Emma Watson was only 10 years old when she was chosen for the role of Hermione Granger, the devoted friend to both Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. As the last movie in the franchise opens worldwide this week, Emma spoke with journalists at the New York press event for the film.
What was your last scene as Hermione? What did it feel like? And what you were filming when it all ended?
The last shot we did was kind of a strange moment where we dive into the fireplace into the Ministry of Magic. It’s actually in Part One, not Part Two. And so Dan [Radcliffe], Rupert [Grint] and I, one by one jumped onto these safety mats, basically. That was the shot, that was it, and it seemed kind of like a strange one to go out on, but actually David [Yates, the director] made the point that we were leaping into the unknown. It was kind of a perfect metaphor for what we were all about to go into.
Were there any other last moments, like the last scene in Hogwarts, that stand out?
It’s so funny, in a way this one was incredibly challenging for me. It really pushed me as an actress, but at the same time I was able to use a lot of my own genuine emotion that I felt about loss and all of it coming to an end. I was able to bring how I was feeling to the role.
An example of that, the scene where we stand on the bridge after the battle and before we flash forward, I remember just really feeling exactly how Hermione would be feeling, just sort of like, ‘Wow. It’s all coming to an end.’. The set was actually built looking out over Leavesden Studios, which is where I grew up, essentially. I spent the last 12 years there. So, yeah, not much acting required really. It all just came naturally.
What character traits do you feel like you share with Hermione?
Not so much now, but I guess an earnestness, being eager to please and do the right thing. I’m terrified of getting into trouble. I’m very heady in the same way she is, kind of constantly thinking three or four moves ahead. I try and intellectualize a lot, which she does well, obviously. She’s very determined. I am as well. I like to think that I’m very loyal in the same way she is. A bit of a feminist in the same way as she is and I will speak my mind in the same way that she does. I feel so much of me went into her and so much of her went into me that I can’t really differentiate between the two too much anymore.
Would you like to follow in Daniel’s footsteps and sing on Broadway?
Yes!!! Dan is so ballsy. Amazing. I would love to do something on Broadway. I think I need to pluck up some more courage, but I love to sing.
Now that the series has ended, do you have a favorite that you enjoyed doing?
The last two, Part One and Part Two really stand apart from all the rest. The quality is amazing and the role and the depth, I guess how much darker they get really gave me a chance to stretch myself as an actress and really feel like I was an actress and like I was acting. The first however many years, I didn’t actually feel as though I was doing much acting at all. So, yeah, it’s nice. I feel like I can say that I’m an actress and really believe in that.
Was there a moment when you realized that you were one of the most recognizable faces in the world?
It was when I was in a shantytown in Bangladesh and a boy stopped me in the street and said, ‘You’re in Harry Potter’. There’s nowhere in the world that I can go, it feels, that isn’t somehow touched by this. It reaches the furthest corners of the Earth and in the least expected places. I was like, ‘Wow. It’s really popular.’
How are you at handling the fame?
I’ve come to terms with it, definitely. And I feel fortunate in that I’ve never really known what it’s like to have total freedom. It’s not as though I had it and then all of a sudden it got taken away from me. It’s sort of something that I grew up with, grew up knowing, something that happened gradually and I haven’t really known anything else.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to travel this summer. It’s obviously scary. Change is always scary, but I feel very excited and I feel like I’m entering a new chapter and getting a fresh start. There’s something really exciting about that.
I’m going back to school in the fall. I’ve got two years left. I just finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower which was just the most incredible experience. I had the best six weeks. I’m very excited about that movie. Having an experience like that outside of Harry Potter is what really convinced me that acting really is what I should be doing. It really solidified that for me. I guess just now reading, reading, reading and trying to find a script that speaks to me and that I really care about and finding great directors to work with who will keep teaching me. I’m excited about the idea of being an actress now in a way that I wasn’t so sure of before.
You mentioned that you’re going to be traveling and then going to school. Which school are you going to?
I’m going to Oxford. Just to explain, I’m still enrolled at Brown, but I’m doing my third year abroad. So, I’ll go back to the States to do my last year. I took a semester off, but my [year abroad] actually counts as an advanced placement this semester.
And so your future continues…