Thursday, March 18, 2004

Emma Watson: "It took me three films to get Hermione in jeans. Whoo-hoo!"

[Version française]

HERTFORDSHIRE, England — Hermione gets to wear jeans and — ugh — hold hands with Ron. Harry is one angry 13-year-old wizard. And his supernatural foes are even more ominous this time.

As director Alfonso Cuarón puts the final touches on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, due in theaters June 4, it's clear some things are the same about this Harry Potter, and some things are very different. USA TODAY has exclusive photos from a new trailer of Azkaban that arrives in theaters March 26. And our visit to the Leavesden Studios set of one of the year's most anticipated movies found a feisty, sometimes furious Potter this time around.

He's still a wizard, of course. He still attends Hogwarts, and Ron and Hermione remain his best pals. He continues to wear those dorky glasses. But the kids are lankier, their hairstyles cooler, and they spend more time in jeans and sweatshirts than in their school robes.

"It took me three films to get Hermione in jeans," says Emma Watson, who plays her. "To get out of the robes with the tights and the itchy jumpers. Whoo-hoo!"

Before filming started, Cuarón asked the young actors to write an essay about their characters and themselves.

"The kids were very brave," he says. "They bared their souls. They were very eloquent. At some point, I wanted to publish them, then I thought no, I promised them it was just for the work of the film and it's their personal stuff."

And they held free-flowing discussions "about what it means to be 13," Cuarón says. "How it's different from 12 or 11. It's an archetypal age. Kids change so much. You want to change the way you dress, the way you look, the way you argue."


The hormonal changes that come with being a teen will be visible on screen, and they're also evident in exchanges between the young actors on the set. There's much discussion of crushes and break-ups. Watson interrupted an interview to share a whispered gossip with a crewmember about a cute guy.

When Hermione takes Ron's hand in a scene, Watson makes a quintessential 13-year-old grimace. The movie called for "some embarrassing hugging to be done. With Ron (Rupert Grint). We have kind of a love-hate relationship."


The bookish Hermione strays a bit more from her studies in this movie.

"This is a real girl-power film," says Heyman. "Hermione helps and leads Harry on many occasions."

She decks Harry's Hogwarts foe, the ultra-obnoxious Draco Malfoy, after he sneeringly insults her mixed heritage (she's a wizard with human parents) and nearly causes the execution of a harmless hippogriff. After Hermione slugs Malfoy, she exclaims, "That felt good!"

It's a move that Azkaban audiences are likely to cheer, and the punch proved therapeutic in easing Watson's newly developed teen angst.

"It was great fun," Watson says. "We did a couple of takes, and I was saying 'Come on, come on, let's do it again.' "

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