Disney Princess fans, a gauntlet has officially been thrown: in the role model category, Emma Watson thinks Belle is better than Cinderella, which is why she passed on the starring role in the 2015 film that catapulted Lily James to fame.
“I didn’t know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella,” she told Total Film magazine in its latest issue, which features Watson and her beastly costar Dan Stevens on its cover.
This makes total sense for Watson who, much like her famous character, is an intellectually curious bookworm with a longing to explore the world and truly get to know the people in it.
We totally appreciate Cinderella too, for what it’s worth — and thought James was fantastic in the role — but also see how criticism of the film for having “anti-feminist politics,” and for making the character a doormat throughout her family’s horrific abuse, is valid.
Watson, of course, doesn’t want her princess to be a doormat at all — and only signed on to the project when she was reassured it would be a “collaborative process” with director Bill Condon.
“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,” Watson continued. “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’s not easily swayed by other people’s perspective — not swayed by fear-mongering or scapegoating.”
This is why we totally, 100 percent trust Watson in this role — and expect her Belle to be even more inspiring than the Belle we fell in love with back in ’91. For starters, we already know she’ll be an inventor alongside her father in this one, so she won’t spend all day with her nose “stuck in a book,” and Total Film reports that some of the character’s iconic looks were even modified to fit this grittier lifestyle.
So the tl;dr here is that it sounds like the Beauty and the Beast team is very committed to bringing this classic love story to life, while also making its heroine worthy of the incredible, modern young women who are shelling out their hard-earned cash to see her.