01/17/2017 01:46 EST

Emma Watson Says Belle Is A Way Better Role Model Than Cinderella

Emma Watson is a strong role model for girls, so it’s no surprise she chose to play Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” who she believes is a far more empowering figure than Cinderella.

In fact, the 26-year-old actress turned down the role of Cinderella in the 2015 live-action remake, before she even knew the role of Belle was up for grabs.

“I didn't know they were going to make ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the time I turned down Cinderella," Watson told Total Film. “But when they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did.”

Explaining why she believes Belle is a stronger role model than Cinderella, she said: “[Belle] remains curious, compassionate and open-minded. And that's the kind of woman I would want to embody as a role model, given the choice.”

“There's this kind of outsider quality that Belle had, and the fact she had this really empowering defiance of what was expected of her,” she continued. “In a strange way, she challenges the status quo of the place she lives in, and I found that really inspiring. She manages to keep her integrity and have a completely independent point of view. She's not easily swayed by other people's perspective—not swayed by fear-mongering or scapegoating.”

When Watson joined the cast of “Beauty and the Beast,” she was given creative freedom to tweak her character after she voiced concerns about the script. Thus, Watson gave Belle her own feminist touch by making the character an inventor.

“In the animated movie, it’s her father who is the inventor, and we actually co-opted that for Belle,” the actress revealed in November. “I was like, ‘Well, there was never very much information or detail at the beginning of the story as to why Belle didn’t fit in, other than she liked books. Also what is she doing with her time?’

“So, we created a backstory for her, which was that she had invented a kind of washing machine, so that, instead of doing laundry, she could sit and use that time to read instead. So, yeah, we made Belle an inventor.”

Who says Disney princesses can’t be empowering?

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