Beauty and the Beast’s Emma Watson Explains Why She Identifies With Belle Over Cinderella

Beauty and the BeastBeauty and the Beast (Credit: Disney)

Actress Emma Watson also has a favorite Disney princess.

The Beauty and the Beast actress, who stars as the bold leading lady in the upcoming live-action film, revealed in a new interview this week exactly why she turned down the role of Cinderella–only to tackle Belle several years later.

“I didn’t know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella,” the Harry Potter star told Total Film in its latest issue. “I just felt the character of Belle resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did. She remains curious, compassionate and open-minded. And that’s the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice.”

British actress Lily James ultimately stepped into the role of Cinderella in the live-action remake. Watson, meanwhile, will play Belle opposite Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens’ portrayal of Beast.

Photo credit: Disney

Photo credit: Disney

The celebrity activist and feminist told the mag that she grew up empathizing with Belle—and continues to identify with the character.

“I don’t feel like I really felt like I particularly fit in when I was younger. There’s this kind of outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her,” the celebrity activist and feminist expressed. “In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring too. And also, she manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She’s not easily swayed by other people’s perspective; not swayed by fear mongering or scapegoating.”

She added that the movie, itself, will resonate with audiences everywhere—especially when pertaining to the character Gaston. “He’s a white male chauvinist. He’s like patriarchy in a man,” she shared. “I think audiences will have a lot of laughs at his expense, but also the scene where he’s is inciting the villagers to go kill the beast … it’s very familiar.”

Disney’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast premieres on March 17.

About the Author

Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Esther is the Senior News Editor at The Knot. A self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, she appreciates a good celebrity interview just as much as she adores Nancy Meyers movies. You can find her kicking off her mornings with barre and a green juice, traveling and exploring new cultures, and rapidly scrolling her feed for the latest and greatest news. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @theestherlee.