Off to See the Wizard, a Chris Rankin Interview

Mar 05, 2005

Posted by: Melissa Anelli


The long-awaited Chris Rankin interview! Enjoy! Click on the link below for the whole interview, and click the pics for larger versions.
By Melissa Anelli for The Leaky Cauldron

size=”-1″>On the yellow brick road

How busy has Chris Rankin been since finishing filming on Prisoner of

Busy. Busy. Buuuu-sy. So busy that we sat down for this interview Halloween
weekend, 2004, and this is the first opportunity TLC has had to post the interview.
Why? Thanks to a recording mishap, we had to reschedule/re-discuss part of what
we talked about that night. Not too much of a problem, right? E-mail is fast,
phone lines even faster, reconnecting should be a breeze.

Wrong. It took more than three months and many, many, too-many e-mails where
the most commonly expressed thought — as equally on one side as the
other — was, “No, that time’s not going to work for me. How about
tomorrow?” Only when this absolutely determined TLC editor sent an
e-mail that read something like “10PM YOUR TIME TONIGHT RANKIN OR ELSE,
BE THERE!” was this interview finally finished.

So what has Chris been up to that’s kept him away from frazzled and
capitalization-abusive interviewers? Not Goblet of Fire; as far as he knows,
Percy does not show a single pompous hair in the fourth Potter film. But as one of the
first HP actors to find acting life outside the films, he’s sure managed to
do good work with the time.

He’s playing tonight at the Norwich
playhouse as the Young Syrian in Oscar Wilde’s Salome, the latest offering
from his very own theater group, the Painted
Horse Theatre Company
. As he puts it, he’s now actor/director/producer/God
to a small band of devoted thespians, and he’s finding the theatrical life even
more thrilling than life behind a camera lens – especially when it leads to controversies about nudity onstage (more about that later).

size=”-1″>Chris outside Wicked

idinamenzel.png When we met in October, it was to see Wicked, the hit Broadway musical based on the book based on the Wizard of Oz. It starred at the time Idina Menzel, who won a Tony award for her rendition of the Wicked Witch of the West Chris had, at that point, been listening to the Wicked soundtrack
for months, and was practically overflowing with excitement. As both of us love
Broadway with the force usually associated with, well, Harry Potter fans,
we literally went skipping down the street — all we needed was a picnic
basket, a yappy-type dog and some glittery shoes.

Chris was in the middle of a twister himself, a tour of the US that stopped
him in nine cities in less than two weeks. Our interview began just before the
show, on the way to pick up some pictures from a hotel room littered in Playbills,
memo pads, pens, books, and the odd piece of Harry Potter paraphrenalia
given to him by a fan. With fifteen minutes to curtain, we stopped for coffee
and began our chat: on theater, work, Harry Potter and life when you’re
not filming one.


TLC: How excited are you about Wicked?

CR: Oh my god, I’m so excited.

TLC: How long have you been listening to it?

CR: Since I got the soundtrack, which was in February, March. I listen
every day.

size=”-1″>With Idina Menzel, star of Wicked

TLC: Do you dance around singing to it? CR: I do. The music makes me very happy. There’s one song in particular called
“Dancing Through Life” that’s kind of my song.

TLC: Why?

CR: Basically is what it says is people who have been to school don’t get the
best of life. First line is, “The trouble with school is they always try
and teach the wrong lesson.” And I kind of didn’t really do school after
16. I did, but I kind of failed, miserably.

TLC: So what lessons have you learned outside of school?

CR: That it’s all about life and experience and what you learn, which is where
Rent comes in. “No day but today.”

TLC: What kind of life experiences are you talking about?

CR: Just that when you’re 16 and you go off to make a film and at the time you
don’t really realize it but it turns out to be the biggest thing since Ben
, and you’re kind of thrown into the world of Hollywood glitz and glamour.
You suddenly realize that you have to do what you want to do rather than what
people tell you to do.

TLC: What were people telling you to do?

CR: Well, people say, “You should do this, you should do that, you shouldn’t
be doing this, you shouldn’t be doing that.” I’m going, “Now I’ll
do what I like.” If people stop and talk to me I’ll stop and talk to them,
why should I go, “No, no, I’m famous don’t talk to me.”? Why, what’s
the point? Generally people who want to be in the business but aren’t tell you
how you should be living your life and give you their advice, and that’s always

TLC: What’s been the worst advice?

