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Emma Watson: I Emma Watson: I almost quit almost quit acting after acting after Harry
Growing up in the full glare of the media was almost enough to turn Emma Watson away from acting for good.
Emma Watson, best known as the Hogwarts swot Hermione Grainger, considered giving up acting altogether at the close of the Harry Potter series. For two years, she studied solidly and refused so much as to read a script. The point was “to figure out what I enjoyed, who I was and how I wanted to spend my time,” she said yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival. “I considered not being an actress; I considered it all.”
Clearly, she decided that acting was for her after all. Watson is currently in Cannes promoting The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s blistering true-crime film about a group of Los Angeles schoolgirls who robbed the houses of the celebrities they admire. Watson masters a formidably whining Valley Girl accent to play Nicky, who sees her eventual arrest as a promotional opportunity. “Nicky does not think she is going to jail. That is absolutely not entering her head,” said Watson. “This is her five minutes of fame; this is her time to brand herself.”
Watson has lived with her own celebrity since she was 11, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone launched the most successful of all cinema franchises. Unlike Nicky, she describes herself as “quite shy”. “She wants to be seen and she dresses to impress, whereas when I’m not working I dress to draw as little attention to ‘me’ as possible,” she said.
She believes she learned a great deal about herself during her two years away from public scrutiny. “You start to accept things in your personality. I think I really used to beat myself up about not wanting to go out, I thought there was something really peculiar about me. But I just gave up trying to fit in so much. I am much more OK with myself now, which is important.”
A canny agent lured her back to work, she says, by sending her the script of The Perks of Being a Wallflower as a bit of weekend reading. “And I don’t know what it was, but something just clicked and I felt compelled to get the film made.”
Then along came Sofia Coppola’s script, which spoke to her own experience. “No one really makes films about the underbelly of this industry and what it’s like to be a real human being in it. I live that. I think that is why Sofia and I connected, that we both understand that.”
The Facebook generation has unprecedented access to the rich and famous, she observed during the press conference that followed the film’s first Cannes screening.
“We are becoming saturated with images. They can embody whatever they [fans] project onto that image, so in a sense people really feel invested, feel connected to that person and that world.” But these images, she cautioned, have little to do with reality. “It’s a narrative that our society and culture has really become obsessed with.”
Despite being part of that narrative, she found Los Angeles “like an alien planet” when she first went there. “I mean, I grew up in the countryside in a small town in England. It really is just like polar opposites.”
If anything, working on The Bling Ring has only confirmed her sense that she belongs to a different world. “I think the film has scarred me slightly,” she said. “I just see a designer bag and – I can’t even carry one any more. It just weirds me out.”
When Emma Watson was cast in the Harry Potter films as Hermione Granger, the serious, smart role model to countless young girls, the actress, who was only 9 years old, set a nearly impossible course for herself. Not only did she have to bring life to a beloved fictional character for generations to come, but in an increasingly prying Internet-tabloid culture, she also had to measure up to the perfection of Hermione while creatively moving past that ideal. To grow up in public is brutal on many levels, but Watson, 23, has managed to escape both the bad behavior and the career paralysis that afflict so many child stars. Her biggest act of defiance seems to be her recent move to the United States. She is currently an English major at Brown University in Rhode Island. And although roles in corset movies surely have been offered to her in abundance, she has chosen, post-Hermione, to play two different American girls: Sam, the charismatic object of desire in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in 2012, and Nicki, an aspiring actress and part-time thief in Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, out this month. Interestingly, The Bling Ring, which is based on a true story about a group of teenagers who broke into the homes of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, could be read as the chronicle of Watson’s road not taken. The break-ins were not particularly malicious but, rather, a chance for the gang to live in the aura of stardom by stealing some glitzy baubles and designer duds. Alexis Neiers, the real-life Nicki, has even had her own reality show. “I was dying to play her,” Watson confessed. “Nicki is so different from me. How do I try and understand a young woman who loves these things so much that she is prepared to commit crimes to have them?” While wildly dissimilar in almost every way, Nicki and Emma do share a keen interest in image control. At our shoot, Watson was meticulous about her hair and makeup, and aware of every