Emma Watson is an anomaly in Hollywood. Between high-profile movies like Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast, it’s hard not to feel like you know Hermione and Belle on a personal level. But when you take a step back and separate Emma from the characters she plays, it becomes glaringly obvious that we know very little about her personal life.

And that’s exactly the way she likes it. Watson doesn’t speak about her social life, or who she’s dating, and there’s an important reason why. “The story of my life has been of public interest, which is why I’ve been so passionate about having a private identity,” she tells Jessica Chastain in Interview magazine. “When I step into a character, people have to be able to suspend their disbelief; they have to be able to divorce me from that girl. And not having everyone know every single intimate detail of my entire life is part of me trying to protect my ability to do my job well."

“I know that I’m under a different microscope, a certain level of scrutiny, which I find really hard at times,” she said. “And sometimes the fear of doing things is overwhelming. I get incredibly overwhelmed, and sometimes feel hemmed in by that, afraid of that,” she said. “But I know that if I live in that fear, then my life as an artist, as a human being, really, is over. Ultimately, it will silence me, and it will silence what is in me—which I have yet to explore and uncover.”

While Watson seems fearless in front of a microphone or on a stage, she admits to having crippling nerves on occasion. “There’s an incredible awareness that I have to push through,” she said. “The night before I gave my speech at the U.N., I was an emotional wreck. I thought I was going to hyperventilate.”

“No one likes feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable and weak,” she said. “But I really have found that it’s in those moments when I go there that there’s a kind of magic.”

We’d say Watson knows a thing or two about magic.