CR: Probably somebody told me I should never do theater work because you never
get famous by doing theater.

TLC: Who is this person?

CR: I can’t remember, it was an extra, somebody who should have known better.
But you do get people who don’t really know what they’re talking about and don’t
really know you, and think you do.

TLC: So why are you attracted to theater?

CR: The buzz, having audience there. Right in front of you. And the fact that
when you get to the end of the play they, hopefully, stand up and clap for you
and they go, “Yes, we like you,” and you get the “People actually
like me” thing, whereas film, you do it and seven or eight months later
it’s released and you never quite get the same feedback. Films end, people go
home. They don’t clap, they don’t applaud, they don’t come to the stage door
and say, “Well done, we liked the show,” whatever, afterwards. You
don’t get the feedback. Also with theater there’s that wonderful knowledge that
anything can happen, and if anything happens you can’t say, “Sorry, can
we do that again?” You carry on regardless. If you [mess] up it’s your

TLC: What’s happened to you onstage?

CR: Oh, God, all sorts of things. First time something dreadful happened
was when I was in Jesus Christ, Superstar, at 16, and I was playing Jesus,
which was fun, but we were doing “Strangely Mystifying,” which
was right at the beginning of the show, and the guy playing Judas didn’t
come on. No Judas. I’m just standing there going, “OK…” He
came on eventually. The band fortunately realized. Offstage you hear people
going, “Gary? Where’s Gary? Quick, get Gary!” We danced and
we got through it.

In professional stuff generally when things go wrong it’s in pantomime, and
with pantomime you get audience participation and you have to stay on your toes
because you never know quite what people are going to throw at you.

TLC: You’re doing pantomime again this year? [Note: Chris played in
the Derby Pantomime, in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in December.]

CR: This year will be my third pantomime. It’s a show that’s
put on at Christmas for kids. It’s a family show, always done around Christmas,
based around fairy tales. We’re doing Snow White this year, but I’ve done
Jack and the Beanstalk, the lot. General thing is you have your beautiful
princess, a comedic character who’s usually court jester, and then his
mother, who is always played by a guy in drag and people — the tradition
was people shout out and everybody always knows what to shout out and
when to shout it out, and all that stuff, and then you get the people
who know what to shout out but shout out the wrong things at the wrong
time so you’re not expecting it, which makes every single performance
different, because people will shout out different things. The comedian
will improvise to throw you off script, that’s always fun, when you go
onstage and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Ever.

TLC: Have you ever improvised on set?

CR: Yeah, sometimes. Chamber of Secrets was interesting. In the Burrow scene,
with Julie Walters and Mark Williams, in the breakfast scene, most of that was
improvised. For instance the line where Bonnie, Ginny, comes down the stairs
and says, “Mom, have you seen my jumper?” and she says, “Yes
dear, it’s on the cat.” Not in the script! The bit where Mr. Weasley says
something about, “So, what exactly is the purpose of rubber duck?”
I think we did 20 takes, every one was, “What is the purpose of a dipstick,
what is the purpose of a lollipop?” etc. So we did it every time something
different came out and we laughed and laughed and laughed at that.

With Alfonso, Alfonso’s quite literally improvisational, kind of, see what happens,
put the camera on, know where you’re moving. The scene comes to an end and then
he’ll keep rolling anyway to see what kind of comes naturally after that, which
is always fun, which is why I like working with Alfonso, because he just pushes

TLC: What are some things that came naturally after the scene ended?

CR: There wasn’t so much with me, but you know, he’d just kind of, quite often
with cinema the scene finishes but what happens in that scene hasn’t necessarily
finished. So he just kind of carries it on to a point where, for instance, they’ll
be in the Great Hall and they’re having a talk and it snaps next to a Snape
classroom scene or whatever, Alfonso will take the dialogue [in the Great Hall
scene] past where it is until they say, “We have to go to Potions,”
and just sort of roll it on until they get up and go, and that sort of thing.

TLC: Did he indicate to do it that way, or did the actors?

CR: He kind of said, “We’ll get to the end of the scene, and go with the
flow until they cut and see what happens.”

