I am a huge fan of Harry Potter! I loved reading the books and I still remember how captivated I was watching the first movie. I like many others my age could relate to the characters and as the years went on, so did the World of Harry Potter. I felt as though I grew up with them! That is why I was in shock as I read an email from the agent of Chris Rankin.
At the beginning of January I put an ad out asking for bloggers to email me if they would like to feature on my blog. I was to write a series ‘Meet the Welsh Bloggers 2019’. I had a huge response but never in my wildest dream’s would I have thought that Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) from Harry Potter would want to feature on my blog!
As Chris was not your ‘typical’ blogger, I didn’t really want to send him some generic blogger questions to answer. Chris had starred in one of my favourite film franchises, I had grown up watching him and was interested to find out what happened after Potter? Through his agent we agreed to meet for a coffee and a chat.
My Interview with Chris Rankin
Most of my readers will recognise you from the Harry Potter movies. You play Ron Weasley’s older brother Percy. You played this character in 6 of the movies. How was that for you? I mean you were what 16 – 17 when cast?
I was 16 when I started. I Played Percy for on and off 11 years. It was just bonkers, absolutely mad from start to finish.
Basically I saw an advert on Newsround. You had to write a letter saying you would like to audition to play this character or that character. I was living in Norfolk at the time and was part of an amateur dramatic group.
Everyone wanted to be Harry, Ron, you know one of the main characters but I was too old for that. Casting was looking for 11 year old’s to play the main characters.
I cant remember if it was a conscious decision to apply for the role of Percy, I was older than the character Ron, I was 16 which was the same age as Percy in the first book, i’m ginger and I am a school prefect. It was the obvious move I guess.
In April 2000 I wrote the letter asking for an audition. I heard nothing for months. Then out of the blue I had a phone call late August. They said come to London tomorrow! I was shocked! In 10 days I had gone from collecting my GCSE results to auditioning for Harry Potter and the week after that we started filming!
Wow! That must have been exciting. How did you feel about everything moving so fast?
It was scary, scary-exciting. I was always quite a good performer but as a person I was quite shy and not very outgoing. I am an only child and was not the most confident kid. I will admit It was a shock to the system going from Oliver in an amateur dramatic production to working with the best actors and film makers in the world. It was a bit of a left turn at the traffic light.
My 6 year old son would love to be an actor, to be honest I’ve had a lot people comment on his natural ability. The problem I feel we face as a family is the cost of a drama academy. Are they really needed? What advice would you give a youngster looking to become an actor?
I didn’t go to a drama academy, a lot of the Harry Potter actors did not attend an academy. Casting wanted ‘real’ school aged kids. We were lucky. We had the opportunity to learn from the best on the job whilst being paid to do it.
There are pros and cons to drama schools, it goes both ways. You will learn discipline and various methods of acting that you would not pick up in the real world. You also have the opportunity to make friends interested in the same profession but in my opinion it does not necessarily mean you will be a better actor.
These days its proving more and more that you don’t need a drama school at all.
I think you get more out of an academy as you get older, say early teens, when you know it is the profession you want.
After the Harry Potter movies, what was going through your mind? Did you have feelings of what next, what now?
Yes, I had that feeling a couple of times because I wasn’t in the 4th or the 6th movie. I had two separate periods of about 18 months where I was not involved at all.
Goblet of fire was a period where I was not working on Harry potter, It was a time where I did not know if I was coming back. There was always a little bit of what is going to happen next but during this period of time I was quite resourceful. I had an agent but because of Harry potter they didn’t want to push me as much.
I have always made myself busy though. During that time I started a semi professional theatre company in Norfolk. We put on our own plays with professional actors and with local amateur dramatic actors. It was great fun, we did three production’s in 4 years, all of which were very well received but they just didn’t make us any money.
Then in 2008 I was not in the 6th film. I kind of figured that would be the end of Percy as the character does not really feature in the 7th book. I was okay with that, I had a good run and enjoyed myself, so seven years after everyone else my age, I went to university. I studied media production, basically everything on the other side of the camera.