frame. It was not diva behavior; she was lovely and polite yet exacting. Perhaps this is how you gracefully transition from child to adult in the global eye: Be bold but never, ever sloppy. What is the first movie you remember seeing? Pretty Woman. I was 7, which was way, way too young. That was when I started loving Julia Roberts and American movies. As a child, I loved being onstage. I loved singing, I loved the lights, I loved the adrenaline. I even loved learning lines. I was completely obsessive. A friend of my mother’s found a tape of me auditioning for Hermione. I wanted to get really, really good at my lines. There was reel after reel, take after take, of me doing the same thing over and over again. How old were you? Nine. I was crazy. I did eight auditions, and I would literally sit by the telephone in my house and wait for each call. When they had me in for the ninth audition, I was like, Wow, nine! They called me into the producer David Heyman’s office, and he said I was the “preferred” candidate for the role. Before I could obsess over what “preferred” meant, they took a photograph of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and me, and it was broadcast on the Internet that we had been cast in Harry Potter. By the time I got back to my house, there was press waiting outside. We moved straight into a hotel. Did you ever feel the pressure of having to be a shining example to young girls worldwide? I was always a very serious child. I remember being 13 and girls in my class saying, “So-and-so is going to kiss so-and-so on the school fields.” I said, “That’s stupid. They’re too young for it to matter—he doesn’t love her, and that’s just a waste of time.” It’s amazing that I had any friends! [Laughs] So I was the right child to get cast: I loved the responsibility. Did you have your first kiss on camera? Thankfully, no. I’ve always been fascinated by Elizabeth Taylor, and I had read that her first kiss happened on a film set, which actually made me a little sad. You need to have normal experiences of your own. I’ve never wanted to grow up too fast: I wanted to wear a sports bra until I was 22! The allure of being sexy never really held any excitement for me. I’ve never been in a terrible rush to be seen as a woman. And yet, in The Bling Ring, you are a little bit of a bad girl. With Nicki, I was really taking on a character. Some of her lines are so crazy and absurd—making sure she wasn’t a parody was a challenge. Did her outfits help you get into character? Who wouldn’t love to go to work in Uggs and very low-slung tracksuit bottoms? The iconic detail of Nicki is her tramp stamp. It’s a lotus flower, a Buddhist-like symbol just above her butt crack. Really classy! [Laughs] And at one point I told the costume designer, “You can see my bra strap in this top; shouldn’t we pin it?” And she said, “No, sweetie—Nicki is all about her bra strap showing.” I was like, Right, okay, different mind-set. When did you realize you were famous? I lived in denial for as long as I possibly could. Until the age of 18, I would take the Oxford Tube, which is a public bus. Then it got to the point where the fact that I was on the bus would spread from one end to the other. I’d think, Why am I doing this to myself? Ignoring fame was my rebellion, in a funny way. I was insistent on being normal and doing normal things. It probably wasn’t advisable to go to college in America and room with a complete stranger. And it probably wasn’t wise to share a bathroom with eight other people in a coed dorm. Looking back, that was crazy. I’m surprised you chose to come to America. I’ve always loved America. When we came here with Harry Potter, everyone was so warm. Eventually, all of my friends were American, and I think that’s why I was attracted to playing Americans, even extreme ones like Nicki. When I’m presented with a character, I think, Hmmm…I have not had this experience. I don’t really know what this would be like. I’ll have the experience through the character. Do you have a Hollywood crush? My cinematic crush has been pretty much the same since I was 12: Kevin Costner. I met him in an elevator the other day, and I couldn’t even speak. He said hello, because he is lovely like that, and I couldn’t say anything back. Kevin Costner is so American. Of course! Kevin Costner is forever. And America too!
Emma attended the photocall today dressed appropriately in a Christopher Kane dress. The photo call was sold out with the queue stretching for blocks.
Emma Watson flashes a hint of midriff in a flirty feathered outfit at The Bling Ring photocall in Cannes
She tweeted earlier this month that she was excited about the opportunity to showcase a selection of stunning outfits during her time in Cannes. And Emma Watson certainly kicked things off in style on Thursday as she arrived for The Bling Ring photocall at the film festival in a stunning Christopher Kane ensemble. The 23-year-old actress flashed a hint of midriff in the matching crop top and above the knee skirt, which featured feather detailing along the hem.
The look is significantly more demure than Emma has been opting for in recent months, with a long length on the skirt and high neck on the top. The maroon colour of Emma’s outfit flattered her English rose complexion, and she added a sophisticated touch to the outfit with a pair of sky-high black suede court shoes. Emma finished off her look by wearing her brunette hair swept back into a loose bun.
