Emma Watson has opened up about why she stopped appearing in movies fives years ago, after her performance in Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women, despite having a steady and successful career with no shortage of projects.
Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, the Harry Potter star revealed she was tired of what she felt like was an impossible standard that she was held to by the media and the internet.
“I wasn’t very happy, if I’m being honest. I think I felt a bit caged,” she said.
“The thing I found really hard was that I had to go out and sell something that I really didn’t have very much control over. To stand in front of a film and have every journalist be able to say, ‘How does this align with your viewpoint?’ It was very difficult to have to be the face and the spokesperson for things where I didn’t get to be involved in the process.
“I was held accountable in a way that I began to find really frustrating, because I didn’t have a voice, I didn’t have a say. And I started to realise that I only wanted to stand in front of things where if someone was going to give me flak about it, I could say, in a way that didn’t make me hate myself, ‘Yes, I screwed up, it was my decision, I should have done better.’”
Emma Watson says she will “absolutely” return to acting.
She will star in an upcoming film that is set to begin shooting early next year.
— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) May 2, 2023
Honestly, Watson raises a really interesting point.
We live in a time that’s kind of unprecedented in how political we’ve become as a general audience — no longer can stars just be good at their jobs, they must also have a moral stance, issues that they advocate for, and expertise on whatever their fan base wants them to care about. Basically, we want to make sure the celebrities we pour our money and attention into actually deserve it.
I’m not saying whether it’s good or bad — but I think it’s true that every star is expected to accept projects that align with their (or their fans’) values, and I think we (myself included) are quick to drag celebrities when they take jobs that don’t.
I’m not necessarily sorry for it — I do believe more stars need to actually know what or who they are working with and be able to discuss the issues that come with these things, but I also think we sometimes forget these actors are real people and not just behind a screen.
You can hold someone accountable without being cruel, ya know?
It’s also particularly interesting that Watson would bring this up given we know her best because of the film adaptations of Harry Potter — a series that’s become tainted now that J.K. Rowling has outed herself as a raging transphobe.
When the news first broke, Watson did release a statement distancing herself from Rowling’s views and affirming her support for trans people, along with Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.
However, years later, Tom Felton — the actor who plays Draco, and who also happens to be best friends (“soulmates” even) with Emma Watson — revealed that he was still friends with Rowling and held her in high esteem.
His comments came during a press interview for his memoir, which Watson wrote an emotional foreword for, and it certainly refreshed scrutiny of her, because being best friends with someone who is friends with a transphobe is just not something some of us would ever do.
The point is, Emma Watson probably did receive an unfair amount of interrogation regarding problematic elements of projects she worked for which she had no control over, as have other stars. But also, are we wrong for wanting more from the people who generate wealth and live quite prosperous lives from our coin?
It’s a complicated one.