The Transformation Of Emma Watson From 9 To 30 Years Old

There is often a distinct turning point in the lives of celebrities, a moment in which they realize life will never be the same. For Emma Watson, it was being cast in the role of Hermione Granger in the first Harry Potter movie. She was plucked from obscurity as a nine-year-old girl with no acting experience and thrust into the spotlight. While some child stars go astray on the path of fame and fortune, Watson did it with grace — remaining as grounded and sharp as the character she portrays in the Harry Potter films.

Watson's style evolution through the years has revealed one thing for certain: she loves fashion! Perhaps her early formative years in Paris contributed to the fashion sense that has made Watson a style icon? Thankfully, the Watson family moved her to Oxfordshire, England from Paris when she was five. Otherwise, the world might have been delivered a different Hermione Granger, and that would have been a travesty of epic proportions. 

Watson's coming-of-age story is one of a serious, scholarly girl becoming a serious, scholarly woman who uses her fame for the greater good. Let's look at her transformation from the tender age of nine to the fabulous age of thirty!

Emma Watson was just nine when she joined Hogwarts history

Emma Watson started winning early in life — at age seven — when she won the Daisy Pratt poetry competition for a recital of James Reeves' The Sea. That was the extent of her pre-Potter dramatic experience. Two years later, in 1999, came the opportunity of a lifetime: an audition for the role of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (a.k.a. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the U.K.), the highly-anticipated first film from the wildly-popular middle-grade Harry Potter book series written by J.K. Rowling

Watson was cast alongside Daniel Radcliffe, who had a couple acting credits prior to being cast as the title character, and Rupert Grint, a fellow newcomer who had only performed in school plays prior to winning the role of Ron Weasley.

Watson said Sorcerer's Stone director Chris Columbus was immensely understanding of the children's nervousness on set, telling Paste in 2009, "What I found so very helpful (and considerate) was that Chris Columbus ... just turned the sound off on the set, and we dubbed our lines in later. That way, he could give us direct instructions on what to do, and where the special effects were to come in." She continued, "Now that added a lot to his schedule, but it was so generous of him. Consequently, he got relaxed performances."

The world officially met Emma Watson in 2001

At the very first Harry Potter movie premiere, Emma Watson looked like an excited girl on the verge of blossoming, both personally and professionally. Warner Bros. had publicly announced the stars of the highly-anticipated film in August 2000, and it opened in November 2001. Poised to be megastars if the movie was a success, Watson and her fresh-faced male costars were not only launched into the public eye as actors, they also had the extra pressure of portraying well-known, well-loved literary characters. 

Producer David Heyman said when the cast was announced, "These are tremendously talented British kids who will bring so much to the film. We have always been and continue to be devoted to remaining true and faithful to the book."

It seems the film indeed lived up to the expectations of fans of the much-beloved characters in the book series, because Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was the highest-grossing film in the U.S. in 2001, per Box Office Mojo. Watson received glowing reviews, with one IGN critic raving, "From Hermione Granger's perfect introduction to her final scene, Watson is better than I could've possibly imagined. She steals the show."

Emma Watson went for some edgier looks in her early teens

A year after the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the third-highest grossing film in the U.S. in 2002, Emma Watson walked the red carpet with Tom Felton, who plays Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, at the 2003 Disney Channel Kids Awards in London — where the second Harry Potter flick won the award for best DVD.

She was 13 and showing some midriff. Low-rise jeans were a major trend in the early 2000s, and Watson was working that trend. She hadn't become a style icon yet, but this look showed that she was already comfortable being a bit daring. Not to mention, hindsight is 20/20, and Marie Claire predicted low-rise jeans would be making a comeback in 2020! (However, the pandemic probably thwarted that ... which isn't necessarily a bad thing.)

Meanwhile, Watson and Felton would soon be hard at work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was released in 2004 and was the fourth-highest grossing film in the U.S. that year.

A teenage Emma Watson walked the red carpet with attitude

By 2004, it was clear that Emma Watson was stepping into her own. Joining Daniel Radcliffe at the U.K. Premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that May, a then-14-year-old Watson looked teenage-tastic with her funky, adorned updo. And that impish grin made it immensely clear the girl had personality — and that she was comfortable on a red carpet!

The following year, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire premiered, followed by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007. Watson also had a major career milestone: a leading role outside of the Harry Potter series, starring in the BBC movie Ballet Shoes as Pauline Fossil. In 2008, she branched out further into voicing animated characters with the role of Princess Pea in The Tale of Despereaux.

Perhaps as precocious as her most famous onscreen counterpart, Watson developed a sense of style early. With cover shots on Teen Vogue in 2005 and Tatler magazine in 2007, she graced what would be the first two of countless career magazine covers.

