As a child she stuttered, now Emily Blunt has a good chance of winning an Oscar – for her role as the lonely drinker in the film adaptation of the bestseller “Girl On The Train”.
She can look so beautifully evil, even in real life. Emily Blunt, marble complexion and tired gray-blue eyes, stares at the empty pill blister as if it were about to jump at her. “Something struck my throat overnight,” she says angrily. She jerks her head carefully. All the paracetamol have been swallowed, but the neck still feels like a board. “You know what? I’ve become a super professional in power-napping. “Daughter Violet is just 13 weeks old, her sister Hazel is two years old.” You only want one thing: a nap in between. “Unfortunately, it won’t work again today. A few more hours, then “The Girl On The Train” has its world premiere in Leicester Square, London.
In the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ bestseller, 33-year-old Blunt stars as Rachel Watson. Their childless marriage has broken up, they are free from work; she drinks like a hole. Watson is sitting in the shuttle train, and hatred for everything she sees through the window glimmers in her glassy eyes: a family idyll of villas and front gardens on the banks of the river. Something is brewing, as always when a film camera targets the face of the English actress.
“It’s not a particularly funny skin to slip into as a drunk,” says Blunt. In preparation for her role, she really wanted to give herself the edge, and husband John, himself an actor, was supposed to film her. The idea burst when Blunt found out about her second pregnancy before filming began.
Emily Blunt doesn’t want to hear about the Oscar talk
She has also seen drinkers among friends and families. And she did Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” viewed, John Cage studied in Leaving Las Vegas. But to understand “what alcohol does to faces, bodies and movements”, she had to watch documentaries and the reality show “Intervention”. “These people are really over. It’s not about excess, it’s about total oblivion. It breaks your heart.”
The hardship may pay off for her by the end of February when the Oscars for 2016 are awarded. Nowhere is drinking and suffering from it more popular than in Hollywood: Elizabeth Taylor and Nicolas Cage won the trophy, as did Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart or Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges, John Wayne and so on. Blunt doesn’t want to hear about “this Oscar talk”. “Nonsense!” She shouts, but looks flattered to coquettish.
Most moviegoers know Blunt from “The Devil Wears Prada”. There she is the anorexic, envious, red-haired “Vogue” assistant who says that famous sentence: “I’m only one gastrointestinal flu away from my dream weight.” Meryl Streep stated that she had never worked with such a talented young actress. Anne Hathaway, at that time the actual leading role, was sweet to look at, but quickly digested.
“Girl On The Train” was a kind of reparation
Blunt then played his way across all subjects, through costume films (“Victoria, the young queen”), comedies (“Salmon fishing in Yemen”) and science fiction worlds (“Edge Of Tomorrow”). In “Sicario” she devoted herself to the tough thriller genre and had to experience that her role as FBI agent and the only woman should be rewritten as a man because the financiers hoped for more traction from a male star. Even if it didn’t come to that – she was outraged, she is still outraged today when she says: “That’s crazy! It’s just exciting that a woman is going into the drug war against Mexican cartels and defends herself against corrupt colleagues.”
The subsequent shooting of “Girl On The Train” followed in this regard as a kind of reparation. “The novel is written by a woman, as is the screenplay, there are three strong and complex female leading roles – what more could you ask for?” She values the behavior of colleagues, their ability to listen and also to accept other opinions. “If you only shoot with men, it’s like being in a fraternity – you always have to fight to make your voice heard.”
As before, unfortunately, she is not spared reading her way through a bunch of nonsense “to come across a good script for women”. Hollywood needs complex and realistic characters, she believes, and many more women authors. “But there is hope. At crucial points you are slowly realizing that our audience is not just made up of teenage boys. That you can also make box office with women.”
Marriage to John Krasinski
After the gloomy “Girl On The Train”, Emily Blunt’s working life will soon be bright again: In “Mary Poppins Returns”, the successor to the 1964 classic, Blunt will float down from the sky as a nanny with an umbrella on London. She can’t sing as well as Julie Andrews, “but somehow I’ll get my version right.”
She immortalized her voice in 2007 on the CD “Call Me Irresponsible” in a duet with Michael Bublé. She dated the Canadian jazz singer for three years before meeting US actor John Krasinski and getting married in 2010. At that time, the celebrations took place right next to the villa by John’s friend on Lake Como, George Clooney – Emily Blunt is perfectly embedded in society.
The daughter of a former actress and a defense lawyer grew up in the London suburb of Roehampton, was sent to one of the most expensive boarding schools in the country, and she knows it perfectly, the nasal accent of Queen’s English, which comes across as slightly blasé. As a child she suffered from speech disorders; in fact, her stuttering got so bad that she occasionally stopped talking, “which was embarrassing not only for me, but for anyone who wanted to speak to me.”
Criticism of Donald Trump
But as soon as she blocked her voice, communicated by chanting or aped her teachers, parents and siblings, the stuttering disappeared. Acting at the school theater then passed completely. “There was something liberating about transforming into a different character. I no longer had to worry about what would stumble out of my mouth next.” Every now and then the stuttering still comes back, she says, “the last time I was pregnant. But it’s only the baby brain syndrome to blame. I just forget everything.”
After eight years in and around Los Angeles, she has now moved to Brooklyn. “My husband has a family in Boston and there is less and less shooting in Los Angeles anyway,” she says. “Actually only TV series are made there.” Since 2015, Blunt has both British and US citizenship. Not every Englishman liked the fact that she also gave tactical reasons for her decision. On the other hand, some Americans resented the fact that they took the Republican nomination debate about Donald Trump as an opportunity to publicly wonder whether their newly acquired naturalization might not have been a mistake after all. For this she asked for forgiveness in a prominent place on the “Today” show on NBC.
Apparently, Blunt is a person without fear of blunders or clear announcements, a rare specimen in Hollywood.
And if Donald Trump were to be elected president, is returning to Europe an option? “You should never say never. But I try not to think about it until the elections. I don’t want to get upset,” she says. It’s a shame, actually. Nobody in the film business can look more angry.