Paranormal. As a scientifically inexplicable phenomenon. «Some days I feel that everything seems to be the result of fate and others think that my life is too surreal and I can not believe it», says Emma Watson (Paris, 1990). Seated in front of the deep look of the director Alejandro Amenábar (Santiago de Chile, 1972) -who signed her to star in his most recent film, Regresión, with Ethan Hawke-, the British actress defines the magical moment she is living. His spell, since he co-starred in the Harry Potter saga as a child, has not lost strength. Maturity has brought her experience to do (well) other types of films, as well as the determination to successfully complete the English Literature career, be a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, lead an interesting personal life without scandals and deal elegantly with the thousands of fans that (per) follow. And the latter is serious: two people in charge of ensuring their safety have flown in from London the day before to comb the luxury hotel where the session takes place. Here, everything in order. Toronto (Canada) was another song. Until then the team moved to shoot this high-voltage psychological thriller, where the hordes of fans of the actress posed a challenge for production. Thankfully, the savoir-faire of this director, winner of an Oscar in 2005 by Mar adentro, is above good and evil: “The city is an extraordinary place for a film, a great set with some incredible locations.” For her and for its gray exteriors, cold landscapes and threatening forms, Amenábar moves the threads of some helpless and creepy characters, with pockets full of secrets.
Do you need to be very brave to embark on a scary movie?
Alejandro Amenábar: As a child I was a very scared child, but I loved watching suspense films. Perhaps, putting myself behind the camera was a method to overcome my fears: to death, to darkness, to the devil. Now, I would not say that Regresión is a horror film, but it is about fear itself and how we have to get rid of it in order to be able to better focus situations and finally solve problems.
Emma Watson: I had been offered dark papers before, but this was the first I wanted to do. And, to a large extent, that decision has been due to Alejandro, because to enter these dark places and really feel them, you need the help of someone you trust and that you know will take care of you while you live that experience, which goes to create an environment that will make you protected and safe while you carry out the work.
In Regression, psychology faces spirituality. What side are you on? Do you believe in an afterlife, do you believe in the existence of God?
Alejandro Amenábar: When I did the others, one of the actors told me that he was sure that I believed in ghosts. And it is not like that. The certain thing is that I try to be always rational, although I consider that there can be something more, something to which you can call spiritualism. And for the record, I have not grown up with that kind of education.
Emma Watson: I do not believe in ghosts, but I do believe in the idea that the mystery, the unknown, not being able to understand everything, is very important for human consciousness. I think it’s good to be curious, because that allows us to catch the inspiration. Moreover, there is something shameful in that people always approach certain issues in a specific way: being open to what may happen is something very nice.
That in your case does not seem so simple. How do you face being a public figure and, at the same time, lead a normal existence?
Emma Watson: I have forced myself to make a very conscious effort to achieve it, because, if I let myself be carried away by this industry, it would be very easy not to have my feet on the ground. Being famous in this job means being very isolated from the rest of the people: you spend a lot of hours in cars, in hotel rooms … But it does not affect me much anymore. In the end, I have always found a way to connect with reality. I got to take four years in which I only made secondary characters and I have lived great periods of time in which not only I have not been involved in the world of cinema, but also, I have gone to university. And that has helped me a lot. I think – and this was seen by my mother when I was very young – if I want to be an actress, I have to be able to portray people with different points of view. And that capacity is only provided by experiences.
Both of you have become icons of causes that transcend your work. Alejandro gave the opening speech on the last Gay Pride Day in Madrid, in which he mentioned the 10 years of gay marriage in Spain. Emma is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations in the HeforShe campaign for gender equality and author of a speech that has already made history. Are these papers the most difficult to interpret because of the responsibility they entail?
Alejandro Amenábar: I’m not a fan of giving speeches. The things I have to say I prefer to share them with my friends, my family … But there are times when you feel you have to do it. And, well, why not?
Emma Watson: Usually, I am a very reserved person. And the day of the speech at the United Nations I was very nervous. But there are times when you feel there are things you have to say. And, if you do not say them, you know you’re not being honest with a part of you. That was not something that I found easy or natural. Although I had in mind that, if I dared, I would be more honest with myself and also more free. It scared me, yes, but at the same time it was very liberating. I thought it would be honest and that way people could see who I really am.
Showing yourself as you are … In Regression lies the feeling that those who are close to you – or even more like you – can become your worst enemies. Does that risk increase with fame?
Alejandro Amenábar: I do not feel it as something dangerous. I think that the possibility of meeting so many people gives you the ability – or, at least, I want to think I have it – to know who you can trust. The fact that there are people who approach you with the wrong intentions can happen to you whether you are famous or not.
Emma Watson: The only thing is that, if you are known, it happens to you on a large scale, but the themes and feelings are the same.
Have you ever felt victims of the imposter syndrome, that transitory psychological disorder that leads you to think that your successes are not the result of your work but of luck?
Alejandro Amenábar: No, but insecurity is part of our work, particularly in the case of actors. Moreover, sometimes, the best results come from someone who is especially insecure.
Emma Watson: It is a very human feeling. It is often difficult to accept that your dreams have come true. And you wonder why what happens to you does not happen to anyone else. Why you. It is complicated: they are difficult feelings to process but that make me more determined, they help me to work more to be worthy of the privileges that life has put me on the road.
Emma, now that you have finished your degree in English Literature, is it possible to bring out your own script?
Emma Watson: (Sighs) That, for sure, is something very difficult to do, and I’m sure it would make me feel quite vulnerable.
You can always ask Alejandro for some veteran’s advice …
Emma Watson: (Laughter). Yes, maybe. But I think that he prefers to transmit through me, that I am an actress, what he writes. At the end of the day, Alejandro, a script
Alejandro Amenábar: In the film there is a scene in a bathroom between Emma and Ethan that I have very present because it was the first we rehearsed together. I remember that the first day of the recording the three of us sat on the floor and started to work. And, then, Emma started suggesting things and then Ethan too, and for me it was the perfect collaboration, because they both rewrote the scene. That was beautiful. Those things happen.
Life gives you surprises … Did you expect me to treat you like this?
Alejandro Amenábar: I, since I was an adolescent, knew that I wanted to dedicate myself to this business in some way. Of course when you are young you have dreams, very ambitious dreams. I knew that I wanted to become a director and today I feel lucky, because there are many people who find themselves in this situation of wanting to work in something that is a great privilege for me. Yes, I usually pinch.