"It's such a good question and it's something I really grappled with in the beginning -- the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story," she told Entertainment Weekly. "That's where a prisoner will take on the characteristics of and fall in love with the captor."
Watson said this doesn't necessarily ring true for Belle. In the film, Belle is imprisoned by the fearsome Beast after sacrificing herself for her father, and falls in love with him after spending time in his captivity. But Watson said she doesn't give up her spirit and free will.
"Belle actively argues and disagrees with [the Beast] constantly," she said. "She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence. She keeps that freedom of thought."
Belle does not allow herself to be mistreated, in Watson's view.
"He bangs on the door, she bangs back," she said. "There's this defiance that 'You think I'm going to come and eat dinner with you and I'm your prisoner. Absolutely not.'"
Watson also thinks their relationship defies stereotypical "love at first sight" romance plots.
"Beast and Belle begin their love story really irritating each other and really not liking each other very much," she said. "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" opens in theaters on March 17.
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