The “Harry Potter” film series has catapulted its young stars from unknowns to global superstars over the past decade, and none of its actors have felt the change quite so much as Emma Watson. From auditioning at age 9 with no professional acting experience to being one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood at age 20, Emma has blossomed into one of the most beloved and respected young British actresses around.
The penultimate film in the “Harry Potter” franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” hits theaters on Friday, and fans will get a chance to see the Emma they’ve known and loved on the big screen once again. But with her new pixie haircut and Brown University education, Emma has already started to evolve off-screen into someone entirely new.
Born in Paris on April 15, 1990 to two British lawyers, Emma didn’t move to the U.K. until the age of 5. Her parents divorced, and Emma moved with her mother, Jacqueline Luesby, and younger brother to Oxfordshire, England. She decided at age 6 that she wanted to be an actress, and she trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts for several years. When she went into her first “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” audition at age 9, she had only performed in Stagecoach productions and had no professional experience. It was her confidence that impressed “Harry Potter” filmmakers and author J.K. Rowling and earned her the role of Hermione Granger.
The “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” premiere in 2001 was Emma’s acting debut, and her performance earned her the Young Artist Award for Leading Young Actress. With the success of “Sorcerer’s Stone,” the adaptations of the next “Harry Potter” books came hard and fast. “Chamber of Secrets” was released in 2002, “Prisoner of Azkaban” in 2004, “Goblet of Fire” in 2005 and “Order of the Phoenix” in 2007. It was after the release of “Order of the Phoenix,” though, that Emma started to doubt whether she would continue with the “Harry Potter” series.
Emma and her costars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint were all up for contract negotiations, and though Dan and Rupert decided to return to “Potter,” Emma was a bit more hesitant. She knew she wanted to go to college and was worried that another four-year contract would conflict with that goal. Ultimately she decided to sign her contract and finish the series, and we couldn’t be happier. “Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth book in the series, was released in the summer of 2009.
Beyond “Potter,” Emma has only been in two other films. She starred in a 2007 BBC adaptation of the Noel Streatfeild novel “Ballet Shoes,” and she lent her voice to the 2008 animated flick “The Tale of Despereaux.” She has been more interested in pursuing a career in fashion, and in 2009 became the new face of Burberry. She appears in both their 2009 Autumn/Winter campaign and their 2010 Spring/Summer campaign. Emma also partnered with the Fair Trade fashion brand People Tree in 2009 and worked as creative adviser for a spring line of clothing that was released in February 2010. She has continued her involvement with People Tree, releasing an Autumn/Winter collection as well.
Also in 2009, Emma announced that she would be attending Brown University to pursue a degree in English literature and art. The filming of both parts of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” began on February 18, 2009 and ended on June 12, 2010, but Emma still managed to keep up with her studies and maintain her grades at Brown. She returned for her sophomore year this past September, and it looks like she’s still on track to graduate in 2013 despite promoting the final two “Harry Potter” films.
It didn’t take long after filming wrapped on “Deathly Hallows” for Emma to create a completely new look for herself. She cut off her Hermione Granger locks, opting for the popular pixie cut. She also announced that she might give up acting for good now that “Harry Potter” has finished, but maybe she had a change of heart seeing as she recently signed on for “My Week With Marilyn.” Now that she has the freedom to do whatever she wishes, we have a good feeling she’ll continue evolving into one of the most influential celebrities around.
Click on any of the photos above to see our entire flipbook of Emma Watson throughout the years!
Don’t forget to come back to Hollywood Crush tonight at 6 p.m. (ET) for our LIVE BLOG of the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1″ red carpet premiere in NYC! Send your questions via Twitter using the hash tag #askPotter.
What kind of career do you predict for Emma Watson?