I read Perks in eighth grade, and I was so relieved that the movie would be in his hands. It feels like something that should have come out in the ’90s and been misunderstood, and later become some kind of cult thing—it’s heartening that it’s so embraced. It’s partially about the parts of yourself you don’t like, so the fact that everyone seems to relate to it is really comforting.
It’s funny, I was talking to Steve last night about Girls, and he was like, “Why do people make such a big deal about it?” I think it just came about at a moment when young women are bombarded by images of perfection which no human being can really achieve, and then Lena Dunham comes along and she’s on TV and she’s like this perfectly imperfect human being, and so are all of the other characters. I think that’s why it’s just caught on like wildfire.
My friend texted me during the Golden Globes and was like, “It’s so weird to see someone I feel I could be friends with accepting an award—someone who talks and laughs and smiles like normal people I know.”
I think her and Adele were like the two breaths of fresh air in the whole thing.
They were so honest about just being really excited.
Yeah, but not in like a…[smiles, tears up, and breathes heavily, beauty-pageant-style], but in a really genuine way. I think Lena and Adele can kind of establish themselves as that [genuine] person from the beginning, whereas it would be very difficult for more-established actors, or anyone who’s been on that stage a few times, who’s been running the circuit for a while, to step out of that kind of rigid thing that they’ve been doing, which they now feel they have to keep doing—they can’t break face, in a way.
Yeah, it would be weird if Julianne Moore was suddenly like, “I’m keeping it real, guys!” It’s perfectly natural for her to be dignified the way she is.
That’s something that I struggle with all the time, is how do you act natural when you’re on a red carpet and there are people screaming at you from this way and that and you feel so watched and observed? It is an unnatural situation, so it’s very difficult to find a way to be authentic. I find that to a certain degree my body just shuts down. It’s sensory overload—your body goes into a kind of defense mode. People try to have conversations with me when I step off a red carpet, and I can’t—I kind of just go numb and my brain stops functioning. So it’s difficult to find a way to be real, because it’s such an unreal situation. But hats off to [Lena and Adele], they really killed it.
Then there’s the fear of being too “Look, I’m being sincere!”
Oh my god, completely. Sometimes I hear myself in interviews and I feel like I’m in that skit from Extras where one actor is taking the piss out of celebrities who are like, “I’m so normal! Look at me being really normal, doing all of this normal stuff!” You can take it to a point where it’s like, “Well, yeah, my life is kind of weird and I can’t pretend that I live exactly like everyone else,” because it’s an extraordinary set of circumstances to be under, so you try to find that middle ground. But yeah—sometimes I hear myself back and I’m like, “This just sounds like bullshit.” [Laughs] Do you ever do interviews?
We put out a book, so I did some stuff to tell people about it. Normally we get on a plane and go somewhere and I remember how to talk in sound bites, but once this person came to our home, and it was just too close. I had just come home from school and we did it in my house right away, but I was just…
I can completely relate to that. I remember when I was young, getting ready to go to a Lord of the Rings premiere, and literally getting changed in my school’s toilet. It’s just really surreal and odd. You feel quite vulnerable.
I was talking to a friend about it, but I stopped myself because it’s such a silly thing to complain about. [Another friend] told me it’s all relative.
It is all relative. In order to stay sane you have to give yourself permission to talk about these feelings and put them out there, because it’s so unhealthy for you to feel like there isn’t space for you to consider what you’re going through. It’s such a necessary part of the human condition. I completely agree [that it feels silly]—I feel the same way—but you just have to find the people who understand that you’re a human being. There’s maybe two or three people I can do that with.
Right, and though it’s not a terrible problem, it’s hard to relate to, and that does emphasize how it can be—
Similar to you, I used to try to hide what I was doing, and I would end up in these awkward positions where I would have to go and do something [for work] but I would say I was doing something else. I would try to hide that I had a car picking me up—I would ask them to park around the corner so that people would think I was walking. All of these elaborate kinds of schemes to pretend I was like everyone else. I’ve gotten to a point now where, like, for example: I’m doing this class at NYU, and sometimes a driver comes to pick me up in case there are paparazzi outside, or there are people who have come to wait for me [to come out], and I just get straight into the car so I feel safe. And yeah, if the kids come out and see a black SUV and they go, “Oh, Emma Watson’s getting into a car”—you just hope that people will understand.