Emma Watson is exactly the kind of woman you want on your team — intelligent, talented, and most of all, a HUGE lover of animals. In celebration of her new movie Beauty and the Beast (in theaters March 17), we sat down with the star of Disney’s iconic remake to chat film, feminism, and of course…kittens! All questions were submitted by members of the BuzzFeed Community.
Emma Watson: We designed for Belle this ring that would sit on her little finger. The costume designer saw that I had one which my mom had given to me, and she was like, “Can I design one for Belle?” because Belle’s mother dies when she’s really young. My mom is still alive and healthy and well, just as a side note. Anyway, I was really proud of the ring and thought it was so beautiful that I asked if I could keep one and they said I could.
EW: I just wanted to make sure that we stayed true to the original. When Kevin Kline was going to make Maurice less kind of like the inventor, and he wasn’t going to have that as his story anymore, I was like, “Could we use that for Belle?” And so we made Belle this inventor who invents this washing machine so that she can sit and read while it’s doing her washing.
EW: I would want her to know that she is a force to be reckoned with and never to underestimate her own power. Sometimes, particularly young girls feel like their voice doesn’t matter, and what they have to say doesn’t really matter, and I think I would want her to know that it does.
EW: So many times. When people have told me that I can’t do something, it’s going to be too hard, or whatever else, I try to use that as motivation. Sometimes someone telling you that you won’t be able to do something, I’m like, Oh, you don’t know what you just did.
EW: In my imagining, [Belle] opens the library that’s in the castle and she turns it into a school and a public library, which she runs.
EW: Yes! They share their love of books. Hermione and Belle are like perfect head and heart girls — they have both. They’re super smart but they also have this incredible empathy and compassion and ability to see, kind of, beyond things and be nonjudgmental.
EW: When we completed the final dance at the end of the movie, I had the sound guys play “Happy” [by Pharrell Williams], and Kevin Kline started doing the conga and everyone joined in. It was the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen — everyone in costume in the Beauty and the Beast ballroom doing the conga.
EW: We think that we live in a post-feminist society, and we do not. We’re told we don’t need feminism anymore, that we have the vote, that like, we’re all good. And I think, actually, that’s incredibly disconcerting because then, when young women move into the world and they realize, Oh, why am I not being paid the same, why am I being treated differently? And they start to blame themselves because they don’t understand that they’re part of a historic pattern, they’re part of a much larger system which is kind of working a little bit against them.
*A certified animal safety representative from the American Humane Association was present for all scenes involving the participation of the kittens.