“I pushed as hard as I could”: Emma Watson reveals her list of feminist requirements for Beauty and the Beast

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Abi Jackson
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Emma Watson’s quest to transform Beauty and the Beast  into a feminist fairy tale has not gone unnoticed. The actor has spoken widely about her desire to ensure the character of Belle did not fall into the usual clichés of a subservient princess.

And now, the Harry Potter star has revealed exactly what her requirements were for the film.

Speaking to journalists at a recent press conference in London, Watson explained how she ensured Disney moved away from the unattainable princess image, to show Belle in an authentic light, revealing that she “pushed as hard” as she could to have her requests met.

“It’s subtle things,” she said. “I insisted that she had some kind of trousers on underneath her skirt so that she could get on and off a horse in a way that wasn’t ridiculous.”

Additionally, with a love of literature being a key attribute of Belle’s character, Watson was adamant that this be portrayed realistically, explaining: “I made sure that she wore proper boots. And I insisted that she had big pockets so that she could carry around her books. I insisted she had a vocation of some kind.”

The 26-year-old also ensured that she wasn't Photoshopped in the film, saying:  “I insisted on this film, for example, that they keep my freckles. Usually they block them all out.”

Elaborating on her comments, Watson said that she overcame the typical pressures to ensure that Belle was not only dressed in a realistic manner, but also that her body shape was human: “I insisted that my body shape be the body shape.

“You come under quite serious pressure when you’re doing Hollywood films to wear a heavy amount of boob support and whatever else! Various different things like that. I thought the more human I could make her was the best way to serve her.”

But dress and body shape aren’t the only things Watson had changed about the original cartoon. Speaking with EW last year, the actress admitted: “In the animated movie, it's her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle.” 

“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.”

The film – which is out in cinemas now – has already received glowing reviews from critics. It seems the Watson way has worked its magic.

Words: Sarah Finley. Images: Rex Features