I am probably one of four people my age who has never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies,* but that seemed unimportant when I headed to Emma Watson’s apartment to interview her back in January. I’d just rewatched The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I’d been reading about some of her upcoming projects, so I had a squillion questions about the work she’s done since Potter ended and the work she’ll do in the future.
If you haven’t seen it already, Perks (based on the book by Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote and directed the film) is a flawless high school movie that will make you laugh and cry your eyes out in equal measure. Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, which comes out June 14, is based on a group of real teenagers who robbed celebrities’ homes in 2008 and 2009. I saw a screening of it in April (after this interview, unfortunately), and as soon as it was over I just wanted to rewatch it for all of eternity. Like any Sofia Coppola fan, I was psyched that Emma would be her next ingénue, but this movie is not pretty or dreamy, it’s insane and funny and scary, and I couldn’t believe how hard I was laughing whenever Emma did something as small as stare at her phone. Watch the trailer—you will DIE at the end:
Emma also recently filmed a leading role in Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah, due out next year. It’s sure to be drastically different from anything we’ve seen her in, and I obviously can’t wait.
We sat at her kitchen table while she generously indulged my curiosity and Perks geekdom. Her cat slinked around the chairs, her roommate introduced herself and served some banana bread they’d baked together. It felt sort of like a gals’ lunch, or something that sounds less like a yogurt commercial. Emma showed me her journals and we all watched her favorite TED talk. Even though she’s been interviewed thousands of times over the 12 years since the first Harry Potter movie came out, nothing she said felt like a stock answer. Every word seemed carefully chosen, save for a few moments in which she let her thoughts carry her away, and then that was exciting in the way watching people think and seek and find is exciting. She also got almost as hyper as I did when we got to talking about Pretty Wild, and threw her head back in laughter when she admitted to getting through final exams with the help of The Carrie Diaries.
My dad came by after a couple hours and we started saying our goodbyes when I spotted her record player. The needle rested next to Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and I couldn’t help thinking about what a turning point that album signified in Joni’s career and life. Her first three records established her as a commercially successful and critically respected artist, then she decided to take a break from performing to travel and write these incredible songs where she just totally laid herself bare. Blue became a huge success. It’s widely regarded as her best album, and 42 years after its release it’s still gaining new fans, all of us attracted not just by Joni’s mindblowing talent but also by her honesty as she sings about her deepest secrets and desires.
Emma Watson seems to be writing her own Blue. She’s managed to protect her private life while using her work to reveal the kinds of vulnerabilities that feel the most private. It’s taken for granted that starting a career and becoming famous at a young age means sacrificing the space and peace necessary to learn about yourself or the rest of the world, but Emma has made time for both.
She also made time for me, and us, and this interview, and for that I thank her.
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