To say this is Big Year for Emily Blunt is an understatement. In December, she will portray Mary Poppins, an iconic role that no one has played since Julie Andrews 54 years ago. Mary Poppins Returns is expected to be so big that, since the first time since 2014, Disney isn’t even releasing a Star Wars movie in December. As Blunt says, this is her superhero movie. As she also says, she’s the new Han Solo.
Thinking about it a different way, her latest film, A Quiet Place, seems a little bit scarier. This is obviously a passion project for both Blunt and her husband, John Krasinski (who co-stars and directs), and the idea of finally doing a project with your real-life husband, and audiences rejecting it, is pretty frightening. (The good news for them is the opposite is happening: A Quiet Place, as this is being typed, has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) In A Quiet Place, Blunt and Krasinski play parents living in a rural house who do their best to protect their children from creatures who prey on sound. It’s an eerie and frightening movie.
I met Blunt at a hotel in lower Manhattan and, over the years, she has become a favorite interview for this reporter. She’s always candid and always funny. Meeting Blunt for an interview is actually an enjoyable experience and the list of people that can be said about is short. Ahead, as well as talking about the experience of working with her husband for the first time, Blunt gives us the latest on a sequel to Edge of Tomorrow, why the Captain Marvel rumors were never real, and why she’s not in the Sicario sequel even though it’s possible she might return for a third film (as she found out while working out next to Benicio Del Toro at the gym they both go to). Also, unexpectedly, Blunt does a fantastic Benicio Del Toro impression. But, first, she has a question for us…
Emily Blunt: So, I need to ask you, what does Uproxx mean?
I interviewed Christian Bale and he asked if Uproxx meant this was a drug site…
Yeah, but seriously, why is it called Uproxx? I want you to tell me why and you don’t even know.
I don’t have a good answer.
I wasn’t here when it was named.
You’re not to blame.
I’m not going to reveal what it is, but with A Quiet Place, I am a huge fan of abrupt endings.
Oh, good. Me too.
I love when movies do that.
Me too. I love it.
I don’t need more. Just end right there…
And I don’t want everything tied up in a bow. And I don’t want it all sunbeams and rainbows….
This movie is not sunbeams and rainbows.
No, it’s not. Not at all.
Also, this movie has maybe the best cinematic “stepping on a nail” scene.
It’s sort of quite a rudimentary idea in some ways.
And you know it’s coming.
And you know it’s coming. But it was really thrilling watching it with the audience, because I didn’t realize how big the nail moment would be.
People were screaming, “No!”
Oh, it was wild. It was like, as soon as I turn the light on to go down, people are like, “No no no no! No no no no no!” Like that. We just laughed. We wept with laughter the whole way through the screening.
I think you already spoke to my girlfriend, Kate.
Yes, she’s awesome.
We live together and we have obviously similar jobs, but I couldn’t imagine working together.
Really? You might like it. You might be surprised.
I couldn’t imagine trying to direct her in a movie. Then again, I’ve never been in a movie so that might be the first problem…
But you know what? I think in some ways we sort of felt that. We were like, I can’t imagine working together, I wonder what that would be like. And would we want to kill each other?
Right, that would be my concern.
Well, that was our concern. So it wasn’t that we were like, oh, this is going to be effortless, you know? It wasn’t like it was nothing. We were concerned and wildly terrified the night before my first scene. I just don’t know how it’s going to be, if like he’s going to drive me crazy or if I’m going to drive him crazy. And we were both pleasantly surprised, truly. That’s why I kind of recommend it to cool couples. Give it a go, it’s pretty awesome. Collaborate, compromise. You’ll be fine.
But knowing the way the dynamic works in our apartment, I couldn’t imagine even like once like going, “Maybe you should do this.” I just don’t feel that would go over very well. She kind of runs the show.
Well, I run the show in some ways and he runs the show in others. Yeah, when it comes to running the house, I’m definitely the boss, for sure.
Was there any point where he’s giving you like a direction and you’re just like, ”Who do you think you are?”
