Knock at the Cabin,” Grint’s first feature film project in eight years.
“I’ve said this to him: He shouldn’t exist,” Shyamalan told Bustle in an interview published Monday. “A child actor part of an almost religious IP.”
The redheaded tween and then teen who played Ron Weasley in the “Harry Potter” franchise has a sense of how rare his story might be.
“I’ve always felt there was this expectation for us to go off the rails, follow the child star stereotype,” Grint said in the interview. “That’s always been something to fight against.”
According to Shyamalan — also executive producer and director of four episodes of Grint’s AppleTV+ series “Servant” — the fight is going well.
“He’s kind to everybody,” the filmmaker says. “He’s always on time. He’s super professional. It comes effortlessly to him. He’s just an unusual human being in every way. He’s truly become a wonderful actor.”
So instead of a drug problem, a mental-health crisis and a criminal record, Grint has a wife, a 2-year-old daughter and a slate of crafty hobbies he expects will keep him busy outside of the “one or two” acting projects he told GQ UK he hopes to do each year.
But after the “Harry Potter” actors wrapped work on the final films in the franchise, Grint initially didn’t have a plan for what to do next.
“I couldn’t see an obvious next step, so I just did anything in front of me,” he told GQ UK in another interview published Monday. “I just wanted to get the passion back.”
(That was after he also got some rest, having told The Times in 2010, “The last films have been quite exhausting. It was over a year in production. It was really full on.”)
Former co-star Alan Rickman, who died of cancer in 2016, encouraged him to try theater, which he did in 2013 on London’s West End. That’s where he learned the “always on time” thing Shyamalan praised.
After Grint made the entire cast wait for 10 minutes one day because he was late for rehearsal, playwright Jez Butterworth took him aside for a lesson.
“He took me to one side and said, ‘You can’t be late, OK?’ I realized it couldn’t be all me, me, me, in the sense that I couldn’t just do as I pleased. Just being 10 minutes late had a huge impact on everyone. There was pressure, which I’d rarely felt before.”
He must have enjoyed something about it, because 2014 found him on Broadway in a different show. Then he poked around randomly, mostly doing episodic TV.
Finally Grint landed in the world of “Servant,” where he says he got his part “on merit” after being made to audition for Shyamalan. The project, now in its fourth season, gave the actor an anchor from which he grabbed the part in “Knock at the Cabin.” Both Shyamalan projects are opportunities for him to show the darkness he says lives inside him.
That said, he’s not likely to stay dark forever.
“I like the idea of doing something light next — like a Christmas movie,” he told Bustle. “I’m happy with where I’ve ended up.”
“Knock at the Cabin,” which also stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge and Nikki Amuka-Bird, opens Thursday.