Emma Watson seamlessly transitioned from teen starlet to glam grown-up

Emma Watson temporarily traded the red carpet for the catwalk when Christopher Baily chose her as the face of Burberry (via People) for its Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 collections. Here she is, at age 19, looking sophisticated with a wispy updo and mile-high heels, arriving at the Burberry Prorsum show in London in September 2009. She was seamlessly transitioning from teenage starlet to grown-a** woman.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released that same year, and Watson said filming it was frenetic. She told the Brazilian blog, Vira-Tempo (via Oxford Royale Academy), "My life was crazy. One minute I was on set, and the next minute I was doing an exam, or reading a textbook, or doing something, so I was a bit all over the place." It seemed to have all worked out, as Watson enrolled at Brown University in the fall of 2009.

If that wasn't enough, both Deathly Hallows films, the final two movies in the Harry Potter series, began shooting in 2009. But Watson had an escape plan for when she was feeling stressed. She told Paste (via Entertainment Weekly), "It sounds so geeky, but I really do like studying and reading, and if I'm not working on Harry Potter, then my greatest relaxation is to sit with a book. That's how I escape stress — in literature ... I think that all that reading is just about the only similarity I have with Hermione, if you ask me."

Emma Watson went pixie perfect after her Harry Potter run

Emma Watson turned 20 and cut off her gorgeous locks for an even more beautiful (and refined) pixie! Her clothing was more tailored here, and she exuded sophistication. Basically, growing up looked great on her! And Watson told Vanity Fair that this pixie cut was "the sexiest I've ever felt."

We know Watson loves fashion, but it doesn't stop there — she cares about ethical fashion. As The Guardian reported, Watson began working as a Creative Advisor for People Tree, an organization supporting fair trade and organic fashion. The first collection from that collaboration was released in early 2010.

Also in 2010, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 scored a franchise record with its $24 million midnight opening in November. With the release of the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, scheduled for release in 2011, Watson realized she simply had too much on her plate. She posted on her blog, in part, "I've had so much to juggle that being a student AND fulfilling my other commitments has become a little impossible. I've decided to take a bit of time off to completely finish my work on Harry Potter ... I will still be working towards my degree ... it's just going to take me a semester or two longer than I thought."

Emma Watson: a wallflower she is not

And, just like that, the Harry Potter film series was over. With no more Potter on the horizon, Emma Watson was now able to make her own career decisions. This ballgown-meets-cigarette-pants Dior look might not have been one of her best choices, but it was couture, and she wore it with confidence to a special screening of what was a great choice: playing a starring role in the 2012 coming-of-age film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

In 2013, Watson played Nicki in The Bling Ring, a movie about a real-life ring of thieves who stole jewelry and other valuables from Hollywood celebrities' homes. The same year, she appeared in the comedy, This Is the End, with an all-star cast including James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogen. On choosing to take on a comedic role, Watson told Movieline, "How could I miss out on the chance to work with some of the best comedians that there are basically in the world right now?"

Watson might have moved on from Harry Potter, but she realized the world likely never will. She previously told The Sydney Morning Herald, "I feel it will never be over ... the books will always be loved and the films will come on every Christmas, and it'll keep living on in kids' imaginations and adults' imaginations for many years to come."

Emma Watson spread good will in her post-Potter career

Now an Ivy-League grad with a degree in English from Brown University, and a sleek, sophisticated look to match, Emma Watson has clearly maintained her brainiac connection to Hermione Granger. She decided to dedicate that intelligence, work ethic, and passion into furthering the greater good. Watson was named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, and she helped kick off the U.N.'s "HeForShe" program to inspire men to join the fight for women's rights.

Here, she's pictured at the HeForShe VIP afterparty. U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told Vanity Fair on Watson's selection for this role, "We needed a new messenger to break new ground for us. We didn't want to just speak to the converted." Watson's speech was featured on fashion blogs and news sites around the world, causing, as Vanity Fair reports, "Men like Hugh Jackman, Jared Leto, Harry Styles, Russell Crowe, and Eddie Redmayne [to align] themselves with HeForShe."

Watson also played Ila in Noah (as in Noah's Ark) with Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins, which was released in 2014. And she starred in two thrillers released in 2015, Regression and Colonia. Oh, yeah: also in 2015, the day after she turned 25, Watson appeared on Time's list of 100 Most Influential People. Slacker.

Emma Watson won the Met Gala with her eco-friendly fashion

Now, THIS gown-and-pants ensemble was a WIN! Behold Emma Watson at the May 2016 "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, donning an environmentally-friendly Calvin Klein and Eco Age gown made almost entirely of recycled plastic bottles. 

