After playing Hermione Granger for 10 years, Emma Watson is ready to start life post-Harry Potter.

The first thing she did—as so many girls do after a break-up—was cut off all of her hair into a posh pixie cut that's a drastic change from Hermione's bushy mane. "I've wanted to do it since I was about 16, and when Harry Potter ended in June, I just needed a change," she said in this month's Marie Claire. "It was quite symbolic for me. It's very short; it was buzzed at the back and on the sides. And it's really liberating that I can walk out without thinking about it."

But though she's ready to leave the franchise, she certainly doesn't regret her time spent at Hogwarts. "My last day was pretty emotional," she said. "It was sad; it's the end of an era. What an amazing learning experience! I gave everything I could to that role, and I got so much from it." And it's been a long haul. "There was no reprieve," Watson said. "But I'm glad I saw it through to the end; I played that character from the start, and I wanted to finish what I started. It felt very satisfying that I had completed Hermione's journey."

Luckily, according to the actress, playing Hermione "came so naturally." The two had a lot in common, according to Watson. "I had a real affinity for her," she said. "I felt like I knew exactly who she was. Like me, she's very loyal and determined, she's very intelligent, and she has a lot of guy friends, as I do." But now, she's ready for her next big project—college.

"The first year at Brown was about finding my feet," she said. "I found a great group of girlfriends, and now that I know how things work and what the professors expect, I'm really excited about going back for my second year, because I feel this time I can relax and enjoy it." And though she is probably the biggest celebrity on campus, her classmates have had the courtesy to respect her privacy. "Brown has a real sense of community, and people are very protective of me," she said. "They really look out for me; they want me to feel like I'm part of it." –AMY LEE

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