TLC: Did you get the idea that that was for the purpose of footage or
character work?

CR: A bit of both, I think. Because it means, rather than just going to the
end of the scene, for instance, “Keep an eye on the staircase, they like
to change,” cut, you kind of go, “Keep an eye on the staircases, they
like to change. Now come on, quickly, up the staircase, up we go, next to the
Gryffindor common room!” So it kind of flows more.

TLC: That’s something you really can’t do with theater, so which form
do you find better for character work?

size=”-1″>Backstage at Wicked

CR: I find theater better for character work because I don’t go into this,
I don’t go in for the Mike Leigh approach of 26 months, being your character.
Mike Leigh, I was talking to, on this thing I did for the BBC, The Rotter’s
Club, I was working with Timothy Spall’s son, who is fantastic, but he
was saying, his dad does a lot of work with Mike Leigh. His Dad was saying
the guy will spend six months following you around the streets, and you
have to go into shops as your character, buy things, interact with people
as your character, and he follows you around from a distance. He kind
of makes notes and all stuff like that. I’m not into that. For theater
I find it’s, with me the character comes when you get into costume and
makeup and things like that. For instance in pantomime I play the baddie
with a kind of Richard III hump, and I black one of my teeth out an I have
this huge scar on my face and really black eyes…and that’s when the character
comes. It kind of comes naturally after 10 minutes or so. I played Fagin
in Oliver when I was 15, and we spent six months rehearsing it, and I
just could not get the character. We went into dress rehearsal, I got
the nose and the beard and the costume, complete utter makeover. The director
was like, “Where did that come from?” That’s what I like. When
it suddenly clicks.

TLC: When did it click with Percy?

CR: Pretty much right away, because Percy, he’s not a big enough character that
you have to think too hard about. And the way I play it, I play him over the
top, I play melodrama with Percy a lot of the time.

TLC: Why did you make that choice?

CR: Because the way he’s scripted, if you said it seriously he’d just sound
stupid. Not lines to get your teeth into, really. But you kind of go, [puts
on Percy puffed-out voice] “First years, follow me, quickly, this way,
mworha ha ha ha,” and it becomes funny. The humor comes in the melodrama
with Percy. And Percy’s so pompous and over the top anyway. In the third film
we kind of toned it down because Alfonso’s style is much more natural and deadpan
than the Chris Columbus’s style, which his good in its own right, sets the films
up brilliantly, but the way Alfonso works is much more levelheaded and you play
it as you would be yourself eventually.

TLC: But you still do have that moment of “I’m Head Boy!”

CR: Yes, “I’m Head BOY!” Yeah, that was fun, that. I have bruises.

TLC: Did they all trample you?

CR: Devon Murray pushed me over every single take. I love the boy but, damn

TLC: Did he gun for you?

CR: Yeah! He’s like, “Chris!” [Chris mimes being pushed down.] We
have a lot of fun.

TLC: What’s the most fun you’ve ever had on a Potter set?

CR: Burrow. Burrow or the Halloween scene, the one with Quirrell, which was
fun because it went right to take, which is unusual. Usually you’ll spend three
or four takes just rehearsing it, you’ll take a rehearsal take. But this one
went straight through to take. None of us knew what Ian Hart was going to do
when he ran through that door. We knew what the line was, but when he came running
through that door, that was his first take, that TROLL IN THE DUNGEON!

TLC: In the movie, that was his first take?

CR: Yeah, I believe so. None of us knew what was going to happen. And
we’d all been eating — we’d been doing background shots all day,
kind of close up, and all that. So we’d all been eating sweets all day,
we’re all on sugar highs. Daniel, Rupert and Emma were all, what, 10,
11, at the time. Kids that age, and sugar, bad bad bad bad bad move. And
you know what Rupert’s like when he gets giggly, we’ve all seen it.

TLC: Did he?

CR: Yeah. At the end of the day Rupert was just sitting there in the corner
going [mimes giggling]. They went through a stage of serving us Red Bull in
the games room. Bad, bad, bad. I don’t think it was meant for the kids but the
kids ended up drinking it and caffeine is bad. I did a show when I was 14, and
I was cycling to and from the show every day, which is five mile sthere and
five miles back. And it was like a three and a half hour show, and we’re drinking
Red Bull, and I was driving there at 40 miles an hour on a push bike. Forty
miles an hour on Red Bull.

