Monday, October 31, 2022

Emma Watson in Wonderland magazine (Autumn/Fall 2022) [Scans + Interview]


[Gallery] [Fashion] [Version française]

It took me more than an hour to write the interview so please be kind and credit if you use it, thank you :) I recommend reading the whole thing but I highlighted some bits that I believe are new about Emma in case you don't have much time for the moment.

Also thank you  to Emma Watson Gallery for sending me the link to the scans on Twitter. To the people who will comment, please don't complain about the tags. Feel free to buy the magazine it they bother you ;)

The first were released weeks ago but I did not post them for whatever reason.


The moment Emma Watson bounded out of her taxi, straight from the gym, and went round hugging each and every crew member on the set of her Wonderland shoot in Hoxton was the moment we actually believed, 'Okay she is definitely doing the cover!' This issue, like many - but really this issue - has seen a chaotic number of somersaults, sprints and nosedives. And Emma, celebrating her directorial debut with Prada Beauty, was the bow that perfectly tied together this tornado of creative mayhem. Charismatic, kind and supremely intelligent, the actor and activist's work ethic and vision is something to wholly admire. Whether within her Prada Beauty campaign, which she breaks down with her friend Dr. Shiva Balaghi in a powerful interview, or on the set of her Wonderland shoot - Emma knows what she wants, and she will meticulously moodboard, dream, critique and perfect it until it becomes a reality.


Photography: Bartek Szmigulski Fashion: Toni-Blaze Ibekwe Words: Dr. Shiva Balaghi

Even when she was a child acting in the Harry Potter movies, people would tell Emma Watson she should direct and produce. A decades-long creative journey finally led her to directing her first film, a campaign for Prada Beauty, that stretches the boundaries of what a commercial can be and has changed the trajectory of her career. She speaks to cultural historian of the Middle East who she met at Brown University, Dr. Shiva Balaghi, about her journey.

Emma Watson shows up for her friends. During covid lockdown, months of isolation sometimes left me feeling a bit unsure and precarious. My appointment to get my first vaccine was coming up, and I just needed a friend to be there with me. The night before I texted Emma: Can you please take me tomorrow to get my covid shot? And the next morning at 8 AM, she showed up. As we drove through Los Angeles traffic. Emma and friends of her recent paintings and poetry. She wondered how she could bring it all together. I suggested making a film as a way to integrate her diverse creative work - writing, painting and performance. Fast forward two years later and she made her first film, commissioned by Prada Beauty as the campaign for their new perfume, Paradoxe. In preparation for directing the film, Emma turned a window looking onto the countryside into a whiteboard to brainstorm. She'd written words like connection, strength, bravery, push further and determination. Those words convey Emma's approach to all her various projects. I first met Emma over a decade ago when she took several classes I was teaching at Brown University. Through the years, our friendship has grown through a shared interest in art as a vehicle for social engagement. Our conversations can turn from the deeply personal to the realm ideas - and often to giggling silliness. Emma doesn't follow Twitter much, so sometimes in the mornings as I walk my dog, I'll ring her with updates. "Did you know, according to Twitter, you're getting married?" Emma laughed uproariously: "Who pray tell does Twitter say I'm to wed?" We spoke in August about her path to filmmaking...

SB So how did you finally arrive at this decision to make a film?
EW It's so funny how resistant human beings can be to their own possibilities, and resistant if I'm being honest to their own bigness. I think I was still trying to figure out how to step away from my bigger identity and my past. And I wasn't fully ready to integrate my past, present, and future self. I was trying to keep them in three seperate boxes, and your suggestion that I make a film just percolated over time. And then I started becoming involved in environmental activism and wanted to make films to tell some of that story. I started to widen my artistic community of friends and wanted to help them present their work better and offered to do photo shoots, make films, and build websites for them. The truth is, I kept running away from and always coming back to the same point - which is making a film. Finally, I realised how much I enjoyed it and how much I wanted to do it.

