Like many, Chris Rankin spends his free time walking his dogs in the South Wales countryside.

Living in Newport, his favourite haunts include Tredegar House, or perhaps a wander in Allt-yr-yn nature reserve with his partner Nessa, Westie-Poodle cross Stanley and 11-year-old crossbreed Boo.

But there’s one difference.

As a Weasley, and the actor responsible for bringing Ron’s meticulous older brother Percy to life, Chris must balance his time at home with everything Harry Potter.

First of all, there are the conventions and Comicons which take up around half of his time. Over the course of the year, they will see both Chris and Nessa fly across to America three or four times a year, or travel from the northernmost to the southernmost parts of the UK.

Then there are the associations and jobs that come with the role - during the festive period Chris is taking up a cloak and wand once again to play the Wizard of Oz in a pantomime touring over the border.

And that’s not taking into account his career behind the camera which has seen him work on everything from Downton Abbey to Monmouth-filmed Atlantic, or the Brecon theatre company which he oversees as charity chairman.

Not a bad result for what Chris describes as a “cameo” role - albeit a “fun one”.

It's been 20 years since Chris wrote in asking for the role of Percy Weasley

“Percy was quite a nice part because it’s a small enough that it doesn’t completely consume your life,” Chris explains, sitting down in the foyer of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

“I mean it does because it’s Warner Bros and Harry Potter and it’s still here now and still going, so it has consumed my life, but in the best way possible.

“There are always new people discovering it and discovering you - although it’s a different me, it’s a 36 year old not a 16 year old me.”

Today, Chris will rarely be recognised on the street for his Wizarding alter-ego. Of those that do come up to him for a chat and a picture, they will be fans who recognise him as Chris rather than Percy - something he much prefers.

At 16 years old, the amateur dramatics enthusiast was at the perfect age when BBC Newsround, on behalf of Warner Bros, asked regular teenagers to write in and audition.

Perhaps surprisingly, he asked for the role of Percy.

“I was calculating. I was 16, ginger haired and a prefect,” Chris explains, today wearing a black cap over his distinctive ginger curls.

“[I thought] I’m not going to go for Harry or Ron because everyone will and I’m too old, I’m not a twin and I have ginger hair. Ginger hair means Weasley, realistically.

“I guess no-one else wanted to play him.”

Apart from a similar regard to rules - “if it says no running, there’s no running”- Chris is the antithesis of the uptight role he’s best known for.

Caught up in the whirlwind of everything Potter, when filming wrapped he actually took the decision to leave college with just one D grade to pursue the arts.

Years later, after choosing to return to education and study film production as university, Harry Potter was a natural choice to base his final dissertation on.

It’s something he also gets invited to present at conferences, although he admits it’s in need of updating since the latest films in the franchise came out.

Percy coming to the rescue in the last film

Chris said: “They didn’t ask me back to do the sixth film, and because of how little I had done in the fifth film I figured they had faded off Percy into the  background. He’s not completely vital to the storyline which was totally fine so I thought it was the perfect time to go to uni.

“I was sat slap bang in the middle of uni and Warner Bros phoned and said they wanted me back. You don’t get a choice really, I kind of signed up to it.”

After so many years surrounded by the best production teams in the industry, Chris decided to follow his gut and change roles once Percy Weasley had said his goodbyes.

Within his production roles he has worked on everything from BBC’s Atlantic filmed in Monmouth, Da Vinci’s Demon TV series and what Chris described as the highest costing US series debut of the time, the Bastard Executioner, set in early 14th century Wales. Sadly the series was not renewed after the first season.

Even then, working on the likes of Harry Potter afforded the actor no shortcuts.

Chris now prefers to be behind the camera

Speaking about his time working on Da Vinci’s Demons, filmed in Swansea, Chris said: “I did production running on that so making cups of tea and photocopying. You have to start at the bottom.

“Everyone does. Gary Oldman’s son was a daily runner on various things I worked on for years. Sure, having Gary Oldman as your dad helps but you still start down there.”

