The Real Reason Emma Watson Took A Two-Year Break From Movies

Emma Watson has been in the public eye since she was 11 years old, playing the brainy yet strong Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. Her name became synonymous with that of the muggle-born witch — a fact she even attested to during an interview with The Telegraph back in 2007. "Yes, it is, isn't it?" she mused. "Sometimes even I get muddled which one I am, because I know Hermione so very well." Nevertheless, the actress knows that the series changed her life. "I just tell myself I won the lottery, really."

Although she started off as a child star, Watson has miraculously remained in the spotlight with a level head, pursuing education and involving herself in philanthropic causes. During an interview with Jonathan Ross, the starlet even revealed that, while she was a part of the grueling filming of the franchise, she still managed to receive top marks on her A-levels! Watson was then, remarkably, accepted both at Oxford and Brown Universities, after she threatened not to renew her Harry Potter contract for the last two films until they accommodated her schooling desires.

So, why exactly did Emma Watson decide to take a two-year break from filming flicks? And what has she been up to during all this time? A whole lot, actually. As David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter movies told Vogue, "My only concern for her is that she puts too many demands on herself... she is relentless in what she does." Read on and find out!

She's put her focus on feminism and gender equality

Ever since she got her big break starring as Hermione in the Harry Potter series, Emma Watson has been holding a torch for female empowerment. With countless articles published calling the character a "feminist symbol," it's easy to see how the fictional witch could have influenced Watson.

In an interview with Paper in 2016, the starlet revealed she planned to hold off on acting so she could focus on feminism. "I'm taking a year away from acting to focus on two things, really. My own personal development is one," she explained to bell hooks, a feminist icon. "I almost thought about going and doing a year of gender studies, then I realized... that I was learning so much on my own. I actually wanted to keep on the path that I'm on."

It's not the first time Watson has talked about feminism, either. According to Entertainment Weekly, in 2014, the speech she delivered for her campaign, HeForShe after she was appointed UN's Women Goodwill Ambassador, was met to viral success. Urging men to contribute towards a fight for equality, the actress explained, "Gender equality is your issue, too. If men don't have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won't feel compelled to be submissive. If men don't have to control, women won't have to be controlled." 

She's been sexually harassed as an actress

Emma Watson revealed some pretty gross stuff about her time as a teenage actress that began when she became of age. Answering questions during a conference in New York City for the launch of the Inaugural HeForShe Arts Week, Watson revealed, "I remember on my 18th birthday I came out of my 18th birthday party and photographers laid down on the pavement and took photographs up my skirt, which were then published on the front of the English tabloids the next morning." 

Disturbingly, she went on, "If they had published the photographs 24 hours earlier they would have been illegal, but because I had just turned 18 they were legal. I think that's just one example of how my transition to womanhood was dealt very differently by the tabloid press than it was for my male colleagues." If you think those paps were crossing a line, get a load of this: while giving a UN speech on gender equality during a special event for her HeForShe campaign, the Harry Potter alum noted that she was "sexualized by certain elements of the press" at the startling age of 14!

Although it's enough to turn away any young actress from the limelight for a few years, it's never been confirmed if this is genuinely the reason The Perks of Being a Wallflower star decided to shy away from making flicks. Nonetheless, we absolutely couldn't hold it against her.

Perhaps she's holding off until she finds interesting roles

Emma Watson could very well be holding off taking on movie roles until she finds something that truly speaks to her. The starlet shone a light on an insightful Hollywood fact during her chat with actress Geena Davis for Interview Magazine. Explaining that she was reading the Thelma and Louise star's research on gender equality, Watson noted that she realized certain "things like 21 percent of filmmakers are women, [and] only 31 percent of speaking roles in popular films are female." Then, Watson applied it to her time on set of the ever-popular wizard franchise. "When I did Harry Potter, the ratio was... one-third female, two-thirds male." Perhaps it's good to be picky, then?

