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Students follow Emma Watson from Hogwarts to 'The End'

9:15 PM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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By Meryl Gottlieb, USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent

After 10 years of wielding a wand and being the brightest witch of her age, Emma Watson is increasingly adding a list of screen credits to her resume that do not start with "Harry Potter."

The world was introduced to Emma Watson in 2001 when she made her first appearance in the Harry Potter film franchise as Hermione Granger, a role that would define her acting career for the next decade.

The question is whether or not she can break away from that role.

Last year, Watson starred in the hit coming-of-age story The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This year, she appears in This Is the End, an apocalyptic comedy that premiered June 12, and The Bling Ring, the story of teenagers who robbed the homes of celebrities, such as Paris Hilton. The Bling Ring will premiere nationwide June 21.

Watson is also involved in Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic Noah, slated for March 2014, and Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

Joe Wehner, a junior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, says she will never escape being related to Hermione within a certain demographic. He saw This Is the End at an advance screening and says her edgier character was like an edgier Hermione.

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"I don't think she'll ever actually break out of it unless the person watching her has never seen Harry Potter," the 21-year-old says. "Maybe a younger generation who didn't grow up while the movies were coming out all throughout their life will think of her differently."

Others agree to an extent, saying the actress's similarity to the role she played makes the breakout difficult.

"Of the trio (in Harry Potter), she was my favorite portrayal," says Caroline Bobst, 20, a junior at Ohio University. "She's a lot like her character in real life: She's very quick-witted and smart. And that's basically who Hermione is."

Despite their love for Watson as Hermione, many fans such as Bobst say they are excited for what is to come and will support whatever she does.

"After years of those movies, you feel invested in their lives, and you want them to do more," she says. "As a fan of nerdy things, it's our mentality to love and support the actors if they're in anything ... because we love them from the great material they gave us."

Bobst says she would not normally see a film such as This Is the End, saying the only reason she will see it is because of Watson's cameo.

"I never expected her to do that kind of movie," Bobst says. "I think she's really trying to branch out. She's done three pretty different movies: Perks, This Is the End, The Bling Ring. They are all different styles. I think she's trying to dip her toes in and figure out what she likes."

Though This Is the End may feature the most outlandish of her recent roles - she swears, drinks and hits Seth Rogen in the face with an axe - and her Bling Ring Valley girl character may be the furthest from her Hermione-persona, Watson hasn't crossed any boundaries yet.

"Trying too hard (to break away) can backfire," says Will Ashton, 20, a junior at Ohio University. "Miley Cyrus is way overdoing it with the punk look. Emma is still keeping a classy and proper image but showing she can do more than family-friendly and can be adult."

Variety reported Thursday that Watson was teaming up with her Harry Potter producer David Heyman to star in an adaptation of The Queen of the Tearling. The book, by Erika Johansen, is partly inspired by a speech Barack Obama gave in 2007. Set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe, the book follows a 19-year-old female protagonist who must defeat the malevolent Red Queen. Described as a female Game of Thrones, according to Variety, the trilogy will be published beginning in 2014 by Harper Collins.

"I think by the time the movie is released, she'll have enough separation to go back into (the fantasy genre)," says Regine Malibiran, 20, a sophomore at the University of Texas-Austin who is a member of the university's Quidditch team, the famed sport of the Harry Potter world.

Though some may point out the parallels of joining another fantasy film franchise, Malibiran says Watson should be able to do the projects she has a passion for and not shy away from a genre to continue her breakaway from her Harry Potter role.

"I wouldn't want her to take on projects that are different from the fantasy genre for the sake of versatility," she says.

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