On the make-up front, Emma kept things simple, opting for a slick of mascara and lip gloss as she posed for photographers. She maintained a strong Cara Delevingne-esque brow, and appeared unconcerned about the gloomy weather as she smiled widely for the waiting photographers. Earlier, Emma was seen wearing a beige trench coat over her dress as she made her way to the photocall.
The centre of attention as she strolled along surrounded by her entourage, Emma appeared to find something uproariously funny as she screamed with laughter at an unknown joke. The film photocall, which saw Emma pose with director Sofia Coppola as well as co-stars Katie Chang, Taissa Fariga, Israel Broussard and Claire Julien, comes ahead of the screening of the film on Thursday night. The young actress is worlds away from her former Harry Potter alter-ego Hermione Granger in the new movie, in which she stars as pole-dancing thief Nicki, who forms part of a gang who rob celebrities.
Speaking previously about the role, Emma said: ‘It wasn’t like I needed to go out there and try to find the furthest part from Hermione so I could get away from her, because that seems like a negative place to jump off from; trying to get away from something rather than trying to get towards something. ‘What I’m trying to get towards is that I want to be a character actress. I want to play parts. I want to play roles that transform me. Nicki seemed like an opportunity to do that.’ And Emma has already been commended for her role in the film, with initial reviews praising her for moving away from Hermione.
Variety’s review reads: ‘Though it lacks the name cast and self-consciously outre style of another recent girls-gone-wild opus, Spring Breakers, this lively and fascinating pic should score well with its target hipster demo, ‘Always adept at directing young performers, Coppola encourages fine work here from her cast of mostly newcomers, with Watson taking special relish in shedding her goody-two-shoes Harry Potter persona.’
Emma is getting great reviews for her performance in The Bling Ring. Sofia’s movies are usually polarizing but early reviews say this is her best movie to date.
Always adept at directing young performers, Coppola encourages fine work here from her cast of mostly newcomers, with Watson taking special relish in shedding her goody-two-shoes “Harry Potter” persona. Broussard also makes a strong impression as the wallflower with a yen for fuchsia stilettos.
Much creepy attention has been lavished on photos doing the rounds of Emma Watson pole dancing (Hermione’s legal!) in ‘The Bling Ring’. But the real story here isn’t the good-girl-goes-bad stunt casting; it’s that Watson can act. Against the odds, the Harry Potter star gives a sharp, knowing smart performance as Nicki, one of a gang of spoiled rich Californian brats robbing the houses of celebs who, like, totally deserve it.
Playing gleefully against type, Emma Watson is a particular standout as Nicki, a toxic piece of work whose dull go-along attitude masks an astonishing capacity for self-promotion when crunch time comes. (“I’m a huge believer in karma,” she tells a Vanity Fair interviewer, without a flicker of irony.)
The star name of the young cast is Emma Watson. Playing brash young Nicki, she finally gets to leave Hermione behind. Wearing tight-fitting clothes, Nicki lives in a household loosely based on the American reality TV Show Pretty Wild.
Though the casting of Emma Watson as the wonderfully wide-eyed, naïve and vacuous Bling Ringer Nicki and Leslie Mann as her former Playboy model and clueless mother Laurie is handy for sheer marketing value (and both are terrific in their roles), the film essentially revolves around group ringleader Rebecca (played delightfully by charismatic newcomer Katie Chang) and lonely new-kid-at-school Mark (Israel Broussard), who Rebecca befriends and draws into her plans.
Speaking Valleyese with impeccable banality, the ensemble cast delivers comprehensive portraits of superficiality and moral cluelessness. It’s fun to see Watson departing so decisively from her smartypants Hermione identity, while Chang marks herself as someone to watch.
Emma Watson is a stand-out: she delivers her character’s blasé whines of entitlement like a musician coaxing a keening lament from an oboe, and her drained interactions with her dopey mother, played by Leslie Mann, are a joy.
Nicki (Emma Watson, having fun playing vapid in a supporting role that later strains to be a lead) is home-schooled by her “The Secret” obsessed mother (Leslie Mann), who hands out Adderall like vitamins.
Emma arrived in Nice, France today (May 14, 2013.) Her movie, The Bling Ring, is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday May 16th.