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Emma Watson's feminist Belle is a 'proactive' and 'practical' inventor

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

Forget passive princesses waiting patiently, singing songs like 'Someday My Prince Will Come'. Former Harry Potter actress Emma Watson is taking on classic Disney princess Belle – and she's giving her a twenty-first-century makeover. 

She might look similar to classic Disney princess in the 'Beauty and the Beast' pictures released last week, but Watson is determined to make sure Belle is a strong inspiration for a new generation of girls. 

'We tried to tweak things to make her more proactive, and a bit less carried along by the story,' says Watson, 'and a bit more in charge of — and in control of — her own destiny.'

'I’m not being employed as a script writer, I’m not in charge of the narrative, I’m not director, I’m not the editor,' adds Watson, who is a UN Goodwill Ambassador and HeForShe campaigner. 'But I obviously have very strong views, and opinions, and those are personal. But I also have very strong views, and opinions, about my character and making that work. So, it’s been interesting to come back to being an actress post-activism and trying to reconcile those two very different roles.' 

'I think Belle as a character represents a woman who is willing to stand outside of what is expected of her, and chase her dreams, chase her intuition, and I think that will really resonate and really appeal.'

'She’s very practical, she’s a very good horse-rider,' Watson continues to Entertainment Weekly. 'She always has these pockets on her where she’s carrying tools and books. In the movie, she wears these little ballet shoes, and I knew that they had to go, because if you’re going to ride a horse, and tend your garden, and fix machinery, then you need to be in proper boots. So, Belle’s got proper boots, and she’s got pockets which sit outside of her skirt that kind of works like a tool belt, and she’s also got bloomers on underneath all of her skirts, so she can get on and off a horse and she can run. She looks quite grounded and earthy and practical, as far as possible.' 

Watson also revealed that Belle now has her own brand new backstory. 

'In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle,' says Watson. '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.'

'Beauty and the Beast' will be in UK cinemas March 17 2017.

More entertainment news:

✚ Emma Watson has been hiding feminist books on the tube
✚ Doctor Who or Prince Phillip? There was equal pressure, says 'The Crown' star Matt Smith
✚ Benedict Cumberbatch isn't that happy about his face being on 'Doctor Strange' lunchboxes

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