Emma Watson rose to fame through her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, but she has certainly demonstrated an ability to stretch beyond that part in her acting career. As Disney’s recent habit of turning animated classics into more mature live-action favorites continued, Watson took on the part of Belle in the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast.
Critics and audience members alike praised Watson’s performance in the role, and she did seem to make a particularly convincing Belle — perhaps because Hermione had already established her as a smart book lover! What fans may not know, however, is that Watson almost played Cinderella in a live-action remake of that particular tale.
Cinderella is a classic part of Disney princess history
Cinderella has been a part of the Disney catalog for a very long time. The animated film released in 1950 stands as one of the most classic examples of the Disney princess, and Cinderella herself has become an icon. The story of the rags-to-riches princess is so enchanting that many people have folded it into their real-life wedding ceremonies!
When it came to remaking the classics into live-action versions, Cinderella wasn’t the first film to get the treatment. In 1994, Disney’s live-action version of The Jungle Book put a fresh spin on the 1967 animated film. In 1996, 101 Dalmatians brought us Glenn Close as the villain Cruella to update the 1961 animated classic.
Cinderella wasn’t even the first Disney princess to get a live-action counterpart. That honor would go to Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), who was played by Elle Fanning in 2014’s Maleficent, but she wasn’t the star of the show, which was more a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty than a true remake.
The 2015 release of Cinderella did mark the first time a Disney princess animated classic was brought to life with live actors as a true remake, and it was a much-anticipated occasion.
Emma Watson turned down the role of Cinderella
Finding the right actor to play the titular part of the overworked princess was a key part of making Cinderella come to life. Emma Watson was not only a top candidate for the position but she was actually offered the part. Ultimately, the star turned it down. As BuzzFeed reports, she had her eye on the future. She knew that Beauty and the Beast was in the works as a future live-action remake, and she related more to Belle than to Cinderella. It was a risky move on her part to turn down a guaranteed role for one that wasn’t even officially in the works, but it panned out.
The part of Cinderella went to Lily James, and the role helped the Downton Abbey actor make a leap from the small-screen to films. In the time since she’s gotten to show off her musical acting talents in films like Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Yesterday.
Did Emma Watson make the right call?
As we all now know, Emma Watson’s decision to wait for the part of Belle in Beauty and the Beast worked out. Just two years after Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast became the second Disney princess film to get a live-action remake, and Watson stole the show as the stunning Belle playing alongside Dan Stevens as the Beast. She certainly got to play the part that better resonated with her personally. Was it the right call from a professional standpoint?
Comparing the two films based on their Rotten Tomatoes scores suggests that Watson did the right thing. While Cinderella did perform better among critics (getting an impressive 83% rating and earning Rotten Tomatoes‘ “Certified Fresh” label), Beauty and the Beast was also well-received. Watson helped the film reach 71% on Rotten Tomatoes‘ critic score.
When it comes to audience reception, the two films are nearly indistinguishable, and both performed quite well. Cinderella enjoys a 78% audience score while Beauty and the Beast reached an impressive 80%. Ultimately, both films seemed to have gotten a lead that did the job well and ushered in a glowing reception for the live-action princesses.
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