A new chapter for Emma Watson
July 14, 2009
By ANGELA DAWSON
Entertainment News Wire
NEW YORK _ Emma Watson has spent the last nine years portraying brainy Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. The 19-year-old British actress has received her schooling from a tutor on a movie set and attended international premieres instead of going to school dances.
Now, with the Harry Potter series barreling towards its two-part finale, Watson is preparing to enter the next phase of her life. She is bound for Columbia University this fall to study “English, or maybe art,” she says.
“I want to take it seriously and do it properly,” and possibly take a break from movie making, she adds.
Watson will live in a dorm and hopes to be just another undergraduate in New York City. “I don’t want to half-do it,” she says. “We’ll see how it goes.”
She is not saying good-bye to Harry Potter quite yet. She has four more months of filming scattered over the next nine months or so.
“I can’t anticipate how I’ll feel when we’re finished,” she says with a shrug. “I have so much left ahead of me. I have to stay in it and stay focused.”
Watson, who had no professional acting experience when she was cast as Hermione in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” has come a long way in the six films she has completed thus far. “I put so much more thought into it than I used to,” she says. “Not that I didn’t care when I was 12, but it feels very different now.”
She’s putting in 12-hour, six-day work weeks as she, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” set for release in two parts starting in 2010. She barely has time to think of anything other than work this summer, which is fine by her.
On a brief break in production, she is promoting “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth in the series. In it, Hermione, Harry and Ron contend not only with the Dark Lord Voldemort but also with their own emotions and unexpected feelings. Hermione feels conflicted over her new romantic feelings for Ron, who is typically oblivious and distracted by other females at the school.
Watson is relieved to play the character with vulnerability and humanity. “In the past, you’ve seen a strong Hermione, quite a girl-power Hermione,” she says. “She’s the brains behind the operation, kind of driving the guys around with her. But in this one I think you see a very different Hermione. She’s much more fragile, vulnerable and emotional, and she’s experiencing her first heartache really.”
As Ron romances another girl, Hermione even goes so far as to date another boy in an attempt to get Ron’s attention. “I’m dating my stalker,” she says with a laugh. “He’s always there when I need him, and he’s not too demanding.”
Watson says playing an emotionally mixed up Hermione is something she could relate to. “I know what it’s like to feel insecure and unwanted,” she says candidly. “I understand her longing. I’m growing up with my character and I’m experiencing the same things she is at the same time. It makes it fresh and easy to bring it straight onto the screen.”
Though not as tightly wound as Hermione, Watson says she can relate to her character in other ways. Both are good students who enjoy learning. She’s also a bit of a bookworm. She describes herself as a “geeky” fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and claims to have read each of them cover to cover at least three times.
“I know the books inside and out and could probably answer any question you’d come up with or any plot detail you might care to ask about,” she says. “I’m a bit of a book purist. Anything that comes up, I’m usually the first person to say, ‘it says this in the book and we should do this.'”
Yet she also appreciates the inevitable differences between books and movies. “I understand we have to make a film that isn’t 20 hours long, which is why I encourage people _ not just with Harry Potter _ to also read the book, especially if they love the film,” she says.
Watson likes working with her co-stars Radcliffe and Grint, who are like brothers to her after growing up together on-screen. Which made it awkward when she recently had to kiss Grint for a scene in the final movie.
“This is, like, 10 years worth of tension, hormones, chemistry and everything in, like, one moment, so we had to ace it,” she recalls. “Rupert and I were concerned it might look disingenuous as we were desperate to get it out of the way. Hopefully, we did it.”
Unlike Radcliffe and Grint, who want to make acting their life’s work, Watson is weighing her options.
“I’m not giving up acting or anything dramatic like that,” she insists. “I just want a normal experience for a bit. Just a little bit of normalcy.”