Emma Watson on why Belle is a better female role model than Cinderella

The UN ambassador for women says the Beauty and the Beast character that she helped shape is more empowered


Emma Watson has revealed that she turned down a role as Cinderella before choosing to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast, because the character resonated “so much more” with her principles.


Watson was offered a role as Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 live action remake of the Disney film – a part which Lily James eventually played.

“I didn’t know they were going to make Beauty and the Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella,” she told Total Film. “But when they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did.”

Praising Belle as a “role model”, the UN ambassador for women and Harry Potter star said: “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.

“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.

“In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring. 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 fearmongering or scapegoating.”

Watson admitted she had had “concerns” about the Beauty and the Beast script, only agreeing to accept the job after being reassured it would be a “collaborative” process with director Bill Condon which would see her contribute to shaping the character. She went on to give Belle a job as an inventor like her father, after wondering what the original Disney version had “done all day”.


Beauty and the Beast will be out in UK cinemas on 17th March