Watson at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson
15 April 1990
Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson (born 15 April 1990) is an English actress, model and activist. Born in Paris and brought up in Oxfordshire, Watson attended the Dragon School and trained as an actress at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts. As a child, she rose to prominence with her first professional acting role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, having acted only in school plays previously.
Watson also appeared in the 2007 television adaptation of the novel Ballet Shoes and lent her voice to The Tale of Despereaux (2008). After the last Harry Potter film, she took on starring and supporting roles in My Week with Marilyn (2011), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) and The Bling Ring (2013), made an appearance as an exaggerated version of herself in This Is the End (2013), and portrayed the titular character's adopted daughter in Noah (2014). She went on to star as Belle in the musical romantic fantasy Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Meg March in the coming-of-age film Little Women (2019), the latter of which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Her other film roles include Regression (2015), Colonia (2015), and The Circle (2017).
From 2011 to 2014, Watson split her time between working on films and continuing her education, studying at Brown University and Worcester College, Oxford, and graduating from Brown with a bachelor's degree in English literature in May 2014. Her modelling work has included campaigns for Burberry and Lancôme. She also lent her name to a line of clothing for People Tree. She was honoured by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2014, winning British Artist of the Year. That same year, she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador and helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which encourages all genders to work towards gender equality.
Watson was born in Paris, France, the daughter of English lawyers Jacqueline Luesby and Chris Watson. Watson lived in Maisons-Laffitte near Paris until she was five. Her parents divorced when she was young, and Watson moved to England to live with her mother in Oxfordshire while spending weekends at her father's house in London. Watson has said she speaks some French, though "not as well" as she used to. After moving to Oxford with her mother and brother, she attended the Dragon School, remaining there until 2003. From age six, she wanted to become an actress, and trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts, a part-time theatre school where she studied singing, dancing, and acting.
By age 10, Watson had performed in Stagecoach productions and school plays including Arthur: The Young Years and The Happy Prince, but she had never acted professionally before the Harry Potter series. After the Dragon School, Watson moved on to Headington School, Oxford. While on film sets, she and her peers were tutored for up to five hours a day. In June 2006, she took GCSE school examinations in 10 subjects, achieving eight A* and two A grades. In May 2007, she took AS levels in English, Geography, Art, and History of Art. The next year, she dropped History of Art to pursue the three A levels, receiving an A grade in each subject.
Watson took a gap year after leaving high school, to film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows beginning in February 2009, but said she intended to continue her studies and later confirmed that she had chosen Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. In March 2011, after 18 months at the university, Watson announced that she was deferring her course for "a semester or two", though she attended Worcester College, Oxford during the 2011–12 academic year as part of the Visiting Student Programme.
Watson told Ellen DeGeneres just before graduation that it took five years to finish instead of four because, owing to her acting work, she "ended up taking two full semesters off". On 25 May 2014, she graduated from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in English literature. In 2013, she became certified to teach yoga and meditation. As part of this certification, she attended a week-long meditation course at a Canadian facility, in which residents are not allowed to speak, in order "to figure out how to be at home with myself". She told Elle Australia that an uncertain future meant finding "a way to always feel safe and at home within myself. Because I can never rely on a physical place."
In 1999, casting began for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States), the film adaptation of British author J. K. Rowling's best-selling novel. Casting agents found Watson through her Oxford theatre teacher, and producers were impressed by her confidence. After eight auditions, producer David Heyman told Watson and fellow applicants Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint that they had been cast for the roles of the school friends Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, respectively. Rowling supported Watson from her first screen test.
The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2001 was Watson's debut screen performance. The film broke records for opening-day sales and opening-weekend takings and was the highest-grossing film of 2001. Critics praised the performances of the three leads, often singling out Watson for particular acclaim; The Daily Telegraph called her performance "admirable", and IGN said she "stole the show". Watson was nominated for five awards for her performance in Philosopher's Stone, winning the Young Artist Award for Leading Young Actress.
A year later, Watson again starred as Hermione in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second instalment of the series. Reviewers praised the lead actors' performances. The Los Angeles Times said Watson and her peers had matured between films, while The Times criticised director Chris Columbus for "under-employing" Watson's hugely popular character. Watson received an Otto Award from the German magazine Bravo for her performance.
