As evidenced by the fact that she’ll next be seen as Belle in Disney’s live-action redo of Beauty and the Beast, Emma Watson is far from unattractive. Yet that was precisely what caused some problems for director Christopher Columbus when he set about working on his adaptation of the first Harry Potter movie, 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. To make the actress more closely align with author J.K. Rowling’s gawky description of Hermione Granger in the novels, he even briefly saddled her with fake teeth.
In Entertainment Weekly’s new podcast Binge — which revisits entire film series and TV franchises — Marc Snetiker and C. Molly Smith spoke with Columbus about his experience making Sorcerer’s Stone. Their discussion eventually turns to the topic of Watson’s Hermione, who, Columbus decided, at least at production’s outset, should boast some artificial chompers. (In the novels, Hermione is described as having bushy hair and large front teeth.)
Said Columbus: “The thing we shot on the first day of Sorcerer’s Stone was the final train sequence where Harry looks at Hogwarts and Emma, Dan [Radcliffe], and Rupert [Grint] are huddled outside of the train. It was a big thing in the books about [Hermione’s] teeth. She sort of had an overbite, so [Emma’s] wearing fake teeth in that scene. And I realized that she’s never going to be able to perform with these huge fake teeth in her mouth for the rest of the movie. So if you look closely, you can see some fake teeth.”
Rowling herself has previously discussed how all three of the films’ leads (and Watson in particular) were far better looking than she’d originally imagined the characters would be. In an older video conversation with Daniel Radcliffe, Rowling recalled first meeting the young actors who would be playing the roles. “To be honest, you and Rupert and Emma are all too good-looking,” she said. “It was really lucky I spoke to Emma first on the phone before I met her. Because I fell absolutely in love with her. … And then when I met her, and she was this very beautiful — which she still is, of course — beautiful girl, I just kind of had to go, ‘OK. It’s film, you know, deal with it. I’m going to still see my gawky, geeky, ugly duckling Hermione in my mind.‘”
Suffice it to say, the decision to abandon those oral prosthetics was undoubtedly a good idea — and something that must have made a young Watson happy. To read — and hear — about Columbus’s fake-teeth experiment, as well as his wish that Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid had been a bit more of a giant.