Saturday, January 31, 2009

Emma Watson: "I’ve only shown a little bit of what I can do. There is so much more to come."

[Gallery] [Fashion] [Beauty] [Version française]

From Daily Mail:

'Let’s be honest, I have enough money to never have to work again. It’s only just recently that I’ve really come round to the idea of carrying on with acting at all. I knew I was the perfect nine-year-old to play Hermione. But I was concerned that all would come out after that was Hermione. And if that had happened – well, I would know I couldn’t act. And then that would be it.

In a world glutted on the cult of celebrity, Emma Watson is the glorious detoxifying cure. She has no interest in fame or recognition; as a child she never considered being an actress. She was born of Oxbridge parents and now she’s considering an Oxbridge place herself, with a bright mind, bright looks and £10 million in the bank . You understand even more why she would relish the academic diversion of reading English and Philosophy at a Cambridge college when she gives her perspective on her coming-of-age birthday celebrations last year.

It was pretty tough turning 18,’ she says. ‘I realised that overnight I’d become fair game. I had a party in town and the pavements were just knee-deep with photographers trying to get a shot of me looking drunk, which wasn’t going to happen. I don’t have to drink to have a good time. The sickest part was when one photographer lay down on the floor to get a shot up my skirt.

The night it was legal for them to do it, they did it. I woke up the next day and felt completely violated by it all. That’s not something I want in my life. I just kept thinking that if it had happened a day earlier people would have sued their a***s off.

I find this whole thing about being 18 and everyone expecting me to be this object… I find the whole concept of being ‘sexy’ embarrassing and confusing. If I do a photo-shoot people desperately want to change me – dye my hair blonder, pluck my eyebrows, give me a fringe. Then there’s the choice of clothes. I know everyone wants a picture of me in a mini-skirt. But that’s not me. I feel uncomfortable. I’d never go out in a mini-skirt. It’s nothing to do with protecting the Hermione image. I wouldn’t do that.

Personally, I don’t actually think it’s even that sexy. What’s sexy about saying, “I’m here with my boobs out and a short skirt… have a look at everything I’ve got”? My idea of sexy is that less is more. The less you reveal the more people can wonder.’

It’s not what the shabby-chic walls of the discreet private rooms in Groucho, London’s most notorious members’ club, are used to hearing or seeing. This is the adoptive home of the hippest bad girls – Sienna Miller, Kirsten Dunst and Lily Allen. Watson – emphatically a ‘nice girl’ – wears a neat, classic uniform: well-cut jeans, smart boots, pale cashmere V-neck top. She smells shower-fresh, with faint traces of perfume. Her face is pink from a flush of embarrassment – she struggled to find the room – and her skin is entirely free of make-up or tell-tale signs of heavy nights.

This obviously suits her principal employers well. She has grown up – as if it needs saying – on celluloid in JK Rowling’s all-consuming Harry Potter phenomenon as Harry’s closest, cleverest, bravest female friend, Hermione Granger. Part six of the Warner Bros series, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, will be released this July and the final two-part installment, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, is filming now.

The films are a financial juggernaut. The first four are among the top 25 highest-grossing movies of all time; the most recent, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, was the second-highest grossing of the series, taking just under $1 billion worldwide. Watson’s share of the spoils has her sharing 55th place on the Under-Thirties Rich List with Amy Winehouse – and in the pantheon of our brightest Bafta stars.

She’s still deciding whether to take up a university place at Oxbridge or an Ivy League college, but she’s adamant it won’t interfere with her acting career. ‘Jodie Foster did it, Natalie Portman did it,’ she says. ‘I think it’s entirely possible to juggle university with filming.

When she talks she is completely devoid of the jaded cynicism of most of her age group. She hasn’t cultivated an attitude or an accent and, bar one solitary F-word, does not swear. All in all, she is sweet, charming and focused. As she says herself, ‘I think a good phrase to describe me is ‘eager to please’. It’s something I share with Hermione. We’re both terribly earnest people.

I wasn’t one of those girls who always dreamed of being an actress. I went to a normal school and then these film auditioners turned up when I was nine. Then I just fell into this whirlwind. I had lots of times when I thought: “Woah, woah, hang on – I’m not completely sure about this.”

I didn’t come from a background of films. I didn’t even really ever watch films. The fact is, my parents weren’t into that stuff, and neither was I.

