Harry Potter: Chris Rankin is a Real-Life Percy Weasley
During LeakyCon 2018 in Dallas, Texas, Chris Rankin, who played everyone’s least favorite Weasley, took the stage to talk about his time on Harry Potter and playing Percy. He started the panel by saying he originally lobbied for the role after looking at all the characters and assessing who he would have the best shot being cast as. Rankin joked that that in itself was a very Percy thing to do. “I was the right age for Percy,” said Rankin. “I was a prefect at school. And I was ginger. So it seemed like a naturally obvious choice to make. But he also felt like the person no one would want to play. I was like, ‘Well, nobody’s gonna want Percy.'”
When asked how he and Percy are similar, Rankin replied that he is also a stickler for the rules. “If there’s a sign that says don’t do it, I can’t do it,” he said. During his audition, Rankin said he about had a heart attack when the director, Chris Columbus, changed the lines, forcing Rankin to improv. Rankin explained that he is quite organized and likes when things go according to plan, laughing that he sounds more like Percy by the second. For his audition, he was performing the scene in which he brings the Gryffindor first-years to the common room. He delivers the password to the Fat Lady, who was being read by Columbus.
“And he went, ‘Password?’ in this really weird British accent. I went, ‘Caput Draconis.’ And he went, ‘No, I’m afraid the password’s changed.’ And in my little brain… I went, ‘This isn’t the script. What happens now? What do I do now?’ And honestly, I don’t quite now how my brain got there, but I went, ‘Password can’t be changed.’ ‘Oh, password’s changed.’ ‘Dumbledore would’ve informed me if the password had changed.” And honestly, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ But nothing went through my brain apart from these words that came out of my face. Yes, Dumbledore would’ve informed me.”
After being cast, Rankin was sworn to secrecy, but that didn’t stop him from going onto Harry Potter forums and reading what people were saying about the upcoming film. He used the inconspicuous screen name “I am Percy Weasley,” saying people probably just assumed he was a really big fan.
Rankin appeared heavily in Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets as an authoritative voice in opposition to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. After finishing school, Percy went on to work for the Ministry of Magic, turning against the ideals of his family. Percy eventually comes around and participates in the Battle of Hogwarts. Rankin wishes that they had been able to expand more on the character, but he understands why he was only occasionally in the background. Suddenly changing focus in the middle of Harry’s story to a side character would disrupt the film and be “a buzz kill.” Rankin believes it was enough to just have him appear when Hogwarts is preparing for battle.
During his time off from filming, Rankin went to University, where he wrote a dissertation over the Harry Potter fandom. He laughed, saying that the paper was proven wrong because J.K. Rowling keeps releasing more Harry Potter and the fandom is still going strong.