When we caught up with Emma Watson at the MTV Movie Awards afterparty earlier this month, the 21-year-old Brit confessed, "I'm having the time of my life."
For the first time in her professional career, Watson is free of the all-encompassing "Harry Potter" franchise and has set about creating for herself a cinematic second act -- one that has nothing to do with Hogwarts and Hermione Granger. It's been a long time coming, as the actress admitted in a new Vogue cover story.
"I have had no control over my life," Watson said. "I have lived in a complete bubble. They found me and picked me for the part. And now I'm desperately trying to find my way through it."
The first move she made was signing on to an adaptation of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," a provocative novel about teenage life in America. She also dropped out of Brown University in March, after years of fighting to continue her education while also remaining committed to one of the biggest film franchises on Earth.
"I have felt for the last 10 years I have had this battle -- I've been fighting so hard to have an education. It's been this uphill struggle," she said. "I was Warner Bros.' pain in the butt. I was their scheduling conflict. I was the one who made life difficult."
Now fully outside the "Potter" bubble, Watson is trying, as she put it, "to really enjoy the good things because it makes the bad things OK." Among those unwelcome things is the constant attention of the paparazzi. And when she does begin a new relationship (her previous one ended last summer), she hopes the tabloid spotlight won't spoil the romance.
"I'm a feminist, but I think that romance has been taken away a bit for my generation. I think what people connect with in novels is this idea of an overpowering, encompassing love -- and it being more important and special than anything and everything else," she said. "I would love to not date someone in the same industry as me. Otherwise it becomes what it means to everyone else."
For young Hollywood news, fashion and "Twilight" updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.