In 1999, casting began for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States), the film adaptation of British author J. K. Rowling's bestselling novel. Casting agents found Watson through her Oxford theatre teacher, and producers were impressed by her confidence. After eight auditions,producer David Heyman told Watson and fellow applicants Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint that they had been cast for the roles of the schoolfriends Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley respectively. Rowling supported Watson from her first screen test.
The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2001 was Watson's debut screen performance. The film broke records for opening-day sales and opening-weekend takings and was the highest-grossing film of 2001. Critics praised the performances of the three leads, often singling out Watson for particular acclaim; The Daily Telegraph called her performance "admirable", and IGN said she "stole the show". Watson was nominated for five awards for her performance in Philosopher's Stone, winning the Young Artist Award for Leading Young Actress.
A year later, Watson again starred as Hermione in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second installment of the series. Although the film received mixed reviews, reviewers were positive about the lead actors' performances. The Los Angeles Times said Watson and her peers had matured between films, while The Times criticised director Chris Columbus for "under-employing" Watson's hugely popular character. Watson received an Otto Award from the German magazine Bravo for her performance.
In 2004, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released. Watson was appreciative of the more assertive role Hermione played, calling her character "charismatic" and "a fantastic role to play". Although critics panned Radcliffe's performance, labelling him "wooden", they praised Watson; The New York Times lauded her performance, saying "Luckily Mr. Radcliffe's blandness is offset by Ms. Watson's spiky impatience. Harry may show off his expanding wizardly skills ... but Hermione ... earns the loudest applause with a decidedly unmagical punch to Draco Malfoy's deserving nose." Although Prisoner of Azkaban remains the lowest-grossing Harry Potter film as of April 2009, Watson's personal performance won her two Otto Awards and the Child Performance of the Year award from Total Film.
With Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), both Watson and the Harry Potter film series reached new milestones. The film set records for a Harry Potter opening weekend, a non-May opening weekend in the US, and an opening weekend in the UK. Critics praised the increasing maturity of Watson and her teenage co-stars; the New York Times called her performance "touchingly earnest". For Watson, much of the humour of the film sprang from the tension among the three lead characters as they matured. She said, "I loved all the arguing. ... I think it's much more realistic that they would argue and that there would be problems." Nominated for three awards for Goblet of Fire, Watson won a bronze Otto Award. Later that year, Watson became the youngest person to appear on the cover of Teen Vogue, an appearance she reprised in August 2009. In 2006, Watson played Hermione in The Queen's Handbag, a special mini-episode of Harry Potter in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday.
Watson signing autographs for fans outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre, 2007
Handprints, footprints and wand prints of (from left to right) Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint.
The fifth film in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was released in 2007. A huge financial success, the film set a record worldwide opening-weekend gross of $332.7 million. Watson won the inaugural National Movie Award for Best Female Performance. As the fame of the actress and the series continued, Watson and fellow Harry Potter co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint left imprints of their hands, feet and wands in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood on 9 July 2007.
Despite the success of Order of the Phoenix, the future of the Harry franchise became surrounded in doubt, as all three lead actors were hesitant to sign on to continue their roles for the final two episodes. Radcliffe eventually signed for the final films on 2 March 2007, but Watson was considerably more hesitant. She explained that the decision was significant, as the films represented a further four-year commitment to the role, but eventually conceded that she "could never let [the role of] Hermione go", signing for the role on 23 March 2007. In return for committing to the final films, Watson's pay was doubled to £2 million per film; she concluded that "in the end, the pluses outweighed the minuses". Principal photography for the sixth film began in late 2007, with Watson's part being filmed from 18 December to 17 May 2008.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince premiered on 15 July 2009, having been controversially delayed from November 2008. With the lead actors now in their late teens, critics were increasingly willing to review them on the same level as the rest of the film's all-star cast, which the Los Angeles Times described as "a comprehensive guide to contemporary UK acting". The Washington Post felt Watson to have given "[her] most charming performance to date",while The Daily Telegraph described the lead actors as "newly-liberated and energized, eager to give all they have to what's left of the series".
Watson's filming for the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, began on 18 February 2009 and ended on 12 June 2010. For financial and scripting reasons, the original book has been divided into two films which will be shot back to back. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2 are scheduled for release in November 2010 and July 2011 respectively.
Other acting workEmma Watson