Emma Watson is nothing like Harry Potter‘s Hermoine in her latest role.
That’s just the way the 23-year-old actress wants it.
Now a few years removed from the end of the Harry Potter franchise, Emma Watson is still trying to shed the image of the Hogwarts students and friend of the wizard Harry Potter. She says she’s taking roles that allow her to show more maturity and access the depth of her acting ability.
That’s just what she’s done in The Bling Ring, a new movie from Sofia Coppola that premiered Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival. In it, Watson plays a celebrity-obsessed Los Angeles teenager who decides to break into the homes of stars like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
The movie is based on the true story of a group of teenagers who robbed celebrities while they were out at premiers. Emma Watson plays the character based on Alexis Neiers, who once starred in a reality television show about teenagers trying to make it in Hollywood.
Emma Watson said that while she has fond memories of the Harry Potter movies, she doesn’t want them to define her career.
“I’m not trying to run away from it,” she said. “I’ve just had an amazing three or four years. I’m really re-enjoying having the chance to transform into new roles and work with new creative people.”
Watson said she studied American popular culture to prepare for the role including the Southern California accent of her character.
“It’d be very easy for Nicki to feel like a parody,” Miss Watson said. “Somehow I had to understand and empathize with her, and that was really biggest challenge, second to getting the accent down. It’s quite a specific dialect.”
The Bling Ring strives for realism as well. Sofia Coppola actually got permission from Paris Hilton to film in the reality star’s home, showing shots of room covered wall-to-wall with shoes and another room with a pole-dancing table in a nightclub area.
“The world this film shows is a world of excess,” said Coppola. “(Paris Hilton’s) house is very exotic. I have never seen anything like it before.”
For Emma Watson, The Bling Ring follows in a line of post-Harry Potter movies with more adult themes. She starred in the coming-of-age movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower last year and just finished shooting on Darren Afonofsky’s Biblical epic Noah.