10 Reasons Why Emma Watson's Career Flourished After Harry Potter

Orlando Parfitt
UK Movies Editor

Hollywood history is littered with young actors – think Culkin, Barrymore or Lohan - who couldn’t adjust to grown up stardom. Then there’s the likes of ‘Star Wars’ lead Mark Hamill, or ‘Lord of the Rings’ star Elijah Wood, who never escaped the shadow of the iconic role that made them famous.

Emma Watson is a rare actor who had both hurdles to jump thanks to playing Hermione Granger eight times in the ‘Harry Potter’ series - and yet four years after the franchise finished she’s emerged as not only a credible actor in her right, but a seemingly normal human being as well. How has she done it?

1. She’s picky with her projects

Watson has appeared in just five films since the final ‘Deathly Hallows’ in 2011 - ‘My Week with Marilyn’, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, ‘The Bling Ring’, a cameo in ‘This is the End’, and ‘Noah’. 

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This in-demand actress doesn’t star in any old film for a bit of extra cash, she picks projects that work for her.

2. She can spot a winner

When she does sign on for a film though, it will generally get great reviews. We noticed that all of her post-Potter projects have been ‘certified fresh’ on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes – which means that at least 60 per cent of reviews for each were positive.

3. She’s played against type

Proving to critics that she can act outside of Hogwarts has been a crucial part of Watson’s success. She’s played a variety of characters who are nothing like Hermione Grainger – from the outgoing but emotionally damaged Sam in ‘Perks’, to shallow, image-obsessed Nicki in ‘The Bling Ring’. Like Daniel Radcliffe, she’s become one of Hollywood’s most versatile young actors.

4. She’s shown off her comedy skills

Generally Watson played the straight man to Rupert Grint’s joker in ‘Potter’ - but she’s proved herself a talented comedian since the series ended. The highlight of course was her violent but hilarious cameo in ‘This is The End’, but her performance in ‘Bling Ring’ was also hailed as “comedic gold” by critic Richard Roeper. She’s also a witty chat-show guest.

5. She’s worked with interesting directors

Alfonso Cuaron apart, the Harry Potter series was handled by solid craftsmen rather than visionary auteurs. Perhaps that’s why Watson has stretched herself by working with directors known for pushing boundaries since Potter, such as Sofia Coppola (‘Bling Ring’, ‘Lost in Translation’), Darren Aronofsky (‘Pi’, ‘Black Swan’, ‘Noah’) and the bestselling author turned director of ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ - Stephen Chobsky.

6. She hasn’t slated the films that made her famous

Watson once said: “I could be 100 years old and in my rocker, but I’ll still be very proud that I was part of the Harry Potter films.” Many child actors disown the films that made them famous (most recently Angus T. Jones from ‘Two and a Half Men’ – who called the insanely popular sitcom “filth” before getting the axe), but Watson still has the utmost respect for the fans that made her famous.

7. She hasn’t become a child star cliché

Even Daniel Radcliffe, who seems remarkably well-adjusted considering his fame, wasn’t immune from the old child star cliché of going off the rails when he grew up, telling GQ “I became so reliant on [alcohol] to enjoy stuff”. Watson however, at least as far was we know, has avoided the trappings of fame too much. Perhaps because…

8. …She took time out from acting

We think many actors could benefit from spending less time in the Hollywood bubble and slumming it with us normal folk. Watson has done just that (relatively anyway), by taking time out to study at Brown and Oxford University. Mixing with civilians, even academically gifted ones, is a great way to see Hollywood and all its nonsense in perspective.

9. She seems to have a fairly normal personal life

Viewing from the outside, Watson’s personal life seems remarkably conventional for a woman her age. She has dated a couple of guys she met at university (Will Adamowicz and currently Matthew Janney), while shunning high profile relationships with fellow movie stars that would make her a tabloid regular. She’s tried to keep her private life private – no small feat for one of the world’s most famous actresses.

10. She’s got more to come

With Watson graduating, her fans will hope she devotes more time to making films in the next few years. Her upcoming project ‘Regression’ continues Watson’s career plan of making films with classy directors – in this case Alejandro Amenabar, who directed the superb ‘The Others’. 

She’s also appearing alongside Daniel Brühl and Michael Nyqvist in real-life thriller ‘Colonia’ about a woman searching for her husband who’s been kidnapped by Pinochet’s secret police in Central America.

Even more exciting for Watson wil be playing Belle in Disney’s hotly anticipated live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ project, which is slowly lurching into production.

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Watch Emma deliver an amazing speech as she launches her Her For She gender equality campaign at the UN below.

Image credits: Press Association/Warner Bros./Pathe/Paramount