Emma Watson may not believe in magic, but her enchanting portrayal of witch-in-training Hermione Granger in ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is enough to convince even the most skeptical Muggle of the powers of the wand. Chosen as one of EW’s Breakout Performers of 2001, 11-year-old Watson chatted with EW.com on her way home from the set of ”Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (November 2002).
So, how does it feel to be starring in the biggest movie of the year?
I think the word ”intimidating” kind of describes it. [Laughs] When I got the part, I literally couldn’t believe it because I was expecting someone to get the part who had professional acting experience. But it’s really, really exciting and it’s been a really good experience for me.
What sort of acting had you done before this?
At my school we do, like, a play every year, and I was very, very involved in quite a few of them. I had some main parts.
Any one part you liked more than others?
You know Arthur in the ”Knights of the Round Table”? Yeah, I played the witch Morgan Le Fay, the evil sister of Arthur.
Ah-ha, so you’ve gone from bad witch to good witch?
How did you get the part of Hermione?
Well, it’s a bit of a random story. Some people came round to my school in Oxfordshire and said, ”Do you have anyone who would like to audition?” So I had an audition at my school. I think I ended up doing, like, definitely over five auditions. My dad told me, ”You know, you do realize there are going to be, like, a thousand girls auditioning.” And I was kind of like, ”Oh, OK…I’ll, um, keep that in mind.” I tried to enjoy it instead of desperately trying for it.
What’s the best thing about playing Hermione?
She’s got some really good lines. One of them is [assumes Hermione voice]: ”I’m going to bed, before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed, or worse — expelled!” I like her because she’s really bossy and nerdy and all that kind of stuff. It makes her funny even though she doesn’t realize it.
Are you anything like Hermione?
A lot of people have asked this, but I don’t think I am, really. She’s a total bookworm and will do anything to get top marks. I mean, I enjoy school, but I’m not obsessed with school. Um…I hope I have a better fashion sense than she does.
How’s the sequel coming?
Really, really good. We were doing the Lockhart scene, so it’s really fun. It’s lovely. Kenneth Branagh is really nice.
Wow, hanging with the big guys, huh? Do you feel like a celebrity?
Um, no! You know, I still fall out with my brother, I still have to make my bed, I still see my friends. I try to lead a really normal life. Basically, the only way that it’s changed is what I’m doing in everyday life. My friends still treat me normally. I promise you. They really couldn’t care less.
So, about the Hermione action figure…
It sold out at major toy stores, including FAO Schwarz. How does it feel to be a hero for children all over the world?
I don’t feel like a hero. It’s kind of weird to think that toddlers all around the world will be playing with me. Oh, that’s awful, that’s scary, but…amazing.