As someone who has turned his hand at different roles across the industry, Chris is honest about how hard such an unstable profession can be.

When headlines emerged “shaming” Eastenders actress Katie Jarvis for taking a job in B&M Bargains, the Harry Potter star decided to take a stand and change the narrative.

Eastenders actress Katie Jarvis was 'shamed' for working in B&M Bargains

“People know actors don’t get paid a lot of money, there’s not a lot of work and there’s a lot of unemployed actors - we know that, everyone knows that,” he explains.

“But there’s a misconception that if you have a job in a high profile thing that it pays really well and you’re made with your mansion in the Vale of Glamorgan or where ever and that’s not the case.

“I bang on about it all the time but I worked in Wetherspoons in Monmouth for four or five months when I didn’t have any other work, I needed a job and I had bills to pay.

“Could I not have worked there? Yes but I would probably have gone mad sitting on my own doing nothing.

“As much as it’s about the need to work because you need the bills to be paid, there’s also something about needing to work regardless of what that is.

“You need something to do, you need to keep sane.”

After a pause, he adds: “Katie Jarvis had a big role on TV, that can be detrimental to your career because people will remember you as that character.

“Maybe that inhibited her ability to get a job for a while. She’s got kids, what kind of example are you setting for them if you go on the dole - not that there’s anything wrong with that - but if you can get a job, go get a job.

“I put on costumes and pretend to be someone else for money, so is the guy who’s playing Santa Claus, we do the same thing.”

As well as a change in profession, Chris has also adapted to life 250 miles away from his Norfolk childhood.

Born in New Zealand to English parents, he has now lived in Wales for the last 10 years.

In the rare week days they will have free together, he and his partner are still ticking off the countless attractions around them. Last week they took visitors to Blaenavon’s Big Pit, Nessa going down in a wheelchair due to her fibromyalgia with the help of an enthusiastic volunteer.

As someone who once commuted daily from Brecon to Cardiff, he probably knows the windy lanes and vast landscapes of Wales better than most.

Such is his love for the Mid Wales community that it’s now the home of what he describes as his “passion project” bolstering amateur dramatics in Brecon and Radnorshire.

This Christmas Chris will be donning a cloak once again to play the Wizard of Oz

Chris, whose mother has moved to Abergavenny for her retirement, said: “I had lived in Brecon for quite a while and [they have] the Brecon Little Theatre which are an amateur dramatics company in Brecon which had been running since the 1930s.

“A friend of mine was part of the company and came over for dinner and said [it] was getting to the point where it’s not working, they were putting on shows and no-one was coming.

“I think they had just done a show where there were more people on stage than they were in the audience so it was time for change.

“I ended up on the committee, and we turned around it. I say me, it was mostly [friend Rosie Mellerick Wheeler] for the most part of three years.

“We started doing community shows which are family inclusive with kids from eight to people in their 70s. It’s been great.

 “It’s a passion project but I love it. Because I found my love of theatre through am dram I know it’s a really important thing.”

Chris is chairman of Brecon Little Theatre

Despite everything that has changed over the years, for Chris Harry Potter will always remain a constant - something his Twitter account will attest to.

More than anything, the series adored by millions worldwide create a means for people to come together, regardless of their experiences.

At one point in our afternoon in the Welsh college, Chris tells a story of a bereaved mother moved to tears after travelling to a convention to meet her daughter’s favourite actors.

He said: “I love it. Now the fans are full second generation. I’m 36 and I grew up reading the books at the age you should have read them, or from 13 onwards.

“Now I have friends who have 11, 12 13-year-old kids who are fully the right age to appreciate Harry Potter.

“It’s been a huge amount of my life and the wonderful thing about Potter is that it’s a huge part of other people’s lives.

“So often you get people who you meet at events or come and see me at the stage door and they’ll say Harry Potter got them through a really tough stage in their life or a dark place.

“The people I’ve met through the Harry Potter community have really supported me

“I don’t know what the hell I would be doing now if I didn’t do that. I’m very grateful.”