Emma Watson. What can I say about her that you probably aren’t already thinking? She is smart, talented, sweet and wants to make a difference in the world (and is well on her way to doing that). Getting to interview her for her role as Belle, in Beauty And The Beast, was one of the highlights of my trip. Had I not already been a fan, I would be now.
Here’s what Emma Watson had to say…
So yes, I was very heavily involved in the dress. Trying to get the dress right was really difficult because we needed to dress her to serve a number of different purposes and functions. So it needed to be of the period, so originally she started off with a very kind of like seventeenth century traditional dress, but then we realized that it didn’t do that really cute twirly thing that it does in the animation [LAUGHTER], you know, when the dress, like, spins behind her?
We were like…It has to do that, [LAUGHTER], otherwise it’s not right. So we’re like, okay, back to the drawing board. It’s gotta twirl. All right, so it’s gotta be seventeenth century, but the bottom’s gotta be different, so let me try another version of it, which kind of did have that movement. It was lightness, so we made it out of chiffon, and then we were like, she’s also gotta ride a horse in it, and she’s gotta be able to kind of go into the third part of the movie which is where she goes back to see her father. So it also kind of needs to feel like an action hero dress which is why the front of the dress looks a bit like a coat of armor.
It’s got gold flecks in it, and had that kind of warrior element to it, as well. So, yeah, we kind of created a warrior, modern seventeenth century twisty, twirly dress hybrid. [LAUGHTER]
Seeing herself in costume for the first time
It was kind of amazing, [LAUGHS]. I think because Belle, is a fairytale; I play kind of an architype, really. She’s more of a symbol…the kind of the way that I got into character and I sort of started to feel like I was understanding her really well, was through her costume, so it was like working on putting together the boots that she wore and she had kind of these slightly scruffy socks, and she had the bloomers underneath her skirt which meant that she could swing her leg over a horse…and creating the kind of tool belt that she has on for when she’s inventing things, and it will carry her books and all these little details. She actually has a ring on this finger which actually one that I wear which is one from my mom, and she has all these tiny things. I really felt like I was starting to get to know her, so her costume was really important for me, actually. It was, like, the way in.
Emma having input on her character, Belle
There was talk of a wedding perhaps at the end, and that had not been in the original, and I was sort of like, “sorry, can I just point out this isn’t in the original. We need to stay, we need to stay faithful to the original”, and I really, and I felt strongly about that. I felt very strongly that she needed to have a vocation to fill her time with, and this is very important to me.
So we kind of co-opted what was originally kind of crazy ole Maurice’s identity, and I was like, well, that’s not the direction that Kevin’s taking the role in. Could I co-opt that for Bell, and we had her design this washing machine that allows her to have more time to read and to teach. That was super important to me…And so just like little things like that where I just felt like I was protecting and defending Belle’s sort of original DNA and just making sure that we stay truthful and, and faithful to this very independent young woman.
On being a Disney Princess
People ask me a lot, what’s it like being a Disney princess? And I go, well, actually, Belle isn’t a princess [LAUGHS].
She’s actually one of the few young women who actually isn’t a princess. She’s an ordinary girl from an ordinary village and, and I actually that’s very important about her, and she has no aspirations to be a princess. She has no aspirations to marry a prince. And so there was a line in the movie, originally, about Audra, the chest of drawers says to me, oh you know, we’ll make you a gown fit for a princess, and I was like- and I asked Bill, I said, could I say actually, I’m not a princess? And he was like, yeah, sure.
Bonding with Dan over practicing the dance scene
I mean, I think, honestly, the dance scenes are very bonding because when you’re this close away from somebody else’s face and it’s kind of awkward…it feels very intimate, and you don’t really know that person, it kind of like forces you to kind of break down a certain number of barriers that would be there without that.
Advice for girls who feel odd
…What I remember being so torturous about school was that that is your whole world. It’s like this microcosm; the people that are in your class, that’s your entire universe. That is your planet, and if you don’t fit with that, with those however many people are in your class, it’s miserable.
I think what my mom really said to me was that it might feel like the end of the world right now, that you don’t quite fit, but one day, you might be really grateful for that. And it’s very hard to see at the time but there’s a big, wide world out there with people who have diverse interests, and perspectives, and opinions. And you kind of have to just go out there and find your tribe; find your kindred spirits; find the people that resonate with you and that you feel at home with.
It takes a bit of persistence, and it doesn’t necessarily come overnight and really easily, but actually when I look back on not feeling like I fitted at school, I’m really grateful that I didn’t because I actually don’t really particularly want to be like any of who were the cool girls in my class anymore. I’m glad that I was different. I’m glad that I was a bit odd and I didn’t really fit in. Obviously, all of this is easy to say in retrospect, but anyway, I hope that’s helpful.
What she hopes the audience takes away from the film
I think as a child, I had a very hard time working out why people weren’t kind to other people, and trying to kind of like understand. I think what is so beautiful about Belle is that she’s so nonjudgmental. It’s her ability to see beyond the surface of things and to understand that everyone has a story, and you don’t always know what that story is, and to kind of look deeper into things before you make a judgement. There’s a kind of compassion and empathy there which I think is kind of a relief because I don’t think anyone is inherently evil. I think there’s light and dark in everyone, and I think that she kind of symbolizes that very well.
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On March 17th, rediscover a tale as old as time!