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She's 25 and has the maturity of someone who worked since 10. Actress, English literature graduate and active feminist, Emma Watson stars in the thriller from "a master", Alejandro Amenabar, and confesses that what scares her the most in life are "injections and sharks".
It's not clear is she means it literally or metaphorically, but she drops a smile at the end of the sentence. Another thing is the movies: "As a spectator, I'm very scared of suspense, knowing that at any moment something will happen, but not knowing where or when."
It's precisely the suspense that the author of 'Thesis' (1996) started with, and returns with with 'Regression', a film that opens tomorrow the 63rd edition of the International Film Festival of San Sebastian, out of competition, and later, on October 2, will hit theaters.
Inspired by a wave of strange events in the United States in the early 80s, the film combines mystery and horror, and invites to reflect on the complexities and tricks of the mind.
"I was already a fan of 'The Others' and 'The Sea Inside'," says Watson. "I read the script and it interested me, and when I first met Alejandro I felt he was someone I could trust."
Amenabar places the action in Minnesota, in the 90s. The British actress plays Angela Gray, a shy young woman, motherless, who denounces her father for alleged abuses. The detective in charge of the case is Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke), a divorced and clever man who channels his obsessive personality in his job.
"My character has had unusual and extreme life experiences, I found it very hard to get under her skin, it has been a challenge, but that's what I look for in my work, so I'm satisfied," notes Watson.
The way the mind processes memories, the power of suggestion and the ability to control fears are topics covered in the film and that interest her in particular.
"We spend our life trying to know who we can trust: our heart, our mind, or our guts. We're always trying to figure out what message we must be listening, and this is something that concerns children as well as adults. I've always experienced it and I still do," she reflects.
For over a decade the relation of Emma Watson with the cinema was exclusively limited to the Harry Potter series and his her character of Hermione. During that time, she left her chilhood behind. When the 8th and last film premiered she was 20.
From that moment, she started to look into other areas and filmed a romantic drama indie, 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower', experiments like 'The Bling Ring' with Sofia Coppola and even a biblical film, 'Noah', with Darren Aronofsky.
She says her young experience has advantages and disadvantages: "The good thing is that I have a lot of experience for someone my age, it helps a lot."
"The negative part is that after having done the same role for so long, sometimes I have to fight against the preconceived ideas about who I am and what kind of roles I can play. I have to work hard to show I can do other things."
"Other things" like 'Colonia', a German film that was just presented at the Toronto Festival, about the kidnapping of a man in Chile under the dictartorship of Pinochet. Or like 'Beauty and the Beast', her second try to star in the adaptation of the children's classic, after the failed attempt with Guillermo del Toro.
The Disney adaptation directed by Bill Condon will be released in 2017.
"It was one of my favourite sotries as a child, I love the character of Belle and this project gave me the opportunity to sing, something I had always wanted to do and hadn't been able to until now," she says.
Despite all this, the cinema didn't stop Watson from finishing her studies in university in the United States or from being an advocate for feminist causes. In fact, she is the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the emporwerment of girls and works with the "HeForShe" campaign to denfend gender equality.
"In this work, we definitely need more feminist voices. My campaign in particular focuses on getting more feminist voices from men. I think it's working, I hope so."