It’s the perennial problem for stars of hit films or TV series, especially of the so call called ‘child stars’- that is how to successfully move away from something that has been both familiar to them but also very successful- and to avoid that awful tag of being ‘type cast’.
The problem has tended to be that writers, producers, the media especially but also the public have that one great role associated with the actor or actress and are not as welcoming when they do something else. You can think of ‘Dr Who’ actresses in particular who have struggled to convince in other roles and child actors like Tatum O’Neil, Kristy McNichol and Macaulay Culkin who have (so far) not made the transition into fully fledged adult performers.
It’s a dilemma and a challenge that the Harry Potter actors are actively taking on at the moment. It’s true that Rupert Grint (‘Ron’) is perhaps the least ambitious of the Potter trio and he has yet to be seen in any major productions although it was hoped that his anti-war picture ‘Into the White’ would change that but it is still waiting a major release.
The most successful so far has been Daniel Radcliffe who both in between and after playing ‘Harry’ won critical acclaim in taking on stage starring roles in ‘Equus’, and more recently ‘How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying’, and even squeezed in the Australian movie’ December Boys’. His real post Potter breakthrough role though was in the hugely successful film version of ‘The Woman In Black’ with more projects in the pipeline.
Now it is the turn of the person who I have always thought was the most impressive of our magic trio-Emma Watson who enthralled people with her performance of the real backbone of Potter-Hermione. She showed her acting credentials almost instantly when at the age of barely 11 she strode into the carriage of the Hogwarts Express and said those immortal lines: “Has anyone seen a toad? A boy named Neville’s lost one”. Potter apart, Emma Watson has become something of a fashion icon (the youngest person to appear on ‘Teen Vogue’ and she became the ‘face’ of Burberry) had starring roles in the BBC film ‘Ballet Shoes’, opposite Victoria Wood, was ‘voice talent’ for the animated ‘The Tale of Despereaux’, acted opposite Eddie Redmayne and Richard Branagh in ‘My Week With Marilyn’ and now stars in the critically acclaimed ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’.
In it, Watson- for the first time- puts on a (very effective you have to say) American accent as she plays Sam who with her step brother (played by Ezra Miller) and new adopted friend (Logan Lerman) play as eccentric but authentic school chums as is possible. It’s a kind of ‘Breakfast Club’ for the 1990’s told through a series of letters Lerman writes to a ‘friend’. ‘Wallflower’ was a signficiant novel for US Youth and like ‘Breakfast Club’ it says something poignant and true about teenage years, the importance and perils of friendship and why they are the greatest time ever.
In it, Emma Watson pretty much nails the character of Sam with her doubts about whether she gets the love that she ‘deserves’ and doubts about her academic skills (very non Hermoine) but she shows a maturity in her acting that bodes well for the future. ‘Wallflower’ had a limited release in the USA but a much fuller one in the UK so it will be good to see how successful it is not just in monetary terms but in developing peoples’ views of Watson as a non-Potter performer. Certainly she seems to be choosing well in terms of who she works for. Up next is Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Bling Ring’, Seth Rogan’s ‘The End of the World’ and Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’, currently filming in Iceland.