Why Emma Watson Nearly Quit 'Harry Potter' : 'The Fame Thing Had Finally Hit Home in a Big Way'

During HBO Max's Harry Potter reunion special, Emma Watson opened up about her struggles with superstardom and how she almost exited the role of Hermione Granger

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Photo: Everett

It's hard to imagine the Harry Potter films without Hermione Granger, but Emma Watson says she had reached a point where she was considering leaving the role.

During HBO Max's forthcoming Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts special, director David Yates discussed how Watson, now 31, contemplated leaving the franchise around the time he signed on to direct Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

"People definitely forget what she took on and how gracefully she did it," Tom Felton said about Watson's superstardom.

Felton noted that while he had his "cronies" and Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint had each other to lean on during their rise to fame, Watson was "not only younger but she was by herself."

"We never talked about it on the film because we were all just kids," Radcliffe said. "As a 14-year-old boy, I was never going to turn around to another 14-year-old and be like, 'Hey, how are you doing? Is everything okay?'"

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Watson even recalled rereading a diary entry from that period of her life where she felt especially lonely.

"I think I was scared," Watson told Grint. "I don't know if you ever felt like it got to a tipping point where you were like, 'This is kind of forever now.'"

Like his costar, Grint admitted that he also had thoughts about leaving the franchise.

"I had moments like that kind of all the way through," he told Watson. "I also had similar feelings to Emma kind of contemplating what life would be like if I called it a day, but we never really spoke about it. I guess we were just kind of going through it at our own pace. We were kind of in the moment at the time. It just didn't really occur to us that we were all having similar feelings."

"The fame thing had finally hit home in a big way," Watson added.

Harry Potter
Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in November 2013, producer David Heyman revealed that Watson considered leaving the franchise to focus on school.

"Emma [Watson], in particular, was quite academic and was very keen in [the] pursuit of schooling and was wrestling a little bit more than the others," Heyman said at the time. "So each time there was a negotiation, it was not about a financial [matter], it really was about, 'Do I want to be a part of this?' We had to be sensitive to her needs and how important school was to her. And you have to listen. In our position, you're not dictating, you're listening. At the same time, it's a tipping point, and it's working within a framework. I deeply respected her, encouraged her. She's very smart, always was, and fiercely intelligent.'"

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Ultimately, Watson continued on with the Harry Potter franchise and got her degree at the same time. She started at Brown University in 2009 and eventually graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree in English literature in May 2014.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts begins streaming on HBO Max on Jan. 1.

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