Facebook Twitter

Metro In Focus: Why Emily Blunt is the everywoman of acting

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-3-10-02-pmBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

The first time most of us noticed Emily Blunt she was “’on-the-edge of sickness thin.” To play Emily Chalton, the prickly first assistant to the editor in The Devil Wears Prada, Blunt dropped pounds from her already slight frame. “It wasn’t like doughnuts were snatched out of my hand,” laughs the 5’ 7½’’ actress, but she was encouraged to slim down. So much so she would occasionally cry from hunger during the shoot. Luckily, though rake thin, she still had the energy to steal the movie from her more seasoned co-stars, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci.

Although the character fell directly into the love-to-hate-her category, audiences found Blunt irresistible. Her mix of vulnerability and fork-tongued charm—crowned by crystal clear blue eyes and a face anchored with a cleft chin that would make Kirk Douglas envious—earned the title Best Female Scene-Stealer from Entertainment Weekly and nominations for everything from a Teen Choice Award to a Golden Globe.

This weekend she plays a much different character in the much-anticipated thriller The Girl on the Train. Based on the Paula Hawkins bestseller—11 million copies sold and counting—it’s a dark cinematic journey into a missing person’s case. The thirty-three year old actress says playing an alcoholic divorcée who witnesses a crime from a train window, “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”

Early reviews are strong. Variety raved she “excels as the broken-down heroine.” Those kind of kudos are an echo of her much-admired, though lesser seen work, in the UK.

After dabbling in drama at age 12 to help conquer a stutter she jumped to the small screen with praised performances in British television period pieces. It was, however, only when she left the lace-bonnets behind and took on a role in the critically-acclaimed My Summer of Love that she really made a splash. The story of a teenage infatuation between Mona (Nathalie Press) and the manipulative and cynical Tamsin (Blunt) earned both Press and Blunt equal shares in an Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Since then we’ve seen her as an oversexed young women opposite Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War, warbling Stephen Sondheim’s rich Into the Woods score, riding a polar bear in The Huntsman: Winter’s War and dressed as Princess Diana in the quirky rom com Five-Year Engagement.

She’s done action in both Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow (later renamed Live. Die. Repeat. for home release). Big budget blockbusters don’t usually make room for female characters unless they are sidekicks or girlfriends. In Edge of Tomorrow Blunt avoids being objectified and is as strong, if not stronger than co-star Tom Cruise.

In Sicario she’s part of an elite task force stemming the flow of drugs between Mexico and the US. A multifarious mix of vulnerability, stone cold confidence and outrage, she delivered the most interesting female action star since Mad Max: Fury Road’s Imperator Furiosa.

Next up her diverse career is the lead in Mary Poppins Returns. She says she’s nervous because the flying nanny is “such an important character in people’s childhood,” but has been given the thumbs up by the original Mary, Julie Andrews. “It was lovely to get her stamp of approval. That took the edge off it, for sure.”

Comments are closed.