Emma Watson, 20 years after Hermione: what happened to the star who did not want to reign in Hollywood | Vips | S Fashion EL PAÍS

“When Voldemort is president, we need a nation of Hermiones.” It doesn’t take a wizard to prove the ancestry of the witch’s apprentice Hermione Granger to a generation of female readers who took Harry Potter’s inseparable companion as an aspirational role model. This is attested by the slogans that refer to this beauty daughter of dentists on the banners of recent feminist demonstrations. A pop icon to whom Emma Watson lent face, charisma and, according to her recent acts, a journey beyond the merely cinematographic. The British, who landed the role when she was just nine years old and wielded her wand with a dragon heart core until her twenties, seems determined to subscribe to the legacy of solidarity, activism and commitment symbolized by her alter ego. Just 20 years after Watson first set foot in Hogwarts school in The Philosopher’s Stone, the most unfathomable actress of her generation seems determined to ditch her industry privileged position and trade the glamor of red carpets for the social impact of international summits.

“I have spent more time in my life being someone else than being myself. When people my age dyed their hair and discovered who they wanted to be, I tried to discover who Hermione was, “he confessed in the BBC. Neither the spotlights, nor the covers, not even the fortune amassed during those years (valued at 75 million euros) will return to Emma Watson the childhood that was left on the sets of the successful film franchise. At 31, the performer is now struggling to find herself before the scope of her fame reaches a point of no return, moving away from an industry in which, insists, never quite fit. “I was walking the red carpet once and went to the bathroom. She had a lot of makeup on and one of these huge, floaty dresses. I put my hands on the sink, looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself, ‘who is this?’ I didn’t connect with the person who was looking back at me and that was a very unsettling feeling. “

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint gave life to the leading trio of the film saga. Photo: Warner Bros

His filmography says otherwise. Of the children who have come out of the magic saga, she is the one that has managed to sign the most critically and / or publicly acclaimed works, combining blockbusters (Beauty and the beast, Noah) with projects indie who today enjoy cult status as The advantages of being an outcast or The bling ring. The Oscar winner Little women, directed by Greta Gerwig and released at Christmas 2019, is its last premiere to date. His schedule has been empty ever since and, despite the fact that he has denied rumors that he has definitively retired from Hollywood, there is no indication that he will be in front of a camera again in the next few years.

The hero’s journey undertaken by Harry Potter (an orphan who with the help of a wise man ends up with a villain and the experience changes him forever), is a hackneyed dramatic cliché and applicable to other references of the popular heritage such as Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Spider-Man or Simba. But that a female role was the smartest, strongest, most loyal and generous of a millionaire franchise is a pioneering milestone of representation in mass culture. A model that Katniss would later replicate (The Hunger Games), King (Star wars) or Bella (Twilight), although basing a good part of her success on the physical aspect and not on the intellectual one, which continues to distinguish this sorceress. JK Rowling herself recognized in an interview from 2014: “I wanted the intense and intelligent girl to be the heroine this time. I know it’s very recognizable to female readers, but you don’t see many Hermiones in movies or on television except to laugh at them. “

The case of Watson is an almost unusual event in the mecca of cinema. Very few actresses at their age and at the peak of their careers, after years of hard disengagement and after gaining respect from the industry, are opting for a voluntary parenthesis. Even in the years of activity, he dared to reject roles like those of La La Land or Cinderella and starring in advertising campaigns for cosmetic firms because “they do not reflect the diversity of female beauty.” He has denounced sexism in the industry and has refused to objectify the characters he puts a face on – in Beauty and the Beast he rejected the corset -, which has already earned him the nickname of “difficult” in the industry, an adjective given to any interpreter who dares to show criteria or personality and is not of the male gender. On the net you can find articles listing ‘all the reasons why Hollywood should drop it’.

Watson has become a staunch advocate for sustainable fashion. In the image, she is wearing a second-hand wedding dress.

BA in English Literature from the prestigious Brown University, UN Goodwill Ambassador, campaign image HeForShe for gender equality, founder of the organization Book Fairies Worldwide for the promotion of reading, chair of the sustainability committee of the Kering group… The number of facets displayed by Emma Watson off the sets does not pale in comparison with her film career. As Hollywood shows and red carpets multiply for the upcoming awards season and her contemporaries try to take the lead in the race for the statuette, she makes climate change and sustainability her personal crusade. At the recently held climate summit in Glasgow, Watson hosted a panel that brought together environmental defenders such as Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Amanda Gorman and Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan woman. “I felt like I was in the presence of the female Avengers before the Battle for Earth”, I reflected on his Instagram account, followed by more than 61 million users, and which he dedicates almost entirely to making his activist ideals visible.

She is not the first star to resonate globally as a political activist, but few have managed to be as effective in spreading her speech. “When Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio joined humanitarian and environmental causes, they were already untouchable and glamorous demigods whose lives seemed to be millions of miles apart from those of their followers, and whose activism of jet-set it seemed almost as distant, “says Nicholas Barber in The Guardian, calling Watson “different.” “He may have flown to Bangladesh, Uruguay and Zambia on behalf of the UN, but he does not give the impression that he is lecturing his fans from on high, it seems as if he is learning alongside them.”

Emmanuel Macron greets Emma Watson at an official reception in 2019.

From Emmanuel Macron to Al Gore through Justin Trudeau or Kofi Annan, the British takes advantage of the media coverage of her name to get top-level politicians to respond to her requests, delighted to be able to take a photo with Hermione. But their actions endorse their words. In 2018 he donated more than one million euros to create a fund to help victims of sexual harassment or abuse. Shortly thereafter, at the same time as the tabloid press was theorizing about the possible motives that led Watson to limit his red carpet appearances to the extreme during the promotion of Little women, the British was betting on another type of promotional action for the film. Next to Book Fairies Worldwide led a Bell that he hid 2,000 copies of Alcott’s novel in different cities so that passers-by could get hold of them totally free. The copies, spread over 38 countries, featured a personalized, handwritten dedication by Watson.

While waiting to find out what next cause the actress will continue to inspire her fans, Watson seems willing to reconcile the protest side with the artistic one, even if it is behind the camera. The British took advantage of the months of confinement to make her first steps as a filmmaker and shared on her social networks “how empowered” she had felt. “When I was young I always thought that the most glamorous and exciting thing would be to become someone’s muse, but being able to tell both your own story and that of others is something totally different”, wrote in their networks.

Will Watson begin her directing career in the next few years? Photo: Instagram

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Emma Watson, 20 years after Hermione: what happened to the star who did not want to reign in Hollywood | Vips | S Fashion EL PAÍS