Emma Watson has been in the spotlight for most of her life, and she realizes the public is fascinated by her. Still, it’s something that's been an ongoing adjustment for her, tracing all the way back to her breakout role as Hermione Granger in the first “Harry Potter” movie more than 15 years ago.
“It's one of the things that I struggle with, because the three of us — Dan(iel Radcliffe), Rupert (Grint), and I — were kids when we got cast in this fairy-tale series, and what happened to us was kind of a fantasy story in itself. Outside of the movies,” Watson, 27, told fellow actress Jessica Chastain in a conversation for Interview magazine.
“So the story of my life has been of public interest, which is why I've been so passionate about having a private identity,” the “Beauty and the Beast” star continued. “When I step into a character, people have to be able to suspend their disbelief; they have to be able to divorce me from that girl. And not having everyone know every single intimate detail of my entire life is part of me trying to protect my ability to do my job well.”
Watson acknowledged that she’s “under a different microscope, a certain level of scrutiny,” which has been challenging for her at times.
“And sometimes the fear of doing things is overwhelming. I get incredibly overwhelmed, and sometimes feel hemmed in by that, afraid of that,” she added. “But I know that if I live in that fear, then my life as an artist, as a human being, really, is over.
“Ultimately, it will silence me, and it will silence what is in me — which I have yet to explore and uncover.”
That type of fear emerged when she decided to go to college and work on smaller projects after wrapping up the “Harry Potter” series.
“(T)o a lot of people, it seemed like I was passing up a lot of opportunity. I received a lot of angry phone calls,” she shared. “But I needed the space to go and explore who I was, without being under the microscope.”
Watson has taken measures to ensure that she maintains that space while in the public eye. For example, she told Vanity Fair earlier this year she’s opted not to take selfies with fans.
“For me, it’s the difference between being able to have a life and not,” she explained to the magazine for its March issue. “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.”