If you’re ever so lucky to run into her on the streets of Los Angeles, New York, London or elsewhere, please do not make the mistake of asking Emma Watson for a fan selfie. Not because the Beauty and the Beast star is rude, ungrateful, or uninterested in meeting you, but because, for Watson, saying “yes” to your selfie could literally put her in danger.
“If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it, within two seconds they’ve created a marker of exactly where I am within 10 meters,” Watson told Vanity Fair for their latest cover story. “They can see what I’m wearing and who I’m with. I just can’t give that tracking data.”
However, Watson continued to explain that she’ll gladly offer up something even more valuable than likes on Instagram instead: her time, which is pretty limited considering she’s a hard-working actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, living without the assistance of Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner.
“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,'” Watson continued. “I have to carefully pick and choose my moment to interact. 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.”
Watson has had to deeply consider all of these things in recent years since, as she explained to VF, her Potter fame became difficult to handle, fast.
“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,” Watson explained.
It’s important that Watson has set these boundaries for herself now, at 26, because just a few years back — during the filming of the last couple Potter movies — her overwhelming fame caused a major identity crisis.
“I’d walk down the red carpet and go into the bathroom,” Watson said. “I had on so much makeup and these big, fluffy, full-on dresses. I’d put my hands on the sink and look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘Who is this?’
Watson eventually found herself again during her college years, discovering yoga and meditation in addition to academia. She also allowed herself to say “no” to promising projects that didn’t fit her schedule (“What’s the point of achieving great success if you feel like you’re losing your freakin’ mind?”) and, of course, turned to reading, traveling, and feminism to discover a greater sense of purpose.
“I used to be scared of words like ‘feminism,’ ‘patriarchy,’ ‘imperialist,'” Watson explained. “But I’m not anymore.”
This increased focus on her own self-care has allowed Watson to fully come into her own, which is why we’re extra excited to see her feminist take on Beauty and the Beast in just a few weeks.
“When I finished the film, it kind of felt like I had made that transition into being a woman on-screen,” Watson concluded. “[Belle is] absolutely a Disney princess, but she’s not a passive character— she’s in charge of her own destiny.”
Just like the woman who plays her.