Emma Watson moves on from “Harry Potter” to play Princess Pea

Hermione, don’t move! Someone’s put an Engorgement Charm on a rat, and he’s about to eat your hand off! Let me just get my wand. Finite Incantatem! Finite Incantatem! What’s going on? It won’t shrink! It must be Dark Magic!

I’m only kidding. I know that’s not a rat; it’s a mouse. In fact, it’s my favorite mouse from my favorite (non-Harry Potter) children’s book written in the last 10 years: The Tale of Despereaux.

Universal’s animated telling of Kate DiCamillo’s Newberry Award-winning book opens this weekend. Emma Watson voices Princess Pea, the daughter of a widowed king who, in his grief over his deceased wife, outlaws both soup and rats. (It seems like a peripheral detail — the rats and the soup — but it becomes really important.) Princess Pea’s gentleness and affection cause little Desperaux Tilling, a tiny mouse with enormous ears, to fall quite hopelessly and recklessly in love with her.

“You have lovely ears,” the Pea said to him. “They are like small pieces of velvet.”

Despereaux thought he might faint with the pleasure of someone referring to his ears as small and lovely. He laid his tail against the Pea’s wrist to steady himself and he felt the princess’s pulse, the pounding of her heart, and his own immediately took up the rhythm of hers.

Emma Watson is an inspired choice for the role of Princess Pea. She is practically royalty among all 50 billion young Harry Potter fans.

Lately, people keep wondering if Emma Watson’s name will always be hitched to Hermione Granger. Last week, she told MTV: “I’m very excited to do roles beyond Potter. It’s a very exciting time for me. I want when people look back on my career for them to not be able to put me in a box and say, ‘She always played this kind of role.’ I want to do everything. I would love to be in a musical. I want to sing. I want to do a crazy Baz Luhrmann Moulin Rouge! sort of thing. I’d love to do a period piece. I’d love to do a French film. There are so many options out there!”

She’s earned an estimated £10 million from the Potter films. She’s studious and articulate; her transition from precocious to stunning has been almost seamless. And if that weren’t enough, every person who ever interviews Watson becomes immediately smitten with her.

In Sunday’s London Times, veteran journalist Camilla Young profiled Watson. Young calls her “otherworldly,” “winningly flustered,” “charming,” “divine” and “a doll that has just been taken out of its wrapping…a refreshing antithesis to the ripped tights and bleached seaweed hair of the Peaches and Pixies.”

If you listen, you can almost hear the reporter’s heart beating in rhythm with Emma Watson’s — just like mine and yours, just like tiny Desperaux Tilling’s.

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