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Their heroes and villains were all over the map: a tortured Harlem teen, a silver-tongued Nazi, a sexy frequent flier, a danger-junkie soldier on Iraq’s front lines. Now the actors who brought these characters to the big screen all have one thing in common: an Oscar dream. In this exclusive LIFE portrait gallery, photographer Jeff Vespa captures moments with 11 actors enjoying awards-season buzz — including our stunning cover star, Up in the Air’s Vera Farmiga, who’ll be hoping to hear her name called as a Best Supporting Actress nominee come Feb. 2.

Who ever thinks of England’s 19th-century monarch as a PYT? It’s hard to see her otherwise after watching Blunt’s take on the queen-to-be, putting the zap on royal-court plotters and casting saucy sideward glances at future hubby Prince Albert. Blunt, who made a big splash playing the snarky assistant to Meryl Streep’s boss from hell in The Devil Wears Prada, handily conquers leading-lady territory here. (For Your Consideration: Best Actress)

Source: Life

Emily Blunt is ravenous.

“This is honestly the first bad thing I’ve had to eat in a long time,” she says, slathering Devonshire cream on a scone during afternoon tea at The Peninsula hotel. “You can see why it’s become an all-you-can-eat buffet for me. I’ve been so starved.”

The 26-year-old star of The Young Victoria (in select theaters tomorrow)also reveals a set of newly sculpted arms that could rival Michelle Obama’s. “I’ve got guns now,” she says, with a mix of pride and embarrassment. “It’s kind of gross.”

And not very queenly. These tweaks to her physique and diet are the result of her upcoming turn as a ballerina in The Adjustment Bureau, not her Golden Globe-nominated performance as Queen Victoria.

“I was really surprised” by being nominated Tuesday for best actress in a drama. “I try hard to ignore any whispers of that. It’s kind of a meat market. You never know and it’s hard to predict. I just wanted any kind of buzz for a film like this. It’s hard in this climate for these kinds of films to get seen.”

The film shows how the friendship between Victoria and her first cousin, Prince Albert, deepens and eventually leads to marriage after Victoria inherits the throne at the tender age of 18 upon the death of her uncle, King William, in 1837.

Blunt says she had a preconception of Victoria.

“I only knew the image of her as the grizzled old woman,” she says. “To read about this spicy, spunky girl who said no to the world, it was really exciting and revealing to read her diaries and her letters. She was a modern girl, refusing to conform. And I loved that. She had this incredibly oppressive, lonely childhood, and yet she had the steeliness to rise above it all and become a success.”

Blunt says she was “quite pushy” about nabbing the role and “demanded” that producer Graham King give her a shot. After French-Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée made the final decision to cast Blunt, Rupert Friend signed on as Prince Albert. “We had a great time on that film,” Friend, 28, says. “I had seen (Blunt’s) British indie film called My Summer of Love, and I thought it was wonderful. I had been watching her from afar, like a creepy stalker. I’ve been a fan and thought she was a great actress.”

Blunt says the film offers an escape and emphasizes commitment. (more…)

It might seem like a sizable leap from her scene-stealing role as a venomous fashion assistant in The Devil Wears Prada to portraying a stately sovereign in The Young Victoria. But as British actress Emily Blunt explains, this is no dry historical epic. Directed by French-Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée (and co-produced by the Duchess of York), the film is a humanizing love story about a ruler in the making. As 26-year-old Blunt explained during an interview in Toronto this fall – where her film closed the Toronto International Film Festival – this Victoria is feisty, robust and loves to go out dancing. [Watch the interview video here]

How did you land this role?

My agent got his hands on the script really early because he’s pushy and excellent, and called me and said I really want this for you, so I got in quite early, which was lucky. I knew it would be something a lot of people would be after. I went in, I met [producers] Graham King and Dennis [O’Sullivan] and was similarly pushy about wanting to do it, and that seemed to work. Maybe there was something incredibly royal about me demanding the role.

Why did you want it so badly?

Because I thought it was a rare period drama, essentially, because it was a more intimate take on her and Albert. I thought it captured the love and the passion in her life that nobody knows about – everyone has this preconception of her as being old and grizzled. And fat. And so I was like, I’d like to play the Victoria that’s in better shape. She loved to dance and she’d go horse-riding, she was robust and vivacious, and that’s a side people should know about.

Did it take a lot of study to nail down Victoria?

I did have to read a great deal about her. Her diaries were actually the most revealing to me. I got a sense of her voice. She’d talk ferociously about people if she hated them – she loved passionately and she hated passionately. She was emotional and emphatic. …I got a sense of the kind of feistiness and the rebellious nature of her.

Why do you think Jean-Marc Vallée, a French-Canadian, was chosen to direct this?

I think he was chosen mainly for his work in C.R.A.Z.Y., which was extraordinary. Visually and aesthetically, he’s quite dynamic and modern, and that’s what I think this film needed because the script was a modern approach to a historical love story, so you needed someone who was going to capture that and not hold anything in too much reverence. I think it would have been a different film if a British director had done it because there’s a sense to sort of covet what’s historically ours and protect it and shield it from being relatable or accessible. It’s supposed to be other-worldly, still. Jean-Marc just dove right in and said, “Be a rebel.” That’s what he said to me the first meeting and I thought, I love this guy.

He described you as “one of the boys.”

[Laughs.] There’s fewer female parts, so I inevitably end up working with men. This was definitely a very male set, but yes, I don’t feel like I’m someone who acts on my femininity much. I’d rather just have a good time with the guys, honestly.

What else is coming up for you?

So, The Wolfman‘s coming out, with Anthony [Hopkins] and Benicio [Del Toro], who are both just extraordinary and wacky. Tony just wants everyone to have a good time and he hates it if you get too serious. And Benicio just has this raw, animalistic instinct approach to everything. I think the film’s great. I think it’s going to be a very noble nod to those old classic horror films, without too much CGI.

The Young Victoria opens Friday at select theatres.



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