Emma Watson exclusive: “I’m prioritising just feeling awesome”
There may not be a more beloved actress on the planet than Emma Watson. Having endeared herself to millions of fans as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, she has embarked on an intrepid new life on and off the screen. After graduating from prestigious Brown University, she feels ready to take on the world. Already we've seen her addressing the United Nations General Assembly on gender inequality, interviewing Noble prize-winning women's rights activist Malala Yousafzai, and working in a variety of films that demonstrate her commitment to becoming a serious dramatic actress.
Apart from her role as Belle in the upcoming phantasy blockbuster Beauty and the Beast (slated for release in 2017), Watson can be seen in the limited release arthouse thriller, Colonia, directed by Germany's Oscar-winning Florian Gallenberger. Based on horrific events that transpired during the brutal 1973 military coup in Chile, Watson plays Lena who risks her life by tracking down her boyfriend (Daniel Brühl) who has been abducted by Chile's secret police and taken to a secret camp where opponents of the junta are tortured and murdered.
In addition, the 25-year-old Watson has recently completed filming The Circle, a thriller co-starring Tom Hanks set for release this year. Currently single following her "horrendous" split with her rugby player ex-boyfriend, Matt Janney, she has recently sparked rumours of a budding new romance after being seen in the company of actor Roberto Aguire in recent months. They first met while filming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2011.
"I've just always been aware that it was a bit of a double-edged sword. I think I never really thought necessarily I'd become an actress or become famous. It's something I felt very passive in. It was something that happened to me. They came to my school. They saw me and they took photographs of me. I was taken up to London to audition. I just happened to be picked up and put in one of the biggest film franchises of all time."
"I try not to let the attention get to me... I find it too stressful and too exhausting to become aggravated or annoyed about something that's been written which is completely untrue or being misquoted. You simply can't allow yourself to get caught up in that or you would become a crazy person. When I was younger I would sometimes become upset, and I still do, but I'm able to just brush it off more easily now."
On her most famous character, Hermione
"I'm glad that I can be seen in a new incarnation, so I can change, to grow. I was, to be honest, a little shaken by all the attention that surrounded me, but it's always flattering to be in the thoughts of my fans. I needed, however, to leave Hermione behind and move forward."
On studying at Brown University in America
"When you're making big movies and being chauffeured everywhere that's a very strange and isolating kind of life. At university, I enjoyed being treated like everyone else and meeting people who have no interest in celebrities or films or anything like that. That's been very important to me. You also need to live and be part of the real world if you're going to grow as an individual and add more layers to your work as an actress."
On being real
"[I've] spent more than half of my life pretending to be someone else. While my contemporaries were dyeing their hair and figuring out who they were, I was figuring out who Hermione was and how best to portray her."
"Now at 25, for the first time in my life I feel like I have a sense of self that I'm comfortable with. I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self."
"I don't want there to be a big separation between the public and the private person. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to say, but I'm very interested in truth, in finding ways to be messy and unsure and flawed and incredible and great and my fullest self, all wrapped into one."
On her upbringing
"My parents didn't chaperone me [during her Harry Potter years]. I think that was a key difference between me and Dan [Radcliffe] and Rupert [Grint]. My parents both worked full time and they didn't want to do that, which I respect. I was responsible for myself."
On using her fame to speak out gender inequality
"Fame is not something I have always felt comfortable with, I have really grappled with it emotionally. And, in a funny way, doing this is my way of making sense of the fame, of using it. I have found a way to channel it towards something else, which makes it so much more manageable for me. And this is something I really believe in."
"I felt there was something lacking. I knew I wanted to keep acting, but I wanted something else. I've waited until I found the right thing to speak about. I didn't want to speak for the sake of it or just because I had the platform. I wanted to be 100 per cent sure, and this UN role is just perfect for me... When the UN explained the HeForShe campaign to me, I said: 'This is it, let me run with it, because this is 100 per cent my take on how we move forward.'"
"Feminism is not here to dictate to you. It's not prescriptive, it's not dogmatic. All we are here to do is give you a choice. If you want to run for Prime Minister, you can. If you don't, that's wonderful, too. Shave your armpits, don't shave them, wear flats one day, heels the next. These things are so irrelevant and surface to what it is all really about, and I wish people wouldn't get caught up in that."
"I understand that feminism is not a gender-neutral word. Historically, it has been associated with aggression, and also it has the word "feminine" in it, which is harder for men to accept. But there is no other word. By doing this, I am hoping it can be reimagined and redefined."
"When I was younger I remember being told 'no pain no gain', but recently my willingness to wear something that makes me freezing cold or that I can't walk in has changed. I want to feel fabulous and comfortable and sexy and strong and beautiful. And if it's making you uncomfortable, don't do it. It's so sad if you need to go home just because you need to sit down! Moving forward, I'm prioritising just feeling awesome."
On her favourite clothes
"Jackets. Whether it's a classic trench, a BLK DNM leather jacket, a great oversize J Brand denim jacket or a beautiful Miu Miu opera coat, I love that they always look and feel better the more you wear them."
"I won't wear shoes I can't walk in... Recently, I've been falling for Ancient Greek [Sandals]. But day to day, my trusty Alexander Wang Kori ankle boots or Tabitha Simmons suede Early booties get me through most daytime occasions. For night time, I almost always wear my Prada pointed-toe suede pumps. I've had my pair five years now, and they are still perfect and go with everything."
On where she shops
"I love shops with a unique point of view. In London, I buy my lingerie from Tallulah. I do my vintage shopping in Notting Hill. English Topshop is hard to beat. In Paris, I will always go to Isabel Marant. In New York, there is a great shop called Otte, and another called Bird. In California, there is this great boutique called Anaïse where I stock up on beautiful hand-crafted hair accessories. Net-a-Porter or Shopbop are great for online."
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