The actress Emily Blunt is one of a kind. A British talent that has been the assistant to a high-powered fashionista, fought her way through a time loop to save the world, gone head-to-head with corrupt government officials and so much more.
The latest role may have been her most demanding and meaningful. Directed by and co-starring her husband, John Krasinski, A Quiet Place is an intense monster thriller punctuated with the fierce, determined Blunt.
In New York we had the opportunity to speak with the actress about a role destined to protect her children from strange creatures who hunt by sound. A great admirer of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Blunt will also be seeing very soon playing the iconic role of Mary Poppins
P. Working silence is very difficult, it did affect you after you finish
R.There was so much to play with the dynamics of this family, also knowing that the sound is an enemy to this family you got the sound as the bad guy. Every scene was injected with so much to play with as an actor, so many nuances that I don’t know if I found it terribly more challenging than a dialog scene. It was strangely quite freeing because the underlying tension between everyone it was a lot to content with that. Giving birth silently it was very complicated to play. That scene absolutely knocks me on my ass. I was so tired at the end of shooting it, we shoot that for a week.
P. Have you study body language for this character?
R. No, not really. Just whatever came naturally to the scene. I didn’t research anything specifically. I respond naturally to what was going on in the scene
P. How much John grew from his first movie to this one
R. I think this one was a very ambitious idea and he realized it was going to be a very consuming experience for him. There was a high bar set, that he sets for himself to make a film without dialog and a language for the film that it was very unique visual they were very inspired for movies like No Country for All Men, There Will be Blood. Those were big robust cinematic experiences. I think he didn’t want it to feel like a small intimate film. He wanted the emotions to feel intimate and the fact that the family is a unit. He wants that intimacy in a big scale. It was a very ambitious departure for him. I’ve seeing him grow dramatically from the whole to this. There is the antithesis to each other, but they are both about family and I realize at his core it is an intimate film. It is a metaphor for parenthood. The idea that dread of sending your children out to a rather brutal world.
P. Have you ever been in Spain?
R. Yes, oh God. Many times. I love Spain. The food I love. La paella is one of my favourite dishes
P. Do you speak Spanish?
R. Well, I can make myself eat in Spanish and say Por favor and Gracias. Not much. But I do have a lot of respect for a language that is finding a way in United States. I hope my kids grow speaking English and Spanish in school
P. Have you read any Spanish author?
R. Of course. I have read One Hundred years of Solitude and Love in Time of cholera and I think is worth to mention him as Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favourites writers
P. How it was for you to work with John?
R. We were realizing that it was a fine line to walk, because we have never work professionally together. We work as in life, as a couple. We adore being with each other but I do think we hadn’t seeing this professional side of each other before and I think we want to offer each other the same diplomacy you were to any other director but ultimate we have a short hand and that comes some days when I don’t agree with something. Most of the time we collaborate very well together because creatively we are very aligned. He also knows that if I’m working in something intense or emotional he is an actor he knows to stage the scene and stay out of the way. Just let people have a go and see what happens. He understands what actors need in those moments and a lot of directors don’t and he knows the places you have to go emotionally in order to portray that. And that is really huge, because I don’t think I worked with another actor-director before.
P. Did you set up any rules in order to avoid any fear of working with the husband
R. You try but inevitable you break them. We try not to talk at home about the characters, but it was impossible. The movie was alive at home for two years. This is his baby but it was so close to home not to be also part of our family. It was an intense material and we drove to work together, we drove home together. We drank so much whisky during this whole process to decompress after the crazy days. He really made me feel his creative partner. I became the sounding board for him and that moved me so much. He wanted that from me. I never felt more valued creatively than he made me feel on this. Because we are married we are more sensitive to each other, there were moments but ultimately, we have a secret language that by pass everything
P. Anything from him surprise you, even after living with him for so many years
R. Yes. I always knew that John was going to be able to cope very well with this multifaceted job where you need to be everything to everybody and you have to answer questions and solve problems all the day. It is not something that I do, have a desire to do at this point in my life but, and I said this to myself, I underestimated how visual he was. He has such a big ball cinematic ideas of how he wanted to shoot a scene and I didn’t know that side of him. That is what surprised me the most
P. With this and Mary Poppins you have become the ultimate protector of kids
R. I don’t know. It is not a conscious thing, but it can be a pattern if you like. I have two children, I understand that idea of wanting to bring joy to children and I always loved children but now when you have your own is like a different thing, your heart is like exploiting out of its body. And you know, Mary Poppins she in some ways is wonderfully unsentimental. It is always what I like about her when I watched the movie as a child. She is a bit unsentimental, a bit rude, and she comes sweeping into their lives and she makes everything right again, it is sort of magical and exciting at the same time. And this character in Quiet Place was determent spite the horrific environment to inject some kind of warmth and ability for her children to thrive. So, John and I talked a lot about the father figure and the mother figure and how different their parents were. The father main drive is to keep these kids alive, love and connection is secondary to that, while her’s is determent to thrive, survival thrive.
