With her highly anticipated role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast set to be released in March 2017, we take a look at Emma’s life after Harry Potter and how she has managed to keep the magic alive…
The internet goes mad as the trailer is released – a record-breaking 127.6 million views in 24 hours. Online news sites and social media click-bate articles cover their pages with the headlines, “This is what you’ve all been waiting for,” and “It has finally arrived…”
This is the kind of buzz young starlet Emma Watson is used to, after growing up in the spotlight. She has once again created a stir with the official trailer for her new live-action take on Beauty and the Beast. After tweeting over a year ago, ‘My six year-old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting. Time to start some singing lessons. I can’t wait for you to see it. Emma x’. The internet began to wait, somewhat patiently, for even a teaser trailer to be released.
However not all the ‘buzz’ has been positive. After becoming a UN Ambassador for women in July 2014 and starting a feminist movement called HeforShe in September 2014, many wondered how Emma could take on a role so seemingly un-feminist and one that many believe “promotes domestic abuse.” A children’s fairy tale that promotes domestic abuse? Surely not? A teacher in America, who was attempting to explain the problems of Beauty and the Beast to her students, was reported by Metro saying, “The movie says if a woman is pretty and sweet natured she can change an abusive man into a kind and gentle man.” This teacher is not the only person to highlight flaws in the story. The most common argument is that Belle is not in love with the Beast at all, but eventually falls for him do to a mental condition called Stockholm Syndrome. This condition is commonly defined as when a victim over a time starts to sympathize with his or her captor. Emma, who is not afraid to speak her mind about gender issues, told Entertainment Weekly about the changes she made to the original story, in order to make it work with her views on women today. Originally, Belle’s father Maurice was the inventor, with his daughter’s backstory seemingly absent. In the new version, we will see Belle take a job as an inventor too, in a bid to balance the sexes. “In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle,” Emma told Entertainment Weekly.
Belle’s love of books in the fairytale is something that she shares with actress Emma Watson. Emma even went as far as taking a year out simply to “read more” and start her book club “Our Shared Shelf,” in 2016. To further promote the club, she placed books with hidden messages around and on the Tube stations in London. She encouraged people to read and enjoy the books that she deemed influential and inspiring (such as Maya Angelou’s memoir Mom & Me & Mom) and asked “when you are finished please leave it on the tube again for someone else to find.” Her aim of trying to inspire more people to read was taken a step further as her idea pushed The Fair, a Chinese Production Firm, to leave more than 10,000 books on the underground subway, taxis, and planes in major cities. When Emma does something as simple as read a book and leave it on the tube she inspires millions all across the globe.
It seems Emma has had a pattern of taking roles similar to her own personality – with the small exception of Sophia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, where she can be seen playing a fame-hungry, home-schooled rich-kid. This character is worlds away from her role as the know-it-all bookworm, Hermione Granger, in the Harry Potter franchise. Like many other child stars, Emma sometimes found it difficult juggling acting, free time and her education. Being only 11 years old when she started filming Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone she said, “It was horrible,” in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. When Harry Potter ended, unlike many who would have been lost and unsure of what to do next, she didn’t exploit her new found freedom or go “off the rails” as many child actors do – sorry Lindsey Lohan… She threw herself into her education. She described her first years at Brown as “liberating” saying, “I take pleasure in the smallest things. Like “I’m going to wake up at 10 o’clock if I want to” or “I’m going to eat a sandwich now.””
Emma felt the same way when offered the position of UN Goodwill ambassador. Following in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie and many other actress-turned-activists, she told Vogue in 2015,
“Part of me relaxed after I took on that position, it gave me a sense of belonging and purpose.”
The UN described her role as one where she would “dedicate her efforts towards the empowerment of young women and will serve as an advocate for UN Women’s HeForShe campaign in promoting gender equality.”
As part of her role, she was asked to speak at the organisation’s New York headquarters in 2014 as she launched its HeForShe campaign. Proving she is just as down to earth as she always has been, she spoke afterwards saying, “I was utterly terrified. Really, really bricking it. It was one of those moments when inspiring women have picked me up.” She managed to pull it together and her well-spoken, impassioned speech went viral on YouTube, as is custom with everything Emma does.
Emma’s role as Belle is not her first big role since Harry Potter. After education and “finding herself,” she threw herself right back into her acting. She came out almost immediately with Perks of Being a Wallflower which was no small indie movie. It made 33.4 million USD in the box office and Emma won raving reviews for her role as Sam. Her performance was described by Dan Jolin for Empire magazine as,
“An honest, affection-hooking, coming-of-age drama, which proves that there is life beyond Hogwarts for Emma Watson.”
She didn’t stop there but followed this inspiring production with films such as Noah, the Bling Ring and This is the End.
This goes to show that Emma can do it all! She has been able to continue her blossoming acting career and become an influential activist worldwide. After all, if Emma gets record breaking views for just the trailer of her new film, we look forward to what’s to come – the actual film!