Emma Watson talks about acting ‘paralysis’ after ‘Harry Potter’

Emma Watson says that she felt a "a sense of paralysis and stage fright for a while" when people wondered if she would still have a career after "Harry Potter."
(Matt Sayles / Invision / Associated Press)

You may have noticed that “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson has taken un-Hermione Granger-like roles as of late.

That’s after the 23-year-old stopped acting altogether for a bit and briefly enrolled at Brown University in 2009, then dropped out before completing a degree. Post-”Potter,” the child star, who skyrocketed to fame in the big screen-adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s series about a boy wizard, took on a small role in “My Week With Marilyn” in 2011, fully returned to acting in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and made serious fun of herself in the self-deprecating raunch-com “This Is the End.”

But Watson said that she, and even her agent, were “surprised” by her return to acting after the juggernaut that was “Harry Potter” and the eight feature films.


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“I was really unsure, but then I read the script for ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ and falling in love with that and then having such a great experience on that movie kind of sealed the deal for me,” Watson told Entertainment Weekly.

“I stopped intellectualizing it, and it became much more instinctual. I just got the bug and got very driven all of a sudden, which I really wasn’t before. But I’m so happy. It’s all felt very new to me, really.”

So she’s saying she really wasn’t all that driven during “Harry Potter’s” decade-long run? Muggle hearts are breaking everywhere.

Part of the struggle stemmed from being pushed into Hermione-esque roles and the media wondering if she was capable of acting outside that type.

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“For a while I kind of bought into the hype of, ‘Will they ever be able to play anything else?’ It gave me a sense of paralysis and stage fright for a while,” she said. “And then a professor told me that they didn’t think I should act, either. So I was really grappling with it and wasn’t feeling good about it. And then, I don’t know … it got so bad and people had put me in a box so much that it started pissing me off. I suddenly wanted to prove them wrong. It gave me fuel, in a way. I’m not sure why that shift happened.”

That could explain why she took the role of Nicki in Sofia Coppola’s teen heist film, “The Bling Ring.”

“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 in the May 2013 issue of GQ. “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.”

It seems that was around the time the former Burberry model made an “adult decision” about her career, instead of resigning herself to having it be made for her.

“I wanted to make a conscious adult decision that this was what I wanted to pursue, because that decision was made for me as a 9-year-old,” she added. “I had no idea what I wanted. I had no idea who I was, really. So I wanted to step away and make sure this is what I wanted to pour my life and my energy and my blood, sweat and tears into.”

And that’s precisely what she seems to be doing in her upcoming project, “Noah.” She plays Noah’s adopted daughter Ila in the biblically inspired Darren Aronfsky film, which also stars her “Perks” costar Logan Lerman, plus Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Connelly. Russell Crowe plays the titular prophet.

Shocking, right?

Entertainment Weekly’s New Hollywood issue hits stands Aug. 9.


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