SB I don't think you were running away from it. I think you were developing the skill set and point of view to be able to make film.
EW Yes, the clarity.

SB I see in this film so many of the conversations that we've had, the art that you've been making, the way you've been living your creative life. Even in that conversation that we had when you were talking about the exhibition and possibly adding film, the first thing you said was: 'I see filming myself under water.' That was the first scene that came to your mind. And that's such an iconic moment in your film - that shot of you swimming in the ocean, up towards the light. You have not been running away, you have been developing you own visual language. And you found it.
EW It makes me so emotional to hear you giving me even more of the pieces that I had forgotten, because the truth is that sometimes in this process, I felt so deeply lost and at sea with no sign of the shore. When I stepped away from acting after Little Women, I knew I couldn't go backwards. I needed to find a new path, but I just had no idea what that path was. I'd had a really structured life - a life based on productivity and achieving a particular set of goals and a very specific rhythm. So, to take time away and not be sure as you're saying, I can see that during that time when I led me to this specific place and to this film. Nothing went to waste.

SB You used all of it. And that's what every succesful writer, painter, filmmaker always says: use all of it. I was thinking about how you always keep a garden alongside your art studios. And the way this film gravitates between the inside and the outside; that is your creative process.
EW Yes, I've been thinking a lot about utopia recently. Utopia literally means nowhere. And for three or four years, I felt like I was in a kind of no man's land. But that liminal space actually helped me collect some of the richest, most interesting things that have allowed me to make this film, helped shape this project. And that's the story of the fragrance as well; it is the paradoxe of this woman. As we were preparing for the film, we talked about how the fragrance was supposed to be for a woman who was whole and complete and in touch with the heartbeat of life. At the same time, she was shape-shifting and manifesting different facets of herself, whilst not being actually lost.

SB Your use of screens in the film is really stricking. I wonder if it's about a recognition of how you want to re-engage with filmmaking. In these past years, you've been experimenting with different forms of creative expression: collage, painting, photography, poetry, and now filmmaking. At the same time, you've been seeking and creating your own community of artists, actors, thinkers, one of mutual support.
EW Yes, I think that's absolutely right. There's something so special about making a film, because you need so many people. It's such an impossible feat to have these different parts all come together at the same time to create the perfect moment. The hair and makeup, the costume, the lighting, the director of photography, the performance, the set design. It's all coming together in one perfect beautiful symphonic moment. It's the lunar eclipse. And I just love so much the physical result of something that is the work of so many people making things together at the same time.

SB By the way, whoever the DP of this film was, they get your aesthetic. They see you.
EW Monika Lenczewska. The thing I saw in her work that made me want to work with her so much - I just felt the truth. I was watching an ad she made for Serena Williams, and she captured this one moment when the baby just gently reached out to touch Serena's hair. I've watched my best friend with her baby, and I know that moment to be true. Yes, her work is aesthetically beautiful, but you could tell that her pursuit, her hunger, her ache was for truth, even for a split second when something was speaking to truth, to reality, to real life. I knew how important that would be for the story I was trying to tell.

SB Did you write the script first and shoot the film?
EW No. There was an outline that Prada Beauty had put together of who this woman was. It was one of the things that really drew me in. It was about this woman who was askew and unexpected and exploring this idea of 'never the same, always myself' and the paradox. I didn't think I was going to include words in the final piece; it was going to be purely visual. We had to pull that ad together in 3 weeks, so we'd been working so intensely. The night before I was due to leave for Barcelona, I took 24 hours off. I spent time with a friend, got a good night's sleep, and woke up to meditate. And as I was meditating, it was just like someone was continually banging at my door. Knock, knock, knock. And it was the words. It all came together as this complete, finished thing in less than an hour. And then I recorded it on my phone. What's in the ad is the recording from that day. I wanted it to be audio I recorded in the moment when the idea came to me, with that specific performance.

