Emily’s advice to teens? “A young person can really accomplish a lot so go for it!”
Doncha just luv a good girltalk session? Actress Emily Blunt, who was so wonderful as Meryl Streep’s neurotic assistant in The Devil Wears Prada, is here with TeenHollywood to chat about playing a teen Queen Victoria in the romantic rebellion drama The Young Victoria. This cool period piece movie is totally relatable to teens today since, hey, nothing changes. If you are a teen, there are always adults trying to control you and shape you to their will! Right?
In school, you might have studied the Victorian Age (1837-1901) and seen pictures of England’s Queen Victoria as a chubby dowager always dressed in black mourning and with a weird doily thingie on her head.
Well, seems that, at the beginning of her reign, she was thin, feisty, hot to dance and meet a great guy and completely against being controlled by her family and other royals who were sure she couldn’t handle being queen and wanted to run her empire for her!
When Victoria met cute Prince Albert from Germany (played in the film by hot Rupert Friend), who was also rebelling against being told how to run his life, they clicked right away, were married for 20 years, had nine kids and by all accounts, were madly in love.
We’re talking with Emily about creating the little-known part of teen Victoria’s life, wearing heavy costumes (“the coronation cloak was like dragging a bear behind you!”) and crown jewelry, doing a scene in Victoria’s actual bed and how she and Rupert re-created the love affair of the age.
Picture fashionable Emily in small, diamond stud earrings, a black tunic dress with silver threads and sparkly stones over tights and very tall, black boots.
TeenHollywood: Emily, did you have to summon up your inner frustrated teen for this part? I think modern teens are going to strongly relate to the controlling adult thing in the movie.
Emily: I think so too. I think that (Victoria) had a more oppressive childhood than most people. It was so managed and handled and controlled. So I think that by the time she was able to kick off and be independent, she was ready to give everyone the finger who’d ever tried to bring her down. And I understand that!
There was no way she was going to relinquish any of that power when she’d been denied it for all of those years. But that’s to her credit. She had that steely resilience to hold on for that long; to know that she would be great and she would never be denied this independence. I think people will relate. I definitely remember being a teenager and how stubborn and reckless (I was) and the stupid decisions I made and how I thought I knew it all.
TeenHollywood: Did you study her in school and feel like you knew her beforehand? What surprised you about her in your research for the role?
Emily: I actually knew only the older image that people have of her dressed in black, the mourning. And I always thought, ‘Why? Why did she mourn (Albert) so ferociously?’ And that’s what I loved about the film because you get an indication as to why she did. It was the most beautiful love story of all time really. They were put together as a manipulative calculation but they actually managed to surpass that to find real, true love.
TeenHollywood: And she’s so feisty. I really liked her.
Emily: Yeah. I was surprised by the youth and the passion and the exuberance that I hadn’t come across before or imagined her having before. She’s kind of the antithesis to what people imagine her to be in this film. So I was surprised by that. She’s very highly sexed. Loved to dance. I was really surprised because the image people have of Victorian England is the repressed state. But it’s the polar opposite to what she was like when she was young.
TeenHollywood: In the “Prada” movie you got to wear lovely, trendy clothes but now you get clothes from a whole different era.
Emily: (nods) Which are more painful to wear!
TeenHollywood: How hard was mastering the wearing of that wardrobe and walking like a queen with all those layers and weight?
Emily: Some of the clothes were really heavy. Like the wedding dress, the coronation cloak was like dragging a bear behind you. It was so heavy so it’s definitely a workout to wear those clothes.
And it’s so time consuming getting into all the undergarments. There’s about ten different things you have to put on for the undergarments. In ‘Prada’ I was in pain with the heels and in this I was in pain with the corset.
TeenHollywood: So glad we don’t have to wear those anymore. How did the girls in the Prada movie handle wearing those extremely high heels all day anyway?
Emily: Well, I’ll tell you something, any shot in “Prada” that was like here mid-shot, we were all in Ugg boots. So the myth is now broken. We were not in those heels all the time.
TeenHollywood: You wore some very accurate duplicates of the crown jewels in this film. How challenging was wearing those heavy crowns?
Emily: It was quite challenging. I felt suddenly that I had a really flimsy neck. And I was very aware that I was wobbling slightly. There is the Alexander technique, the posture technique. I never took that. So, it became apparent when they put the crown on me. They measured my head for them to fit me.
TeenHollywood: Does wearing those costumes really help you get into character though?