P: A lot of people call you the Meryl Streep of your generation
R: Oh my god, no they don’t. They shouldn’t. That is insane. I never heard that. I’m very British I don’t deal well with complements. I will always be Meryl Streep’s assistant. That is my role and yes, she is the acting guru for so many people much if she hated that label. She really wants to be treated like every other actor in the cast, she doesn’t have that sort of superiority and sense of self. But you can learn a lot from her just as a person. She is wildly bright, wildly funny and fun and interested and interesting, she is just a cool person
P: How do you grow up with every character you play
R: I don’t like to over strategize. I will read something and strike me as interesting in some way or another. I will find some way reading the script to connect. And if I don’t connect with somebody even if it is a great script, then I don’t do it because I don’t know how to play it. But I do like to mix it up, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself I would like to keep challenging myself really and I like hearing myself saying, how am I going to play this?
P: Any trauma associated with having to portray this mother?
R: Yes. This is something that is truly my worst nightmare as I worried irrationally about my children. This heighted version of not being able to protect your children is terrifying to me and is an avenue I hadn’t explore before because it intimidated me to explore personally and deeply with someone that I understood who she was and why she feels so deeply. It is probably the most personal part that I have played. And when it comes to my own I truly have to compartmentalize. When I work is not even me, is not helpful to me associate myself with the character. Acting is an act of empathy and I empathy with the character. Those scenes wipe me out and left some fear but I’m not an actor that torture herself. I have never been that way. It works for some people that have that process of method and they are in it all day but I don’t have that energy. I tent to go in and out.
P: Do you like horror films?
R: Not really. I haven’t seen any of them. John for his research watched every horror film under the sun and he will ask me if I want to watch it with him and I will say no, I want to watch shark tank or something like it. He alone had to watch it as I can’t watch them. I think the last one I saw it was Scream and I couldn’t go to a public bathroom for forever. It is just not my genre
P: Do you have a sequel on the brain
R: Not me but John is being asked about this. I loved the conversation, there is something powerful about the ending that opens that door.
P: Are you going to be singing in Mary Poppins
R: I do sing, yes. It is all new music, new songs and is set 32 years after the first one. I sang in Into the World and I never felt singing in front of people to be something that is a natural fit for me. I’ve always felt that it was kind of intimidating to the point that when I did into the world John had never seen me singing before. I’ve always being able to do it but I don’t like to sing in front of people.
P: How do you see yourself as a woman in the current climate
R: Look, I think it’s being a real time. It is a fascinating time. This was always going to erupt at some point. Women for a long time are being programed to behaving a certain way and to conforming to certain ideal and this is like breaking free of the chains and all of us who have been having these conversations for years but now the voices are being given a platform so ultimately is a really exciting time. And is certainly this movement weaponized your ability in making your deals, making anything like that to ask what you feel you deserve and it is ok to be aggressive in that sense and frown upon as men sure make the deal they want to make and women sort of are being programed to think they have to be a team player and you don’t want to be seeing like a bitch and well that is sort out of the window which is a really an exciting time
P: Find projects that reflect this
R: To be honest I’ve always been drawn to those sorts of projects that are breaking the moulds for women. Whether in an action movie or a romantic comedy. The movement is helping, if you look at the films that were nominated for Oscars this year, the majority have women at the centre piece. We have to understand that men now want to make movies about women and this year was indicative of that wave that is happening.