SB It just flowed out of you.
EW It was partly based on some of my frustrations with the process of making the movie. Collaboration is a finickity, tricky thing; human beings are complicated and sensitive. Creating a really authentic team, community - it takes tremendous engagement to do it in a really deep and meaningful way. I wanted to work with a group of young women, with people that I love and that love me. It was also to do with my journey of figuring out what I wanted to do. About how difficult and scary I found it to be untethered. It was about what I was using to pull me to the other side during my dark moments, which was my dreams and hopes. There are two lines that didn't make it in. "The dead ends are doors." Writing that line brought tears to my eyes because I thought that I'd truly hit a dead end, that I needed to completely rebuild my life. And in fact the dead end was just a door to something else. And the other line I wrote: "It was never a battle, it's a dance." And that was really about my relationship to my activism, going between creative and commercial spaces. I needed to learn to be more like bamboo, to not let it exhaust me but to be in a more playful, flirtatious dance. With those difficult more complicated relationships, I needed to find the joy in them. So I got chills because it felt like such a gift that the words just came out so easily and completely.

SB It was a moment of recognition. "I contain multitudes." You play different characters in the film.
EW There's a few interesting layers to that, isn't there. Because I'm an actress and so I can put on a performance and shape shift. I am someone who has wanted to explore every aspect of myself. And that has caused some friction and tension in my life. How do I stay true to myself?

SB Many creatives are in-betweeners, people who play multiple roles, people who have an external life and an internal life.
EW In order to share a lot more of myself, I had to step away from the spaces where I had to become 'Emma Watson'. To be honest, I find it very draining, because she's manufactured. It takes an army to create the 'Emma Watson' who steps out onto a red carpet and is impossibly immaculate. It's not the truth of who I am. Who I am is that when you come for dinner, I set my kitchen on fire.

SB Oh my God, you did set fire to a dishcloth that last time you cooked dinner for me. As I watched you cook, I thought to myself, maybe I should have eaten before I came over, cause this does not look like it's going well. But you just calmly put out the fire, let out this joyful laughter, and actually made the most delicious meal. And that is your creative process.
EW My process is definitely messy. When I used to paint at school, I'd just make an incredible mess. I think I get so excited to be making anything. For me, getting to cook something in a kitchen or getting to hold a paintbrush that has paint on it, it's almost too much excitement for me to contain.

SB The one consistent thread throughout your life is your art. You've been taking art classes since you were a little girl and have been learning new kind of art making through the years. The part that most people see is your acting, but you're an artist working across various genres. And I feel like filmmaking connects all of those art forms.
EW It feels much more true to me than being an actor ever was. And it's not that I don't love that. In the same way I enjoy painting, I love the transcendence of being so completely alive in this other person, this other moment that you just forget everything else. They're all different forms of flow for me - acting, dance, painting, meditation, adventure. These are all the different tools I use to be in synchronicity with life. But I just found that part of me was dying to be on a film set and be involved in all the aspects. I would be on set and in between takes I would fill the time with other things, but I can now see why I was such a frustrated actor sometimes. I wanted to be part of all of it. I enjoyed working with all the directors for different reasons, but I enjoyed so much working with Alfonso Cuaron, because he spent time with me talking about the larger vision, what he was trying to create beyond Hermione and my relationship to that role. And he really made me feel an integral part of creating this larger whole. I loved that, the bigness of that.

SB Do you see yourself integrating more acting and directing in the future?
EW Definitely. I have dear friends who are like my family in the fim industry. If they ask me to be involved, I will always want to be a part of a community they are building. But so many of the ecosystems that are built to the film industry honestly are rotten. There's a lot of toxicity, which even in the aftermath of #MeToo and #TimesUp has still not been properly dealt with. And so often with movies it's Machiavellian. The holistic idea of a community who is making that final product being healthy and coming out on the other side, better than they went in, just seems too utopian.