In 2004, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released. Watson was appreciative of the more assertive role Hermione played, calling her character "charismatic" and "a fantastic role to play". Although critics panned Radcliffe's performance, labelling him "wooden", they praised Watson; The New York Times lauded her performance, saying: "Luckily Mr. Radcliffe's blandness is offset by Ms. Watson's spiky impatience. Harry may show off his expanding wizardly skills ... but Hermione ... earns the loudest applause with a decidedly unmagical punch to Draco Malfoy's deserving nose." Although Prisoner of Azkaban proved to be the lowest-grossing Harry Potter film of the entire series, Watson's personal performance won her two Otto Awards and the Child Performance of the Year award from Total Film.
With Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), both Watson and the Harry Potter film series reached new milestones. The film set records for a Harry Potter opening weekend, a non-May opening weekend in the US, and an opening weekend in the UK. Critics praised the increasing maturity of Watson and her teenage co-stars; The New York Times called her performance "touchingly earnest". For Watson, much of the humour of the film sprang from the tension among the three lead characters as they matured. She said, "I loved all the arguing. ... I think it's much more realistic that they would argue and that there would be problems." Nominated for three awards for Goblet of Fire, Watson won a bronze Otto Award. Later that year, Watson became the youngest person to appear on the cover of Teen Vogue, an appearance she reprised in August 2009. In 2006, Watson played Hermione in The Queen's Handbag, a special mini-episode of Harry Potter in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday.
The fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was released in 2007. A huge financial success, the film set a record worldwide opening-weekend gross of $332.7 million. Watson won the inaugural National Movie Award for Best Female Performance. As the fame of the actress and the series continued, Watson and fellow Harry Potter co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint left imprints of their hands, feet and wands in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on 9 July 2007.
By July 2007, Watson's work in the Harry Potter series was said to have earned her more than £10 million, and she acknowledged she would never have to work for money again. In March 2009, she was ranked 6th on the Forbes list of "Most Valuable Young Stars", and in February 2010, she was named as Hollywood's highest paid female star, having earned an estimated £19 million in 2009.
Despite the success of Order of the Phoenix, the future of the Harry Potter franchise became surrounded in doubt, as all three lead actors were hesitant to sign on to continue their roles for the final two episodes. Radcliffe eventually signed for the final films on 2 March 2007, but Watson was considerably more hesitant. She explained that the decision was significant, as the films represented a further four-year commitment to the role, but eventually conceded that she "could never let [the role of] Hermione go", signing for the role on 23 March 2007.
Watson's first non-Potter role was the 2007 BBC film Ballet Shoes, an adaptation of the novel of the same title by Noel Streatfeild. The film's director, Sandra Goldbacher, commented that Watson was "perfect" for the starring role of aspiring actress Pauline Fossil: "She has a piercing, delicate aura that makes you want to gaze and gaze at her." Ballet Shoes was broadcast in the UK on Boxing Day 2007 to an audience of 5.7 million viewers, to mixed reviews.
Watson also lent her voice to the role of Princess Pea in the animated film The Tale of Despereaux, a children's comedy starring Matthew Broderick, with Harry Potter co-star Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid) also starring in the film. The Tale of Despereaux was released in December 2008 and grossed $87 million worldwide.
Principal photography for the sixth Harry Potter film began in late 2007, with Watson's part being filmed from 18 December to 17 May 2008. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince premiered on 15 July 2009, having been delayed from November 2008. With the lead actors now in their late teens, critics were increasingly willing to review them on the same level as the rest of the film's all-star cast, which the Los Angeles Times described as "a comprehensive guide to contemporary UK acting". The Washington Post felt Watson to have given "[her] most charming performance to date", while The Daily Telegraph described the lead actors as "newly liberated and energised, eager to give all they have to what's left of the series". In December 2008, Watson stated she wanted to go to university after she completed the Potter series.
Watson's filming for the final instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, began on 18 February 2009 and ended on 12 June 2010. For financial and scripting reasons, the original book was divided into two films which were shot consecutively. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was released in November 2010 while the second film was released in July 2011. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 became a commercial and critical success. The highest-grossing film in the franchise, it grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide and proved to be Watson's most commercially successful film yet.