TLC: How many hours were you usally on set?

CR: It depends what you’re doing. A good example is the Great Hall scene. For
me, that would be 14 hours. The scenes in the first film in the Great Hall,
the opening scene, that took 14 days to do because of the thousands and thousands
of kids, the visual effects with Nearly Headless Nick and the food appearing.
It took a long time to do and there was a lot of precision work involved. But
yeah, that was long. They can’t work minors until 7 o’ clock at night so after
that generally I’m free, unless they’re doing something that involves Percy;
maybe close-ups or whatever, they put the stand-ins in and they have extras
that come in late at night so they can film. But they can’t work the main cast
past seven, I think it is.

TLC: They’re getting to the age, though, where it will be okay.

CR: Yeah, once they’re 16, problem solved. Muah ha ha.

TLC: Since the fifth book came out, how much thought have you put into

CR: I don’t put too much thought into Percy generally because I think he kind
of happens on his own and when it happens in book five, it’s sort of BAM, it’s
there. I mean, we know in book four he’s an a–hole anyway. He’s an a–hole
generally most of the time. But when it gets to book five it’s sort of, “Oh
my god, where did that come from?” So I’m kind of, if I get as far as film
five, it’ll just come out of nowhere.


size=”-1″>The shrine to Elphaba

Right about here we realize it’s time to go to the show – an amazing and
beautiful spectacle that left us giddy , during which we sat across the aisle
from Bono of U2, starstriking us both. After the show we were shown backstage
to a very gracious cast. George Hearn, who played the Wizard, took time to chat
about Gregory Maguire, J.K. Rowling and the fantasy genre. Everyone asked about
Chris’s HP work. Idina Menzel – who has since left the show to film Rent with
veteran HP director Chris Columbus – brought us all into her dressing room,
showing the green makeup, her Wicked Witch shrine, and sympathizing with Chris
about long hours and after-work exhaustion.

After a tour of the sets, we notice Joey McIntyre, who played Fiyero (Elphaba
and Glinda’s love interest), hunched over a small TV set in a small room which
quickly filled up with other cast.

size=”-1″>Green makeup

Oh, yes: This was also the night that the Boston Red Sox won the World
Series. Not of great interest to the nonAmericans among us, we know, but after
leaving Wicked the first order of business was to go to a bar and watch the
final out of the historymaking sports night. Only then was it time to return
to business.

We flopped into chairs in a hotel lobby, still seeing visions of green
flying witches and glittering Glindas.


TLC: So where were we, I can’t remember.

CR: Wicked. That’s where we’ve just been. [Makes unintelligible
noises.] Wicked. Oh my god. What a show! I’ve had the soundtrack
for, what, eight months, and the soundtrack’s great but live — and
she hits those notes — and I’m in love.

TLC: Was it more or less than you expected?

CR: More. There’s only so much you can get from the CD, and when you get the
script and the comic timing is just so good and the way it all linked…and the Lion and
the Wizard and Elphaba and AGGGH. I need to read the book now.

TLC: It’s very much like Harry Potter in that respect, the way things
fold in.

CR: It’s interesting, because George Hearn was saying, about, he said that Gregory
Maguire was quite benefited by J.K. Rowling.

TLC: He said he couldn’t have made it popular without J.K. Rowling,
the whole fantasy thing.

CR: Yeah. It’s interesting.

TLC: Do you agree?

CR: No. I think a book like The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the
, I haven’t read it but I imagine it appealing to a quite generally
stuck audience of people who have seen Wicked and then read the book
or are huge fans of The Wizard of Oz and found it that way. It certainly
isn’t a book I’ve ever come across in a shop. People probably read it now with
a wizardry, magicky thing going on, maybe, but I don’t necessarily agree that
J.K. Rowling kind of changed that that much. I think she just made it more accessible
for an audience. I think it’s kind of more that this is what people relate to.
Somebody said earlier tonight that when his mother left, he started reading
Harry Potter and he found it quite inspiring to read as the point of view of
an orphan or the point of view of someone whose mother had left. People identify
with it in quite the odd way. Somebody always finds something to cling to.

size=”-1″>With Jennifer Laura Thompson, aka Glinda

TLC: And the book Wicked, I don’t know that I think it’s fantasy.
The show. The book, it’s very, it’s very cerebral. It’s not Harry Potter.
You don’t read Wicked to be entertained.

