Before Beauty and the Beast, Emma Watson was actually attached to star as another beloved Disney princess: Cinderella. Back in 2013, the Harry Potter alum was in early talks to join Disney's live-action adaptation, but when the production traded Mark Romanek's darker vision for Kenneth Branaugh's whimsical one, Watson passed on the glass slippers.
In a recent interview with Total Film, Watson said that she had no idea Disney was planning to adapt Beauty and the Beast when she passed on Cinderella but that Belle "resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did." The 26-year-old notes that Belle is more of a role model.
"She remains curious, compassionate, and open-minded. And that's the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice," she said. "There's this kind of outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her. In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring."
Watson continued, "She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She's not easily swayed by other people's perspective — not swayed by fearmongering or scapegoating."
Not to mention that Belle, like Watson, loves books.
Upon landing the role of Belle, Watson worked with director Bill Condon to craft her version of the iconic Disney princess, with Belle even more unapologetically feminist in her endeavors. She's an inventor who creates a washing machine so that instead of doing laundry, she'd have more time to dedicate to her reading — making this new Belle an active princess who won't be slowed down by a corset or impractical footwear.
"If you're going to ride a horse and tend your garden and fix machinery, then you need to be in proper boots," Watson told EW in November 2016.
To be fair, 41 years separate the release of Cinderella (1950) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), so we can't really blame Cindy for perpetuating ridiculous gender norms. In many ways, Belle became the archetype for the modern Disney heroine — a girl who sought adventure, not Prince Charming.