She also appeared in a music video for One Night Only, after meeting lead singer George Craig at the 2010 Winter/Summer Burberry advertising campaign. The video, Say You Don't Want It, was screened on Channel 4 on 26 June 2010 and released on 16 August. In her first post-Harry Potter film, Watson appeared in 2011's My Week with Marilyn as Lucy, a wardrobe assistant who is flirted with by the main character, Colin Clark, and has a few dates with him.
In The Bling Ring (2013), Watson stars as Nicki. The film is based on the real-life Bling Ring robberies, with Watson playing a fictionalised version of Alexis Neiers, a television personality who was one of seven teenagers involved in the robberies. While the film mostly received mixed reviews, critics gave almost unanimous praise for Watson's portrayal. Watson also had a supporting role in the apocalyptic comedy This Is the End (2013), in which she, Seth Rogen, James Franco and many others played "exaggerated versions of themselves" and Watson memorably dropped the "f-bomb". She said she could not pass up the opportunity to make her first comedy and "work with some of the best comedians ... in the world right now".
In June 2012, Watson was confirmed for the role as Ila in Darren Aronofsky's Noah, which began filming the following month, and was released in March 2014. In March 2013, it was reported that Watson was in negotiations to star as the title character in a live-action Disney adaptation of Cinderella. Kenneth Branagh was attached to direct the adaptation, while Cate Blanchett had reportedly agreed to play the evil stepmother. Watson was offered the role, but turned it down because she did not connect with the character. The role ultimately went to Lily James.
In October 2013, Watson was chosen as the Woman of the Year by British GQ. That same month, she was one of two British actors to land atop a readers' poll of the sexiest movie stars of 2013, beating Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence for the actresses' title in an online poll of more than 50,000 film fans. Benedict Cumberbatch took the men's vote.
Watson joined Judi Dench, Robert Downey Jr., Mike Leigh, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Mark Ruffalo as recipients of the 2014 Britannia Awards, presented on 30 October in Los Angeles. Watson won for British Artist of the Year and dedicated her award to Millie, her pet hamster who died as Watson filmed Philosopher's Stone. Watson starred in two 2015 releases, the thriller films Colonia, opposite Daniel Brühl and Michael Nyqvist; and Regression by Alejandro Amenábar, alongside Ethan Hawke and her Harry Potter colleague David Thewlis. Both received generally negative reviews. She also appeared in an episode of The Vicar of Dibley, in which she played Reverend Iris. In February 2016, Watson announced she was taking a year-long break from acting. She planned to spend the time on her "personal development" and her women's rights work.
Watson played Belle in the 2017 live action Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast directed by Bill Condon, and starring opposite Dan Stevens as the Beast. The film earned over $1.2 billion at the box office and emerged as the second highest-grossing film of 2017, behind only Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the 14th highest-grossing film of all time. Her reported fee was $3 million upfront with profit participation bringing her total to $15 million. Later that year, she starred opposite Tom Hanks in the film adaptation of Dave Eggers's novel The Circle, playing Mae Holland, a young tech worker who takes a job at a powerful Internet corporation, only to find herself in a perilous situation concerning privacy, surveillance and freedom.
In 2019, Watson starred as Meg March (replacing Emma Stone, who dropped out of the film due to scheduling conflicts) in Greta Gerwig's Academy Award-nominated adaptation of Little Women, co-starring with Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep.
In 2005, Watson began her modelling career with a photo shoot for Teen Vogue and was the youngest person ever to appear on its cover. Three years later, the British press reported that Watson was to replace Keira Knightley as the face of the fashion house Chanel, but this was denied by both parties. In June 2009, following several months of rumours, Watson confirmed that she would be partnering with Burberry as the face of their Autumn/Winter 2009 campaign, for which she received an estimated six-figure fee. She also appeared in Burberry's 2010 Spring/Summer campaign alongside her brother Alex, musicians George Craig and Matt Gilmour, and model Max Hurd. In February 2011, Watson was awarded the Style Icon award from British Elle by Dame Vivienne Westwood. Watson continued her involvement in fashion advertising when she announced she had been chosen as the face of Lancôme in March 2011.
