Emma Watson turned down a chance to play Cinderella because the role didn’t resonate with her.
The British actress stars as Belle in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast, a live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 animated classic of the same name.
However, Emma reveals that she previously had the chance to play another Disney princess, Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh‘s 2015 remake, but rejected the part because she wanted “so much more” for her character.
“I didn’t know they were going to make Beauty And The Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella,” she told Total Film magazine. “But when they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did.”
The role of Cinderella eventually went to Downton Abbey‘s Lily James, and Emma, 26, is thankful she didn’t take on the movie because she sees so much more of her own personality in the character of Belle.
Even more so after the film’s screenwriters and director Bill Condon agreed to update the character’s backstory, choosing to make her an inventor, while her father, played by Kevin Kline, is a music box craftsman.
“She remains curious, compassionate and open-minded,” she said. “And that’s the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice.”
Offscreen, former Harry Potter star Emma is building a reputation as a gender activist after creating organization HeForShe with the United Nations and starting a feminist book club.
And she hopes that her characterization will provide inspiration for young girls everywhere to pursue their goals.
“I don’t feel like I particularly fitted in when I was younger. There’s this outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her,” said Emma.
“In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the places she lives in, and I found that really inspiring.”
Beauty and the Beast, also featuring Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci, is due to hit theaters from March (17).