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In 2007, Watson announced her involvement in two productions: the television adaptation of the novel Ballet Shoes and an animated film, The Tale of Despereaux. Ballet Shoes was broadcast on 26 December 2007 to an audience of 5.2 million, and The Tale of Despereaux, based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo, was released in 2008 and grossed over US $86 million in worldwide sales. In 2012, she was confirmed for the role of Ila in Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic Noah.
Emma Watson was born in Paris to Jacqueline Luesby and Chris Watson, both British lawyers. Watson lived in Paris until the age of five. Following her parents' divorce, she moved with her mother and younger brother to Oxfordshire. Watson has stated that she speaks some French, though "not as well" as she used to.
From the age of six, Watson had wanted to become an actress, and for a number of years she trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts, a part-time theatre school where she studied singing, dancing and acting. By the age of ten, she had performed in various Stagecoach productions and school plays, including Arthur: The Young Years and The Happy Prince, but she had never acted professionally before the Harry Potter series. "I had no idea of the scale of the film series," she stated in a 2007 interview with Parade; "If I had I would have been completely overwhelmed."
In 1999, casting began for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States), the film adaptation of British author J. K. Rowling's best-selling novel. Casting agents found Watson through her Oxford theatre teacher, and producers were impressed by her confidence. After eight auditions, producer David Heyman told Watson and fellow applicants Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint that they had been cast for the roles of the schoolfriends Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley respectively. Rowling supported Watson from her first screen test.
The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2001 was Watson's debut screen performance. The film broke records for opening-day sales and opening-weekend takings and was the highest-grossing film of 2001. Critics praised the performances of the three leads, often singling out Watson for particular acclaim; The Daily Telegraph called her performance "admirable", and IGN said she "stole the show". Watson was nominated for five awards for her performance in Philosopher's Stone, winning the Young Artist Award for Leading Young Actress.
A year later, Watson again starred as Hermione in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second instalment of the series. Reviewers praised the lead actors' performances. The Los Angeles Times said Watson and her peers had matured between films, while The Times criticised director Chris Columbus for "under-employing" Watson's hugely popular character. Watson received an Otto Award from the German magazine Bravo for her performance.
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