In September 2009, Watson announced her involvement with People Tree, a Fair trade fashion brand. Watson worked as a creative adviser for the company to create a spring line of clothing, which was released in February 2010; the range featured styles inspired by southern France and London. The collection, described by The Times as "very clever" despite their "quiet hope that [she] would become tangled at the first hemp-woven hurdle", was widely publicised in magazines such as Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and People. Watson, who was not paid for the collaboration, admitted that competition for the range was minimal, but argued that "Fashion is a great way to empower people and give them skills; rather than give cash to charity you can help people by buying the clothes they make and supporting things they take pride in"; adding, "I think young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian issues surrounding fast fashion and want to make good choices but there aren't many options out there." Watson continued her involvement with People Tree, resulting in the release of a 2010 Autumn/Winter collection.
Watson has promoted education for girls, visiting Bangladesh and Zambia to do so. In July 2014, she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador. In September that year, an admittedly nervous Watson delivered an address at UN Headquarters in New York City to launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate for gender equality. In that speech she said she began questioning gender-based assumptions at age eight when she was called "bossy" (a trait she has attributed to her being a "perfectionist") whilst boys were not, and at 14 when she was "sexualised by certain elements of the media". Watson's speech also called feminism "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities" and declared that the perception of "man-hating" is something that "has to stop". Watson later said she received threats within 12 hours of making the speech, which left her "raging. ... If they were trying to put me off [women's rights work], it did the opposite". In 2015, Malala Yousafzai told Watson she decided to call herself a feminist after hearing Watson's speech.
Also in September, Watson made her first country visit as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador to Uruguay where she gave a speech highlighting the need for women's political participation. In December, the Ms. Foundation for Women named Watson its Feminist Celebrity of 2014 following an online poll. Watson also gave a speech about gender equality in January 2015, at the World Economic Forum's annual winter meeting.
Watson took the top spot on the AskMen "Top 99 Outstanding Women 2015" list on the strength of having "thrown her back" into women's rights issues. The day after she turned 25, Watson placed number 26 on the TIME 100 list of the world's most influential people, her first-ever appearance on the list. For its recap, former New York Times editor Jill Abramson noted Watson's "gutsy, smart take on feminism" and called the effort to get men involved "refreshing".
In January 2016, Watson started a feminist Goodreads book club: Our Shared Shelf. The goal of the club is to share feminist ideas and encourage discussion on the topic. One book is selected per month and is discussed in the last week of that month. The first book to be selected was My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, whom Watson would later interview on 24 February at the How to: Academy in London.
Watson was criticised in March 2017 for a photograph published by Vanity Fair in which her breasts are partly visible; some in the news media accused Watson of hypocrisy. She was bemused by the backlash, arguing that feminism "is not a stick with which to beat other women" but is instead about freedom, liberation and equality, commenting "I really don't see what my tits have to do with it".
In July 2019, Watson helped to launch a legal advice line for people who have suffered sexual harassment at work. Legal advice is provided by Rights of Women, a charity which works to help women through the law.
Watson is single, which she described in 2019 with the self-coined phrase "self-partnered". While working on the film Noah, Watson was questioned about her faith, and she described herself as a spiritual Universalist.