Watson’s mother, Jacqueline, met her father, Chris, at Oxford. She was born in Paris, her parents divorced when she was five and Jacqueline took her daughter back to Oxford and enrolled her at The Dragon school, considered to be Britain’s premier prep school, and later Headington School for Girls, a premier league public school, where she got a clean sweep of As at GCSE and A level.

Through her parents’ other marriages she has four siblings and half-siblings, and talks every new option through with both her mum and dad. ‘I rely on them hugely and always speak to them first about everything,’ she says.

This battery of high-achieving middle-class security is what has kept her on track throughout the blockbuster films, the money, the fashion deals, the party invites and the fame.

As Drew Barrymore and Lindsay Lohan would attest, a spell in rehab is par for the course for the average teen star, but Watson has remained resolutely herself. She skis – she has a £1 million ski chalet in Meribel – goes to nightclubs in Oxford and only dates boys from a close circle of friends.

I’ve had the same group of friends since junior school and it has saved me. People I’ve dated have been friends of friends. I’d be unlikely to go out with anyone famous. I just wouldn’t.

I don’t consider myself to be a celebrity. I don’t fit that mould. I worry that people have expectations of me being someone I’m not. I’m just finding myself and trying to live as normally as possible and be as normal as possible.

'I’ve never seen a “good behaviour” clause (she refers to her reported Warner contract) – I honestly think that’s a myth – but I actually wouldn’t ever need one. It’s just not necessary. I’m not tempted by parties or drugs. I don’t actually like being drunk, particularly in public. But I do understand why people get sucked into a party lifestyle. I can see how it happens so I’d never criticise someone who gets into all that. It can get pretty tough. But you have choices in life. If I want to lead as private and as normal a life as possible I just can’t go there. So I don’t.

She grins. ‘Daniel (Radcliffe), Rupert (Grint) and me have been incredibly protected doing the Harry Potter movies. There seems to be this feeling that all of us were bursting to break out of these images we had created but that’s never been the case. We all share the same view. None of us court celebrity, none of us want to be part of the game.

As you may have realised by now, Watson is not a girl to be underestimated. Producers fought to secure her first post-Potter role; a lot of offers involved near-the-knuckle nudity, which in many ways would mark the obvious difficult leap from child star to fully fledged actress. (Daniel Radcliffe marked out his post-Potter career with a stage role as a disturbed teenager in Equus, where he was required to appear naked night after night). Watson, however, is more circumspect.

I have no plans to do anything for the sake of it, or to shock people. I might be willing to take my clothes off for a Bernardo Bertolucci film, if it was a part that really made sense as part of my character. But I wouldn’t do it just to make a point, to move on from Hermione. I’d hate to be so tactical. I’m not just getting my kit off for anyone,’ she says.

There was always uncertainty about me having a future in acting at all. It wasn’t like this was something I thought of as my future. After Hermione, I didn’t know whether there was anything else. You don’t know if you can exist outside of that or whether you even want that, because it was something you never really pursued in the first place.

In the event, she chanced her arm with a TV one-off, Ballet Shoes. ‘I always had concerns that I was Hermione because I looked like a Hermione – but what else did I bring? So this was the test. And it worked. Ballet Shoes was a small production, but it gave me the confidence to think I could actually have a career as an actress after the Harry Potter films. That I wouldn’t just always be Hermione.

Her first movie role – post-Potter – is likely to be a period drama, Napoleon And Betsy, which tells the true story of the Emperor’s relationship with a young girl during his exile on St Helena. ‘It’s a strong relationship but it’s not sexual,’ she says. ‘It’s very complex. A touching of souls. She was a very young girl and he was this older, incredible man. I read the script two years ago and just knew this was the perfect film for me.

With Hollywood at her feet, you can’t help but ask whether her gap year from university to finish the final Potter films could continue indefinitely if another great offer came along. She looks stunned.

No way,’ she says. ‘I actually think going to university will make me a better actress. The experience of living like that, working to deadlines, living with other students. It’s all the things I want.

There are actresses who don’t know about things like doing their own laundry and getting a bus. I’m
not going to be like that.

She stops suddenly and laughs: ‘For me, this is just the beginning. I’ve only shown a little bit of what I can do. There is so much more to come.

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