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You are in: Norfolk » Going Out » Stage

31 March 2003 1157 BST

Chris Rankin: Life away from Potter
Picture: Martin Barber
Harry Potter fans around the globe instantly recognise the unruly mop of bright curly hair that pokes out from underneath Percy Weasley's wizard's hat, but for actor Chris Rankin it's time to show the world that Percy is just one role.

Chris faces the fans while doing the Potter publicity rounds
The phenomenon that is Harry Potter pushed Chris Rankin into the media spotlight on a global level.

Now, Chris' latest role, gave him a challenge in the small Norfolk seaside town of Sheringham, writes Martin Barber.

Chris Rankin talks about A Taste Of Honey (Real 56k 9'40")

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graphic: open quote marks.Without giving too much away, because we've done quite a lot with the play to modernise it, is the main characters Jo and her mother Helen move into a flat in Salford.

Helen, the mother, meets a bloke and leaves Jo. Jo then finds herself a boyfriend and she gets pregnant by him - he then leaves Jo too and that’s the end of the first act.

My character then comes along. We’re never quite sure whether Jeff is gay or not.

Jo suggest he’s been thrown out of his flat because his landlady found him with another bloke and he sort of just dismisses it.

Jeff then looks after Jo until the point when her mother comes back at which point is all gets very nasty in this tiny Salford flat.
graphic: close quote marks.

- Chris Rankin

Filming starts on the third Harry Potter - we talk to Chris Rankin

Chris Rankin talks about life as Percy Weasley

Read review of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Venue listings

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When you think about it, in some ways Shelagh Delaney's play A Taste of Honey, is not so different from Harry Potter!

Both have a dysfuntional family that includes a child where the guardians shun responsibility. Harry has to cut it on his own in the world of witchcraft and wizardry against all the odds. Jo is left by her mother to fend for herself and raise her child as a single mother.

Two very different stories, but both revolve around the love, affection and support that can be found through friendship.

Chris Rankin, from Dereham, explained that Shelagh Delaney wrote A Taste Of Honey when she was just 18.

"In a way the main character Jo is the same age as she was when she wrote the play - so it feels very personal.

"It’s a long way from the laughter of panto, which I absolutely loved at the start of the year, but it does have a lot of laughs in it.

Picture: Chris Rankin as Geoff in A Taste Of Honey
Chris as the feather duster twirling Geoff

"There’s a bit halfway through the second act where I dance around in stilettos and a pink coat with a feather duster [laughs].

"It is very, very funny - but also tragically heartbreaking at the same time.

How’s the walking in stilettos going?

It’s going [laughs]. They’re size five and half and I’m a size 10. It’s a bit on and off at the moment and I just shuffle around the stage in them, but it’s all right.

What does your mum think about you wearing stilettos?

Er, I haven’t done it in the house with her around yet.

How are the rehearsals going?

It’s OK. Although we’ve all learnt the words, we’re just not so good at getting them in the right order at the moment.

From what you’ve said about the play, the intimacy offered by the Sheringham Little Theatre is really going to enhance the production.

Yes, it’s perfect. It’s one of those plays where you need to be able to see every tiny little expression on the actors faces. You need to be able to see all of the detail to get the emotion right.

I was asked to do this play because the director thought the part would suit me. I wasn’t quite sure if that was a compliment or an insult to be honest.

I read the script and I thought it was all right, but it was an average script. Then, when we got into it, it became a lot heavier than I think any other production of it has ever been and it’s great, we’re really enjoying it.

Would it be fair to say you're at a point in your career where it’s good for you to take on something a bit more challenging?

Picture: Chris Rankin
Chris Rankin

Absolutely, cracking the mould a bit. I’m finding that with Harry Potter, millions of people around the world look at me and think that’s Percy the Head Boy and that’s the problem.

I don’t want to spend my life playing school boys and prefects and snotty people as it will always come back to Percy. It will always come back to he does very good upper class, poncey people.

It’s fine if it gives me work, but I want to say hello, look I can do other things.

I can play outrageously camp characters, dress up in heels, screech and shout and do everything else equally as well.

It’s cracking the mould and giving me the chance to show that I’m more diverse that just playing stuck up prefects really.

Will we ever see Percy clacking his heels down the Great Hall at Hogwarts?

I hope not [laughs], that floor's very uneven and I wouldn’t go anywhere near it in stilettos!

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