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Even after you let go of a character, sometimes the character doesn’t let go of you.

With the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, Emma Watson picked up the role originated by Paige O’Hara in the 1991 animated movie, but she has also been on the other side of that situation — handing off the part of J.K. Rowling’s Hermione Granger to Noma Dumezweni for the London play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

In her interview with Entertainment Weekly for this week’s cover story, Watson spoke in depth about the stage show for the first time since watching it this past summer.

Seeing Hermione alive and well in her middle-age years turned out to be overwhelmingly for the 26-year-old, who had last played the character six years before in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

“It was so strange. It was so emotional seeing Noma’s performance in a way that I had not anticipated at all,” Watson says. ” She walked in the room and I just spontaneously burst into tears. … I had played that character so intensely up until that point, that to know that Hermione was going to be okay — I know it sounds crazy — but to know that everything turned out all right and everything in the world was okay, that there was someone else carrying her on and carrying her forward … it was just such a relief.”

Check out the full interview with Emma Watson here, on the new PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN), or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

Watson noted that Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ended with “a little flash forward,” but she still always felt Hermione “kind of gets stuck in time at 20 years old, 19 years old. … I wanted [Hermione] to have a future.”

Paul Thornley as Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger, and Cherrelle Skeete as Rose Granger-Weasley
Credit: Paul Thornley as Ron, Noma Dumezweni as Hermione and Cherrelle Skeete as their daughter Rose. (photo by Charlie Gray/Pottermore)

For more on this week’s cover story, watch EW The Show, available now here, on the new PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the free app on your Smart TV, mobile and web devices.

Although they look very different on the outside, Watson said Dumezweni captured Hermione’s heart and spirit, and they shared a sisterhood through the studious, Muggle-born witch they both helped bring to life.

“The weird thing is that Noma was a complete stranger, but I felt like I had known her forever,” Watson says. “There was just an instant intimacy and connection.”

For more from EW’s Emma Watson cover, follow @Breznican.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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