Last week, ComingSoon.net was in London for the junket for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, and you would think that Harry Potter was a secondary character considering how many newspapers featured pictures of Emma Watson on their covers from the premiere the night before.
Yeah, Ms. Watson is getting the kind of attention you’d expect if “Hermione Granger” was the name in the title, and a lot of that has to do with the relationship between her, Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry and Rupert Grint’s Ron, one that has her in scenes kissing both of her long time co-stars as the trio goes on the run from the Death Eaters while trying to find and destroy the Horcruxes that hold the pieces of Voldemort’s soul.
As we finished speaking with Rupert Grint, Watson snuck up behind him and seeing the two of them together in person, you could see that she’s really quite tiny, looking even smaller with her newish pixie haircut. Our roundtable interview started with the question apparently on everyone’s minds…
Q: Of course, we have to start with the kiss.
Emma Watson: Of course! (laughs) What else should we start with? What do you want to know?
Q: I heard it was a closed set and they kicked Rupert off of it.
Watson: They did, yes. It was a closed set, and it was awkward enough without having tons of people come and watch.
Q: Was it a strange experience? I heard they tried different amounts of smoke and you had silver body paint on.
Watson: Oh, it was the weirdest thing ever, and they only told us about the silver body paint the day before. They were like, “Oh, and P.S., we hope you don’t mind but we’d like you both to be topless and covered in silver paint.” I was like, “Ookay,” if it wasn’t weird enough before. (laughs) So yeah, it was bizarre. Luckily, Dan is very funny and talkative and we could just have a laugh about it. Kissing Rupert, he’s slightly more quiet so I was like, “Oh, God, what’s he thinking?” Whereas the whole time with Dan I knew EXACTLY what he was thinking, so that helped.
Q: He did say that he thought you were ferocious about it.
Watson: I keep hearing this, and I don’t know what to say. Danny even called me “an animal,” so yeah, I guess I was just so worried about it coming across as awkward as I felt it was inside that I just wanted to make it as real as I could? So I guess I just went for it?
Q: What’s the experience like being away from Hogwarts for this particular film? Was it a very different experience?
Watson: Definitely. It felt like we were making a different movie, which was so nice. It meant it didn’t get boring after making six of them. It’s nice to have something a bit fresh.
Q: The fact that the three of you have made eight movies together in ten years and worked together for so long, how hard is it to keep things fresh?
Watson: That is definitely the hardest thing. The cool thing about this movie is that because we shot two back-to-back, there was this momentum that we picked up and there was this kind of chaos to flitting back and forth between two different movies, and we were trying to get so much done that we didn’t have any option than to be fast and be on top of it. The pace picked up a notch, which really helped us as actors, because when it’s that slow, it’s very hard to give a fresh performance. When you’ve sat in the trailer for three hours, it’s tough.
Q: I heard that you had more time to make the movie so if you had a tougher scene, you’d have more time and could do another take the next day.
Watson: It’s wonderful that on “Potter,” we had that kind of flexibility. Pretty much, such a huge part of the filming was done at Leavesden, so it wasn’t like, “Okay, guys, we won’t be at the set tomorrow. We have to get this done.” Those sets were around, so we did have the option to get it right. That was a luxury I guess.
Q: There are a lot of nice subtle moments in your performance. Was there more opportunity to have more freedom on how you express yourself?
Watson: Definitely, and I just had such a bigger role. It gave me such a better chance to really develop it and get into it, and I just felt like I had so much more room to give it a bit more. I had some really challenging stuff to do, which gave me a chance to show what I can do, which was lovely as well.
Q: Can you talk about working with David Yates and tackling some of that more challenging material?
Watson: He was very good. He’s very calm, which is great for me, because there are days when I just panicked, I mean really just… “David, I don’t know how to do this!” I didn’t know how to act… I’ve never been tortured before, I have no idea how to pull that off. I have no idea what it feels like to see your friend bleeding to death in your arms. There was some really hard stuff to do, like what it’s like to erase your parents’ memories and walk out the door. I think for me, I have quite an academic, like a heady approach I guess to the way that I act, and us just talking through what it meant, what does it mean for her? How does it relate to her past? What does she think about this? Having the time to be very clear in my head about what exactly everything was allowed me to give a really good performance. He’s very patient, which is so nice. I never felt like I was being hurried, so that was nice. He’s very good like that, he’s very gentle.
Q: We’ve talked to others about the first film and how it was for Chris Columbus to direct kids. Can you talk about evolving into more of an acting approach and some of the lessons you’ve learned from all the great directors who’ve stepped in and specific things you picked up along the way?