CR: No, you read it to read it. Fair enough. He’s written more as well. I’d
like to read Ugly Stepsister. I might be playing an ugly stepsister in a couple
of years. As I said in pantomime the women are generally played by men. Occasionally,
the original tradition was, pantomime originated in France where it was mime
and it was very melodramatic and very expressionist but it kind of took on more
even than it did in France, and became this family show where you have the beautiful
princess and the beautiful prince, which was originally played by a woman, and
that got a bit kind of weird when they discovered that kids knew about gay and
lesbian relationships and were thinking, “That’s two women.” Most
of the time you don’t get a female prince anymore. That was called the prince
and the boy, and that’s gone. You generally get a hunky guy playing the prince.
You also get the comic character who is always in love with the beautiful princess.
You then get his mother, who is always played by a bloke and that’s Pantomime
Dane. You always get a baddie, which is my part. And you generally get a wicked
stepmother or wicked witch, and you always get a good fairy. And somehow they
relate all this to the fairy tale. And the one we’re doing, Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs, which is always fun. And I play the hunter, Igor. Well, Percy
the Henchman, which is what he is now. For comic value.

size=”-1″>With Joey McIntyre (Fiyero)

TLC: So they’re using the Harry Potter thing?

CR: Yeah. To an extent. Obviously when they sell pantomime now they sell it
very much on the stars of the show, so, for instance, I’m doing it with a guy
called Lionel Blair, who’s like 75, and show biz phenomenon, or was, anyway,
he’s ancient. He’s very fun. And the girl playing Snow White a presenter on
Children’s BBC. So it’s kind of famous people, so they tend to sell it on that.
But yes on the poster it says, “Starring Chris Rankin,” brackets,
“Percy Weasley from Harry Potter.” And Percy the Henchman obviously,
one of my lines last year was, usually you get something in there about brooms
and wands but generally they leave it at that.

TLC: Are you OK with that?

CR: Yeah, because with pantomime generally it’s taking the piss. It’s for the
kids so it’s all done kind of jokey. I don’t go around doing the whole, “I’m
Chris Rankin from Harry Potter” thing. Percy’s not, you know, Daniel Radcliffe.
Percy’s a secondary principal character, he’s not particularly important. People
know who Percy is but generally I have to say, “I’m the older brother,”
or “Harry’s best friend’s big brother,” is how I introduce myself.
You know, you put Harry Potter on it, people kind of go, “Oooh.”

TLC: So now you are one of the oldest children in Harry Potter. When
did you realize that it was time to look into other ventures?

CR: I’ve always wanted to be an actor. I’ve wanted to do that since I’m about
12. I wanted to be a steamtrain driver or an astronaut. When I was six I wanted
to drive steam trains.

TLC: Instead you have a theater company. Tell us about Painted Horse.

CR: Painted Horse essentially started nearly two years ago now, when I did a
production at Sheringham Little Theatre, I did a production there in which I
played a gay character called Geoff, which involved dressing up in a polka-dotted
rah-rah skirt and blonde wig and stiletto heels – as you do. But that was directed
by a guy called Jim Rimer, who is a very good friend of mine, and we decided
to set up the Painted Horse Theatre Company, and nearly a year later, we did
that very thing, which was last January. So we’ve been going onw just a year,
but we did our first production last April, I believe it was. Last April, which
was Hedda Gabbler at the Little Theatre, and we’v been touring that very irregularly
on and off for a year. We’re still going with it, we’re going to October 2006
for it as far as we’re aware. And the second production is Oscar Wilde’s Salome,
which opens the 3rd of March. Back in November we had open auditoins to build
up the rest of our company, so now we’ve got 15. We now have nine professional
actors and four standing professionals, which means we’ve got a full company
of people and talent which we can grab at whenever we need, which is very handy.
So yes, we’ll have that coming for the next two years, in the next two years
after that. It’s getting quite big now, so it’s good fun.

