”I took the part of Ben because he’s very different to Ron and it would show I could do more than be the wise-cracker.” (Rupert Grint about Driving Lessons)
Directed by Jeremy Brock, Driving Lessons stars Rupert Grint as Ben Marshall alongside Julie Walters and Laura Linney. Filmed in London and Edinburgh in 2005, Driving Lessons had its World Premiere at the Dublin Film Festival on 21 February 2006.
Ben Marshall lives with his very religious and controlling mother Laura and his father Robert, who is a vicar, and spends the summer rehearsing for a church play (starring as Eucalyptus tree) and having driving lessons with his mother, who uses the time to pursue her secret affair with Peter, the other priest in their church.
When his mother takes in Mr. Fincham, who ran over his own wife, to help him get back on his feet, Ben begins working for (Dame) Evie Walton, an ageing actress who struggles with the lack of acting job and public interest.
Taking Ben on tours around London, rehearsing Shakespeare in the garden and tricking him into an impromptu camping trip to Edinburgh, Evie stirs the anger of Ben’s overprotective mother while helping Ben to break out of Laura’s hold for a while, until Ben is forced to choose between his mother and his best friend Evie…
Ben Marshall is a seventeen (and a-half!) year old boy, who grew up in a very religious environment under the oppressive and controlling influence of his mother.
Bottling up his emotions and following all his mother’s rules, Ben does not have any friends, and his attempts to woe Sarah, a girl from his bible class, are unsuccessful.
When he meets and befriends Evie, she questions his beliefs and his way of life, forcing Ben to express himself, make his own decisions and rebel against his mother.
- In the opening credits, the names of the main cast and crew are arranged around a map as if they were street names.
- The car for Ben’s driving test is a Toyota with the registration number GP54LNZ. Evie’s green car has the number GSW111G.
- Ben sits on his bed in his pyjamas at 7 PM. A bible is on one of the bedside tables.
- When Evie and Ben are looking at the lake it is flat calm. When the camera looks at them the lake behind has waves, and the bird that they look up at isn’t a Skylark but a Swallow.
- Ben drinks Sprite when sitting on the pavement and talking to Sarah.
- Ben wears 6 different polo shirts throughout the film.
- On the wall behind Ben, when the children are rushing past him to the stage, is a paper asking kids to contact Laura if they want to participate in the play.
Filming: six weeks, June/July 2005
Budget: exact budget unknown. According to director Jeremy Brock, the budget was “so small it probably would not have covered the catering on Harry Potter.”
Behind the Scenes
- Rupert’s favourite scene to film: driving the old car
- Driving Lessons was not the first non-HP film offerend to Rupert, but it was the first one he could fit into his filming schedule.
- Rupert received the script while filming Goblet of Fire.
- Julie and Rupert knew that the other one was involved with Driving Lessons by the time they signed the contracts.
- Rupert, Julie and Laura spent a week of rehearsals with Jeremy Brock.
- Julie Walters challenged Rupert to do some ad-libbing
- Rupert filmed 6 days a week for 6 weeks, shooting about 4-5 scenes each day.
- Rupert revealed that when Julie was playing Evie, he believed she was Evie, and it was not hard to not see her as Mrs. Weasley.
- Rupert mentioned that Laura Linney was the only American on set and that she was able to switch her British accent on and off perfectly.
- The scenes at the vicarage were shot with a still camera, whereas the scenes at Evie’s were filmed with a moving camera to show the difference between the two places.
- They only had one day to learn to Salsa dance and to shoot the Salsa Club scenes.
- The scenes with Ben peering through Evie’s letterbox were filmed in a forest with two men holding up the door, as they had run out of time when they had shot the scenes at Evie’s house and were forced to do a pick-up shot of the scene.
- It took 15 takes to film the kissing scene. Rupert found the situation very embarrassing and was glad when it was over. However, watching it with his family later on was even worse. He described Michelle Duncan as cute, older and ‘helpful’.
- Director Jeremy Brock is a friend of Harry Potter director David Yates.
- They were filming in Scotland for three days only. One of the problems faced there were midgets, which resulted in the cast and crew having to wear face nets.
- Rupert’s grandmother did not approve of all the swearing in the film.
- Julie Walters and Rupert Grint play mother and son in the Harry Potter movie series, Jim Norton (Mr. Fincham) played Mr. Mason in Chamber of Secrets.
