On August 21, 2000, the mystery of who would be chosen to give life to three of the most coveted characters in film history was unveiled: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, the three young protagonists from one of the most important and profitable literary and cinematographic series ever seen. In a press conference in front of a mass of journalists, the most envied three children of the planet, the ones who would give life to the heroes of a generation. Among them was Emma Watson, who after ten years of spells and travels on broomsticks started working for directors like Darren Aronofsky and Sofia Coppola.
The British woman left behind the curse that hits all the young actors starring in a successful film (Macaulay Culkin, Haley Joel Osment, Hayden Christensen...). Watson is different. In all her interviews and declaration she has shown an intelligence and a surprising maturity for someone who at 20 could have left everything to become a high-profile star. Instead, she only picked minor roles while finishing college.
Now it's the Spanish cinema that requests Emma Watson, who stars in the film that sees the return of Alejandro Amenabar. With Regression, the director gives the actress her first main role before we can see her with Daniel Brühl in the historic drama Colonia.
She's not the snobby girl who played the voice of conscience of Harry Potter anymore. For 15 years the actress confesses that she would never be afraid of being defined as Hermione Granger. "No, how could I be scared, it was such a good role... I felt very fortunate to play someone I loved," she tells El Confidential.
In Regression, which opens today the San Sebastian Film Festival, she gives life to Angela Gray, a young woman who accuses her father of abuse and satanic rituals, and who takes refuge in religion to protect herself from him. Amenabar talks about how fear leaves the door open to settle in those communities where faith replaces reason. Lots of people will see a parallel with the rise of the religious fundamentalism, but Watson prefers staying cautious about the subject. "I don't think I'm the best person to talk about this. I think religion can be a wonderful and powerful thing, but also destructive and frightening. It's a very difficult theme... I'm not the best person to talk about it," she ends.
Nevertheless, she prefers to clarify that the film doesn't talk about religion in general. "It talks about a particular person, in a particular church and with particular circumstances. I don't want people to think that it's an attack on religion. That would simplify too much everything because I don't pretend to reject religions. I'm a very spiritual person and interested in those matters, but I think that, like what happened with Noah, it'll be controversial. It's good that films create a debate and controversy, that they make you think," she says about the possible reactions from the viewers of the film.
In the last years, Emma Watson, UN Goodwill Ambassador, actively fought for the campaign HeForShe for gender equality. Her speech in September 2014 was seen all around the world and received praises from the feminist associations. They discovered someone who shared her message and took advantage of her public position to ask the same pay and the same working and social conditions for men and women.
That speech also changed the cinematographic life of Emma Watson, who admits that now she is more asked about cinema and feminism than about what she wore on the red carpet. "That speech was a collection of things I had been thinking about for a long time. I never thought I would have had that moment in front of an audience to talk about it. I was very nervous, much more than when I act, because in a film you say the words of another person. Those words were mine. If I hadn't been 100% sure of what I was saying I would have never had the confidence to do it," she recalls about that moment.
Watson believes that although she doesn't think about all this when choosing a role, intuitively she knows that "it means choosing one or the other." Therefore she chose Angela in Regression, especially because she trusted Alejandro Amenabar 100%, as she knew The Others and The Sea Inside. "I knew he's in charge of the whole creative process from the start to end. He writes, directs and composes the soundtrack, which: 1. Is impressive. 2. As an actress you know you are putting your work in the hands of someone who is going to sculpt it until the end, someone you can trust.
The actress praises the director, who she thinks gave her a script "multidimensional, multi-faceted and very vulnerable." She doesn't think those are qualities exclusively seen in European directors, but she attributes them to the merit of "making films at a smaller scale which allows them to control everything."
Since the last two Harry Potter films, when the series took a dark and adult spin, the scripts offered to Emma Watson radically changed, and all directors see in her an intense character, that's why she wants to do something lighter. That will be Belle in Beauty and the Beast that Disney is preparing and which came at the right moment, before "those so intense scripts get into my skin."