TLC: What have you learned about theater since you’ve done this?

CR: That it’s bloody hard work. It is. I didn’t really imagine it was ever going
to be this much work. I know my friends are going to scorff at me because I’m
on the computer all day, but I promise when I’m sitting on MSN at 10:30 in the
morning, I’m actually working as well. I’ve got publisher open, I’m talking
on there, I’m emailing the cast, I’m learning the lines, I’m sorting out my
research stuff. There’s a lot to be done, and it’s not all just ringing people
and being nice, there’s a lot of nitty gritty that goes on in the background.
Some days I really cannot be asked to do it. My friends are laughing at me today
because I’m dressed up all nice and they said, “What are you dressed up
for, Christopher?” I can’t work when I sit around at home all day in my
pyjamas and dressing gown. I feel I have to dress.

TLC: So you sit in front of your computer in a nice outfit.

CR: It’s not like I haven’t actually been out. I went up to the thater to drop
fliers off, I have some excuse.


In the time between our first and second chats, Chris Rankin’s Painted
Horse has stirred up a bit of a ruckus in the British media. The group’s production
of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” that is running tonight, in accordance with
the show, features full-frontal nudity (not Chris’s), something which is not exactly
foreign to theater. Articles appeared in the Daily Mail, BBC,
Evening Standard
and The
featuring residents of Sheringham decrying the group, and the theater
group’s defense of its decision. Eventually the London
weighed in, writing:

“Nicole Kidman has done it and was hailed as “theatrical
Viagra”. Jerry Hall has done it in what was “one of the theatre
coups of the year”. But the thought of the Shakesperian actress Helen
Barford getting her kit off to play Oscar Wilde’s Salome — all for
the sake of art, of course — has put the residents of Sheringham, a sleepy
seaside town in Norfolk, into a spin.

Salome, the title character, takes off a wedding dress to seduce King Herod
in this classic retelling of “The Dance of the Seven Veils.” In the
show, the lighting is dim and only the actress’s back may be seen – certainly
more flesh has been seen in theater productions with larger audiences, and even
large-scale blockbuster films like “Troy.” But there’s no press like
scandalous press, and the little kick-up may have done more good than adversaries
of the show intended.

When we spoke again in February, Chris was in the middle of this dustup.


TLC: So what has happened since October?

CR: I can’t remember! I came home and I went to see Rufus Wainwright in concert,
which was most cool, very excited by that, and then I kind of sassed around
and didn’t really do anyting until my birthday. I did hedda gabler again for
one performance and then went into pantomime over Christmas.

TLC: Did you read about Idina Menzel falling [and breaking a rib] on
her last weekend in Wicked

CR: God yes I did, yes. It was really scary. I saw the pictures as well, I was
looking at the pictures on of her last night, when she came on
and did whatever it was in the last scene in her trackie bottoms. She’s such
a sweetheart, that woman. I got overly excited about that, I have to say. If
you remember I was bouncing up and down the road. In fact you were as well.

TLC: The “Salome” ‘nudity’ issue; does it bother you that
that made it into the press at all?

CR: No, because they could have taken the whole, “Local Harry Potter Star
in Nudity Scandal” and sort of fangled it, “Witch Kids Movie Person
Bares All on Stage,” sort of thing, and didn’t. And I’m certainly not,
I’m keeping all my clothes on, to the relief of everybody in the production
I think. Norfolk is not ready for that yet, I don’t think.

Our name’s been kind of splashed all over the national media. People know who
we are and for instance, I went out the other day to drop off the first batch
of leaflets, and they’ve already sold well over 25 percent for each performance,
which, at this stage, without any fliers or any publicity around the town, is
quite something for that to just happen like that – especially at Sheringham,
which is a little tiny theater. People just don’t buy tickets for something
they know nothing about. I imagine half the people who bought tickets are going
to throw rotten eggs at us. I’ve been called such odd things, surprisngly the
same similar religious groups that are up in arms that we’re doing full frontal
nudity, are theones that have problems with HP, which isn’t coincidental I suppose.
So,yeah, they’re the ones that probably bought the tickets because they’re going
to throw rotten eggs at us from the back of the stalls.

