Emma Watson is Elle UK’s 2017 Woman of the Year and will cover the March issue of the magazine. Emma talks about being cast as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, activism and her book club.
Belle, the perfect role. ‘For me, Beauty was the perfect, most joyful thing to do… There was something connected about Hermione and Belle, and it was good to be reminded that I am an actress; this is what I do. The film is pure escapism.’
Why she took a year off from acting to concentrate on activism. ‘It wasn’t about me necessarily proving anything… I was just thinking that I have this year to myself, so let’s see what we can do to ‘move the needle’ and make a difference.’
How does she handle critics? ‘It really toughened me up…There is a level of criticism that comes with being an actress and a public figure, which I expect, but once you take a stance on something like feminism, that’s a completely different ball game.’
She set up her book club, Our Shared Shelf, to focus on feminist issues. Will she write her own book? ‘I need to see and do a bit more first… I’m no expert, and when people push me into a corner of “here’s Emma Watson to lecture you on feminism”, it’s uncomfortable because I am aware I have a long way to go. I am not sure I deserve all the respect I get yet, but I’m working on it.’
Emma will be awarded Woman of the Year at the Elle Style Awards, 13 February, and the March issue of Elle is on sale the 14th.