"What I love about Belle is that, if you look at her within the category of Disney characters, she is kind of the rogue," Emma Watson says in EW's new Beauty and the Beast
cover story. "She takes a different course and that was always what I loved. When I think about Belle, I think about her singing 'Belle (Reprise),' coming out of her house and singing this song which is bursting out of her... 'I really just want something more, I want something else.' Like, 'This doesn’t fit. I
"[Belle] is like the Robert Frost poem. She takes the road less traveled, and I always really identified with that," Watson says. "Belle is no sheep... [Laughs] She’s friends with sheep. She is friends with sheep [in the animated version.] But there's this defiance, and that energy, that spirit was really what I identified within her."
On equality for girls and women in the real world. “We are always slowly moving towards progress, but it does feel as though we take one step forward, we go back a bit, we make progress, then there is a push back,” Watson says. “Women’s liberties are one of the first things that people try to curtail because it’s an easy way to try and feel that things are being better controlled if women are kept nicely and neatly in their place.”
Watson has been a goodwill ambassador representing the HeForShe campaign, the United Nations solidarity movement urging men to support feminism. "The thing that was really important for me about that movement was men understanding that it was not just them helping us," she says. "This is, in a way, helping or saving themselves in order to make themselves more full and more human and more whole."
On heroes and heroines: "If I asked a young boy what superhero they looked up to, I feel a lot fewer would say a female one or would ever use an example of a female one, than in reverse, which is a shame. We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks up to and idolizes women as much as men. I hope that’s starting to slowly change, but it is something that does actively need to be addressed."
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