Emma Watson was destined to play a Disney princess.
Watson reveals she was originally offered the part of Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 live-action remake of the Disney movie but turned it down before eventually taking on her upcoming role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.
So why did she pass on the role of Cinderella?
“I didn’t know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella,” she told Total Film. (Downton Abbey alum Lily James ended up starring in the movie.) “But when they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did.”
The actress, 26, said Belle’s strength as a woman makes her a good “role model” for young girls.
“She remains curious, compassionate and open-minded. And that’s the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice,” she said. “There’s this kind of outsider quality that Belle had and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her. In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring.”
“She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view,” she continued. “She’s not easily swayed by other people’s perspective — not swayed by fear-mongering or scapegoating.”
And while Belle’s core personality traits remain the same in the upcoming live-action remake, Watson still wanted to make a few changes to modernize the beloved character.
“In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle,” Watson previously said. “I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also, what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”
Beauty and the Beast hits theaters March 17, 2017.