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Emma Watson was only 9 years old when she received the life-changing news that she was cast in the Harry Potter movies. For 10 years, Watson would travel all over the world to film the eight movies, which would become global phenomenons. Portraying Hermione Granger made Watson a household name and ensured that she was financially secure. But just how did the actor land such a coveted role?

Harry Potter alum Emma Watson in a black dress and dark red lipstick
Emma Watson | Taylor Hill/WireImage

Emma Watson explains the intense audition process for the ‘Harry Potter’ movies

Thanks to the eponymous book series, the Harry Potter movies had a massive built-in following. This meant there were many people vying for a role in the film franchise. Thanks to J.K. Rowling’s stipulation that all the main characters had to be from the U.K., the pool of qualified candidates narrowed significantly. However, there were still thousands of people competing for the role that Watson ended up booking.

Funnily enough, Watson’s journey to playing Hermione Granger didn’t start with a traditional audition. Instead, the producers and casting directors of Harry Potter came to her school looking for children who fit the bill for Hermione, Harry, and Ron. Fortunately, Watson was selected to meet the powers that be, and she stood out enough to be invited to an official audition.

“There was no open audition — they went all over England to find these characters, and not just drama schools,” Watson recalled in a conversation for Interview Magazine. “They came to my school and asked if they could put forward a group of 20 children between the ages of 9 and 12. They took my photograph in the school gym, and then I got a call three weeks later.”

The movie star had doubts that she’d get cast as Hermione Granger

Once Watson received the phone call, she went on to undergo a pretty grueling audition process. In fact, the Noah actor participated in eight rounds of auditions before she got the official news that she won the part. As Watson felt a connection to Hermione, she typically was able to convince herself that the role belonged to her. However, there were times during the audition process when she began to doubt that she’d be chosen over some of the other actors.

“I won’t say the name, but there was this girl who had already done a film before,” Watson shared of the arduous Harry Potter audition process. “I can remember just crumbling at the sight of her, thinking, ‘She’s been in a film before, and she knows how to do this. I have no chance.’ Even worse, one time I came to the studios, and she was there playing cards with one of the other boys auditioning for Harry — not Daniel Radcliffe. And I was like, ‘Oh, my god, they’re making friends already! I’m definitely not going to get it.’ I was so, so upset.”


Emma Watson Was Fearless When She Auditioned for ‘Harry Potter’

Watson still has a keepsake from her audition days

Even though Watson had her moments of doubt, she still kept hoping that the part would be hers. And eventually, her wish came true. In fact, she even has a keepsake from that time of uncertainty.

“This is a sweet thing: My dad did a roast on a Sunday, and he gave me the wishbone, and I obviously made the wish that I would get this role,” she shared. “I still have that wishbone upstairs in my jewelry box.”