SB That's a struggle for every creative person - protecting the work and their process within these larger infrastructures of culture work.
EW I remember saying to the people at Prada, I refuse to play an empowered, alive, joyful woman in this commercial unless that is the experience of the team of women making it. So often I see actresses in my industry live in a dichotomy. On the outside, they're in the most glamourous moment in their careers, but behind the scenes their reality is so different. And when those truths are so far apart, peoples' souls can really fracture.

SB This film really shows how struggle and joy, beauty and pain go hand in hand. There's a very effective use of camera angles that creates both intimacy and expansiveness.
EW Miuccia Prada asked me about that - why are there so many of these big shots? Shouldn't the camera stay with you? For me, scale is such an important part of awe and experiencing the sublime and the beauty of the world and the patterns of how everything is connected. And I wanted to be in relationship to nature and to my surroundings. I wanted to be part of the smallness and the bigness all at once. The intimacy of coming right to my face and then to that big stretch shot of me walking across the beach - all of that is connected. And being in touch with immensity is another way that we get into flow and recognise the majesty of the beauty of life.

SB I think for you honesty is very important. And that this film is so honest is such an achievement, given the context of it being ultimately an ad for a fragrance.
EW Within the constraints of what it had to be, I feel that I pushed the limits. There are very specific codes for the beauty industry, for the fragrance industry, for fashion. I mean to be given a budget to bring my vision to life in community with other artistic people was a euphoric experience. Simultaneously it brings you into conflict when you push at those borders and stretch those boundaries. I try to do bring more subversive, political, radical ideas into mainstream commercial spaces. And there's obviously a fine line that I'm trying to walk there - not to greenwash, not to appropriate very meaningful feminist work and activism. I wouldn't do it unless I believed that those battles are worth fighting, because having those ideas brought into those spaces can be disruptive.

SB Otherwise, we're just talking to ourselves. In these ways, you're getting out of the echo chamber.
EW It's comfortable and easy to preach to a choir. I explained to the Prada Beauty executives that without the darkness, wihtout the moments of struggle in the commercial, the joyful moments would not have the same impact. You're not going to care about this character in the same way. And the shots when I am more glamourous highlight the beauty of the bare-faced girl who's wearing no makeup. It's just skin, and you can see the lines on my face, my freckles, my sun damage.

SB That close up of your bare face is the most beautiful shot of the film.
EW That's my favourite shot, I absolutely wanted it because to appear in a fragrance commercial, especially something this big and mainstream, without make up ... I mean it sounds silly, but it's just not done very often.

SB Let's talk about your use of shapes to bring structure to the film and to convey meaning. There are triangles and boxes - and you se camera shots and dance choreography to create circles and spirals.
EW I'm realising there are no coincidences. There's mostly synchronicity and the universe playing notes that make the final big thing. The triangle is the shape of the sacred feminine. It's very cool to be doing this ad for a brand that is owned and run by Miuccia Prada, a woman who designs for women - and that the company's logo is a triangle. So for me to be meditating in the middle of a podium that is that shape, that is so deeply entrenched in mysticism, in spiritual spaces, in art history, is pretty cool. The other shape, the spiral signifies that progress is not linear; it flows around like the movement of the world. And the boxes are about how we put things in categories.

SB This is something really central to your thinking, creative work, and activism. Pushing against this impulse to put things into boxes and limiting categories.
EW I understand why we do it; we're trying to make sense of it all. To compartmentalise can be effective in the short term, but ultimately it can be detrimental to our fullest self-expression, our understanding of other people, and of how the world really works. I don't believe anyone is all good or bad or all one thing. It relates to my belief in transformative justice. I don't believe in putting anyone in a box. I'm very much of the thinking that there are shades to things. That's probably the actor in me, that's my job to learn empathy, to know that we're all doing the best that we can in any given moment with the tools and like experience we have. I really believe that, and I think it helps me to have a lot more compassion for people in my life.

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Anonymous said...

Very interesting. The step away from social media and also acting for some headspace.
It sounds like she’ll definitely direct (and produce) in the future and interesting even though she said she stepped away from acting she’s not closed that door at all, she still calls herself an actor and indicates it’s about working with the right people in a collaborative way.

