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Emma Watson Reveals One Dark Secret About Playing Hermione

It turns out that becoming an instant icon isn't always the greatest thing for a child's psyche.

Emma Watson, who was cast as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series at the tender age of nine, recently opened up to British Vogue about her years-long struggle with guilt over having landed the plum role.

Watson was famously plucked from a crowd of would-be Hermiones during open auditions which took place at her school, and as soon as Potter fans were introduced to her in 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, they knew that the role had been perfectly cast. Her droll delivery and adorably adult mannerisms suited Hermione perfectly, and as the series' cast grew into young adults over the course of eight films, it became clear that Watson's formidable talent was growing, as well. 

But immediate worldwide fame can obviously be tough for any kid to handle, and Watson was no different. In her conversation with Vogue, the actress said that she experienced a great deal of guilt over feeling burdened by said fame when the role could have gone to any number of other young actresses — perhaps one who would have handled the exposure better.

"[It's something that] I've sat in therapy and felt really guilty about, to be honest," the star said. "Like, why me? Somebody else would have enjoyed and wanted [the fame] more than I did. And I've... wrestled a lot with the guilt around that. Of being, like, 'I should be enjoying this more, I should be more excited, and I'm actually really struggling.'"

The actress went on to say that, as a child, it was truly impossible to know exactly what she was signing up for when producers picked her to play Hermoine. "I was nine years old, and I got literally picked out of a lineup in my school gym. It wasn't even an acting school," she said. "And [I] got the first part I ever auditioned for... it's so bizarre and otherworldly, what happened to me."

The star related how, as Pottermania swept the globe, she had to make a conscious effort to reorient herself mentally in the face of massive worldwide fame. "[There have] been moments when everything just got so big... [that] I almost had vertigo on my own life, and it got so big that I felt disconnected. And part of, I think, my sense of peace within myself has been in remembering my identity as, like, I'm someone's daughter... I am a sister, I belong to a family, I come from a place, I have roots. There's a whole really big existence and identity that I have... that has nothing to do with [the fame]."

Emma Watson's life after Harry Potter

Watson's is a struggle that has been faced by child actors for generations, but even among their ranks, few have experienced being part of a global phenomenon like Harry Potter. Adapted from the wildly popular YA novels by J.K. Rowling, the eight films in the main series combined to gross nearly $8 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. When the Fantastic Beasts spin-off films (in which Watson did not appear) are factored in, Harry Potter is the third-highest grossing film franchise in history — behind only the juggernauts that are the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars.

On top of that, the main Potter cast literally grew up in front of the camera playing the same characters, a situation even fewer child actors have had to contend with. It was a prolonged and intense level of attention of the sort which would have been enough to make just about any ordinary kid flame out — but thankfully, Watson and her co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint managed to come away from the experience as well-adjusted, successful adults.

Watson in particular has continued working steadily since the main Potter series ended, appearing in such films as The Bling Ring and Noah before scoring another mega-hit with Disney's 2017 live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, which took home well over a billion dollars globally. This Christmas Day, she can be seen in the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women opposite such heavy hitters as Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and the great Meryl Streep. Despite stiff competition from the likes of Jumanji: The Next Level and Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, the flick is expected to do respectable box office thanks to its blinding star power and the sure guiding hand of writer/director Greta Gerwig, the creative mind behind 2017's widely acclaimed coming-of-age dramedy Lady Bird.

Of course, Watson's present success largely came at the cost of anything resembling a normal childhood, but the actress seems to have come to terms with her experience and the struggles that came with it. Even if she had never made another film after the Harry Potter series, she would have been fondly remembered by fans around the world, but her boatload of talent ensures that she'll be gracing the silver screen for years to come — something she no longer feels quite so bad about.

"It took me a long time," the actress said, "but I'm really happy."