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Rupert Grint on CBGB, Dirty Toilets, and Butt Tattoos

Rupert Grint.

Along with his former Harry Potter co-stars, Rupert Grint has edged away from his childhood role of Ron Weasley into edgier fare. His latest role as Dead Boys punker Cheetah Chrome in the film CBGB includes a scene in which he drops his pants to prove to a record producer (played by Stana Katic) that the carpet matches the drapes, so to speak — even if all we see is his bare behind, she gets enough of an eyeful to decide to work on the band’s record. Grint, who is currently performing in the West End play Mojo, called from London to chat with Vulture about onstage blow jobs, the infamous CBGB bathroom, and butt tattoos.

Every Twitter feed claiming to be you doesn’t seem like it’s really you. Are they impostors? Are you even on Twitter?
No, I’m not. If you saw one, that would be a fake one, yeah. I don’t know. It’s weird that people pretend to do that, pretend that they’re me. But I’ve never done Twitter. A lot of people have already said that I should give it a go, but I don’t think I’d be very good at it! It’s just not something … I’m not great at any of those things, really. Maybe one day, though.

You wear a dog collar throughout the film. Did you get to keep it?
No. I really wanted to, though. [Laughs.] I kind of got quite attached to the dog collar. Wearing it every day, I felt naked without it.

Not as naked as the scene in which you drop trou!
Oh, right, yeah. Yes. That was quite fun. I didn’t really think about it until I had to do it, but it was kind of quite a tricky process. I think in the end, we needed a sock contraption. [Laughs.] So that kind of worked. That was the first time I had ever done anything like that. Justin Bartha had to do a lot more, actually. He had to get his waxed. So there was a lot of preparation there. Luckily, I don’t have that issue.

And you didn’t end up having to hide any butt tattoos, either, right? Tom Felton started a rumor during the promotion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that you guys were all going to get cast tattoos, à la The Fellowship of the Ring. I think it was something like lightning bolts on your left buttocks?
Oh, yeah. I kind of vaguely remember that. I’m still up for that. We were actually seriously thinking about it. It wasn’t just a joke. There were loads of people that said, “We’ll get them.” To mark the end of an era, I guess. But it never actually happened in the end. If I did do it, they have cover-up makeup, right? I could cover it up if I had to? That would work.

What was it like performing as a member of the Dead Boys?
We had a lot of fun going crazy. And I always wanted to be in a band and be a part of something like that, and it felt like I got a little taste of that. I enjoyed that, definitely. I knew a few chords before, but as soon as the lights went down on the crowd, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! [Laughs.] I was just faking it, pretty sloppily. But I think it was kind of like how the whole ethos of punk was, just wild. So I think I got away with it. But yeah, those scenes onstage were really fun. What I knew about the Dead Boys before was that they were just insane, so that was fun to play, some of the disgusting things the Dead Boys did. Re-creating those moments were quite fun.

Like when Stana Katic gets the whipped cream and Stiv Bators gets a blow job while performing onstage?
Yeah! Yeah! And that was true! That actually happened! They have photographic evidence. Hilly Kristal’s daughter Lisa, she was on set as well, and she was showing us all these pictures of the actual event. It just blew my mind. It’s ridiculous, that it actually happened. [Laughs.] Doing that scene, Justin really went for it — that, and blowing his nose in the ham. You could really feel like we were punk.

Cheetah Chrome was also on set, and he even did a cameo as a cab driver. Did he give you any tips?
Yeah, he was great. It was just amazing to sit with him and talk to him, about when he was so heavily addicted to drugs and living such a wild lifestyle. It’s quite special when you’re playing someone as they’re watching you on set. I felt a little self-conscious about getting the movement right, so there was a bit of pressure, but it was special to get to know him.

Did you feel any echoes of Ron and Snape in the scene where Cheetah first meets Hilly? Because you’re being so polite and calling Alan Rickman sir …
Yeah, I was kind of getting flashbacks. I love Alan. He’s one of my favorites, and he was completely transformed. I was surprised when I saw him. He was just completely in that zone, as he was when he was Snape, when he was quite intimidating. And yeah, when I was doing that first scene, it was weird! I was getting flashbacks of when I was 11, because I kind of grew up with him, really, in a weird way, so he’s been in my life for a long time. So it was kind of cool to see him out of that world and in a completely new environment.

I know you didn’t have any major scenes in the bathroom, but those were the actual toilets from CBGB. They got them after the club was torn down to use as a set.
Yeah, it’s quite amazing, isn’t it? They had quite a reputation, those toilets, back in the day, didn’t they? But it was cool that they had some of the original parts, like the original door of the club, and the cash register, and the desk. Loads of things like that. So the place felt more like CBGB, I guess.

They must have cleaned up the CBGB toilets somewhat on set, right? So it looks cruddy because of the paint, right?
I wasn’t part of the toilet process. [Chuckles.] But yeah, I would hope. It looked disgusting, either way!

Rupert Grint on CBGB and Butt Tattoos