When the actress does land prominent roles, she ensures that they're as multifaceted as possible. Starring as Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, it was actually Watson who developed her character and made her more "meaningful." As revealed in an interview with W Magazine, Watson explained that Belle is "not a passive character — she's in charge of her own destiny," noting that being in charge meant changing her appearance, too. "The original sketches had her in her ballet shoes, which are lovely... but she's not going to be able to do anything terribly useful in ballet shoes in the middle of a French provincial village." The girl's got a point.

She's afraid of the public

With the Harry Potter books being as popular they were even before the flicks were made, Emma Watson, along with her castmates, shot to superstardom almost immediately after the first movie came out.

Being in the public eye can definitely be draining, especially if you're a preteen, but Watson at least had the support of her costars, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. As Radcliffe adorably told Vogue about their brother-sister-type relationship, "Particularly funny were the moments when we would help each other compose texts to the most recent flames in either of our lives. ...It was certainly a case of the blind leading the blind." Aww! 

Nonetheless, as the starlet grew up, she's set some boundaries. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Watson explained that she denies her fans selfies with her. "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." She then goes on to explain that the Pottermania can sometimes be, well, a bit much. "I have met fans that have my face tattooed on their body. ...I don't know how to explain it, but the Harry Potter phenomenon steps into a different zone. It crosses into obsession." Considering her fans can get to be slightly intense, it's no wonder Watson goes through extreme measures to keep her whereabouts hidden.

Her teacher told her to quit acting

While her costar Daniel Radcliffe turned to a brief drinking bender followed by a stint on Broadway, Emma Watson had her own way of coping after the filming of the Harry Potter series came to an end. Unfortunately, the starlet's mechanism included a lot more self-doubt — especially when others didn't believe in her, either. 

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Watson explained that she was too busy "intellectualizing" the roles she was given, unsure of whether or not she wanted to continue with acting. "I kind of bought into the hype of, 'Will they ever be able to play anything else?'" She went on, "And then a professor told me that they didn't think I should act, either. So I was really grappling with it and wasn't feeling good about it." David Yates, the director of the last four Harry Potter films, would disagree. "She is an incredibly intuitive and instinctive actor," he declared to Vogue. "She can dig deep to find an emotion and bring it to the scene."

Considering this all happened around the time she transitioned from a teenager to an adult, it's understandable that it took Watson a few years to truly understand what she wanted to do with her life. As she noted to Entertainment Weekly, "That's exactly what it was. I wanted to make a conscious adult decision that this was what I wanted to pursue."

She simply doesn't have to

The amount of money Emma Watson and her two main Harry Potter castmates made from the franchise is totally obscene. According to an article GQ published in 2012, Daniel Radcliffe had more cash than Prince William himself. What about Rupert Grint? As the actor told The Radio Times (via Sky News) in 2018 that he "actually [doesn't] know how much [he has]," noting that he "couldn't even really guess." Uh, what?

As for Emma Watson? She's rich. Like, really rich. While she was earning a pretty penny from the Harry Potter franchise, the actress revealed in an interview with British Vogue (via People) that she was unaware of her own wealth until she had a "money conversation" with her dad at 17 years old. Up until that point, she had been receiving $75 per week in allowance.

According to The Sunday Times Young Rich List (which is a ranking of the UK's 1,000 richest people under 30), as of 2019, Watson is worth a whopping £52 million! Definitely being in the wizarding franchise helps, but as it turns out, her role in Beauty and the Beast also raked in the big bucks. As the mag continued to dish, the actress ended up getting a £17 million from the Disney flick because "her agent successfully negotiated a cut of the box office fees." 

Basically, when it comes to taking any sort of break from movies (or working altogether), Emma Watson can certainly afford it.

A lot of fans turned on her

It's hard to show enthusiasm for your craft if your fanbase is slowly turning on you, right? As is the case with any civil rights movement, those involved will be hit with some unfortunate controversy.

