At the age of 26, Harry Potter/Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson is famous in a way most of us can't even fathom. No matter where she goes or what she does, obsessive fans and judgmental trolls will find her and dissect every minuscule detail of her life. It's taken her years to figure out a lifestyle that enables her to maintain even a semblance of privacy, but it involves compromises. And as she explained in a new interview with Vanity Fair, one of those compromises is a complete ban on taking selfies with fans.
For me, it’s the difference between being able to have a life and not. If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it, within two seconds they’ve created a marker of exactly where I am within 10 meters. They can see what I’m wearing and who I’m with. I just can’t give that tracking data.
Of course, Watson doesn't enjoy saying no. For many fans, meeting her is a dream come true. Any negative impression she gives would likely permanently tarnish their opinion of her. As a consolation, she often engages fans in conversation, hoping a genuine moment of connection will suffice in place of a photo they can share on Instagram.
I’ll say, "I will sit here and answer every single Harry Potter fandom question you have but I just can’t do a picture"—and much of the time people don’t bother.
But because she's a very busy woman (in addition to acting, she's a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador), she can't always strike up a chat with everyone who corners her in public. She has a system for prioritizing those requests.
I have to carefully pick and choose my moment to interact. When am I a celebrity sighting versus when am I going to make someone’s freakin’ week? Children I don’t say no to, for example.
You might be thinking, "She's so stuck up! She can't possibly have that much to worry about." (If you are, you may be one of the aforementioned trolls.) As she explained, the Harry Potter "phenomenon" has become so powerful, she doesn't dare take any chances with it.
I have met fans that have my face tattooed on their body. I’ve met people who used the Harry Potter books to get through cancer. I don’t know how to explain it, but the Harry Potter phenomenon steps into a different zone. It crosses into obsession. A big part of me coming to terms with it was accepting that this is not your average circumstances.
And her concerns with security are no joke. As the interview explains, she's been "stalked" by the press many times. Photographers have taken bets on who can get a photo up her skirt. Her house even has a paparazzi-proof entrance.
Head over to Vanity Fair to read the entire eye-opening interview. You'll realize that being Hermione is no picnic.