Hermione Granger would definitely have disapproved, but Emma Watson just wanted to have fun. After all, there had been little scope for frivolity during the decade she spent portraying the prim and proper Hermione in the seven Harry Potter films. So she made up for it in a big way while filming her new, post-Hogwarts school-set drama, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
“This film felt like an accelerated adolescence for me because in a seven-week span I got to experience everything I missed growing up,” says the 22-year-old actress. “We filmed in Pittsburgh, and when I first arrived I thought it was going to be awful. I was like, ‘Oh my god, we’re here for seven weeks? There’s nothing here.”
“But we stayed at a hotel where all our rooms were connected down one hallway, so Ezra [co-star Ezra Miller] and I opened the doors in between our rooms and we turned the ground floor of the hotel into something like a hippy commune. By the end of the movie I was deliriously exhausted because we’d just stay up all night playing guitar and running around the hotel and generally causing carnage. I don’t know how we got away with as much as we did. A lot of barriers come down when you’re living together.”
Since the Harry Potter films which consumed her childhood and teenage years from the age of nine and left her fabulously wealthy but confused about her future, Emma Watson has grown into a self-assured, confident young woman relishing her new role as one of Hollywood’s leading actresses.
Just occasionally a hint of the rebellious teenager she was never allowed to be slips into her conversation. “I was working on Harry Potter while I was growing up, and the attention it brought me made me feel quite isolated,” she recalls. “It’s only recently that I’ve felt much better in my own skin and known my own worth a lot more than I used to.”
She looks elegant in a charcoal-grey Philip Lim top and beige skirt and her hair, worn long through all the Potter films, is dark, cut short and pulled back behind her ears.
“Cutting my hair off was really fun and something I had been dreaming about doing since I was 15,” she says with a giggle. “But I have to grow it long again now because I’m playing roles that require long hair.”
Along with her career, her romantic life, after a few missteps, is on an upward curve; she has been dating Will Adamowicz, a fellow student she met at Oxford, for nearly a year. They managed to keep the relationship under close wraps until April, when they were snapped kissing at the Coachella Festival in California.
They had both transferred to Oxford from Ivy League college Brown and they are both due to return to the Rhode Island-based university soon. “I’m on the home straight and I’ve got one term left there,” she says. “I’ll go back after Christmas.”
The couple met after her brief romance with the actor Johnny Simmons ended; before that she endured failed relationships with the rocker George Craig and financier Joel Barrymore.
She admits that her initial forays into dating were unhappy, and credits The Perks of Being a Wallflower with giving her a new, more positive outlook on love.
In the movie, a light-hearted coming-of-age drama with insights into adolescent angst, she adopts an American accent to play Sam, a waif-like Smiths fanatic with a knack for falling in love with the wrong guy until she meets the self-effacing Charlie, played by Logan Lerman.
“When I started dating I had this kind of Romeo and Juliet, fateful romantic idea about love which was almost that you were a victim and there was a lot of pain involved and that was how it should be,” she says. “Shakespeare said the course of true love never did run smooth, and I had this sense that it had to be painful. It was such a revelation in Perks of Being a Wallflower to realise that it shouldn’t be that way and that you get to choose who you love and who you decide to give your heart to.
“It sounds like a cliche but I also learnt that you’re not going to fall for the right person until you really love yourself and feel good about how you are.” She pauses, looking slightly embarrassed, and says: “Well, that was revelatory to me.”
Then, sounding very worldly, she adds: “But it’s a journey and the sad thing is you only learn from experience, so as much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.”
Born in Paris, she moved to Oxfordshire with her mother and brother after her parents divorced when she was five years old. She was one of thousands of girls who auditioned for the role of the bookish Hermione in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and after eight callbacks she earned J.K. Rowling’s approval.
She grew up on the film set and in the media spotlight but now Harry Potter is behind her and she believes she is successfully establishing a new identity for herself. “It’s exciting to me that people are seeing me in a different way because it means they’re allowing me space to grow and change and they’re having an open mind to the fact that there might be other sides of me which they haven’t really seen and that haven’t been explored yet,” she says.
Her parents have both remarried and each has two more children, although Emma has had little time to spend with them lately. “I’ve been travelling an enormous amount in the last two years and haven’t really been in one place for very long,” she said. As well as Pittsburgh she has been in New Orleans filming The End of the World, in Los Angeles filming Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s true story of fame-obsessed teen burglars, and has just returned from Iceland, where she has started work on Noah, Darren Aronofsky’s epic about the building of Noah’s ark, which also stars Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone.
“It’s been a whirlwind of exciting new things,” she says, “although it’s been a bit nerve-racking because I’d been doing the same thing for so long and got so comfortable. So now I’m just happy and excited to be acting and getting such really great opportunities.”
(The Daily Telegraph)
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