Written by Sarah

There are two things that really suck for actors: getting famous overnight and getting famous for playing a beloved character. If the former, you’re always proving that you deserve what looks like a lottery win, and if the latter you’re always fighting the specter of that beloved character. It super sucks if both of these things happen to you at once. It’s one thing to have a successful career before the beloved character (consider Elijah Wood, who was already a famous child actor by the time he took on Frodo Baggins), but for Emma Watson overnight fame happened from Hermione.

By the time Deathly Hallows II is released in 2011, it will be a solid decade that Emma has been Hermione Granger. And given that Emma has done little other than Harry Potter to date--just a made-for-TV BBC movie and voicing a character in the animated The Tale of Desperaux--Hermione is quite literally the only thing she is known for, acting-wise. It’s to Emma’s credit (and her parents’) that this is partly because she places such an emphasis on schooling, completing her A levels in England and is now a sophomore at Brown. Emma seems to genuinely enjoy school and is set on having as normal a university experience as possible.

Emma also makes an effort to give us an impression of herself that separates her from Hermione. She is a consistently charming guest on talk shows, makes for an interesting interview, and is building a reputation as a fashionista, already bagging a campaign for Burberry and rapidly becoming a regular at fashion weeks on both sides of the pond. Emma isn’t a completely finished product, she still giggles and fumbles and fidgets sometimes, but generally comes across as a confident, articulate young woman.

But now it’s time for Movie Emma to grow up, too, as Harry Potter is in the can and the release date for the final film is set for next July. It’s been announced that she is finalizing a deal to star in Simon Curtis’s My Week with Marliyn, an adaptation of a memoir by Sir Laurence Olivier’s secretary, Colin Clark, about his time with Marilyn Monroe when she was in England to film The Prince and the Showgirl. Emma will be “Lucy”, a wardrobe assistant on the film with whom Colin has a romance. The film costars Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Michelle Williams, and Eddie Redmayne--a formidable cast that makes Emma look good by association--and though it isn’t a big part, as her first step in a life post-Harry, it’s a genius move.

This film won’t be on Emma’s shoulders. She won’t be expected to carry it as she isn’t the principal star. Which means she can focus simply on the character and delivering a good performance. And since Hermione is, and always will be, entrenched in our collective psyche, it’s a good idea to supplant that image slowly, instead of trying to overthrow it all at once. If she sticks to smaller roles such as this, and continues a lighter work load so that she can focus on school, by the time she graduates Emma will be able to segue into leading-lady work with little hassle. Hermione will always be there, but with time and patience, selectively choosing adult roles, Emma can put Hermione in her proper place--in the rearview, a prominent but not defining landmark.

To see Emma on campus with her friends this weekend, click here.

Attached: Emma at Heathrow a couple of weeks ago, heading to Brown to begin her sophomore year.

Written by Sarah

Photos from INFphoto