Emma goes back to school, er, Hogwarts


Hermione has not left the building. After a weekend of frantic tabloid speculation that Harry Potter star Emma Watson wanted out of her role as the franchise's resident smarty wand Hermione Granger, Warner Bros. has put mortified Muggles' minds at ease. Studio reps released a statement saying they were "extremely confident" the 16-year-old actress would return for the sixth and seventh films. They expect her contracts for the films to be finalized soon. Other series leads Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have already John Hancocked to star in the final two installments.

Entertainment Weekly speculated that the holdup was less about Emma's dissatisfaction at being known as "that girl from Harry Potter" and more about her desire to — in true Hermoine fashion — hit the books. The young British actress will turn 17 next month and could enter university in the fall, right around the same time the sixth Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, begins filming. Then filming on the final (yet-to-be-released) book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is tentatively slated for fall 2008. That would mean Emma would spend her first two years of college balancing a demanding schedule of class work, movie shoots and keg stands. Guess that magic wand will come in pretty handy.

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