Usually we hear about child actors quitting school in order to pursue their acting careers. Producers hire on-set tutors so that young stars can make movies without breaking child truancy and labour laws. However, for Harry Potter star Emma Watson, the opposite was true. Watson wanted to give up acting after only two turns at Hogwarts so that she could focus on her education. Producers had to negotiate very carefully with the young actress to keep her on board for the duration of the franchise.
David Heyman was involved in the production of all eight Harry Potter films and The Hollywood Reporter asked him if the series had ever been at risk of losing any of its stars. When filming began, the actors playing the three main characters – Ron, Hermione, and Harry – had signed on for the first two movies only. Heyman was involved in the negotiations to retain Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint for six more films – an unenviable task when dealing with a reluctant star.
“We had to renegotiate each time,” explained the producer. “Emma, in particular, was quite academic and was very keen in pursuit of schooling and was wrestling a little bit more than the others. So each time there was a negotiation, it was not about a financial [matter], it really was about, ‘Do I want to be a part of this?’”
Heyman calls Watson, who ended up attending Brown University and Worcester College, Oxford after Potter wrapped, “very smart… and fiercely intelligent. We had to be sensitive to her needs and how important school was to her. And you have to listen. In our position, you’re not dictating, you’re listening,” he said, adding “I deeply respected her, encouraged her.” And in the end, convinced her to stick it out until the franchise was finished.
Radcliffe, too, had his reservations about playing the role of Harry in all eight movies. He recently revealed that he considered quitting after the third Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban over fears of being typecast and limiting his future as an actor. Radcliffe wondered if he shouldn’t start looking into other roles, but soon came to the realization that sticking with the franchise was smarter. “There aren’t many great parts out there for teenage boys,” the actor told The Guardian, “certainly not as good as Harry Potter.”