Dedicated follower of fashion, crime-scene cleaner, Queen of England—to say Emily Blunt has range is an understatement.
Just what is it about Emily Blunt? The British beauty seems to specialize in taking borderline-unlikable characters and imparting them with unforgettable vulnerability and charm. Think of her pin-thin, prickly but ultimately terrorized fashionista in The Devil Wears Prada. Or her damaged and aimless little sister in Sunshine Cleaning.
With the slightest dip of her eyelid or the momentary quiver of the cleft in her chin, Blunt manages to reveal emotional dimensions beyond the depth of many actresses twice her 26 years. Blunt’s characters don’t just support scenes—they steal them.
With her new turn as the titular queen in The Young Victoria, Blunt proves she can carry an entire picture. She was up for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Movie Drama for her portrayal of the iconic monarch before her “We are not amused” dotage, and the Oscar buzz is already mounting. But that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t take on the occasional genre project. Her next appearance on the big screen pits her opposite a monstrous Benicio Del Toro in a reimagining of The Wolfman, one of a dizzying five completed Blunt movies slated to debut between now and March 2011.
She will have to carve out time for a wedding, though—she and John Krasinski of The Office got engaged back in August.
Leslie Gornstein: You have said you’re drawn to people who are a little off the wall. How does one go about finding the off the wall in someone as hyper-managed as an English queen?
Emily Blunt: I never felt that Victoria was off the wall. I think I’m drawn to characters with complexity or who are under duress in some way and have some conflict going on. In this case, it was a character who had so much to draw from, and there were so many challenges in playing her. I loved the sense of the performance, of her being queen and the private person behind closed doors.
You’ve also said you draw inspiration for your characters from real people you know, calling it “combining, not stealing.” Do these people recognize themselves in your work? And then who has provided you with the best “combining”?
It’s funny, like I feel I can’t give away names. It’s usually other people who say, “I think you are playing so-and-so.” It’s quite a subconscious thing. If you’re very open to watching the world go by, with people’s different tics, you absorb it all without realizing it and find ways to put something into your character. I’m not sure I’m always aware I’m mimicking someone. With Victoria, it was a different story. She’s actually the character I’ve played that I have understood the most. There was a wealth of knowledge to draw from. Her voice was so emphatic and unique. I didn’t base her on anyone but the person who came alive in books and diaries. (more…)
Emily Blunt recently attended a showing of The Young Victoria at The Grove in Los Angeles, and stayed after to answer some questions from the audience. She touches on a lot of great point throughout, including bringing the film to America, and the difficulties of connecting to the character. It’s really a nice, intimate discussion, and having seen great work from her in more than one film last year, it’s nice to get this kind of format. Especially considering that her performance here is certainly in the top three of the year.Enjoy the interview, and below you can also get some clips in video.
Q: What makes this film’s portrayal of the queen unique?
EB: When I was first reading up about this film, I had no idea that there was this feisty, remarkable girl beneath the black, dour, sour-faced exterior that I’d become aware of in history class at school. So I think I was as surprised as everyone else. I think that everyone knows about the mourning and the grief and the unhappiness, but no one knows about the love and the passion [of Victoria]. Hopefully this film, if it does anything, will help people understand why she mourned [Prince Albert] so ferociously.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in portraying this character?
EB: As much as I could, I tried to approach her as the girl rather than the queen because she’s a teenage girl, who is in love and in a job where she’s in way over her head. And, at the end of the day, that’s at least a starting point that I can understand. But subconsciously, the more I read about her, the more I absorbed about her, I think I understood Victoria more than any other character I’ve played. (more…)
Emily Blunt first captured our attention when she played Meryl Streep’s first assistant in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada. She went on to get parts in other films, including Charlie Wilson’s War, Dan in Real Life and Sunshine Cleaning.
Now, Blunt has a lot to celebrate.
Last year, she became engaged to The Office’s John Krasinski and her portrayal of Queen Victoria in The Young Victoria earned her a third Golden Globe nomination.
The 26-year-old London native spoke to The Miami Herald about playing the British monarch and what it was like to wear those beautiful, yet often uncomfortable, costumes.
The Young Victoria is very focused on the beginning of Victoria and Prince Albert’s romance. What is important about that time-line in their lives?
“I think it’s vital to learn about their passion on a real level. No one knows about that side of their relationship. . . . It was a meeting of the souls for those two and I think it’s important to show that so people can understand why [when he died] she mourned him so ferociously.” (more…)
The British actress’ royal turn as ‘The Young Victoria’ leaves her marveling at the power of love.
The diamond ring on Emily Blunt’s finger is so blinding, it appears she might have ransacked the Crown Jewels during her recent stint playing the teenage queen of England in her new movie “The Young Victoria.”
Wearing a skin-tight, black Roland Mouret mini-dress, long hair loose around her shoulders, Blunt, 26, described by her colleagues as “warm, friendly, funny and down-to-earth” enters the lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel looking cool and glamorous, more ’60s Mod than 19th century empress. It turns out her ring doesn’t come from the royal stash in the Tower of London, but courtesy of boyfriend John Krasinski (NBC’s “The Office”), who just asked her to marry him.