Well, luckily, we’d been able to kind of iron out the creases on the drives in and the drives home, so it wasn’t like a public showdown ever. But yeah, there’s stuff that we were so in tandem with, and there’s other stuff that we crashed heads on.
What did you crash heads on?
Oh, I don’t know. Just sort of his take on the scene versus my take. What he thought was more important in a scene versus what I thought was more important. And so, I just trust him. I really do. I really admire him. I think I probably really underestimated also just how brilliant he was with the camera. I think that was one thing going into it, and I was like, “Do you know how to shoot this movie?”
What did he say to that?
He just had such conviction about it. And we have a wonderful cinematographer. But John had such visual flair that I don’t know if I was quite ready for it. I was so excited by what he wanted to do with the camera.
So with the reactions so far obviously people really like this movie. But my fear would be, finally working together, then people who saw this movie were like, “Eh, you two together, no thanks.”
Oh, God. Of course that was our fear. I mean, but that’s partly why we never wanted to do like a romantic comedy or something, because who wants to see John and I meeting each other? No one’s going to buy it. Like, “Oh, hey, oh, what’s your name?”
We should just never do that. We’ve been offered those films and we’ve never wanted to do them.
And in A Quiet Place there’s basically no exposition, so we have to accept you two have been together from the opening scene…
No exposition. We’re in it. We are a married couple. We do have children. The audience is ultimately going to buy us as that anyway. And the movie just kind of transcends the fact that we’re a married couple; that’s not the story coming out of the film. The story coming out of the film is that people love the movie and it’s kind of him as a filmmaker and like, oh, yeah, like, she’s the wife. You know, it’s like that kind of side note, which is the dream reaction. It’s like what we were hoping people would take from it.
I think this is the fourth time I’ve asked you this question over the years…
Oh, God, what?
Well, because I talked to Doug Liman for the Tom Cruise movie last fall…
Oh, it was about Edge of Tomorrow?
And he’s still like, “We’ve got a great idea what’s going to happen.” Is this fake?
The idea is real. They’re writing a script. When this whole thing will materialize, I don’t know.
It’s going to be like Blade Runner 2049, right?
It’s going to be like Blade Runner.
Where it’s like 25 years from now…
Yeah. And then hopefully people will still care.
It’ll be like, oh, 30 years in the future, they’re back.
Exactly, yeah. We’ll see. But I’m very excited about it. I mean, I would love it to happen. I mean, I’d have to get back in the gym, which is less fun, but, yeah.
This is my one Mary Poppins question…
Go for it.
You’re Mary Poppins, is that weird?
Yeah, I mean, it’s completely weird.
And most of the time, and I kind of use this tactic in general when talking about if someone’s like, “Oh, you’re Emily Blunt and everyone knows who you are,” I’m like, “Who’s that?” It’s like you’re talking about somebody else. I almost see it as that’s somebody else’s life. And so, the fact that I’m playing Mary Poppins is so overwhelming that it’s hard to sort of compute. God bless that Rob Marshall, who is my dear friend and I love him, and he’s a brilliant, brilliant director. He protected me from feeling like I had a boulder to move aside – the iconic character, the iconic Julie Andrews. And he kept it so intimate for me. He was very empowering; he wanted me to completely make her my own. So, ultimately, this will be my interpretation of the character. I approached it as I would any other character and I actually didn’t watch the original. I mean, I’d seen it as a child, but I didn’t watch it during the process of making the film at all because I didn’t want to be swayed by Julie’s brilliant portrayal of it. I knew this had to be the next chapter. This is the next chapter, this is going to be my version of her, so I just read the book.
On the way here I was trying to think of a character as iconic that’s only been portrayed in a movie once…
I realized how iconic it is when we shot an incredible sequence outside – right around the area of Buckingham Palace where nobody is allowed to shoot there apart from Mary Poppins and James Bond. Most of the time I did not feel that overwhelming sense until I was 50 feet in the air coming down with the umbrella and Rob would sort of play the music out of the loudspeaker, and some of the crew were crying.
