Dressed in skimpy clothes and baring her midriff, sporting a spotted tattoo near her hip, Watson represents the pole-dancing "Valley vixen" of the notorious Hollywood Bling Ring, the youths who authorities say burglarized celebrity homes in 2008 and 2009. A Vanity Fair article about the ring serves as the true-story source material for director Sofia Coppola's film.
"When I read the script and I realized that essentially it was a meditation on fame and what it's become to our society, I had to do it," Watson told GQ. "The character is everything that I felt strongly against -- she's superficial, materialistic, vain, amoral. She's all of these things and I realized that I hated her. How do you play someone you hate? But I found it really interesting and it gave me a whole new insight into what my job, or my role as an actress, could be."
She's talking about Alexis Neiers, a Bling Ring member who was outed during her E! reality show "Pretty Wild." Neiers pleaded no contest in 2010 to second-degree residential burglary and was also paid by Coppola to consult on the film. She was given probation after serving 30 days of a 180-day sentence.
The 22-year-old Watson said she prepared for the role by watching "a ton of reality TV."
"I was doing an English course [at Brown University]. So I would go from reading Virginia Woolf to [watching] Kim Kardashian. I kind of loved it, this mix of super-high and super-low culture. I think it was a nice balance."
Speaking of low culture, the former Hermione Granger recently put an end to rumors that she would be taking on the sexed-up role of Anastasia Steele in the film "Fifity Shades of Grey," based on E.L. James' bestselling, bondage-filled book series. (What was she saying about "amoral"?)
As for why she took on her role as Nicki, it's because she didn't want to be typecast in period dramas or "Harry Potter"-like films.
"Really I was open-minded about doing anything, but the one thing I didn't want to do was get myself into a corset because I was worried I'd never get out again," she said. "I knew it would be a really comfortable thing to do, but I felt … I had to dive into something really different. This has been a really big departure for me; it's a really big character. That's so exciting for me because it meant I was really acting."
Watson talks more about stardom, sex and stalkers in the May issue of the mag, out on April 4.
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