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Why People Thought Harry Potter Actress Emma Watson Was Retiring From Hollywood

Emma Watson in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows screenshot
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Emma Watson hasn’t appeared in a movie or any other acting project since 2019’s Little Women. She’s been busy with other advocacy projects through most of the pandemic and due to her high-profile, her absence began to be noticed in Hollywood. Eventually, the rumor mill even began touting that the Harry Potter actress might be moving on from acting completely.  

At this point, we now know Emma does have at least one big Warner Bros. project on her slate for HBO Max, though it's not a movie role like you might expect. Following actresses like Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow have stated they are "retired" from acting, instead choosing to move on to other passion projects. Given Watson's break from gigs and deep interest in activism, it's easy to see how the rumors got started, particularly once a comment from her agent became involved. Here's why people bought into the idea earlier this year, and what Watson is doing next. 

How The Emma Watson Retiring Rumors Got Started

Early in 2021, a report rolled around over at British outlet The Daily Mail indicating that Emma Watson was, in fact, retiring from acting. Allegedly the Harry Potter star’s agent mentioned that Watson had gone “dormant,” and the UK outlet had apparently taken that as an indication she had retired from the acting biz. However, that’s not actually what Watson’s agent meant when the term “dormant” was bandied around. 

Instead, the move prompted Emma Watson’s manager, United Entertainment’s Jason Weinberg, to come out and clarify the dormant statement (via EW). The word dormant, instead, really should have applied to her social media accounts at the time. 

Emma's social media accounts are dormant but her career isn't,

Having said this, Emma Watson isn’t even fully dormant on social media--she was just taking a pause, like she did with her acting career. She was previously active on Instagram until the summer of 2020 and her final posts before taking a break had to do with racial inequality and social justice, posts that were put up around the time of the Breonna Taylor response amidst the pandemic. It was after that time that her account went dormant, that is until about five weeks ago, when she began posting about COP 26, the UN Climate Change Conference.

In more recent weeks, Emma Watson has posted a ton, mostly to do with causes she feels passionate about, including the aforementioned climate change and meeting Al Gore. But she took a hiatus from that last week to head back to her Harry Potter roots, providing further evidence that she’s not “retiring.”

Harry Potter Fans Should Be Pumped For What Emma Watson Is Doing Next

We recently learned that HBO Max has put together an anniversary special 10 years after the final Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 hit theaters. That special, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts, will be available on the streaming service beginning on January 1, 2021, so you’ll be able to ring in the new year by streaming some Harry Potter magic. I know it's not exactly the same as the announcement a new flick with Harry, Ron and Hermione is coming, but it really should be the next best thing. 

It's not just Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson who are involved, either. The all-star lineup for Return to Hogwarts includes a bunch of the other actors related to the eight-movie series, along with director Chris Columbus. Take a look at some of the big names involved:

  • Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)
  • Emma Watson (Hermione Granger)
  • Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley)
  • Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid)
  • Gary Oldman (Sirius Black)
  • Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
  • Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) 
  • Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange)
  • Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy)
  • Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) 
  • Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) 
  • Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)
  • Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood)
  • Oliver and James Phelps (Weasley twins)  and more!

So, this project is not a new movie, but it should be the next best thing. In addition, Emma Watson also took to social and acknowledged how important Harry Potter was during her formative years. It's put her in the spotlight in a way that she's been able to do activist work in the time afterward, and part of her much longer statement focused on how proud she is of herself and where her fellow childhood actors have gone

I am proud not just of what we as a group contributed as actors to the franchise but also as the children that became young adults that walked that path. I look at my fellow cast members now and I am just so proud of who everyone has become as people. I am proud we were kind to each other that we supported one another and that we held up something meaningful.

If you look at Emma Watson's acting slate, it's still dry right now, but there may be another big budget fantasy like Beauty and the Beast (which did nearly get a sequel) or other awards catnip like Little Women just around the corner for her. She's not retired, just taking a break to live the life she wants right now. When that includes more acting roles, it's clear her fans will be waiting. 

Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.