Emma Watson will probably always be synonymous with Harry Potter‘s clever and driven Hermione Granger, but the British actress has carved an identity outside of the franchise with her activist work as an UN Women Goodwill ambassador and intriguing post-Potter roles. She’s chosen her movie appearances carefully since the franchise ended, which means that even her less successful projects have been interesting and not without merit. Next up is Greta Gerwig‘s all-star adaptation of Little Women, which opens in theaters Christmas Day, and sees Watson share screen time with Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep. Ahead of its release, here’s a reminder of Watson’s other memorable film and TV appearances.
Beauty and the Beast
Watson’s biggest post-Potter role is easily this lavish Disney movie-musical, which grossed a massive $1.264 billion at the global box office in 2017. She gives a spirited performance as book-loving heroine Belle, who gradually falls for Dan Stevens‘ lonely and conceited Beast after she’s imprisoned in his neglected castle. Though Watson said singing for the first time on screen was “terrifying,” her vocal performances in the movie are actually very creditable.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Released a year after the final Harry Potter installment, this superior coming-of-age movie gave Watson a chance to prove she was more than simply Hermione. She plays Sam, a fun and free-spirited American high school student who bonds with Charlie Kelmeckis (Fury‘s Logan Lerman), a shy and self-conscious student who is battling clinical depression. Directed by Stephen Chbosky based on his own bestselling novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the sort of smart and sensitive teen movie that adults of any age will find surprisingly relatable.
The Bling Ring
Watson’s coolest role to date comes in this cult Sofia Coppola flick, a satirical crime caper based on the real-life story of a gang of fame-obsessed L.A. teenagers who teamed up to rob the homes of their favorite celebrities. Playing the most infamous and charismatic member of the so-called “Bling Ring,” Watson clearly relishes tearing into a bad girl role that’s a far cry from strait-laced Hermione Grainger. Coppola has even said that Azealia Banks‘ hip hop hit “212” made it into the movie because Watson really loved dancing to it.
My Week with Marilyn
This 2011 biographical movie tells the fraught behind-the-scenes story of classic ’50s movie The Prince and the Showgirl, which saw Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) clash repeatedly with her thespy co-star/director, Laurence Olivier (Sir Kenneth Branagh). The stacked cast also includes Dame Judi Dench and Eddie Redmayne, who’s typically charming as Colin Clark, the young English personal assistant who spends a week escorting Williams’ troubled Monroe around London. Still, Watson definitely holds her own, giving a winning performance as Lucy, a perceptive wardrobe assistant who realizes her own romantic connection with Colin is being bulldozed by the iconic actress.
Watson’s first project outside of the Harry Potter franchise was this 2007 TV movie, a BBC adaptation of Noel Streatfeild‘s much-loved children’s novel Ballet Shoes, written by Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas. As the film’s headstrong heroine Pauline Fossil, a budding actress living in 1930s London, she leads a strong cast that includes future Bohemian Rhapsody star Lucy Boynton, her Harry Potter castmate Richard Griffiths, and Brit TV legend Victoria Wood. It’s a wholesome and super-British period drama that’s well worth seeking out.
This biblical epic from director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem of a Dream) caused controversy when it came out in 2014 because it took some pretty substantial creative liberties with one of the Old Testament’s best known tales: that of Noah and the Ark. Still, there’s no denying that it’s a powerful piece of filmmaking packed with fine performances. Co-starring opposite Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Sir Anthony Hopkins, Watson shows her depth as Noah’s adopted daughter-in-law, Ila, who delivers the movie’s rousing closing monologue.
Watson co-stars opposite Ethan Hawke in this psychological thriller from The Others director Alejandro Amenábar, which is probably best described as either a brave failure, or an admirable near-miss. She plays Angela Gray, a teenager growing up in early ’90s Minnesota whom Hawke’s detective believes has been abused by a satanic cult. The stumbling block? She has no recollection of it whatsoever. Amenábar’s movie is too uneven to be completely convincing, but Hawke and Watson are compelling enough to keep you interested until the end.
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