Anonymous said...

So she’s not retired at all. She just stepped away for a bit and refocused on making what she wants and working only with who she wants to. I’m sure we’ll see lots of good work from her in the future, across various mediums as her insta says - actor, director and vestige director. I think director will be biggest one

Anonymous said...

Confirmation of what she says years ago she want to be a renaissance women and writ direct act create paint et al with no box
Nice acknowledge that parts of film industrey are still toxic. She only want to work wit good community of people no being actor for sake of it.
Funny bout her kitchen fire! Good we get know her a bit better as person

Anonymous said...

She finally spoke her mind, I was so tired of people creating a lot of rumors about her retirement or anything else when she's silent.

Clare said...

interesting she say emma watson is a manufactured fabrication but i think we know this for awhile but its good for her to feel free and say this herself i hope she find joy by being less in public and stepping away more i will miss her being so active but its better for her personally to be having her own space i think

Anonymous said...

When I saw that “when I stepped away from acting…” comment I was like oh my god!! And then I read the rest of it. She was lost, that’s sad. Good that she’s found herself again. I’m more hopeful then I’ve been in a long time now that we’ll see her both behind and in front of a camera again soon. I was worried it was just fashion behind the scenes when she took Kering. Seemed liked she’d completely had enough of fame and the entertainment industry. She has her film mojo back.

Anonymous said...

Seems she was kinda lost for a while, which we thought. Sounds a relaxed and happier Emma now, who’s more confident in her work and art. Yay!

Anonymous said...

i think she will act in her own projects she creates herself now and isnt interested to be working on films that dont mean something to her and arent created by her.

I hope she makes her full feature director debut soon xd

Anonymous said...

I think after her reflexion time she’s finally becoming more sure footed and comfortable with fame and not worrying about being perfect “Emma watson” all the time, that’s also why she’s doing pickleball thing, and caring less about people seeing her with Brandon.

Anonymous said...

"When I stepped away from acting after Little Women, I knew I couldn't go backwards. I needed to find a new path, but I just had no idea what that path was."

Does this mean that she isn't going back to acting?

Anonymous said...

So she’s disillusioned with how toxic the film industry is and wants to only be in it on her own terms, working with friends and people she trusts, or building her own work doing that, that’s honest, fair play to her. I like it.

Anonymous said...

No, read the rest of the interview. She calls herself an actor several times and then makes it clear she’s willing to act again but for people she knows and trusts.

Anonymous said...

She’ll work in stuff she creates herself or with her “film family”, so not the wider industry. But confirmation that she isn’t done with film like all that retirement crap is good. She’s just being very selective.
We also now know that her step away from social media was for her health and balance, so she can work on stuff.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this has to do with While We're Young and Queen of the Tearling getting shelved after she helped get them greenlit.

Anonymous said...

there is too much toxic stuff in hollywood, projects getting canceled, shady deals and backstabbing that goes, on i think emma is done with that and will do her own thing now for sure

Anonymous said...

Your voice in my head also got stuck in development hell

Anonymous said...

Seth Rogen and Franco nonsense on this is the end turned her off Hollywood I think

Anonymous said...

Hollywood is still toxic for women, and many actresses have said similar things, so it was very smart of Emma to stay away from the industry, she was in a position to do anything else, and as stated in the interview, she was willing to work with people she trusted if she was asked to be involved, like Little Women she did Amy Pascal a favor.

Anonymous said...

Doubt it, she’d likely consider both David Heyman and Steve C as members of her film family that she’d want to with again (hence her accepting them in the first place). Looking forward to seeing what she does though, now we know she’s not done. I’m cool with her being choosey, good for her!

Anonymous said...

She’s said for a long time that she only wants to be involved in stuff she’s passionate about, it’s all about that for her, regardless of whether it’s acting, fashion, other art, or now directing.