Watson wrote about the gown in a Facebook post, "I am proud to say it is truly sustainable and represents a connection between myself and all the people in the supply chain who played a role in creating it. The body of the gown is crafted from three different fabrics, all woven from yarns made from recycled plastic bottles (!). Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet. Being able to repurpose this waste and incorporate it into my gown for the #MetGala proves the power that creativity, technology and fashion can have by working together." 

She added, "Each and every part of this beautiful gown has been produced with sustainability in mind, even the components that you can't see ... It is my intention to repurpose elements of the gown for future use ... Truly beautiful things should be worn again and again and again."

Emma Watson proved she's always an environmentally-conscious beauty

At the Paris photocall for The Circle, a 27-year-old Emma Watson knocked it out of the park again with a stunning combination of casual and fabulous clothing that just ... works. Between her love for sustainable fashion and her innate fashion sense, Watson rarely swings and misses anymore. Watson also appeared on the cover of the March 2017 issue of Elle, and the goal of the cover shoot was to showcase fashion brands that reduce their impact on people and the planet. Every brand featured addressed the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry and were either vintage or new, sustainable clothing assessed using Eco-Age's GCC principles for Sustainable Excellence.

In addition to her lead role in The Circle that same year, she also starred in Beauty and the Beast, a performance for which she was nominated for several awards, including winning the MTV Movie and TV Award for best actress!

Meanwhile, Watson was making an effort to keep her private life private, which is challenging as a public figure. But on occasion, she opened up about her feelings. She told British Vogue in March 2017 that she realized after a breakup that she felt uncomfortable being single, saying, "I went on a silent retreat, because I really wanted to figure out how to be at home with myself."

Emma Watson wore black in solidarity with Time's Up

Emma Watson was one of the many women who wore black to the 75th Annual Golden Globes in 2018 in solidarity with the Time's Up movement. Many of the women attending also brought activists as their dates in an effort to highlight the work being done for gender and racial equality. Watson was accompanied by U.K. activist Marai Larasi, founder of Imkaan, an organization dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls of color. 

After revealing she has experienced her share of sexual harassment in the film industry, Watson told Variety on the red carpet, "What is amazing is that my experiences are not unique, the experiences of my friends are not unique, the experiences of my colleagues are not unique. This issue is so systemic, structural." Watson added to E! at the time, "There's something about in women in Hollywood speaking out. There is a wall of silence around violence against women and girls and every time somebody speaks out, it just creates a bit of a crack in that wall."

Keep on keeping on, ladies!

Emma Watson is a little woman in stature alone

A long-loved coming-of-age tale, Little Women is a rare portrait of a group of young women navigating life's joys and foils. Emma Watson is pictured here with several other members of the ensemble cast at the premiere of Little Women, the 2019 film adaptation of the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Never one to be pigeon-holed by fashion, this flowing, unstructured black gown with a fluffy décolletage gave Watson an ethereal-but-edgy vibe. 

On her bond with some of the other actresses, Watson told British Vogue: "What was really nice about working with Laura Dern and Meryl Streep was that the three of us knew each other way before we did Little Women. We met in activist spaces, so we had this allyship and solidarity as activists that had been part of a certain movement before we ever worked together."

Watson also had some personal growth along with her professional advancement: she was no longer uncomfortable being alone! Admitting she had anxiety about the societal expectations surrounding age milestones like turning 30, Watson told the outlet, "I never believed the whole 'I'm happy single' spiel. I was like, 'This is totally spiel.' It took me a long time, but I'm very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered."

Emma Watson is officially 'the queen of ethical dressing'

Here's a photo of Emma Watson looking sharp and walking with a group of fellow members of the Advisory Committee for Equality Between Women and Men at the 2019 G7 Summit in Paris. Talk about style and substance. While the 2020 pandemic provided cause for a lack of public appearances (and, therefore, photos), that didn't stop Vogue from naming Watson "The Queen of Ethical Dressing" in a retrospective pictorial the magazine posted in honor of her 30th birthday in April 2020. It also didn't stop Watson from doing her part to make the world a better place.

That June, British Vogue reported that Watson had joined the Board of Kering, a conglomerate of luxury fashion brands. She was also busy promoting a fashion app, Good On You, that rates fashion brands based on their ethics and sustainability. Watson said, "There's a bigger story to be told about the conditions in which our clothes are made, the resources that have been used and the impact they've had on communities."

One thing is clear: while perhaps an introvert at heart, Watson is most definitely a team player — and we love her for it. Hermione would approve.