Watson: Well, it’s interesting. I think working with different directors have signaled different… Alfonso wasn’t going to do any of the “kiddie directing” stuff. He was like, “Get up there and do it.” He didn’t have much patience for “Eyes wide, look terrified!” He wasn’t going to do any of that, so he made us step up and then Mike Newell again, and then David Yates. It worked like that I think.
Q: David mentioned the scene with your parents and that more was filmed that didn’t make it into the movie.
Watson: Oh, yeah, it got cut. Well, it wasn’t actually with me in the scene. It was just with them having a conversation about what they were watching on TV, but it wasn’t anything that I was in.
Q: Over the course of the 8 movies, you’ve worked with some amazing actors like Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Michael Gambon. Was there anyone you realized when you weren’t going to do any more scenes with them that got you upset and that you miss working with them?
Watson: A lot of them. I miss working with Emma Thompson, she was a real fave. She’s lovely and very interesting and I got on really well with her.
Q: Are you acclimatized to life post-Potter?
Watson: I go through periods where it feels fine, easy, and I’m busy at school, and there are days when I feel really lost, because it was just so structured and I had people telling me where I needed to be, what they wanted me to do. My whole life was on a schedule, on a call sheet, every day, and being at university, you decide when you eat, where you go, if you work, if you don’t. No one cares and it’s all down to you, so yeah, I had days where I feel “Oof” but it was always going to be an adjustment and I feel lucky that I kept going with school and that I have that kind of infrastructure to fall back on. I dunno. It feels nice to be able to take a bit of a break. I don’t know how Dan’s doing it to be honest, because making these two films back to back was exhausting, I mean really exhausting. I was hanging in rags when we finished shooting, so I don’t know how Dan is doing it. He’s kind of amazingly energetic.
Q: Have you hung out at all with Daniel or Rupert since you finished filming? Do you expect to get together for lunches or anything like that?
Watson: We always have these dates when we know we’re going to see each other again, so yeah, I guess when the last movie is out… I know that Dan is doing something on Broadway in New York, so I guess we’ll hang out when we’re both in New York together, and maybe I’ll show up at Rupert’s doorstep one day. I’m dying to go to his house, it sounds amazing. So yeah, we’ll figure it out but at least we’ll have these dates where we know we’ll be together again.
Q: Can you talk about the dancing scene between you and Daniel in the tent? I understood it’s splitting people. Can you talk about the subtext and if you thought this was just a moment between friends or if it was something else?
Watson: The way that Dan and I played it was there was the possibility there could be something else between Hermione and Harry. If you spend that period of time with one person alone on the road and you don’t know when you’re going to see anyone else again, I dunno, I feel like maybe there could have been something there, but not really from Hermione’s end. I think whether or not you like that storyline or not, the scene has a tension but it’s open to interpretation. It’s not fixed.
Q: What about the torture scene with Helena? How did you deal with that? Did you dig in deep for it?
Watson: Yes, I definitely did, it was quite horrible to do, but it was a real challenge and I enjoyed having the challenge and I had that demanding thing to do. I think as Bellatrix, (Helena’s) just terrifying because she looks so unhinged, she looks so crazy, but I don’t think she actually enjoyed doing it. I guess it showed that I was doing a good job that she felt uncomfortable.
Q: Over the course of this decade, have you been surprised at all by the increased acting depth that your coworkers have achieved as well as maybe your own?
Watson: Oh, all the time, particularly in Part 2, there’s a scene where Rupert’s brother dies and the amazing thing about Rupert is that he’s a very self-contained human being. It’s very rare that you see him get emotional. The minute the camera rolls, he just becomes this other thing and he has so much, and I’m like, “Where does that come from?” Anyway, there’s a scene where he cries and I remember having to remind myself to keep acting because I just wanted to go, “You’re amazing! That was amazing!” I don’t know where he pulled it from, and I’ve had moments exactly the same with Dan where I’ve just been amazed, I mean particularly with a lot of the stunt work Dan’s had to do in the last movie. He’s fearless and he’ll just launch himself off a building, all this stuff, and I’m just gobsmacked that he just gives it everything, and it’s really admirable, definitely.
Q: You’ve been doing these movies since you were nine years old, and I don’t know what your expectations were at that time, but now, everyone who sees you in these last three movies says, “Of course, she’s going to continue being an actress” but you’re also going to school for something different. What are your feelings on that? When you finish the semester, do you expect to have something to do acting-wise?
Watson: I want to be a Renaissance woman. I want to be good at lots of different things. I thrive on variety. I just love doing things that are new. It’s really exhausting when people are like, “You’re giving up. It sounds like you’re never going to act again.” No, it’s not like that. I just really want to finish my education, and I’m just taking it slow, you know? I’m just not like diving into anything. I’m just taking care of feeling out my options and making sure that whatever I do next is going to be the right thing. I just did a small movie called “My Week with Marilyn,” which is a Weinstein production with Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams. It was only a couple days shooting, but it went really well, so yeah, I’m just trying to find the right (things).