Anonymous said...

she looked scared in pics where that Weinstein creep grabbed her after a party while she was walking to her car I think she hate all these creepy producers and terrible people in the industry, she bring up #metoo for a reason in the interview clearly was also affected by such things

Anonymous said...

Emma Watson is trying a new flow. This interview shows the depth of her sensitivity and emotional intelligence and creative intelligence. When I saw her in HP playing Hermoine, I thought what a smart, sensitive child. I liked reading that she also writes poetry. We all knew about her art, but poetry is on a whole new level. Her Prada ad was different and reminiscent of a young woman who wanted to fulfill a creative dream and is in the process of doing so. I would love to read some of her poetry, and it would be nice if she would display her paintings.
What a ride from a nine-year-old Emma to a 31-year-old woman. I really do hope that she writes and directs. I think she would do well. She has that special sensitivity and intelligence.


Anonymous said...

I actually found the very first sentence of the article disconcerting;

"The moment Emma Watson bounded out of her taxi, straight from the gym, and went round hugging each and every crew member on the set of her Wonderland shoot in Hoxton"

MeToo, personal space....and I have a friend who is on the (autism) spectrum who would find that very uncomfortable/upsetting.

I do wonder how Emma would feel if a crew member walked up and hugged her without any invitation?

PS Thanks for the article Eden.

Eden said...

Then she apologizes and doesn't hug that person again and everybody moves on.

Anonymous said...

Walking up to someone in your workplace that you have never met before and you are in a position of power (as Emma is in this case) and hugging them is acceptable then?

Eden said...

I'd hate it but it was probably just a one second hug to say hello, stop trying to make fetch happen. For all we know she asked first if it was okay.

Thomas said...

dont start a fight over nothing pls leave eden alone this is so dumb to create a fight over

Anonymous said...

the comments always comedy gold people be reaching so hard to complain lol

Anonymous said...

oh no emma watson hugged people???

how dangerous


Anonymous said...

These are likely all outgoing entertainment industry people
I'm sure they are fine with this basic human interaction and the common occurrence of a hug as a greeting
or they would not survive long in such a demanding industry if they can't handle contact with people.

Anonymous said...

Seems like someone is trying to reverse #METoo against Emma Watson...wont work lol

Anonymous said...

people take every move this lady makes way to serious and try to twist it

i get why she stopped posting online that much tbh

Anonymous said...

awww Eden we all know you would love to be hugged by Emma don't lie ;) haha

Eden said...

"awww Eden we all know you would love to be hugged by Emma don't lie ;) haha"

XD I have such a strong reaction to strangers just touching me, I'd probably puke on her if she hugged me. And then faint. Or die.

Anonymous said...

Emma is the evil hug giver monster she will be ruined once people learn more about this!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for sharing Eden ;)

have a nice day always ☺ and keep safe

The Most Anonymous Anon said...

It's amazing the lengths some 'people' will go to in order to denigrate a person- I'm not a hugger at all and go out of my way to avoid physical contact with people, let alone even talking to other people; if someone like Emma Watson came running over to me and hugged me... I'd die a happy man right there and then.

Anonymous said...

why are some people so obsessed with this hugging business, and wanting to give emma a punch? This is nonsense

Anonymous said...

this comments are funny😭

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This photoshoot is amazing…she looks gorgeous. Interview is good…I gather she is not returning to acting.
Seems like she is saying hat she’s willing to work if she is offered…to be it seems she’s not going to act if she has to audition 😒, just my interpretation. I assume, the projects she mentioned were Prada and pickle thing, so now she’s gonna be off for another year.

Eden said...

She recently said for Vogue "I was with a friend who told me, 'You're not supposed to work this morning!' And I couldn't stop writing."

Makes me think she's working on something like writing a book, maybe poetry, or a script.

The interview if youyou're curious

Anonymous said...

I'm happy for her but also a little for me, which we're going to hear a lot from her, but I would also really like to admire painting, it also seems very interesting to me