|2001||Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone||Hermione Granger||Also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone|
|2002||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||Hermione Granger|
|2004||Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban||Hermione Granger|
|2005||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||Hermione Granger|
|2007||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||Hermione Granger|
|2008||The Tale of Despereaux||Princess Pea||Voice|
|2009||Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||Hermione Granger|
|2010||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1||Hermione Granger|
|2011||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2||Hermione Granger|
|2011||My Week with Marilyn||Lucy|
|2012||The Perks of Being a Wallflower||Sam|
|2013||The Bling Ring||Nicki Moore|
|2013||This Is the End||Herself|
|2017||Beauty and the Beast||Belle|
|2017||The Circle||Mae Holland|
|2019||Little Women||Margaret "Meg" March|
|2007||Ballet Shoes||Pauline Fossil||Television film|
|2015||The Vicar of Dibley||Reverend Iris||Episode: "The Bishop of Dibley"|
|2010||"Say You Don't Want It"||Lady||One Night Only|
|2002||Saturn Award||Best Young Actor||Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone||Nominated|||
|Empire Awards||Best Debut (shared with Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint)||Nominated|||
|Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress||Won|||
|Best Ensemble in a Feature Film (shared with Rupert Grint and Tom Felton)||Nominated|
|2005||Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Young Actress||Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban||Nominated|||
|2006||Best Young Actress||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||Nominated|
|Australian Kids' Choice Awards||Favourite Female Movie Star||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best On-Screen Team||Nominated|||
|2007||National Movie Awards||Best Performance by a Female||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||Won|||
|2008||Empire Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|||
|2010||People's Choice Awards||Favorite On-Screen Team||Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actress: Fantasy||Nominated|||
|2011||Capri Art Film Festival Awards||Best Ensemble Cast Award||My Week with Marilyn||Won|||
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actress||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Star (Under 25)||Nominated|||
|Empire Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|||
|National Movie Awards||Performance of the Year||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance||Nominated|||
|Best Kiss (shared with Daniel Radcliffe)||Nominated|
|Best Fight (shared with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Arben Bajraktaraj and Rod Hunt)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Actress Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Won|||
|Choice Movie: Liplock (shared with Daniel Radcliffe)||Won|
|Choice Summer Movie: Female||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2||Won|
|2012||Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actress||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast||Won|||
|Favorite Movie Star (Under 25)||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance||Nominated|||
|Best Kiss (shared with Rupert Grint)||Nominated|
|Best Cast (shared with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Tom Felton)||Won|
|Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival||Capri Ensemble Cast Award||My Week with Marilyn||Won|||
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||Best Supporting Actress||The Perks of Being a Wallflower||Won|||
|Best Ensemble Performance||Won|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Supporting Actress||Runner-up|||
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|||
|2013||People's Choice Awards||Favourite Drama Movie Actress||Won|||
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Female Performance||Nominated|||
|Best Kiss (shared with Logan Lerman)||Nominated|
|Best Musical Moment (shared with Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller)||Nominated|
|MTV Trailblazer Award||Won|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actress: Drama||Won|||
|Choice Movie: Liplock (shared with Logan Lerman)||Nominated|
|Choice Style Icon||N/A||Nominated|
|2014||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Comedic Movie Actress||This Is the End||Nominated|||
|American Comedy Awards||Comedy Supporting Actress – Film||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actress: Drama||Noah||Nominated|||
|Britannia Awards||British Artist of the Year||N/A||Won|||
|British Fashion Awards||Best British Style||N/A||Won|||
|2016||Women Film Critics Circle Awards||Acting and Activism Award||N/A||Won|||
|Best Female Action Hero||Colonia||Nominated|
|2017||Jupiter Awards||Best International Actress||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Performance in a Movie||Beauty and the Beast||Won|||
|Best Kiss (shared with Dan Stevens)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Fantasy Movie Actress||Won|||
|Choice Movie Ship (shared with Dan Stevens)||Won|
|Choice Liplock (shared with Dan Stevens)||Won|
|Choice Drama Movie Actress||The Circle||Won|
|2018||Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Actress||Nominated|||
|Empire Awards||Best Actress||Beauty and the Beast||Nominated|||
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actress||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Style Star of 2018||N/A||Nominated|||
|2019||Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||Little Women||Nominated|||
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Ensemble Cast||Won|||
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Ensemble||Won|||
|Seattle Film Critics Society||Best Ensemble||Nominated|||
|Chicago Indie Critic Awards||Best Ensemble||Nominated|||
|2020||Austin Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||Nominated|||
|AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards||Best Ensemble||Nominated|||
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Acting Ensemble||Nominated|||
|Georgia Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||Won|||
When they saw that the minute I stepped up and talked about women's rights I was immediately threatened. I mean within less than 12 hours I was receiving threats. ... It's funny, people were like, 'Oh she's going to be so disheartened by this.' ... I was just raging. It made me so angry that I was just like, 'This is why I have to be doing this. If they were trying to put me off, it did the opposite'.
Gossip columnists immediately bemoaned the actress' self-coined phrase, while supporters on Twitter leapt to her defense.
I already, before I did [Noah], had a sense that I was someone that was more spiritual, than specifically religious. I had a sense that I believed in a higher power, but that I was more of a Universalist, I see that there are these unifying tenets between so many religions.