23 years old Emma Watson, is the star of ‘The Bling Ring’, Sofia Coppola’s wonderful new film, about a group of teenagers who take part in a string of celebrity burglaries, inspired by real events. She looks all grown up and sultry for W Magazine’s interview by Lynn Hirschberg. The amazing photos are by photographs are by Michael Thompson, styled by Edward Enninful.When Emma Watson was cast in the Harry Potter films as Hermione Granger, the serious, smart role model to countless young girls, the actress, who was only 9 years old, set a nearly impossible course for herself. To grow up in public is brutal on many levels, but Watson, 23, has managed to escape both the bad behavior and the career paralysis that afflict so many child stars.
Her biggest act of defiance seems to be her recent move to the United States and she has chosen, post-Hermione, to play two different American girls: Sam, the charismatic object of desire in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in 2012, and Nicki, an aspiring actress and part-time thief in Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, out this month.
Interestingly, The Bling Ring, which is based on a true story about a group of teenagers who broke into the homes of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, could be read as the chronicle of Watson’s road not taken. The break-ins were not particularly malicious but, rather, a chance for the gang to live in the aura of stardom by stealing some glitzy baubles and designer duds. Alexis Neiers, the real-life Nicki, has even had her own reality show.
“I was dying to play her,” Watson confessed. “Nicki is so different from me. How do I try and understand a young woman who loves these things so much that she is prepared to commit crimes to have them?”What is the first movie you remember seeing?
Pretty Woman. I was 7, which was way, way too young. That was when I started loving Julia Roberts and American movies. As a child, I loved being onstage. I loved singing, I loved the lights, I loved the adrenaline. I even loved learning lines. I was completely obsessive. A friend of my mother’s found a tape of me auditioning for Hermione. I wanted to get really, really good at my lines. There was reel after reel, take after take, of me doing the same thing over and over again.When did you realize you were famous?
I lived in denial for as long as I possibly could. Until the age of 18, I would take the Oxford Tube, which is a public bus. Then it got to the point where the fact that I was on the bus would spread from one end to the other. I’d think, Why am I doing this to myself? Ignoring fame was my rebellion, in a funny way. I was insistent on being normal and doing normal things. It probably wasn’t advisable to go to college in America and room with a complete stranger. And it probably wasn’t wise to share a bathroom with eight other people in a coed dorm. Looking back, that was crazy.
Did you ever feel the pressure of having to be a shining example to young girls worldwide?
I was always a very serious child. I remember being 13 and girls in my class saying, “So-and-so is going to kiss so-and-so on the school fields.” I said, “That’s stupid. They’re too young for it to matter—he doesn’t love her, and that’s just a waste of time.” It’s amazing that I had any friends! [Laughs] So I was the right child to get cast: I loved the responsibility.
Did you have your first kiss on camera?
Thankfully, no. I’ve always been fascinated by Elizabeth Taylor, and I had read that her first kiss happened on a film set, which actually made me a little sad. You need to have normal experiences of your own. I’ve never wanted to grow up too fast: I wanted to wear a sports bra until I was 22! The allure of being sexy never really held any excitement for me. I’ve never been in a terrible rush to be seen as a woman.
And yet, in The Bling Ring, you are a little bit of a bad girl…
With Nicki, I was really taking on a character. Some of her lines are so crazy and absurd—making sure she wasn’t a parody was a challenge.
By Lynn Hirschberg / wmagazine.com
Photos by Michael Thompson
Styled by Edward Enninful