The 26-year-old Harry Potter star is back in a new film The Colony with Daniel Brühl — but she’s about to take time out to work with the UN

You've recently been sporting a cropped haircut — was that for a role?

No, just for me! Just for fun. It’s always my first impulse when I have the choice. Short hair’s easier to keep. I’m planning on spending this year mostly on doing my own work, so maybe that’s why I did it.

What work?

I’m spending a year working on my UN stuff. My goal is gender equality.

How far are we from achieving that?

Well, it depends where in the world you are looking. It’s a common misconception that when women won the vote, gender inequality became a thing of the past. I think we very much need feminism in 2016.

What does being a feminist mean to you?

It means you want to end sexism, misogyny, inequality, prejudice everywhere. Bell Hooks, who I am reading at the moment, says patriarchy has no gender and I think it is something we all need to be engaged in and solve, regardless of what sex you are or where you sit on the gender spectrum.

Do you believe in positive discrimination?

Ah, that’s a really good question. I do, actually. There is a problem and an imbalance that needs to be corrected. We are trying to right a historical wrong. That’s really what the HeForShe campaign is about: awareness and education are great, now what concrete steps can we take to turn that into something tangible?

Cult film: Watson stars alongside Daniel Bruhl in The Colony. Tap to watch the trailer...

In The Colony, your character infiltrates a sinister, Nazi-run cult to save her man...

Yes, she’s incredibly brave in the face of a system that seems much bigger than her. She thinks that what she can do as an individual can and will make a difference, and tries to sort of achieve the impossible. I think that’s really brave and inspiring.

Do you do lots of research for a role?

Yes, I’m super geeky. There are lots of highlighter pens and sticky tabs involved.

What scares you in real life?

I’m really, really scared of injections. And I really, really dislike sharks. And I don’t really like dictators.

You are only 26, yet you have the power to change things. Is that daunting at such a young age?

Yes. Full stop! Of course it is and I often feel very ill-equipped and very vulnerable. A big part of my UN speech was about that, that somebody else with far more experience and qualifications and credibility on this topic should be on this platform but they have given it to me. But what I thought was one of my weaknesses has almost become my strength, which is that I’m still learning and so is my audience, and I’m bringing them along on that journey with me.

Do you keep in touch with the Harry Potter cast?

I haven’t seen or spoken to them in a little while.

Oh. Why’s that?

There’s not a big conclusion to draw from that, it’s just I’m in London, I think Dan’s in New York, I think Rupert’s been away. But there is nothing that could break the intimacy of that experience we shared. They’re the kind of people that years could go by and I would see them and it would be like not a day had gone past.

Do you think you will ever all do a movie together again?

I’d love to. There’s no reason why not.

Exciting role: Noma Dumezweni plays grown-up Hermione on stage

Are you going to see the new play, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child? What will it be like seeing someone else play Hermione?

Yes, I am excited to see someone else play Hermione. It’s her at a very different time in her life and it’s a different story and it’s a play, not a film. It’s kind of different enough and otherworldly enough that it feels separate from me and my portrayal of her.

What do Potter fans usually ask you?

Most of them ask, ‘Why are you here?!’ as if I should be in Hogwarts. Actually, when I meet fans, I’m usually the one asking questions. I’d much rather shake someone’s hand and hear about their day than just do a selfie. LARUSHKA IVAN-ZADEH

The Colony is in cinemas and on demand now