That’s quite a moment.
And I kind of landed and as I was coming down I was like, holy shit, I’m Mary Poppins! That was the only moment of realizing that.
You kind of pushed Star Wars out of the way this December.
Well, I don’t know. Is there a Star Wars coming out in December?
No, but this is the first time since 2014 there hasn’t been…
Yeah, I think it could be big.
You’re the new Star Wars.
I’m the new Han Solo.
I know. This is like my superhero movie.
Oh, speaking of that, I remember I spoke to you for Into the Woods when all of the Captain Marvel rumors that were out there. Was that ever real?
So people were just bringing your name up?
It was fan-casting.
So no one from Marvel ever contacted you?
When you see the new Sicario trailers, are you just like why am I not in this one?
I think I asked it at the time that they were making it, but I don’t know…
Because people loved you in that movie.
I don’t know, man. Taylor Sheridan had a very clear idea for the people, and I was like, “Okay, thanks.”
Now we learn about Benicio del Toro’s character.
Yeah, sure. Like, what about those dark guys, you know? It’s like, I don’t know… Apparently, they want to do a third one where Kate Macer wants back in.
Would that interest you?
Well, we’ll see. [Laughs,] We’ll see if I’m… I don’t know. We’ll see. But I saw Benicio, because he works out in the same gym as me, and he was like, “Blunt, it was like cloudy without you, man. It wasn’t as fun, man.” Like he was so cute about it.
By the way, you do a fantastic Benicio del Toro impression. I was not expecting that.
He’s like my brother. I’ve known him for like a decade.
I could picture him when you were doing him.
Yeah. Like, “No, man.” He’s so cute and he’s on this bicycle as he’s talking to me. But I have heard the sequel’s awesome. That’s the thing. So I’m excited to see it because I think it becomes like Benicio’s thing and he’s just the best, so I can’t wait to see him.
But it makes me want to see the third one, where you two team up again.
Well, he has a pretty good idea for it.
Oh, he does?
Everyone has ideas.
Yeah, he pitched me as he was cycling. He was like, “No, I feel like maybe you…” He had all these ideas.
See? Between that and Edge of Tomorrow ideas, the world could be a better place.
It’s all ideas till it happens.
Have you heard this Edge of Tomorrow idea?
Yeah, it’s great. Oh, fantastic. Yeah. But it’s just there’s an idea and then you have to actually write it and see if it matches the idea, you know?
Well, regardless, I’m glad A Quiet Place worked out. I suspect it was tricky because you are both busy…
To be honest, I finished Mary Poppins Returns in early June and I had four months off and that’s usually my prerequisite for going on to another job. I need four months off to be with my kids. It makes me unhappy to just be on a set all the time. And this was kind of a perfect film because we shot really close to where we were staying and it was a lot of split days or night shoots, so I got to have breakfast with my kids and then drive in with my husband.
You should have just stayed in that house in the movie.
Creepy! No! That like deserted like dusty old house, no way! It’s so scary. And there were cockroaches everywhere.
It would have been Method acting.
No, there were stink bugs and cockroaches.
Okay, that’s not good.
All kinds of stuff. There was a moment during the film where our script supervisor, who was just so awesome, was watching the screen and all of a sudden she went, “Oh, fuck!” and it was because a cockroach had just landed in her hair.
My suggestion was a bad idea.
No thanks, I don’t want to stay there.
So, my request is if Sicario 3 happens with you and Benicio del Toro, you have to do an impression of him in the movie for everyone to see. More people should see what I just saw.
You could go on tour with that impression, “Here’s my Benicio.”
He would honestly just think it’s the worst impression ever.
But he’d be wrong.
I do sometimes do it to him, you know. He’s like, “Whatever.” I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows themselves, so they’re like, “That’s not me.”
You could tour, “Emily Blunt, One Night Only: Emily Blunt IS Benicio del Toro.”
I don’t want to see Benicio’s version of me, you know. That would be disturbing.
No one would pay for that. People would pay money for your impression. I would buy a ticket.
You heard it here first.
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