Emily: Yeah, they do. I approach things a bit differently. I tend to find it very helpful. I find the physical aspects of the character as important as what’s going on inside. So, I find things like the costumes or the way I move or the voice or accent very helpful to change that and try and find that. Also, hopefully, all of that goes inside and you can find something similar internally. You always sound so stupid when you explain your approach to creating a character whatever. Yeah, I find the costumes helpful. I do.
TeenHollywood: Did you have to learn a different way to move and behave in the style of royalty way back 150 years ago?
Emily: We had an etiquette coach on the set and he works very closely with the current royal family so he really knows them and he also knows the human side of them so he wasn’t too stuck about being incredibly specific about the way I picked up a glass.
I think he understands that this was a film about the public and the private side. In the private side, you have to see the character breathe. You have to see them take a moment where they can slump back in a chair because that’s what people do.
I mean, prove it to me that she wouldn’t have done that and I won’t do it but I decided to try things that seemed real to the character rather than real to the etiquette.
TeenHollywood: Had you and co-star Rupert Friend worked together before?
Emily: No, we hadn’t.
TeenHollywood: Since your mutual attraction is so important to this story, did you two meet in advance and chat about how you would build a hot love story?
Emily: We genuinely liked each other. It’s a weird thing when people ask you like ‘why do you think you had chemistry?’ It’s very hard to place why you think you have chemistry with someone. I’m sure it helps if you like them because you find things you naturally enjoy about them and you can bring it out in each other in the middle of a scene and it can be surprising and real.
Chemistry’s a really hard thing to pin down. You see married couples act together and they don’t spark, you know? It’s a very strange thing that they could be blissfully married but work together and you’re like, ‘well, I don’t see it.’ And then you hear about actors working together who loathed each other and they have amazing chemistry.
TeenHollywood: So true. Were you on the same page with your approach to the roles though?
Emily: He and I definitely had a very similar approach to these two people and I think we wanted to create a very real marriage and a one that was intimate and not too stiff and arch and try not to be swallowed up by the costumes and the set.
We tried to keep the contemporary feel because love lasts forever and it’s always been something that’s only about emotions and instincts and all of that.
So I think you have to just remember that when you’re creating a love story whether you’re in a bonnet or a pair of sweatpants. Love is just what it is, you know?
TeenHollywood: It transcends everything. Duchess Sarah Ferguson is a producer on the film. Did she come on set and did you talk to her?
Emily: She came on set a couple of times. She came up with the initial idea and then left us to it. Because she said, ‘What on earth do I know about making films?’ She was really fun.
Talking to her was interesting because I think of all of the characters, she relates to Albert the most, because he was a guest in the castle and he was the outsider. I think she definitely empathizes with that character more than anything.
TeenHollywood: Were you ever able to see or even touch some of Victoria’s real personal possessions?
Emily: Yeah, it was wonderful. We went to Windsor castle and I saw her paintings. I saw her letters to Albert. Letters he wrote to her. The real things. Her real diary. And there was someone with white gloves handling them. You are not allowed to touch them.
TeenHollywood: I understand that for the honeymoon scene you guys were actually in Queen Victoria’s bed?
Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert in “The Young Victoria.”ApparitionEmily: Yes. It was actually Queen Victoria’s bed. I mean, she’d slept in that bed.
TeenHollywood: Wasn’t that kind of weird?
Emily: Very weird. I mean, it’s so weird. And what was even stranger was that in the middle of us doing that scene, suddenly (actress) Liz Hurley was walking round the castle on a tour and she popped her head in and I literally said, ‘What’s going on? What is happening?’ Liz Hurley was like, ‘Hello.’ And then popped back out. I was like, ‘Where are we?’ It was so weird.
TeenHollywood: Hilarious! In your next project you are demoted to Princess playing the Princess of Lilliputia forGulliver’s Travels.
Emily: Yeah. I only do royalty from now on (we laugh). I’m only doing a part where someone has to curtsy to me. It was really fun. ‘Gulliver’s’ was so different. It was really, really silly and really fun and people should drop anything to work with Jack Black (who plays Gulliver) because he’s the best.
Yeah, that was fun. I was playing a rather silly princess who is about two steps behind the joke. I decided that she might not be the sharpest tool and the director let me play with that. It was fun.
TeenHollywood: Would you play Victoria again in her later years?
Emily: Yeah, if you give me like twenty years so that I will feel less weirded out by having nine children.