Image Credit: MARTIN SCHOELLER FOR EW Images of Harry Potter star Emma Watson’s new pixie haircut hit the web Thursday — see an exclusive image from EW’s upcoming Fall Movie Preview photo shoot here — and millions of fans seemed to have strong opinions. Most loved it, but a few didn’t. Why all the fuss? The actress, 20, had been required to keep essentially the same long, blonde hairstyle for ten years while she played Harry Potter’s bookish pal, Hermione Granger, in the $5.4 billion-grossing Potter franchise. But Watson, who’s about to enter her second year at Brown University, finished shooting the final two films earlier this summer. (Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, will be released this Nov. 19. Part 2 will be released next summer, on July 15).

When filming ended, Watson’s hair was finally her own. She could have cut her hair immediately, but she decided to wait a bit. “It didn’t feel right then; I needed a break,” she tells exclusively. During the cut, designed by New York stylist Rodney Cutler of Cutler Salon, Watson never had a moment of panic or remorse. “It was weird. My hairdresser was like, ‘When are you going to freak out?’ Most people cry or go into shock,'” she says. “But I was very calm. I knew it was the right thing.” It helped, she said, that she didn’t tell anyone she was getting the drastic ‘do. “I went to the salon alone and I left alone,” she says. “I knew everyone was going to have an opinion, and I couldn’t deal with it. I have to get myself into a good place to deal with people saying things like, ‘It’s terrible! She looks like a boy!'” Says the actress, laughing, “My dad already said that to me, actually. He said, ‘You’re not Audrey Hepburn yet, darling.'”

Ouch. Thanks, Dad? “He’s like that. I think the best I’ve ever had out of him was before a premiere when he said I ‘scrub up alright.’ When people ask me how I keep myself grounded, there’s the answer.” So what do you think, PopWatchers? Do you approve of Emma’s new look? And are you excited for Deathly Hallows?

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