Also Credited As:Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson
|Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson on April 15, 1990 in Paris, FR|
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Born on April 15, 1990 in Paris, France, Watson was raised by her father, Chris, and her mother, Jacqueline, both of whom were attorneys. Living in the City of Lights until she was five, Watson moved with her mother and younger brother, Alex, to Oxfordshire, England after her parents divorced. She first expressed an interest in acting when she was six, which led to studying song, dance, and theatre at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts. She attended The Dragon School, a renowned prep school in England, and moved on to Headington School, a private all-girls school. She took the lead role in several school plays, including "Arthur: The Young Years and The Happy Prince" (2000). Meanwhile, auditions for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the adaptation of J.K. Rowling's popular fantasy-adventure novel, began the previous year. Casting agents discovered Watson through her Oxford theater teacher and asked the budding thespian to audition for Hermione. After eight callbacks, Watson earned Rowling's approval atop one of the most coveted roles in history.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which followed the travails of young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his transition into the world of magic at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, became an instant blockbuster, breaking opening day sales records and was the highest-grossing film that year. Watson, like her co-stars, received critical acclaim for her earnest performance as the Muggle-born, bookish Hermione. Starring again as Hermione in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (2002), critics singled her out above co-stars Radcliffe and Grint, giving her kudos for an admirable performance. In 2004, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" - which veered into darker territory than its predecessors - hit theaters. Watson was appreciative of her character growing into a more assertive role in the series and expressed her continued excitement for playing the character in numerous interviews. In the next installment, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (2005), Watson's performance reached new milestones. The young actress reportedly loved all the arguing between the three teen co-stars, which she felt were more true to character. Meanwhile, the Potter phenomenon even caught the eye of British royalty - Watson appeared as Hermione in a Potter spin-off called "The Queen's Handbag" (2006), a special mini-episode celebrating the 80th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.
The fifth adaptation of the Potter franchise, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (2007) was another mega-hit, setting an opening weekend gross of almost $333 million worldwide. Watson's star kept shining brighter - in the same year, she and fellow wizards Radcliffe and Grint left imprints of their hands, feet and wands in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. In spite of the financial success of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," all three teen stars expressed hesitation in continuing their roles for the final two adaptations. The media speculated that she played hard-to-get in an attempt to increase her paycheck, rumored to be in the $4 million-a picture-range. Watson quickly explained that she hesitated because signing on for two more films represented another four-year commitment on her part. She eventually signed for the role after conceding that she loved Hermione's character so much that she couldn't bear someone else playing it.
Like many child superstars, Watson grew up on the film set and under the scrutinizing glare of the media spotlight. But unlike many of her contemporaries who became infamous for partying, drinking, and drug use, Watson managed to keep her life balanced and private. She credited strong family ties for keeping her grounded, as well as the support she received from her co-stars Radcliffe and Grint, both of whom she said had grown to be like her siblings. More notably, she shared a love of learning with her on-screen alter ego. She was a serious student, maintaining top grades while filming the Potter series. In the fall of 2009, Watson headed off to study at Columbia University in New York City.
As the film series progressed, so did Watson's fashion sense. Watson ditched her tweeds in favor of more glamorous get-ups from high-end designer lines like Chanel, Viviene Westwood and Marc Jacobs. She was photographed wearing Chanel to numerous red-carpet events and movie premieres, which sparked a rumor that she was deemed to be the new face of the famed brand, replacing actress Keira Knightley.Alas, the Chanel deal never materialized. But Watson did become the new spokesperson for British fashion house Burberry. In 2009, she modeled Burberry's signature trench coat and other accessories in the brand's autumn collection. In between photo shoots, filming and college, the young glamour maven found time to design a clothing line for teens that benefited UNICEF.
Watson took on other roles in lesser known ventures when she wasn't filming Potter. She starred as the voice of Princess Pea in the animated feature "The Tale of Despereaux" (2008), which starred Dustin Hoffman, Sigourney Weaver, and Matthew Broderick. She also appeared in the critically acclaimed television adaptation of the novel "Ballet Shoes" (2007), where she played one of three sisters who struggle to follow their dreams. Watson reprised her role as Hermione in the sixth installment of the series, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009), while filming began on the final adaptation of the beloved series "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" that same year.