‘Harry Potter’: Emma Watson Took a Very Hermione Approach to Being Tortured

When it comes to the Harry Potter movies, there’s plenty of darkness to unpack. Given that the Cruciatus Curse is a spell purely dedicated to torture, we were bound to run into a few things that sent shivers down our spine. But, one moment of torture that stands out in the franchise (and is exclusive to the movies) was when Bellatrix tortured Hermoine by carving the Mudblood slur into her arm with a knife.

Emma Watson star of the Harry Potter movies
Emma Watson | Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Perhaps what makes Bellatrix and Hermoine’s torture scene so gut-wrenching to watch (aside from Hermoine’s screams) is that it’s something that’s quite relatable to muggles. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, we saw how quickly and easily Voldemort slashes Snape’s throat with nothing more than a flick of his wand. So, having Bellatrix carve each letter into Hermoine’s arm without magic was deeply disturbing.

The cast contributed new ideas to the ‘Harry Potter’ movies

Though this moment stands out in the Harry Potter movies, it actually wasn’t written in the script. The idea of having Bellatrix carve Mudblood into Hermoine’s arm was actually something that actors, Emma Watson and Helena Bonham Carter came up with for their characters. Watson also revealed that they painstakingly designed Bellatrix’s handwriting for an hour whilst on set.

But, helping to design handwriting wasn’t the only way that Watson took a page off of her character’s book. In true Hermoine fashion, the Harry Potter star did tons of research about torture to get into the mindset of the scene. In an interview with Fandango, David Yates (who directed the last four Harry Potter movies) got candid about how seriously Waston took the scene.

Emma Watson approached the scene by doing lots of extensive research

“Emma wanted to do research. She was really keen to get it right. It seemed like a really bizarre request, but I asked my assistant to find some documentaries where people talk about what it’s like to be tortured,” Yates shared about Watson’s extensive research process. After Watson had done her research, Yates decided to let the actors improvise the scene.

“I kind of let the camera roll for four or five minutes and I let Helena and Emma improvise to a certain extent those moments, so they could build an intensity together,” Yates shared about the process of filming this particular Harry Potter scene. During the first take, Yates did yell cut and Watson was not pleased. He explained to the actress that things were “getting scary” but she assured him of her safety before convincing him that she had more to give.

‘Harry Potter’ director, David Yates, admitted the scene got a little scary

“There were one or two moments that were really powerful, where Emma was able to just let go a little bit and forget for a moment that she was acting. And the screams were quite horrible to listen to. It was a very odd energy in the room. She was kind of exploring and exorcising demons really, and serving the scene doing that. I felt, in that moment, and in that day and in that room, she kind of crossed the line as an actress. She discovered something within herself that will make her a great actor,” Yates shared, perhaps prematurely speaking to Watson’s career longevity following the Harry Potter movies.

Watson is similar to her character, Hermoine Granger

It’s clear that Watson took her role very seriously. Like her character, she always made sure to do her research and be well-informed about the decisions she was making as an actress. Of course, this isn’t the only example of Watson acting like her Harry Potter character. During the first film, she memorized not just her lines, but everyone else’s also and would often mouth them while others were speaking. Clearly, Watson was committed to being the perfect Hermoine, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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