Q: Having done all these films that there are still things with performance and acting that you’d like to learn even though you had this spectrum of experiences?
Watson: I’m lucky because I have to say I have experience, like hands-on experience. I really know the way that film sets work, film crews, special FX. I’ve had so much experience, but I would definitely love to learn more about how to approach the work before I step onto the set. Definitely. I feel like I worked out my method on this last movie, but I would love to really try a few different kinds of things to give me a bit more variety and flexibility. Yeah, I’m definitely going to do that.
Q: You haven’t done any accents yet, so are you looking for anything that will allow you to do an accent?
Watson: I’m working on accents actually. For “My Week with Marilyn,” I do a lower-class English accent, and I’ve been working on an American accent, so yeah, I think being able to have that is so important after playing the same person over and over again. I think that’s Meryl Streep’s biggest strength and Cate Blanchett, all these amazing actresses and it’s definitely something I’m working on.
Q: How do you think people will react the first time they hear your American accent?
Watson: I don’t know. It will be interesting I think. I have no idea how people will respond. I’ll have to see if they’re able to deal with it or not.
Q: Your character is quite an inspiration for girls and having started acting very young, when did you become aware of that fact and if that affected you at all and how you handled it?
Watson: I have younger siblings, and not with Harry Potter but with other movies that they watched, they watch them over and over and over again to the point where they will say the dialogue with the character in the movie. I was watching my little sister do this. I was like “I wonder if kids do this with Harry Potter? I wonder if kids literally impersonate what I do?” And when I realized that, I was like “That’s interesting. This is a big deal.” (laughs) So yeah, I definitely had a moment where I realized that she was very fortunate.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about filming the epilogue?
Watson: Sure, that was definitely a challenge; there’s so many challenges in these last two. Pretending that I had kids and acting as if they were my children was the weirdest thing, that I had children. So weird. That was a struggle. I was like, “Am I doing this right? How do I…?” It was hard to know how to approach it, so I hope it looks good in the end. Prosthetics are horrible. I’m never… I’m going to avoid doing a movie with prosthetics, like my life depends on it. I’m glad I had like a taste of that experience, enough to know it’s miserable. (laughs) It was obvious for me.
Q: When Chris Columbus cast you guys, he got it so wonderfully right, and does it ever strike you as being such an unlikely and amazing thing?
Watson: It does, yeah. Someone said to me the other day, “What if one of you had gotten really fat?” or like “What if you had just not been good anymore?” or I dunno, and I was like, “Hm…” I never considered that possibility. We just always… I dunno. Anything could have happened, but we seem to have come through pretty well, I don’t know. We seem fine. So yeah, it does seem unlikely that being cast at age 9, we’d still be right for the roles now, ten years later, I think it’s remarkable, a pretty awesome piece of casting.
Q: Is there a specific experience or part of the series you filmed that will always stick with you as the best time you ever had and on the flip side, is there one that is the absolute worst?
Watson: Yes, I can tell you the worst right now. It was on movie #2, we get dropped by a dragon into the lake and I think it was January or February. The lake wasn’t heated, and because we had to get changed as part of the next scene, we couldn’t wear anything underneath. I was lucky. I had my bottom half with some thermals on, but I was like, “This must be a joke.” It was so cold. I think Rupert thought at one point that his heart had stopped beating. I hate being cold more than anything, so that was my most memorable day. I was like, “I can’t wait for this to be over!” We spent pretty much the whole of part 2 soaking wet, and Leavesden – I’m sure it’ll be beautifully redone when Warners invests all this money in it, but that day, it was not heated. Anyway, I’ll stop complaining. (laughs) My favorite, my best moment… you know what? The first movie, even though it was ten years ago and I was really young, I just remember the wide-eyed excitement and awe I just came into Leavesden everyday, just to be so excited about what I was going to see next. Every time I walked onto a new set or someone new did something new, it was all just so overwhelmingly exciting. It just went by like this (snaps fingers) doing that movie. I have some really fond silly memories from that.
Q: What are your thoughts on J.K. Rowling possibly revisiting Potter ten years down the road?
Watson: I have heard about this. I’m still trying to come to terms with putting this to bed, so being asked to try to think about whether I would consider doing another series is… I can’t think about it, I dunno. I never say never. I think maybe playing her for ten years is maybe enough, but never say never so, so I dunno.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 opens everywhere on Friday, November 19. Look for more interviews as the week progresses.