Belle of the ball
Emma Watson, who plays Belle in Beauty and the Beast, relates her own experiences of watching Disney movies
She burst into Hollywood as the doe-eyed, frizzy-haired 11-year-old Hermione Granger in Harry Potter, who went on to emerge as an elegant and beautiful woman on screen, and off it, too. Carrying her British charm beyond the silver screen, Emma Watson has always made tough choices — be it educating herself before plunging into a career in movies, or handpicking her film roles. A woman with something powerful to say, she has gone on to make many iconic speeches in her capacity as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, becoming an inspiration to women all around the world. Emma returns to the land of magic later this month, playing Belle, every little girl’s favourite Disney Princess, in the live-action musical, Beauty and the Beast.
What made you want to play Belle?
I have loved Beauty and the Beast since I was about four years old. The movie came out the year I was born, in 1990, and I just fell in love with Belle. She was this feisty young woman who spoke her mind, and had all of these ambitions, and was incredibly independent, and wanted to see the world, and was so smart. I loved how she had this relationship with Beast where they were just toe-to-toe. And, that, to me, just seemed like such a dynamic and interesting kind of relationship that I’d never seen before in a fairytale.
What was your first experience seeing Disney movies as a child?
Oh my God, I was just enamoured with the whole thing. I was just so in love. It was so funny and so romantic, but in a way that it didn’t feel contrived... in a way that I think perhaps other fairytales have been. Here, Beast and Belle really dislike each other at the beginning and they really don’t get on. Then they form this friendship and fall in love. There was just something so beautiful about that to me and I’ve just loved it ever since.
You are now a part of the Disney family. How are you enjoying that?
As a child, you love Disney, but as an adult, you still love Disney, because it sort of connects you with that childlike feeling that everything is going to be okay and there’s hope in the world.
It just sort of, for me, it just gives me the sense of, like, “Ah! Everything’s fine. Everything’s fine.” So, to get the opportunity to play Belle and, and to be able to actually live in the world is absolutely amazing.
Beauty and the Beast releases March 17.