Hopefully we can play that to our advantage in that, people are going to come
and see us because we are a bit of a stir, and that’s fine, but they’ll come
and see the show and hopefully will be very impressed. So it’s building up a
reputation with the press, and we can use national press, it works to our advantage
if we’ve hit the national paper. We can sell our show to theaters all over the
country, beause it’s not just the Easter Daily Press or the North Norfolk News,
it’s a paper that everybody in the country has access to. We’re a nationally
known company now, which has its advantages.

TLC: Have there been diasadvantages?

CR: Not really, fortunately, at the moment all the publicity has been from our
point of view good publicity. It’s been kind of up; the papers are all on our
side as far as that goes, they’re not coming down on us, they’re just reporting
the views of the people who don’t think it’s right. They all say, “Well,
if the West End and Broadway do it, why wouldn’t you do it in a small theater
in the middle of nowhere?” People are saying it’s all right do on the stage
in West End, but don’t do it here, which is slightly bizarre when they complain
that something’s on the West End, because they can’t see it in Norfolk. If you’re
going to complain about one side, don’t start wanting the other.

I’m enjoying my company. At the moment I’m producer/actor/director/god,
but I do like sort of what I’m doing at the moment, which is sitting at
the computer and organizing, making sure the actors all know where we’re
rehearsing and designing the programs and being at the theater and arranging
fliers to be dropped off. I’ve always enjoyed stuff like that. I did all
my A-levels in drama and theater and I’ve always loved the whole process
of putting a production on so it’s good fun to actually do it properly
and get to play with the big boys, as it were.

TLC: How did Panto go?

CR: It was really good fun, it always is, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,
it’s a good family show. Six weeks of doing the same show over and over for
two years, having walked like a cripple for six weeks on stage and pulled my
back out a bit. It was a laugh, we had good fun, and then we did Hedda Gabller
again and we are cracking out for Salome now. And the Rotter’s Club has been
on for three weeks.

TLC: Did anything funny happen during Panto?

CR: Nothing I’m willing to share with half a million readers! It was good laugh,
really. It broke all the records the theater ever had. We played to 1,000 people
a performance which was quite good fun. Don’t really know. Doing panto for them
again next year, so I’ve got a job at least.

TLC: How was filming on The Rotter’s Club?

CR: I spent 10 days on the Isle of Mann for that. The Isle of Doom. It’s miserable,
cold, wet, nothing to do, it’s full of right wing, tax-evading people who don’t
like actors. But the scenery is nice, it’s just an odd place. People are weird.
They say hello to the fairies every morning. There’s a place called the fairy
bridge, and very time you drive over it you have to say hello to the fairies
or else it brings you bad luck. These are troubled people.

TLC: Are you excited about HBP?

CR: Yes, I am, I’m already talking to my friend David about when he’s going
to do a book launch party in Norwich. We had one for Order of the Phoenix and
apparently we had the biggest midnight book launch party in the UK, about 750
pepole showed up to the Norwich Library, this big millennium forum area where
BBC is based. Allegedly the biggest party in the UK, Tarot card readers and
palmists and things.

TLC: What are your predictions for HBP?

CR: I don’t know, I have a few hopes. All I know at the moment is that some
stage Percy will probably redeem himself, that’s what I’ve ben told will possibly
happen. We’ll see what happens there. I don’t know other than that, I presume
we’re going to see some romantic stuff happening, certainly with Hermione and
Ron, we’ll see some more stuff going on, but it’s been ages since I read book
five now so I can’t remember where we left it, oh, it’s dreadful, and I’ve been
so out of the Potter loop lately as well. It’s been almost a year since I’ve
done any work on Harry Potter.

TLC: When we left it off the war was starting.

CR: Yes, that’s right. I suppose it’s going to be incredibly, it will be shorter
for a start, so that can’t be a bad thing, I suppose. I think it will be more
tense, more romantic, probably slightly funnier as well in places, and Percy
will turn out ot be Lord Voldemort, obviously. Actually no, Penelope will turn
out to be Lord Voldemort

TLC: Because Voldy is a born cross-dresser.

CR: Well of course. Or Penelope will turn out ot be Malfoy’s lovechild or something.
Well, they’ve got the same hair, it’s possible. I’m just trying to build my
part here.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.