Magic touch – an interview with Emma Watson

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She will always be associated with the Harry Potter films, but actress and model Emma Watson is proving there is more to her than playing Hermione

Emma Watson says she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t famous, having auditioned as the little witch Hermione Granger at the age of nine, adding there have been times when her life has been rather odd.

“I think some of my best anecdotes revolve around just how surreal the whole situation was,” she says.  “I could come from a day at school when I’d be doing maths one minute and then changing into a premiere dress the next. If you’d taken a snapshot, it would have looked ridiculous to see me sitting in the canteen speaking to elves, witches and wizards in full costume but it became perfectly normal to me because it was my life.”

As far as the Harry Potter films are concerned, she says she’ll never forget riding on a broomstick or “being tortured by Helena Bonham-Carter”.

Reading for a liberal arts degree (English, history and art) at the Ivy League Brown University in the US, Watson is currently on an exchange with Oxford in England – she claims her home there is her favourite hideaway – and will spend her final year back at Brown.

img220“My studying has always been very important to me because I feel it’s cocooned me in a way. It’s been a really nice escape because although the film industry is amazing, there are sides of it which are very superficial and crazy. I find my education very grounding, it keeps me motivated and I really love learning.”

Currently an ambassador for the beauty brand Lancome, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet and Penelope Cruz, Watson is the face of the brand’s perfume Trésor Midnight Rose.

“In summer, in the garden of my father’s house in London [born in Paris to British lawyers, Watson’s parents divorced when she was five] we always have jasmine growing on the balcony. So the scent of jasmine, which you can find in the fragrance, always makes me think of summer evenings and being outside. I just love it. Also, roses are my favourite flowers.”

Elsewhere in the fashion world, Watson has twice been chosen as the face of Burberry in their advertising campaigns and she also collaborated with the fair trade pioneer charity People Tree, putting her name to a clothing line she helped them develop.

“There are aspects of the fashion industry that can be cruel to the environment and cruel to people who work in the industry. It’s good to encourage people to consider what they are buying, where it comes from and just to care about it.”

But acting is the only career on her horizon – “hopefully making brilliant and interesting films” – with the current release My Week with Marilyn one of her post-Potter film roles alongside Kenneth Branagh and Eddie Redmayne.

img222“Most of my scenes were alongside Eddie Redmayne who is such a lovely guy and a great actor so it was a real pleasure to work with him. I play a wardrobe assistant on Marilyn Monroe’s last big film that she did and I don’t want to give too much away but it’s another stellar British cast with a really great director – Simon Curtis.” 

Watson also has some insights into the storyline and the character she portrays in the film of the coming of age novel Perks of Being a Wallflower, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky and due for release in 2012: “I play a girl called Sam who has had a pretty difficult childhood and a hard time growing up.  She’s really screwed up the first two, three years of her time at high school and hasn’t had very good grades.  She’s not been treated well by guys she’s dated and has been made to feel worthless. It’s about her finding her sense of worth.  I felt really compelled by her story and her struggle to find belief in herself. It’s a really nice story.”

While she says her education keeps her feet on the ground, keeping her motivated, Watson says she would love to try theatre.

“I think performing live, getting that energy and doing it in that way is a really special experience,” she says, adding she would “love to do some Shakespeare one day and play Juliet or Ophelia”.  Shakespeare, she says, would have been one of her ideal dinner party guests: “I’d love to know where he got the inspiration from to write all those amazing stories.”