By Jeff Labrecque
Updated May 24, 2011 at 07:05 PM EDT

Perhaps no character in the Harry Potter universe came as far as Ron Weasley. Harry was always heroic, and Hermione was brilliant from the get-go, but Ron began as the designated doofus — J.K. Rowling’s veritable red-headed stepchild. Of course, Ron’s journey becomes as essential as any in the battle against Voldemort, and Rupert Grint has successfully managed to show every side of Ron through the years, from slack-jawed goober to romantic hero.

After 10 years at Hogwarts, Grint talked to Empire about saying goodbye: “The sadness didn’t really hit me until the last day,” said the 22-year-old. “I find it hard to remember life before [Potter] really. [The end] still hasn’t really sunk in, I think. I don’t think it will for a while.”

As for the actual crumbling of the world around Ron and his friends, Grint confirmed the gloomy timbre of the final Potter film. “These sets, they did actually destroy them,” he said. “Seeing the Great Hall… The place had become quite a familiar one in our lives; we’d spent a lot of time there. And now it’s on fire. There are dead bodies, dead children everywhere. It’s really dark.”

Do you prefer the Ron Weasley we’re about to see July 15? Or do you have a soft sport for Sorcerer’s Stone Rupert Grint? Which film boasted your favorite Ron?

Read more: