‘Servant’ Star Rupert Grint on M. Night Shyamalan and HBO Max’s Possible ‘Harry Potter’ Series

Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety“…

Rupert Grint may have co-starred as Ron Weasley in all eight “Harry Potter” movies, but he hasn’t actually watched most of them. “I’ve probably seen the first three at the premieres, but after that I stopped watching them,” Grint, 32, tells me from his home in the U.K. “But now that I have a daughter [Grint’s girlfriend, actor Georgia Groome, gave birth to baby Wednesday in May], I will probably have to watch them with her.” Speaking of the hit franchise, Grint says he doesn’t expect to be a part of the “Harry Potter” series being developed by HBO Max. “It’ll be weird if it was a continuation kind of thing,” he says. “I weirdly feel quite protective of that character. Even when I saw the stage shows, it was a very strange experience. … If it’s like a different group of friends, I guess it would be interesting.”

Grint currently co-stars in the second season of M. Night Shyamalan’s Apple TV Plus series “Servant” as the brother of a woman (Lauren Ambrose) who is so traumatized by her baby’s death that she believes the therapy doll she’s been given is real. Grint received a similar doll as a gift. “It’s actually a vampire version,” he says, laughing. “It’s a vampire baby with fangs.”

Shyamalan doesn’t direct every episode, but when he does, Grint says, “He’s got this kind of messiah presence and also, he’s such a nice guy. He knows everybody’s name. He takes the same crew to all of his projects. They all personally know him and have stories about what a kind and warm person he is. He’s got this real kind of energy. His notes are incredible. The way he works is so minimalist, but he’s a dream. Most of his scenes he can do in one or two shots.”

Directing isn’t something Grint is looking to do himself. “I’m not very good at making decisions,” he says. “Even ordering take-out, it really stresses me out. I’ve thought about it. I like the idea of creating, but I don’t know. Probably more producing.”

As for binge-watching during the pandemic, Grint has been enjoying glass design competition show “Blown Away” and “The Great Pottery Throw Down.” He’s also become an amateur potter. Not that he has that much free time on his hands these days. “There’s just so much to do with a baby. I had no idea,” Grint says. “You never kind of get an hour until you’re in bed and then it’s still tricky because Wednesday has got some teeth coming through. So nights kind of can go either way.”

Salma Hayek says she knew nothing about “Eternals” when she was approached to play Ajax in “Nomadland” helmer Chloé Zhao’s feature adaptation of the Marvel comics story. In fact, she was only given a summary of the plot before agreeing to join the film. “I had to sign the contract without reading the script,” Hayek tells me. “So that was very unsettling. … I was scared.” Even so, she wasn’t about to pass on the opportunity. “It was empowering,” the Oscar nominee says of seeing herself for the first time as Ajax. She hopes to inspire Latinx youth and “short middle-aged women of every color.” Hayek continues with a laugh: “I’m very short.  I’ve been bullied for being short my entire life. And all of a sudden it doesn’t matter — you’re a superhero in a Marvel universe. It moved me.”

Hayek, whose new indie “Bliss” bows on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 5, is my first guest on the “Just for Variety” podcast. After two years of “The Big Ticket,” we decided it was time the podcast got a makeover and a relaunch. A companion to this column, the podcast will continue bringing you interviews with today’s biggest stars, but I’ll also be going inside the pages of the magazine, with more interviews and commentary on the week’s buzziest stories. Also on the premiere episode is Kat Dennings, talking about her return to Marvel as Darcy Lewis on Disney Plus’ “WandaVision.” You can find “Just for Variety on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

How do you know if you’re a regular at Craig’s? The WeHo restaurant recently sent you a celebratory sweatshirt designed by Brainwash for its 10th anniversary. Didn’t receive one? It’s also available for sale on the Craig’s website. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Tomorrow marks KTLA’s VP of News Jason Ball‘s last day at the station. He’s been at KTLA for the last 12 of his 30 years in the news business, but he decided it was time for something new. “I’ve had a great run at KTLA,” Ball tells me. “KTLA is a legendary TV station and I am so proud to have been the steward of this brand for the last 12 years.  We more than doubled the amount of live local news we produce each week and grown ratings while overall television viewing was declining. I have decided to take a little break before looking for my next adventure.” Best of luck, Mr. Ball!

Frieze will mark its 30th anniversary with a three-day digital festival Feb. 17-19. Programming includes conversations with Jeremy O. Harris, Kara Walker and Matthew Barney as well as an acoustic performance by musician Arlo Parks.

Delroy Lindo consulted with several war veterans, including two of his cousins, to prepare for his Oscar-buzzy work as a Vietnam vet in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods.” Both relatives served in Vietnam. “They were the first two vets I talked to,” Lindo tells me. “My first cousin saw the film pretty much when it came out, and I called him immediately and said, ‘How did we do? How did I do?’ He gave me the thumbs-up. It took my second cousin about six weeks before he could watch the film, but he also gave me a thumbs-up.”

He also heard from a friend of his son’s. “He came to me and said, ‘Mr. Lindo. I just want to tell you that I have an uncle who was in Vietnam and we always think he’s kind of crazy and nobody wants to be around him. He just pops off and goes off for now reasons,’” Lindo recalls. “But then he said, ‘I watched the film and I understand my uncle.’ Now, what more can anybody ask for?”

Just a few days after I spoke to Lindo, he sadly didn’t get nominated for a Golden Globe or SAG Awards for “Da 5 Bloods.” However, not matter how much awards chatter there is for Lindo, he learned early on to keep his excitement and expectations in check after so many thought he’d be showered with kudos for his work in Lee’s “Malcolm X” in 1992 and three years later for “Clockers.” “I’m keeping my feet on the ground,” he says of the current buzz. “It’s wonderful to hear, but I’m keeping my feet on the ground.”

Here’s hoping the Film Academy comes through with an Oscar nomination.

Before “Da 5 Bloods,” it had been 25 years since Lindo worked with Lee in “Malcolm X.” “Spike said to me, ‘I didn’t know it had been 25 years, man. It. Won’t be another 25,’ which is good because I don’t know if I have another 25 years,” Lindo says, laughing. “Hopefully, we will work together again sooner rather than later.”

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