Emma Watson Explains Step Away from Acting: ‘I Felt a Bit Caged’

"The thing I found really hard was that I had to go out and sell something that I really didn’t have very much control over," the "Harry Potter" alum said.
Emma Watson
Emma Watson
Getty Images

Emma Watson is admitting that she “wasn’t very happy” during the height of her career.

The “Harry Potter” alum, who began acting at age 10, has not appeared onscreen since 2019’s “Little Women” directed by Greta Gerwig. Watson opened up about feeling “caged” in her career in a new interview with Financial Times.

“I wasn’t very happy, if I’m being honest,” Watson said. “I think I felt a bit caged. The thing I found really hard was that I had to go out and sell something that I really didn’t have very much control over. To stand in front of a film and have every journalist be able to say, ‘How does this align with your viewpoint?’ It was very difficult to have to be the face and the spokesperson for things where I didn’t get to be involved in the process.”

Watson continued, “I was held accountable in a way that I began to find really frustrating, because I didn’t have a voice, I didn’t have a say. And I started to realize that I only wanted to stand in front of things where if someone was going to give me flak about it, I could say, in a way that didn’t make me hate myself, ‘Yes, I screwed up, it was my decision, I should have done better.'”

Instead, Watson pursued her seemingly “unattainable” dream of directing. She wrote and directed a Prada campaign and is next set to helm a music video for a male artist whom she has not named.

“People always told me I should direct and produce, even when I was on ‘Potter,'” Watson said. “I was worried it was just technical, not creative, and I couldn’t bring what I think is probably my skill set. It was only [my brother] Alex coming to me with this, and friends asking for favors – ‘I need to do a photo shoot’ or ‘I’m making a video’ – that made me realize I actually know quite a lot about that. Being a director seemed unattainable. I don’t think I had any confidence in that. I know it seems weird. I mean, I grew up on a film set.”

Last month, Watson opened up on Instagram in a rare personal post about how she “stepped away from my life” as she pivots away from acting.

Watson also is starting a MA program in creative writing at Oxford University. She is confirmed to be starring in a film set for an early 2024 production and assured that “yes, absolutely” she will return to acting for good.

“But I’m happy to sit and wait for the next right thing,” Watson added. “I love what I do. It’s finding a way to do it where I don’t have to fracture myself into different faces and people. And I just don’t want to switch into robot mode any more. Does that make sense?”

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