Emma Watson Is Taking a Break From Acting


In a new interview, Emma Watson reveals she’s taking a break from acting this year to focus on personal development.

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For those who follow Emma Watson, the last year has been one that might rival a year in Hermione’s life. She’s spoken at the UN, she’s started a book club, she’s been named a leading feminist figure, and she’s even gotten a fellowship at Oxford. You may have also noticed the movies she’s been in. Regression flopped quickly and quietly, while Colonia is going to be shopped about to art houses in April and then probably disappear just as fast.

And though Watson has landed the sort of high profile casting she’s going to need to take that step from “child star in the Harry Potter series” to “adult actress on the up-and-up” with her role as Belle in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast, that doesn’t start filming for months yet. In the meantime, Watson tells bell hooks (yes *that* bell hooks) PaperMag, it’s time to focus on herself and learning who she is.

I’m taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really. My own personal development is one. I know that you read a book a day. My own personal task is to read a book a week, and also to read a book a month as part of my book club. I’m doing a huge amount of reading and study just on my own. I almost thought about going and doing a year of gender studies, then I realized that I was learning so much by being on the ground and just speaking with people and doing my reading. That I was learning so much on my own. I actually wanted to keep on the path that I’m on. I’m reading a lot this year, and I want to do a lot of listening.

She talks about Our Shared Shelf, her explicitly feminist reading group, and how this is something to help her along in the learning process.

I’m reading so much and exposing myself to so many new ideas. It almost feels like the chemistry and the structure of my brain is changing so rapidly sometimes. It feels as if sometimes I’m struggling to keep up with myself. It’s a really cool period of time for me. My work that I do for the UN is all very clearly outlined, but my personal views and opinions are still being defined, really. So it’ll be an interesting time.

She also mentions how Hermione was a character so like herself when she was cast–and yet because she didn’t want to be defined by the role she was playing she fought against being seen as “like Hermione.” She didn’t realize that the person she was up on the screen was giving thousands of girls like herself a hero. Instead she was running away from  it.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 20: UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson (C ) attends the HeForShe campaign launch at the United Nations on September 20, 2014 in New York, New York. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

It was really interesting because at first, despite the obvious similarities, I guess I was also trying to detach my sense of self from the image […] I watch interviews that I did when the first movie came out, and I was so lost! [Laughs] I would think, ‘What do young girls talk about? What do they say?’ “I like going shopping, and I have a crush on Brad Pitt.”‘ And I had no idea who Brad Pitt really was! I hadn’t seen a single movie that Brad Pitt had been in, but this just seemed like the right thing to say. It makes me sad because I see this girl trying so much to fit in. The truth was, I loved school.

It wasn’t until the movies ended, and she began to really grow up that she basically gave herself permission to explore that inner Hermione.

I’m on my journey with this and it might change, but I can tell you that what is really liberating and empowering me through being involved in feminism is that for me the biggest liberation has been that so much of the self-critiquing is gone.

Next: Eddie Redmayne Impressed by Fantastic Beasts’ Big Budget

The entire interview is really amazing–she and bell hooks are more conversating than interviewing. The whole thing is worth a read.