He’s no monster! Emma Watson weighed in on a new Beauty and the Beast debate over whether her character, Belle, has Stockholm Syndrome, the condition in which a victim bonds with a captor. Some believe Belle only falls for the Beast (played by Dan Stevens) in the French fairytale-turned-movie because she experiences this psychological effect while being held hostage in his castle — but others, including the 26-year-old actress, think she consciously makes the choice on her own.
“It’s such a good question and it’s something I really grappled with at the beginning; the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story,” Watson told Entertainment Weekly. “That’s where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor. Belle actively argues and disagrees with [the Beast] constantly. She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought.”
The Disney heroine initially fights back and rejects the Beast’s offer to join him for dinner. “I think there is a very intentional switch where in my mind Belle decides to stay. She’s giving him hell. There is no sense of, ‘I need to kill this guy with kindness,’” the Harry Potter star said. “In fact, she gives as good as she gets. He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There’s this defiance that ‘You think I’m going to come and eat dinner with you and I’m your prisoner — absolutely not.’”
Eventually, Belle starts to see the Beast has a good heart beyond his rugged exterior, and Watson says the rocky start is what makes the story great. “I think that’s the other beautiful thing about the love story. They form a friendship first and that gap in the middle where there is this genuine sharing, the love builds out of that, which in many ways I actually think is more meaningful than a lot of love stories, where it was love at first sight,” she continued. “Beast and Belle begin their love story really irritating each other and really not liking each other very much. They build a friendship, slowly, slowly, slowly, and very slowly that builds to them falling in love. They are having no illusions about who the other one is. They have seen the worst of one another, and they also bring out the best.”
Beauty and the Beast hits theaters on March 17, 2017.
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