So since Harry Potter I see you have done a lot of work in pantomime and you’ve been part of the production teams on series such as Downton Abbey, you have even directed a short film for the BBC ‘Dad’ which stared Welsh actor Julian Lewis Jones. You have a wealth of talent but what do you like doing most?
In terms of the performing, directing and producing world. I love performing on stage. I love being in front of a crowd. Its exciting, everything is live, its happening now, it will never be the same again. That’s what I love as a performer. I think its the adrenaline of the live performance – its my addiction and if that’s your thing, its the best experience ever.
Equally, I love the technical aspect of film making in terms of all the prep involved behind the scenes. Its like that analogy, a duck appears as though its gliding on the water effortlessly. Under water, however, its feet are paddling like mad. All you see is this beautiful film, you don’t see the 300+ people standing behind the camera.
I have read a few of your blog posts which can be found on your website and hear you would like to do a bit more blogging? What is it about blogging that attracts you?
I enjoy writing, that’s an obvious place to start but I enjoy writing about things that I am passionate about. I started a year ago but its sort of come to a stand still. Not for any particular reason its just I find I write when I need to get something off my chest.
Going forward I think I need to find something, a subject to write about. I have about 10 unfinished, drafted posts, some I think I have written on the spur of the moment and I look back at them and think oh I’d better not post that.
In one of your blog posts you touched on a subject that is very close to my heart. I suffer with bipolar disorder, I am very open with my readers about the illness. Without going into too much detail as it is a sensitive subject, I wonder if you have considered writing about your own experience of mental health within your family. The mental health community is amazing and very very supportive.
I have considered it a lot and still do. I think there will certainly be more to come from that. There has to be more on that. I have a lot more to say about mental health, it’s a really important subject, and something that is really close to my heart.
As I wrote in my blog, SO many people are diagnosed with some form of condition or set of symptoms that put them in the “mental health” bracket. I think some people find that really scary. It’s really not that long ago that people who were “mentally ill” all belonged in an institution. Our understanding of mental health is getting better and better, but I think loads of people still take parts of it for granted.
Addiction is a mental illness, for example. We know that, but I don’t think everyone really considers it. You can’t help having an addiction, it’s not something you choose so much as depend on.
As I wrote in my blog, my dad died from complications from his addiction to alcohol when I was 19 years old. And I would like to write more about this, but never just for the sake of writing something. Where I am with my blog at the moment, is that I want there to be a purpose and a point to what I’m writing. So if I’m writing about something as personal as that, I want the emotions involved in it to be able to help someone, and not have it ending up like a “poor me” piece. I don’t personally have a diagnosis of anything on the mental health spectrum, and with no qualifications in the area either, I want to be very careful about how I tackle that subject.
So what can we expect from Chris Rankin in 2019?
I don’t know! Stuff, lots of stuff. I got made redundant last march with 3 and a half hours notice! It came as a shock and was a squeezey bum moment. Everything was running through my mind, it’s my monthly income, health insurance! Shit, I don’t have them any more and I need to pay my mortgage.
Later that year it was simply a case of getting things done, I have bills to pay. Luckily, in my world getting things done is going to a few comic cons. I ended up going to America 4 times, Chile, Mexico then France 5 or 6 times, Germany, Austria, Holland and Portugal – All over! Sounds glamorous but its hard work!!
There will always be more of that as its something I enjoy doing. Its an enjoyable experience, I get to meet people and talk to people which I enjoy doing.
This year – I think it is going to be a little more varied. I would like to direct more, I want to perform more, Blog, Vlog, Instgram. This is the year to find a collection of things that will stick. A year to try and utilise what I know I am good at and build that into something.
On February 7th 2019, Chris Rankin will be attending a Harry Potter Book Night which is taking place at the Clarence Hall, Crickhowell. There he will be doing a reading and taking part in a Q&A.
Tickets for the event can be purchased using this link – http://www.book-ish.co.uk/events/harry-potter-book-night/
Chris Rankin’s blog can be found at https://www.chrisrankin.co.uk/