I am pretty sure that there are people who have had spontaneous conversations with Rupert without problems.
People that he meets at work can't possibly practice in their mirror every morning – and then I'll say, and then he'll say and then I'll say but what if he says – and his work colleagues have never had anything but the highest praise for him, and that includes reporting interesting conversations they have had.
People who bump into him in general, in public, can have a small exchange of words – I loved you in something – cool – without spontaneously combusting.
But what if you know you're going to have a conversation with Rupert? What should you aim to do? How should you prepare? Whether it's an interview for a international magazine or a prize winner's meet and greet at a film event, you honestly can sustain a two-way conversation with him.
I was lucky enough to have fifteen whole minutes with him in a hotel on a Deathly Hallows press day and I had prepared my questions carefully – nothing earth shattering, but nothing that he'd been asked a squillion times before and could run out the standard answer to without thinking.
The journalist who went in three places before me had her carefully prepared questions that apparently required yes/no answers, because she came out complaining that she'd squeezed in thirty-five questions and received thirty-five yes/no answers.
I was worried, but I needn't have been. If he answers with a yes/no, try prompting with really? or surely not? and see if you can make him explain himself, you could turn that yes/ no into a brand new anecdote.
• Put a twist on a standard question. Everyone was asking him about kissing Emma, so I asked how odd it was for him and Dan to both have to kiss her, having grown up with her, hoping they'd had a bonding session over the weirdness of their experience and he said it was weird to think of her that way... It would’ve been just as weird as if you had to kiss Dan, I prompted... Exactly! he laughed But I’d probably be more comfortable kissing Dan.
He laughed. We laughed. The magazine's editor used it as a headline!
• Ask for his opinion on things his colleagues have already said about the film. He was having a long and repetitive day and he didn't really want to know what I thought about the film, but he was interested in hearing about what Tom or the Phelpses had said about a scene and he elaborated on it, laughing as told me about the complex he was developing about Dan closely observing and mimicking his allegedly Elvisy hip movements.
• Or tell him things his colleagues have said about him! I wanted to ask about how laid back he seemed, but that's just begging to be dismissed with a so, you're really laid back? Yeah. So I said Dan has said that you are impossible to fall out with because you are ridiculously laid back. He could set fire to you, and you wouldn’t object. Which was an awesome enough quote from Mr Radcliffe, but Rupert laughed and said, that has happened. I did catch fire, once. His t-shirt had brushed against a candle at a buffet and he'd caught fire and I didn’t really react, to be honest, which is quite weird. And he'd apparently never mentioned this, before, because his PR person was also in the room and she turned and boggled at the news as loudly as I did!
So, I would strongly advise you to make him laugh. Because chances are if he's laughing, he's interested, he is engaging with you and he isn't reciting a standard answer.