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….