“What really resonated with me was how wonderful that commitment that they had to each other was, and how important that is,” the newly engaged Blunt says of Victoria and Albert, the famous royal couple who married in 1840 and loved each other ferociously. When Albert died suddenly at age 42, broken-hearted Victoria put on black to mourn him, never took it off and went on to become England’s longest-serving monarch at 63 years and seven months. “People quit on jobs. They quit on marriages. They quit on school. There’s an immediacy of this day and age that doesn’t lend itself to being committed to anything.” (more…)
Yesterday, Emily Blunt was nominated for a Golden Globe award. On Friday, The Young Victoria, the movie for which Blunt received her third nod, arrives in theaters. In the film, a biopic about the early days of Queen Victoria’s 60-plus year reign, the 26-year-old actress plays the young monarch, with all the corsets, crowns, court intrigue and ladies-in-waiting that entails. Focused on the years surrounding Victoria’s coronation, the movie chronicles the headstrong royal’s early missteps and her love affair with future husband Albert (played by a dashing, German-accented Rupert Friend). Lest this sound like the stuff of melodramatic costume dramas, you should know that Queen Victoria was famously randy, producing nine children in 21 years of marriage, and not given to sentimentality. (“An ugly baby is a very nasty object — and the prettiest is frightful when undressed,” she once wrote.)
Blunt, until now best known for her gleefully wicked turn as a snotty assistant in The Devil Wears Prada, has a busy year ahead of her: a frontrunner for an Oscar nod, she’ll be walking red carpets (with her fiancé, The Office’s John Krasinski) through March. In February, she’ll do her part to make werewolves happen, co-starring with Benicio Del Toro in gothic horror film The Wolfman. Last week we sat down with Blunt, who was sporting leather pants while curled up on a hotel room couch, to talk about The Young Victoria, dive bars and Rastafarian hats.
Do you think there are parallels between being the Queen, a person who is always being watched, and being famous now? I think it does correlate. Queen Victoria was a celebrity of that time. We’re unfortunate that we have the internet now. You say one thing and its completely taken out of context and blown across a thousand blogs. It’s weird. I think its more suffocating now simply because of the media influence. But in her day, she was ridiculed. People would stand on pedestals and bray to the world about how bad they thought she was doing as a queen. She was caricatured in a drawing in the newspaper and she had to see that. The awareness of knowing that you’ve made a dumb move like she did – trying to overturn the government which was a rather stubborn, teenage thing she did—and the whole country turned against her, she must have felt the heat of that. She must have felt that. (more…)
Emily Blunt quickly made a name for herself with a breakthrough supporting role inThe Devil Wears Prada (2006). Since then, she’s appeared in numerous films, including The Jane Austen Book Club (2007), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), andSunshine Cleaning (2008), garnering plenty of fans and critical attention. Now she takes on her largest role yet as the titular queen in The Young Victoria.
San Francisco Bay Guardian: How do you approach a role when you’re playing a historical figure?
Emily Blunt: Well, you want to do it justice, and factually of course, you want to remain as close to what you’ve researched. In a way there’s a challenge because it’s your take on her as well. And it’s not that I wanted to make her contemporary, but I wanted to have a fresher look on that period, so that I presented her as the girl rather than as the queen. Because I think that’s more relatable, and I think that people can understand being young and being in love and feeling overwhelmed, rather than a rather stiff portrayal of a monarch. Not many people can relate to that. What I loved about the script is that it allowed us so much room to explore the private side of her. The public side was such a performance, in a way. And that’s what I loved — I found it revealing and intimate, and I liked that.
SFBG: How familiar were you with Queen Victoria’s life before you took on the role?
EB: Like, really unfamiliar. I mean, I knew about her as being old and grizzled and sour-faced and repressed, and so I think it was exciting and enlightening for me to read the script. Because I knew nothing about when she was young and the vibrancy that she had and the strength of character. She was a rebel, really, for that time, very forward-thinking, a modern thinker. And passionate — loved intensely, hated intensely. So I think she sort of appeared to be a shell of a woman after Albert died, so I’m excited for people to see her. (more…)
The Young Victoria is a drama that chronicles Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne, focusing on the early turbulent years of her reign, and her legendary romance and marriage to Prince Albert.
In 1837, at the age of 17, Victoria (Emily Blunt) was the object of a royal power struggle. With her uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent) dying and Victoria in line for the throne, everyone is vying to win her favor. Coached to win her hand, Victoria’s handsome cousin, Albert (Rupert Friend), is invited to visit by her mother, The Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), and the two quickly become friends.
Once King William dies and Victoria is crowned Queen of England, she embraces Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), the charming Prime Minister, as her sole advisor. Prince Albert returns to London to witness the coronation and, after their friendship deepens even further, Victoria invites him to marry her, and continued to rule with him until the end of his life.
At the film’s press day, actress Emily Blunt, who plays the title role, talked about what drew her to such an iconic British figure, as well as gave hints to what audiences can expect from her upcoming big-budget releases The Wolfman and Gulliver’s Travels.
Q: How did you first hear about The Young Victoria?
Emily: My agent sent me the script and I really fell in love with her and the script. I thought it was really rare, in that it wasn’t too arch and stiff. It seemed to be a very intimate portrait of a girl, rather than a queen. She was a girl who was under duress and huge pressure, and she was in love, so there was so much to play with and I knew it was such a rare find. I had to be quite pushy about getting them to cast me.
Q: Playing such an iconic character and being British yourself, does that add more pressure to your work?
Emily: Yes, because you want to do her justice, since she’s very much emblematic of our country, and everything that her and Albert did together, what they achieved and how much they did for education, social reform, architecture, the arts, the sciences and all of it. They did so much for the country. So, it’s important to try to show her in the best light you can, but also to create a real person and try not to approach her as the Queen.
I don’t know what it’s like to be the Queen of England. Hardly anyone does. But, at the end of the day, there’s a human side to everyone. She was a young girl who was in love for the first time, in a job where she felt completely intimidated and over her head, and a lot of people can relate to that. A lot of people remember what it’s like to be in love for the first time, and some people have come from a dysfunctional family. I feel like this film is actually about a dysfunctional family, at the end of the day. (more…)
I have added screen captures & videos Emily Blunt in a roundtable discussion with actresses Mo’Nique, Patricia Clarkson, Vera Farmiga & Robin Wright debate whether the film business has improved for women, and how female talent can enact change.