She’s played the part of Hogwarts hot swot Hermione for half her life, but now, as she prepares to move on, Emma Watson talks exclusively to Paul Byrne about life after Harry Potter.
When Harry Potter finally hangs up his wand in July 2011, there’s little doubt that the three young, multi-millionaire actors who have led the franchise to the big screen for the previous ten years need never lift a finger again for the rest of their lives.
When it comes to those post-Potter years though, it’s clear that knockabout ginger nut Rupert Grint will be the Ringo of the pack, his inherent comic timing no doubt serving him well. As for leading man Daniel Radcliffe, the little wooden boy has slowly progressed over the Potter movies to being something resembling a real actor. He’s still not quite there yet though.
No, the one I reckon will have the easiest time enjoying a rewarding, challenging and lucrative post-Potter career will be Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson. Should she so choose.
Watson can act. She’s incredibly smart. Oh, and did I mention that she’s an absolute cracker?
It’s Monday, we’re at London’s Claridge’s Hotel, and the 19-year old in front of me is clearly happy to be taking a daybreak from playing Hermione Granger, the seventh and final book, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows, currently shooting until April of next year, and subsequently in our cinemas in two parts – the first in November 2010, the second in July 2011.
Type ‘Emma Watson’ into Google, and you’ll get 19,600,000 results. Top of the list is her recent wardrobe malfunction during the London premiere of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, the wild and windy weather resulting in an unwitting Monroe moment for the young actress as she tried to save her vintage 1970s Ossie Clark dress from the encroaching puddles beneath.
Knickers were revealed. The internet, naturally enough, went nuts.
No stranger to such attention laughed it off, stating later, “At least I’m wearing underwear”.
It’s all par for the course when you’re a part of the most successful movie franchise of all time, the Potter films recently pipping James Bond to the post when the five films released so far took in a staggering $4.48billion at the box-office. Nice.
The latest outing will no doubt add plenty of dubloons to the Potter chest, The Half-Blood Prince being the one where just about everything hits the fan. It’s also the best Potter outing since 2004’s The Prisoner Of Azkaban.
This is the one where Harry, Hermione and Ron have to deal with not only The Dark Lord’s evil forces, but also some raging hormones. It’s the one where Harry really meets Ginny, Ron’s sister. Where Ron meets Lavender Brown. Which annoys Hermione no end, because, well, she met Ron first.
All this drama – a treat for an actor, or quite tough to shoot?
“I think, from my perspective, it was quite tough actually,” muses Watson, “because it’s Hermione who gets heartbroken. So, I had to do this very big crying scene, and… she’s very vulnerable, and emotional, in this one, so, I think it was a challenge. Fun to do a bit more of the comedy stuff, where she’s a bit angry with Ron. That was quite funny…”
If ever I had any doubt about Emma Watson’s acting ability, I tell her, they were firmly quashed here. I came out ofThe Half-Blood Prince fully convinced that a young woman like Ms. Watson could be truly, madly, deeply in love with a young man with ginger hair. That’s an outrageous feat for an actress…
“Oh, I think Rupert’s gorgeous!,” she exclaims. “He is – he’s totally gorgeous. He’s very handsome, very handsome indeed.”
You did say, about the kiss, I remind Watson, “It’s the most horrible thing that I’ve ever had to do”…
“Oh, you see, you misunderstand.”
It was the challenge of the scene, rather than any physical repulsion towards poor Rupert?
“Yes! It’s been really badly misinterpreted, because it sounds as if I’m saying it was horrible because it’s Rupert. When, of course, he’s gorgeous looking, and there are a million girls who would do anything to kiss him, and it was purely because of the fact that he’s like my brother. And we were both in the same boat. I’m sure he will tell you exactly the same thing. It was very strange, and very weird.”
And it took four takes. Perhaps young Mr. Grint was messing up each take deliberately?
“Believe me, we both wanted it to be over, equally, as much as the other,” answers Watson. “The only way I can describe it, it was honestly like kissing my brother. It was weird.”
Given that Emma, Ron and Dan are very much on the home stretch now, as they shoot the very last Harry Potter film, is there a sense yet of getting ready for the big goodbye? Emma has played Hermione for half her life now…
“The thing is, I would, I would brace myself for it,” she states, “but I’m in denial about it, I think. I don’t actually believe that it’s going to be over. You know, there’s going to be the Harry Potter theme park, there are two more films to be released, and we’ve got until April, so, we’re still filming, and I just… I don’t know. I’m not convinced, and I won’t believe it until it is actually the last day, and it is actually over.”
Wise old Professor Albus Dumbledore says in the movie, “There is no light without the dark”, but for Emma Watson and her two Potter co-stars, there must be a huge amount of light that comes with being in such a success story. The multi-millions can’t hurt either (Watson reportedly bagging £2m per film for the last two outings). Is there a darkness that comes with all this success, with living out the dream of a million young girls?
“I think it’s the same with anything you do – I think there are always upsides and there are always downsides. That’s just natural. You know, it’s been an incredible experience, but at the end of the day, it’s a job, that I’m being paid to do. I have to fulfill certain things, and it’s sometimes can be a lot of pressure, and it’s hard to be under so much scrutiny – I think that’s quite tough. And people have such high expectations of you. You have to…”
Watson searches for the right words.
“You gotta do good! All the time! Consistently! So, that can be tough. But, em, I think it’s a lot of light, you know. I really know how lucky I am. I know that I’m very… I’m in a very lucky position, and I need to keep reminding myself that it’s… incredible, really.”
Despite the fact that she’s talented, famous and, as I stated earlier, a cracker, Emma Watson isn’t all that interested in living any kind of high life. Certainly not in the spotlight, anyway. Instead of throwing herself to the paparazzi, Watson is instead heading to Oxford this summer, where she will study English. Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan will just have to find some other budding starlet to party with.
“I’ve never really been interested in fame at all,” states Watson, flatly. “It’s never really interested me, or appealed to me. I love acting; I find the other side of it sometimes quite difficult, actually, but, it’s what comes with it these days. When you’re attached to something as big as Harry Potter, this massive film franchise, you have to publicise it, you have to… The thing is, also… I don’t know, it just comes with it. You can’t… It’s part of your job.”
What Emma Watson wants more than anything in her life right now is a big fat dollop of normality. Hence college over Coleen Rooney.
“I’m going to university at the end of August,” she finishes, “so, I’ll get kind of a break doing that – studying, a bit of normality, which should be nice for a while. I’m looking forward to that. But, I think a lot of the media is quite confused to learn that I want to go study, and they ask me, “Why?”. Well, because university sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.
“I really want to go, and hang out with people my own age, and I want to keep studying, and I also want to have the chance to travel, and do something a bit different. You know, act my own age for a bit. It’ll be fun. But it doesn’t mean that I’m never going to act again.
“In university, you get, like, five months of holiday a year, and I can easily schedule a film into that, so… I’m going to do both.”
Words : Paul Byrne
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince hits Irish cinemas July 17th