The film distributed by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures stars Russell Crowe as the ark-building Noah and Jennifer Connelly as his wife, Naameh, in a dark, psychological reimagining of the Old Testament flood story.
Three Arab countries have banned the Hollywood film on religious grounds even before its worldwide premiere and several others are expected to follow suit.
Oxfordshire, England-native Watson, 23, spoke to Reuters about how the "Harry Potter" films prepared her for the physically punishing role, the challenge of realistically portraying childbirth on screen and working with a cast of veteran actors.
Q: "Noah" marks your return to large-scale spectacle films, do you approach your role any differently than you did while making the "Harry Potter" series?
A: I remember being on set and Darren was saying, "OK, the water is going to be cold, we're probably going to be here for a full day, try and conserve your energy between takes, like keep warm and make sure you eat properly. This is going to be physically very demanding." For a minute I felt very intimidated and then there's something about having done those "Harry Potter" films and they were very physical. We did a lot of stuff in Scotland. It was freezing cold, filming at 4 in the morning, working crazy hours.
It's kind of comforting in a way to know that in some senses, nothing will be as hard as that again, and I'm pretty prepared for most things people can throw at me, whether it be animals, water, stunts, CGI (computer-generated imagery), whatever it is. It was a very good school in a way and set me up very well for this kind of environment and this kind of pressure.
Q: Did you do any reading on your character of Ila outside of the script?
A: I actually didn't do a lot of reading, but I did a lot a research because I become a mother in the story, and obviously have never given birth myself. That required quite a lot of careful thinking. Darren and I had this conversation where we both agreed that in so many films, women give birth and it looks like they're barely breaking a sweat. We wanted it to feel very raw, very real and so I took it pretty seriously.