In 2014, Emma Watson became a Women Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, serving as an advocate for the HeForShe campaign. She quickly stepped up to the plate, involving herself in speeches and posting to her social media pages, educating her fans on gender equality. By the time her movie, Beauty and the Beast came out in 2017, the young actress already had a few years under her belt speaking out as a feminist. That same year, Vanity Fair published a cover story piece on the star, speaking to her about the Disney flick and discussing her time working with the UN. According to the Telegraph, after the article came out, she was met with an abundance of backlash from critics. Why? Because the cover of the magazine showed the actress posing "in a white crocheted jacket with no top or bra underneath."

With the public seeing the cover as "hypocritical" for that of a feminist, Watson lashed out to BBC (via Telegraph), "Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women. It's about freedom, it's about liberation, it's about equality. I really don't know what my t**s have to do with it." Well said.

She's been busy promoting eco-friendly fashion

If Emma Watson believes in a cause, she'll put her heart and soul into supporting it fully. This rings true with her feminist fights, but also with her love for eco-friendly and sustainable fashion. As Livia Firth, the founder of Eco-Age, a sustainable-fashion consulting firm, told Vogue, "Emma has an incredible sense of integrity. You can't marry activism and then do something in your life that is not in agreement." 

What exactly does she mean by that, you ask? Try Watson's Beauty and the Beast press tour, for example. Per Vogue, the UK-raised star "created a PowerPoint presentation that her stylist sent fashion designers. It included a questionnaire about how their garments are produced, what their impact is on the environment, and the moral reason why she should wear one on the red carpet." A bit Hermione-esque, no?

The actress even went so far as to launch her own line with ethical fashion label, People Tree. As she told The Guardian, "I think young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian and environmental issues surrounding fast fashion and want to make good choices but there aren't many options out there." Besides all that, you can regularly see Watson advertising and sporting various sustainable brands on her Instagram page, such as ZADY, whom she approached to design bespoke pieces for herself based on her own personal style.

Her break is finally over!

The year 2019 finally sees Emma Watson's return to the big screen, and this time, she's merging her love for film with her feminist passions. 

Starring in Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women as Meg March alongside Saoirse Ronan, who plays her sister Jo March, the flick is a perfect option for Watson. In an epic scene, Ronan portrays feminist writer Jo March declaring in the trailer: "Women, they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts and they've got ambition and they've got talent as well as just beauty... I'm so sick of people saying love is all a woman is fit for. I'm so sick of it." Clearly the movie touches on important timeless subjects that Watson believes in.

Of course, Watson's return to the silver screen was met with some naysayers, too. According to the Mirror, although her co-stars Ronan and Timothee Chalamet were met with praise, Watson was, instead, being criticized for her American accent, which they deemed sub-par. According to the mag, viewers took to Twitter to express their displeasure, such as one user writing, "Why is Emma Watson the only British actor who can't even do the most basic American accent lol cringe at her in this new Little Women. I can only imagine what her marble mouth will do." Marble mouth? Even we have to admit, that one is a bit harsh. 

She doesn't think she's a good actress

Perhaps the reason it took Emma Watson so long to return to acting is due to a little bit of self-doubt. Considering she grew up in front of the camera with one role only, she sometimes wondered if her acting was one-dimensional.

These bouts of hesitation lasted throughout the years, even when she was a student at Brown University. Opening up to Vanity Fair, the actress admitted that, along with taking European women's history, she also enrolled in acting. "I think actually I'm the worst person in the class," she shockingly revealed.

Years later, after the release of 2017's Beauty and the Beast, Watson would talk to Vanity Fair again, this time around with a surprisingly similar confession. "I've been doing this since I was 10 or 11, and I've often thought, I'm so wrong for this job because I'm too serious. I'm a pain in the ass; I'm difficult; I don't fit," she explained. "But as I've got older, I've realized, No! Taking on those battles, the smaller ones and the bigger ones is who I am." Although she may have taken a break to do a bit of self-searching, the Harry Potter alum is back, with the same enthusiasm as her witchy former self.