The Harry Potter star, who hasn't appeared in a film since Little Women, is the latest celebrity to enter the spirits industry. While promoting the launch of Renais gin, a brand founded by her brother, Alex, the actress revealed why she needed a break — and whether she's really done with Hollywood.
"I wasn't very happy, if I'm being honest," the 33-year-old told the Financial Times. "I think I felt a bit caged."
Watson was only 10 when she filmed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The actress played Hermione Granger for a decade leaving little time for other projects. When the franchise ended, she appeared in critically acclaimed films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and My Week With Marilyn. She did another big studio film in 2017 with Beauty and the Beast. Her last time on a film set came the following year when she shot Little Women.
"The thing I found really hard was that I had to go out and sell something that I really didn't have very much control over," Watson continued, without mentioning any specific project. "To stand in front of a film and have every journalist be able to say, 'How does this align with your viewpoint?' It was very difficult to have to be the face and the spokesperson for things where I didn’t get to be involved in the process."
The English star continued, "I was held accountable in a way that I began to find really frustrating, because I didn't have a voice, I didn't have a say. And I started to realize that I only wanted to stand in front of things where if someone was going to give me flak about it, I could say, in a way that didn't make me hate myself, 'Yes, I screwed up, it was my decision, I should have done better.'"
After Little Women, Watson started "impact-investing" with a group of women to "support female entrepreneurs and sustainable ventures." In 2022, she wrote and directed an advertising campaign for Prada. Now that she's not on set, the actress has been spending more time at her family-owned vineyards in the Chablis region of France.
"But now that I'm not making films every year there's a bit more time to play with. For me, getting involved with the creative side of the gin has been fun because I have a voice and I can bring everything that I've learnt to help," Watson explained. "Alex is the expert on gin, and dad is the expert on wine, but it's really nice to be asked to be involved."
Watson is a shareholder in Renais and is acting as a creative partner overseeing the gin's imagery, design and art direction.
"I couldn't bear to let someone else do it because it’s our family, our history," she says. "We have to sell a product but I think it would have hurt my soul if it had been done in a way that didn't feel personal."
With Renais, the actress said she doesn't know "where the journey will go. I'm sure we'll make mistakes. But I can vouch for Alex, I know who he is. I've seen what this is. I've literally picked the grapes myself."
As for acting, Watson said she'll "absolutely" make another movie.
"But I'm happy to sit and wait for the next right thing. I love what I do. It's finding a way to do it where I don’t have to fracture myself into different faces and people. And I just don't want to switch into robot mode any more," she shared. "Does that make sense?"
It seems the right project came along. Watson confirmed she'll begin shooting a film in early 2024, but gave no further details.