Emma Watson plays the celebrity game very well indeed. There is, however, one thing she won’t do, and that’s stop for selfies in the street. No doubt her critics would accuse her of being stuck-up or bratty for turning down such a simple request. But actually, her reasoning makes a lot of sense. In fact, both Hermione Granger and Belle would think it pretty sound.
Watson has been photographed for pretty much all of her life. She was just ten years old when she was cast in a role any young actress would have loved: that of Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger.
And Watson’s portrayal of Hermione instantly propelled her to fame. In fact, reviews for the first Harry Potter movie even singled her out for praise. In a review published in November 2001, for example, IGN’s Brian Linder called Watson’s performance “better than I could’ve possibly imagined.”
But however good at acting Watson was, she was still a child star, and Hollywood has never been noted for being kind to child stars. Yet Watson had her parents behind her and she went from strength to strength – although it took her a little while to learn the fashionable dress sense she would become famous for.
As the Harry Potter franchise continued to churn out movies, Watson just became more and more famous. In 2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released, and at this point Watson’s fame was eclipsing even that of her co-stars. Plus, she was also earning a huge amount of money to boot.
But by 2007 a 16-year-old Watson was beginning to look at her career through the eyes of an adult. She had been asked to sign on for more Harry Potter movies, but she was nervous about the commitment. Eventually she re-signed, but one thing was clear: she was managing herself very carefully indeed.
The last three Harry Potter movies were well-received, just as their predecessors had been. But the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, marked a big turning point for Watson. What would she do next?
Well, the actress did exactly what the studious Hermione would have done: she went to university. For the next five years she not only studied English literature, but she also continued to act in movies like Noah. And as if that wasn’t time-consuming enough, she also became a yoga and meditation instructor, too.
When Watson graduated in May 2014, the world was at her feet. But by now she had aspirations that didn’t involve the big screen. In July 2014 she was made a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, and that September she delivered a speech about gender equality.
But with the speech, a world of fear and danger came crashing down on Watson. Almost as soon as her mic was switched off, Watson began receiving quite vicious threats. And, gradually, it got even worse. Hoaxers and trolls started spreading rumors about her death, and a website appeared bearing the words “Emma You Are Next.”
“I was immediately threatened. Within less than 12 hours I was receiving threats,” Watson told Vanity Fair in March 2015. “I think [my family and friends] were really shocked, and one of my brothers in particular was very upset.”
Bearing all that in mind, it’s not so hard to understand why a woman like Watson would deeply value her privacy. And it perhaps explains how she might not want to allow strangers to snap fan photos. She explained it all to Vanity Fair in March 2017.
“If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it,” she told the magazine, “within two seconds they’ve created a marker of exactly where I am within ten meters. They can see what I’m wearing and who I’m with. I just can’t give that tracking data.”
Tracking data would allow the paparazzi, or anyone, to find out instantly where Watson was at any given moment. And so she had decided to put her foot down regarding fan photos and selfies. “For me, it’s the difference between being able to have a life and not,” she told Vanity Fair.
Vanity Fair also recounted a grotesque incident involving the younger Watson: when she turned 18, photographers would bet on who could get an “upskirt” picture of her first. And so it’s no wonder that privacy became so very important to her.
However, she does evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether she should take fan photographs or not. “When am I a celebrity sighting versus when am I going to make someone’s freakin’ week? Children I don’t say no to, for example.”
And she also appreciates that being Hermione Granger is, in a way, a big responsibility. “I have met fans that have my face tattooed on their body. I’ve met people who used the Harry Potter books to get through cancer,” she added. So undoubtedly Watson has her own way of making fans feel special.
“I’ll say, ‘I will sit here and answer every single Harry Potter fandom question you have, but I just can’t do a picture,’” she continued to Vanity Fair. And honestly, the average Potterhead would probably prefer a chat to a photograph.
Meanwhile, Watson revealed to the magazine that she was very careful about other aspects of her privacy, too. In fact, she bought a house specifically because its entrance was inaccessible to the paparazzi. In addition, she won’t talk about her boyfriend in interviews, either.
“Privacy for me is not an abstract idea,” Watson continued. And really, it’s not hard to see why. So for those who want to see the actress, it may be better just to go and watch one of her movies rather than try and track her down for a selfie.