- Jeremy Brock wanted Rupert Grint for the leading role was because he felt that Rupert had been underused in the third and fourth installments of the Harry Potter franchise.
- Jeremy Brock based the character of Ben and part of the storyline on his own experiences when he worked for Dame Peggy Ashcroft when he was a teenager.
- Rupert Grint was only 16 during filming, which meant it was illegal for him to drive (the legal age in the UK is 17), so they had to film his driving scenes in private roads or use a driving double (David Decio).
- When filming the scene when Evie leaves the car angrily and Ben follows her, Rupert forgot to put on the handbrake before getting out, and the car started rolling down the hill towards the crew. Rupert had to dive into the car to stop it.
- Due to the bombings in London on 7 July 2005, filming had to be cancelled for a day, and the crew had to evacuate a building due to another warning a few days after the bombings.
- Cotswell, Leyden Street/Middlesex Street, London (camping shop)
- Makepeace Avenue, London (bike riding at beginning)
- Exterior Hampstead Station, London (Station on way to Evie’s House)
- Cobden Club, Kensal Road, London (Salsa Club scene)
- St. Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill, London
- Church Road, High Beech, Edinburgh (walking along streets)
- Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh (city shots)
- Calton Hotel, Edinburgh (Exterior Hotel)
- University Quadrangle, Edinburgh (city shots)
Rupert Grint (Ben Marshall)
Julie Walters (“Dame” Eve Walton)
Laura Linney (Laura Marshall)
Nicholas Farrell (Robert Marshall)
Oliver Milburn (Peter)
Tamsin Egerton (Sarah)
Michelle Duncan (Bryony)
Jim Norton (Mr. Fincham)
Director: Jeremy Brock
Screenplay: Jeremy Brock
Music: Clive Carroll & John Renbourn
Director of Photography: David Katznelson
Production Designer: Amanda McArthur
Costume Designer: Robin Fraser-Paye
Hair & Make-Up Designer: Chrissie Baker
Dialogue Coach: Sandra Frieze
Editor: Trevor Waite
Casting: Priscilla John
Driving double Rupert Grint: David Decio
Producer: ContentFilm, Rubber Tree Plant, UK Film Council
International Sales: ContentFilm International
Runtime: 98 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for language, sexual content and some thematic material)
Grosses: $ 1,230,595
USA: $ 239,962 (19,5%)
Other Countries: $ 990,633 (80,5%)
Widest Release: 21 theatres
In Release: 112 days
Ranking Worldwide 2006: 296
Tartan Films (UK), Sony Pictures Classics (USA), Gateno Films (Peru), Cathay-Keris Films (Singapore), Sunfilm Entertainment (Germany)
- Dublin Film Festival 2006 (21 February 2006)
- Tribeca Film Festival 2006 (30 April 2006)
- Cannes Film Market 2006 (18 May 2006)
- Moscow Film Festival 2006 (1 July 2006)
- Edinburgh Film Festival 2006 (25 August 2006)
- Festival of Rio 2006 (1 October 2006
- Dinard Festival of British Cinema 2006 (5 October 2006)
- Rome Film Fest 2006 (19 October 2006)
- Austin Film Festival 2006 (24 October 2006)
- Festival Internacional de Cinema de Brasília 2006 (5 November 2006)
- Gijón International Film Festival 2006 (25 November 2006)
- 18th International Film Festival Emden-Norderney (13-20 June 2007)
- Jerusalem Film Festival (5-14 July 2007)
- Galway Film Festival (10-15 July 2007)
- Seaward 15th Chichester Film Festival (24 August 9 September)
- Film by the Sea Film Festival 2007 (15 September 2007)
World Premiere : 21 February 2006, Dublin, Ireland (Dublin Film Festival)
- UK: 4 September 2006
- USA: 8 September 2006
- Italy: 1 December 2006
- Thailand: 5 December 2006
- Canada: 19 January 2007
- Portugal: 25 January 2007
- Brazil: 2 February 2007
- Taiwan: 4 April 2007
- New Zealand: 19 April 2007
- Australia: 7 June 2007
- Singapore: 26 June 2008
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- Youth Jury Award 2007, Film by the Sea International Film Festival (winner)
- Silver St. George Best Actress 2006, Moscow International Film Festival (winner)
- Special Jury Prize 2006, Moscow International Film Festival (winner)
- Audience Award (exit poll vote), Best Film in Main Competition 2006, Moscow International Film Festival (winner)
- Best Film in Competition (Jury, Russian Guild of Film Critics) 2006, Moscow International Film Festival (winner)
- Golden St. George 2006, Moscow International Film Festival (nomination)
- Satellite Awards 2006, Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical (nominated)
Ben: I crashed the car
Ben: I’m not gay.
