Emma Watson Covers Vanity Fair

Excerpts from the article:
Emma Watson, Vanity Fair
Emma Watson…is scattering hardcover copies of Maya Angelou’s book Mom & Me & Mom throughout the station — tucking them between pipes, placing them on benches, atop the emergency call box — in hopes that New York commuters will pick them up and put down their smartphones. This display of civil disobedience was conceived by Books on the Underground, a London-based organization that plants books on public transportation for travelers to discover. “We’re being ninjas,” she says with a conspiratorial grin as she digs in a big black rucksack of books. “If there were anyone to be a ninja for, it’d be Maya Angelou.”

…Today she’s makeup-free, her hair shoved into a bun, and she’s wearing a nondescript dark wool coat over a baggy black sweater, completely blending in with New York’s distracted mass-transit masses.

“It’s good that we’re spreading a little bit of love,” she says. As she removes the last book, a train pulls into the station. She hops in, places it on a seat, hops out, and watches from the platform as the doors close and a young man inquisitively picks it up.

Aboveground, over coffee at a nearby café, Watson explains why she thinks reading is “sacred.” There’s the obvious, professional reason: Harry Potter was a literary sensation before becoming the blockbuster franchise that made her famous and a millionaire many times over. But books are also rooted in her deepest personal experiences. “Books gave me a way to connect with my father,” she says. “Some of my most precious and treasured moments . . .” She trails off and, unexpectedly for someone who is known for her composure, tears up. Her parents divorced when she was young. “I just remember him reading to me before bed and how he used to do all the different voices. I grew up on film sets, and books were my connection to the outside world. They were my connection to my friends back at school because if I was reading what they were reading we’d have something in common. Later in life, they became an escape, a means of empowerment, a friend I could rely on.”

Emma Watson, Vanity Fair
…“She’s way more like a real person than a movie star,” according to Gloria Steinem, who became a friend when Watson reached out to discuss the changing face of feminist activism. …Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who met Watson backstage at a performance of the musical, sums it up: “She played this very smart, conscious, noble wizard — and then somehow we had the good fortune that she became a smart, conscious, noble woman.” (They did a video together — Miranda freestyling, Watson beatboxing — to raise awareness for International Women’s Day. It got more than six million views.)

Emma and I got to know each other, and I visited her on the sets of the last two Harry Potter films. But as the Potter train pulled into its last station, I noticed the clouds of melancholy forming over her fairy-tale life. “I’d walk down the red carpet and go into the bathroom,” she remembers of the last few premieres. “I had on so much makeup and these big, fluffy, full-on dresses. 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.”

What few people knew when she enrolled at Brown University in 2009 was that she had a desire to give up acting and walk away from Hollywood altogether. “I was finding this fame thing was getting to a point of no return,” she remembers. “I sensed if this was something I was ever going to step away from it was now or never.” She loved performance and telling stories, but she had to reckon with the consequences of “winning the lottery,” as she calls getting the part of Hermione, when she was nine years old and literally still losing baby teeth. As an adult, “it dawned on me that this is what you’re really signing up for.”
Emma Watson, Vanity Fair
The question most people ask when a celebrity moans about being famous: If you hate the fanfare so much, why keep making movies? Watson asked herself that all the time. “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 says. “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.”

On why she says no to selfies with fans: “For me, it’s the difference between being able to have a life and not. 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. I have to carefully pick and choose my moment to interact. When am I a celebrity sighting versus when am I going to make someone’s freakin’ week? Children I don’t say no to, for example.”

On the devotion of fans: “I have met fans that have my face tattooed on their body. I’ve met people who used the Harry Potter books to get through cancer. I don’t know how to explain it, but the Harry Potter phenomenon steps into a different zone. It crosses into obsession. A big part of me coming to terms with it was accepting that this is not your average circumstances. People will say to me, ‘Have you spoken to Jodie Foster or Natalie Portman? They would have great advice for you on how to grow up in the limelight.’ I’m not saying it was in any way easy on them, but with social media it’s a whole new world. They’ve both said technology has changed the game.”…

Watson has a boyfriend, though she adamantly, vehemently refuses to expound on him. (The Internet says he’s called Mack, he’s handsome, and he works in tech in Silicon Valley.) “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. You can’t have it both ways.” She sits back and wonders if she should finish this thought, and eventually she does: “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. I would hate anyone that I were with to feel like they were in any way part of a show or an act.”
Emma Watson, Vanity Fair

