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Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Esquire U.K.

Esquire U.K.

Sticks and stones may break her bones, but words will never hurt Emma Watson.

Watson is currently taking a one-year acting sabbatical in order to focus on women's rights around the world. She founded the gender equality organization HeForShe in 2014, the same year she was appointed a UN Global Goodwill Ambassador. To promote the initiative, Watson shares the cover of Esquire U.K.'s "Women & Men" issue with Tom Hanks, her co-star in this summer's The Circle. "If you look at his career, a lot of his biggest movies—Big, A League of Their Own, Sleepless in Seattle—have been with female directors," she says. Watson praises him for how he discusses issues, "whether it be gay rights, AIDS, environmental issues, children or the work he does with veterans. He speaks with such a humble grace and a credible voice."

The same could be said of Watson.

The actress has become an authority on gender equality, as she's experienced sexism firsthand. "I've had my arse slapped as I've left a room. I've felt scared walking home. I've had people following me," says Watson, who played Hermione Granger in eight Harry Potter films. "I don't talk about these experiences much, because coming from me they'll sound like a huge deal and I don't want this to be about me, but most women I know have experienced it and worse."