Evie: I beg your pardon?
Ben: I’m not gay!
Evie: Not gay, apparently!
Ben: Remember I’m a poet too Evie, I understand the power of words.
Ben: Oh my god! You swallowed the key!
Evie Walton: What a relief, he swears.
Ben: You swallowed the fucking key!
Evie Walton: Even better!
Ben: God. Is. love.
Ben: I’m a learner driver. I’m strictly forbidden to drive a car without qualified motorist in the vehicle!
Bryony: D’you fancy a drink?
Ben: I should be in bed.
Ben: Once you’ve made a promise you should keep it.
Ben: And thank you for having me!
Ben: You’re my best friend.
Sarah: You’re very angry, aren’t you? Don’t be. You’re still God’s gift. Every day God gives us is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.
Ben: Fuck off, Sarah.
Ben: I’m living on my own now. In the garden.
Rupert about Driving Lessons
It was a bit like being with family, since I was playing opposite the one I like to call “my witch mother”.
“I was doing the fourth Harry Potter film, Goblet of Fire, at the time. There was just something really refreshing, really different about it. I met Jeremy Brock, the director, and really got along with him, and then I found that Julie (who had played his mom in Harry Potter) was going to be in it.”
(Bay Area Reporter October 26, 2006)
“I wasn’t really looking out for anything, it just sort of came. I was doing the fourth Harry Potter film and it came up after that. I just really liked the script and it was just something really different. I’d been filming the fourth one for about eleven months and I just wanted to do something different. I love sort of being Ron, it’s just sort of good to do something different so that’s why.”
(About.com October 18th, 2006)
“I took the part of Ben because he’s very different to Ron and it would show I could do more than be the wise-cracker.”
“I suppose the differences between Ben and Ron are that Ben is quieter and not as confident but more complicated. But I’m more like Ron. I like a laugh.”
(Daily Record August 24th, 2006)
“He’s quite sheltered. I mean, he’s from a religious family, and he’s got no friends. He’s a bit of a loner. He goes through quite a journey through the thing. And he sort of comes out of his shells, as it goes on. As he meets Julie Walters, her character, he sort of changes slightly, sort of becomes more independent and grows up a bit.”
(Groucho Reviews October 18th, 2006)
Driving Lessons US
Subtitles: Spanish, French
Extras: Behind the Scenes, Outtakes/Deleted scenes, Interview Julie Walters and Rupert Grint
ASIN (Region 1): B000PAAJW4
Note: Swear words have been edited out in the US version.
Driving Lessons UK
Extras: Director commentary, Interview Julie Walters and Rupert Grint, Trailer
ASIN (DVD Region 2): B000ICME4K
Driving Lessons Germany
Language: English, German
Extras: Behind the Scenes, Outtakes/Deleted scenes, Interview Rupert Grint
ASIN (Region 2): B0014BDQRS
ASIN (BluRay): B005FQFPNG
Note: DVD contains the non-edited, UK version of the film.
Soundtrack not released
- The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders Part 1: The Great Frontier by Sufjan Stevens
- Pink Moon by Nick Drake
- All the Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands by Sufjan Stevens
- One Door Opens by Richard Thompson
- Jesusland by Ben Folds
- El Agua De La Vida by Salsa Celtica
- God Don’t Never Change by Ginny Clee
- Jesus Christ by TD Lind with backing vocals by Juliet Roberts and Mary Pearce
- Auld Lang Syne by Salsa Celtica
- Lord of All Hopefulness by Jan Struther
- Nocturne No 1 in Bb minor, op 9 (Frédéric Chopin) by Michael Csányi-Wills
- Cumbia Celtica by Salsa Celtica
- Deep River by Alison Wright
- Every Time I Feel the Spirit by The Hampton Choral Society and Choir Connexion