Watson shied away from doing additional big-budget studio films and instead focused on smaller movies, like Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), and sought out auteur directors, like Sofia Coppola with The Bling Ring (2013) and Darren Aronofsky with Noah (2014). She turned down big offers: from lucrative cosmetics deals to critically acclaimed scripts. (Emma Stone’s role in La La Land was reportedly developed for Watson.) “There have been hard moments in my career when I’ve had an agent or a movie producer say, ‘You are making a big mistake,’ ” Watson says. “But what’s the point of achieving great success if you feel like you’re losing your freakin’ mind? I’ve had to say, ‘Guys, I need to go back to school,’ or ‘I just need to go home and hang out with my cats.’ People have looked at me and been like, ‘Is she insane?’ But, actually, it’s the opposite of insane.”
Emma Watson, Vanity Fair
…Last January, Watson started Our Shared Shelf, her bi-monthly online book club. She used Twitter…to crowd-source the name, and chose Gloria Steinem’s book My Life on the Road as her first selection.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks, was Watson’s March 2016 book-club selection. Watson traveled to Berea, Kentucky, near the Appalachian Mountains, to meet Hooks, and the two quickly struck up a friendship based on, in the words of the writer, “the belief in the primacy of a spiritual foundation for life.”

Emma Watson, Vanity Fair
In early 2014, U.N. Women, the United Nations’ department of gender equality, contacted Watson about becoming an ambassador. Everything clicked: she could focus the prying eyes of the world onto causes that she was passionate about, namely a new initiative called HeForShe, which aims to get men to co-sign on feminist issues. I was in the audience at the General Assembly on September 20, 2014, when Watson, elegantly and discreetly wrapped in a simple silver-gray Dior coatdress, stepped onto the podium and spoke passionately about women’s rights for a little more than 10 minutes. Her battle cry ended with: “I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen, and to ask yourself, If not me, who? If not now, when?”

“I used to be scared of words like ‘feminism,’ ‘patriarchy,’ ‘imperialist.’ But I’m not anymore,” Watson says.

The first time Watson saw the final cut of Beauty and the Beast she took along her mother, Jacqueline, and Gloria Steinem to a screening in London. She wanted her mother’s approval, but she needed Steinem’s. “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,” Watson says.

Specifically, she must have wanted assurance that her portrayal of a Disney princess, in the Bill Condon-directed film, didn’t conflict with the ideals of a feminist, and who better than Steinem to give that stamp of approval?

She got it.

Emma Watson, Vanity Fair
This is a new Belle, much of it by Watson’s design. “I was like, ‘The first shot of the movie cannot be Belle walking out of this quiet little town carrying a basket with a white napkin in it,’ ” she says. “ ‘We need to rev things up!’ ” In the original Disney movie, Belle is an assistant to her inventor father, but here she’s a creator in her own right, developing a “modern washing machine that allows her to sit and read.” Watson worked with costume designer Jacqueline Durran to incorporate pockets in her costume that are “kind of like a tool belt.” Another thing: in the animated version, Belle is on and off horses yet wearing a long dress and silk slippers, which didn’t sit well with Watson. Bloomers were created and Belle’s first pair of riding boots. “The original sketches had her in her ballet shoes,” Watson says, “which are lovely — don’t get me wrong — but she’s not going to be able to do anything terribly useful in ballet shoes in the middle of a French provincial village.”

Maturing from Hermione to Belle is a true coming-of-age story for her. “When I finished the film, it kind of felt like I had made that transition into being a woman on-screen,” she says. Belle is “absolutely a Disney princess, but she’s not a passive character — she’s in charge of her own destiny.” What’s more intriguing, however, is how Watson observed a similarly strict code in her real life, too, from what parts she plays to what she reads in bed at night and what clothes she puts on in the morning.

…For her Beauty and the Beast press tour, Watson created a PowerPoint presentation that her stylist sent fashion designers. It included a questionnaire about how their garments are produced, what their impact is on the environment, and the moral reason why she should wear one on the red carpet.

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One thought on “Emma Watson Covers Vanity Fair

  1. Pingback: Emma Watson Featured In Empire UK | Music In the Dark

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