The 26-year-old actress talks about her struggle with fame since starring as Hermione in the beloved Harry Potter films in the March issue of Vanity Fair, and how she almost gave it all up when she attended college in 2009. Watson says she started to get uncomfortable with fame while still starring in the franchise.
"I'd walk down the red carpet and go into the bathroom. I had on so much makeup and these big, fluffy, full-on dresses," Watson, who poses for a series of stunning shots for the mag, recalls to VF of the films' later premieres. "I'd put my hands on the sink and look at myself in the mirror and say, 'Who is this?' I didn't connect with the person who was looking back at me, and that was a very unsettling feeling."
"I was finding this fame thing was getting to a point of no return," she adds of almost quitting acting when she decided to go to Brown University. "I sensed if this was something I was ever going to step away from it was now or never. It dawned on me that this is what you're really signing up for."
Thankfully, she changed her mind.
"I've been doing this since I was 10 or 11, and I've often thought, 'I'm so wrong for this job because I'm too serious; I'm a pain in the ass; I'm difficult; I don't fit,'" she admits. "But as I've got older, I've realized, 'No! Taking on those battles, the smaller ones and the bigger ones, is who I am.'”
"I want to be consistent: I can't talk about my boyfriend in an interview and then expect people not to take paparazzi pictures of me walking around outside my home," she acknowledges. "You can't have it both ways."
"I've noticed, in Hollywood, who you're dating gets tied up into your film promotion and becomes part of the performance and the circus," she continues. "I would hate anyone that I were with to feel like they were in any way part of a show or an act."
.... She's also not into taking selfies with fans. Watson notes that the Harry Potter phenomenon sometimes "crosses into obsession."
"For me, it's the difference between being able to have a life and not," she explains. "If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it, within two seconds they've created a marker of exactly where I am within 10 meters. They can see what I’m wearing and who I'm with. I just can't give that tracking data."
"I'll say, 'I will sit here and answer every single Harry Potter fandom question you have but I just can't do a picture' -- and much of the time people don't bother," she adds.
"[Belle is] absolutely a Disney princess, but she’s not a passive character -- she's in charge of her own destiny," Watson explains, also sharing that she got the approval of famous feminist activist Gloria Steinem on the final edit of the film.
"I couldn't care less if I won an Oscar or not if the movie didn't say something that I felt was important for people to hear," she stresses.
Of course, Watson's Belle has a number of revamps on the original character. For example, in the 1991 Disney movie, Belle is an assistant to her inventor father, but in the 2017 version, she's developing a "modern washing machine that allows her to sit and read." She also wears riding boots to ride horses instead of ballet slippers.
"When I finished the film, it kind of felt like I had made that transition into being a woman on-screen," she notes.