Have you enjoyed seeing your Harry Potter Ďsoní come of age in this movie?
Yeah, Rupert [Grint] - heís a really lovely, lovely boy. Heís just got no side to him, you know? Heís just great - heís not actory. Thereís a great quality that comes out of him in this film that helps him step out of the Harry Potter shadow. He really understood it and did it. Itís hard if youíve been playing one particular part for so long.
Did your history with him change the way you worked together here?
It was easier, because he knew me and I knew him. Iíll never forget seeing him at the first [Harry Potter] premiere - he was such a little boy! He was like a rabbit caught in the flashbulbs. This little face! Everybody loves him - the girls are mad for him. I canít tell you! Brilliant for him, really.
Did you have the urge to help him along in this film?
No, not really. But it would make me laugh, making him laugh. He so tries not to giggle - heís a terrible giggler. Weíd say, ĎWeíve got to get it this takeí, then heíd start laughing, youíd see his shoulderís going and oh no! But I donít think there was anything else. He was probably worried about manhandling me when I was drunk. That was a difficult scene in a tiny little space. But heís so strong, built like nobodyís business.
And then what about going back to play his mother again in the next Harry Potter film?
Well Iím just about to do it. And we can say that weíve been off doing something else! But I donít think itíll make much difference. Iíve only got eight or nine days on this next Potter - a couple of weeks.
Is the story true that when the new Harry Potter books come out, you rush to get them?
No. Iíll tell you what happened. It was when they were reporting that someone was going to die, I thought: Ooh, who would that be? I went out and looked in the new book at the end and saw Mrs Weasley was still there. Whew!
What about the Philip Pullman project?
Itís called The Ruby in the Smoke, with Billie Piper, whoís lovely - a really great girl. I donít know what I was expecting her to be really, but sheís just really nice. Itís a series of little novels called the Sally Lockhart Mysteries. Billie plays Sally Lockhart, the girl, in Victorian times, and Iím her sort of arch nemesis, with this gross set of false teeth. I thought: Oh, Iíve got to play this. So we had these special teeth made - God, theyíre extraordinary! And I love playing the villain - sheís a murdering old cow, basically. A complete psychopath really.
What about Becoming Jane?
Yes, I play Jane Austenís mother. That was fab to do - I loved doing that. We filmed it in Ireland, which is of course where Jane Austen lived!
How do you feel about being voted the fourth funniest woman in Britain?
The fourth! Itís marvellous! What can I say? Iím very pleased. I thank you, all of you, for voting for me. Marvellous! In the old days you would have put that in your introduction - I think I might do that. And yes, Victoria deserves to be number one. Sheís brilliant - a genius as far as Iím concerned. So Iím thrilled sheís up there. She should be.
Looking back over your great careeró
What? Can you say that again?
Your great career! What are your personal highlights? Any regrets about a part you didnít take?
No, I never regret that. A personal highlight would be working with Victoria, Educating Rita on stage, thereís loads of them really, working with Alan Bleasdale and Alan Bennett. Mainly stage work - All My Sons at the National was a definite highlight and also Fool for Love. Evie was so theatrical - she was definitely a highlight - Iím sure Iíll look back on her and smile.
You say Educating Rita on stage. What about the film?
Itís just that itís more exciting on stage. Stage work is more exciting than film - it just is. Because each night is different, and each audience - you have a relationship with them. Thereís nothing like a Saturday night house with Educating Rita at the Piccadilly, packed with people who are breathing when you do. Itís just an amazing feeling. Thereís nothing like that really.
When you made the movie of Educating Rita, did you think film work would eventually have such an important role in your career?
No. I went to a screening and I thought I was dreadful in it. And I thought: Well, itís just terrible. And then they were talking about Oscars - ĎHave they gone mad?í I just thought it was dreadful - I thought it was really bad and I was terrible in it. Because it was so different from the stage, I never accepted it at all. It was a real shock that it became so popular.
Were you ever tempted by Hollywood?
No. I love America and everything, but in terms of work I never had a great desire to go there and work. Itís just a very different ballgame. I much prefer here. I just think thereís more talent here, actually. There just is. And of course Iíve got a family here, and I think thatís important. Because otherwise, work becomes everything. Iím not London-based - I live in the country.
Do you think you might become like Evie when youíre older?
Drunk, you mean? No, Evieís very lonely and pained. The centre of her is the fact that she has a huge amount of grief still carried around. And I hope to God that I donít have that when Iím older. But I think you can say more what you want when youíre older - people will forgive you. When youíre young and you start telling people where to go, they just say, ĎWhat a git!í, but when youíre older youíre allowed a bit more of that. She has that, and she also has an eccentricity thatís about being on your own, which I hope I donít have. The fact that she doesnít relate lots to people, so sheís slightly odd when she goes out. But I hope I feel free like she does to express myself. I think thatís fantastic.
CHARLOTTE STREET HOTEL, LONDON ē 8.AUG.06
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