Beauty and the Beast is a timeless love story, but for some, it's also a cautionary tale as old as time about Stockholm Syndrome, in which Belle, a hopeless romantic, falls in love with her furry captor.
In an interview with EW, Emma Watson was asked how she felt about Belle and Beast's eventual romance being perceived as an example of Stockholm Syndrome. It's something the Beauty and the Beast star said she "really grappled with at the beginning," but ultimately, she realized that through it all, Belle's independence is never compromised. (Except for that part where she's literally imprisoned by the Beast to save her father.)
"Belle actively argues and disagrees with [Beast] constantly," she said. "She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought."
It's Belle's tenacity that separates the modern Disney heroine from the princesses of yesteryear, when falling in love with Prince Charming meant losing all of your own ambition.
"In fact, she gives as good as she gets," Watson added. "He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There's this defiance that, You think I'm going to come and eat dinner with you and I'm your prisoner — absolutely not. I think that's the other beautiful thing about the love story. They form a friendship first and that gap in the middle where there is this genuine sharing, the love builds out of that, which in many ways I actually think is more meaningful than a lot of love stories, where it was love at first sight."
Upon landing the role of Belle in Disney's live-action remake, Watson worked with director Bill Condon to craft a modern, more feminist version of the iconic princess. In the live-action film, it's Belle who's the inventor. She's also an active princess who won't be slowed down by a silly corset or impractical footwear — or a grumpy Beast.