How Emma Watson Boosted Beauty & The Beast's Feminist Credentials

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty.
Even before she was appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, Emma Watson was using her Harry Potter fame to promote gender equality.

Earlier this year she started her own feminist book club and just this week, she surprised commuters on the London Underground by hiding free copies of its latest selection, Maya Angelou's Mom, Me & Mom, for anyone to pick up and find.

Now the actress and activist has discussed how she reconciled her activism with playing Belle in Disney's new live-action version of Beauty & the Beast. While pointing out that she isn't the film's director or script writer, Watson said she has "very strong views, and opinions, about my character and making that work."

"We tried to tweak things to make her more proactive, and a bit less carried along by the story," she told Entertainment Weekly, adding that her Belle is a "a bit more in charge of - and in control of - her own destiny.”

Watson also explained how she and the film's creative team subtly revised Belle's backstory to make the character more empowered and practical.

"In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle,” Watson told Entertainment Weekly. "I was like, 'Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’ So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor."

After hearing what Emma Watson has to say about her new, more proactive Belle, we're even more excited for the film, which arrives in cinemas on the 17th of March next year.

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