I was all prepared to dislike Emma Watson’s W Magazine pictorial (photographs by Michael Thompson), but I actually think it works. Emma’s styled as an old-school screen siren, and while I would be rolling my eyes if the magazine tried to make her look like Marilyn Monroe, they succeeded in making her look sort of like Barbara Stanwyck or Jennifer Jones (two criminally underrated stars of Hollywood’s Golden Era). Anyway, Emma is promoting The Bling Ring (which she’s currently promoting in Cannes), and you can read her full W Mag piece here. Some highlights (this is most of the interview):
W: What is the first movie you remember seeing?
EW: Pretty Woman. I was 7, which was way, way too young. That was when I started loving Julia Roberts and American movies. As a child, I loved being onstage. I loved singing, I loved the lights, I loved the adrenaline. I even loved learning lines. I was completely obsessive. A friend of my mother’s found a tape of me auditioning for Hermione. I wanted to get really, really good at my lines. There was reel after reel, take after take, of me doing the same thing over and over again.
Did you ever feel the pressure of having to be a shining example to young girls worldwide?
I was always a very serious child. I remember being 13 and girls in my class saying, “So-and-so is going to kiss so-and-so on the school fields.” I said, “That’s stupid. They’re too young for it to matter—he doesn’t love her, and that’s just a waste of time.” It’s amazing that I had any friends! [Laughs] So I was the right child to get cast: I loved the responsibility.
Did you have your first kiss on camera?
Thankfully, no. I’ve always been fascinated by Elizabeth Taylor, and I had read that her first kiss happened on a film set, which actually made me a little sad. You need to have normal experiences of your own. I’ve never wanted to grow up too fast: I wanted to wear a sports bra until I was 22! The allure of being sexy never really held any excitement for me. I’ve never been in a terrible rush to be seen as a woman.
And yet, in The Bling Ring, you are a little bit of a bad girl.
With Nicki, I was really taking on a character. Some of her lines are so crazy and absurd—making sure she wasn’t a parody was a challenge.
Did her outfits help you get into character?
Who wouldn’t love to go to work in Uggs and very low-slung tracksuit bottoms? The iconic detail of Nicki is her tramp stamp. It’s a lotus flower, a Buddhist-like symbol just above her butt crack. Really classy! [Laughs] And at one point I told the costume designer, “You can see my bra strap in this top; shouldn’t we pin it?” And she said, “No, sweetie—Nicki is all about her bra strap showing.” I was like, Right, okay, different mind-set.
When did you realize you were famous?
I lived in denial for as long as I possibly could. Until the age of 18, I would take the Oxford Tube, which is a public bus. Then it got to the point where the fact that I was on the bus would spread from one end to the other. I’d think, Why am I doing this to myself? Ignoring fame was my rebellion, in a funny way. I was insistent on being normal and doing normal things. It probably wasn’t advisable to go to college in America and room with a complete stranger. And it probably wasn’t wise to share a bathroom with eight other people in a coed dorm. Looking back, that was crazy.
I’m surprised you chose to come to America.
I’ve always loved America. When we came here with Harry Potter, everyone was so warm. Eventually, all of my friends were American, and I think that’s why I was attracted to playing Americans, even extreme ones like Nicki. When I’m presented with a character, I think, Hmmm…I have not had this experience. I don’t really know what this would be like. I’ll have the experience through the character.
Do you have a Hollywood crush?
My cinematic crush has been pretty much the same since I was 12: Kevin Costner. I met him in an elevator the other day, and I couldn’t even speak. He said hello, because he is lovely like that, and I couldn’t say anything back.
Kevin Costner is so American.
Of course! Kevin Costner is forever. And America too!
I think it’s sweet that she’s so enamored with America and American films. I feel like there are so many British and European actors like that, actors who dream of coming to Hollywood to work in big Hollywood movies.
I do wonder about this statement though – “I’ve never wanted to grow up too fast: I wanted to wear a sports bra until I was 22! The allure of being sexy never really held any excitement for me. I’ve never been in a terrible rush to be seen as a woman.” Do normal 23-year-olds speak like that? I think teenagers – teenage girls in particular – are always in a rush to be seen as older, to be considered women rather than girls. But maybe things have changed since I was a teenager. Sigh. Emma makes me feel like an old fart.
Photos courtesy of W Magazine.