When you talk to Emily Blunt about her role in playing “strong” women in movies, she, at the same time, seems honored and hesitant – hesitant only because people like myself who bring this up are talking about roles in two specific movies: Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario, which is currently playing at the Toronto International Film Festival. Both roles feature Blunt carrying around a gun; so, naturally, she wants to know what someone like me means when we say the word “strong.”
In Sicario, directed by Denis Villeneuve (who directed Prisoners and Enemy), Blunt plays an FBI agent who is recruited by a cocky government official (Josh Brolin) for a top secret and very vague mission involving Mexican drug cartel leaders. As this morally ambiguous film goes on, Blunt’s character starts to question just whose side she’s on, if anyone’s … especially when she learns the true nature of Benicio Del Toro’s character’s role in all of this. Sicario is a very tense movie.
I met Blunt at her hotel in Toronto to discuss Sicario and where it fits in with the narrative of her playing strong woman. And we also discuss Tom Cruise and Chris McQuarrie’s recent comments that they have a perfect idea for a sequel to Edge of Tomorrow. Blunt hasn’t heard this idea yet, but she is certainly interested.
(When I first meet Blunt, her publicist and I start talking about Garbage Pail Kids for reasons that are too long to explain here.)
Emily Blunt: Wait, what are Garbage Pail Kids?
[Blunt’s publicist asks if she remembers Cabbage Patch Kids, which she does. Then I try to explain.] It was a trading card spoof of Cabbage Patch Kids. There was Live Mike who was being electrocuted…
[Laughs] I love that!
I’m so happy you are working with Denis Villeneuve. Over the last few years, when I hear you are in a movie, you’ve gone from, “Oh, she’s always good,” to me being actively excited.
Well, I think Denis is an extraordinary person and an extraordinarily skilled director. He is an auteur.
But he doesn’t have any of the tendencies that you hear, personality-wise, that come with being an auteur.
I’ve interviewed David Fincher…
I like him!
I do, too. But he can be intimidating. But with Denis…
He’s so not intimidating. He’s completely delightful and I find it interesting he explores the dark side in nearly all of his films. And, yet he’s an absolute peach of a person.
This is a tense movie.
He never wants to spoon-feed the audience. Actually, Fincher gave me my favorite quote recently. He said, “I just feel all films these days are so obsequious: do you want an explosion? You’ve got it. Do you want them to kiss? You’ve got it.” And they just follow a pattern and everything is quite derivative of something else that someone crunched numbers on because it worked.
And Roger Deakins shot this movie.
He’s the DP every actor wants to work with. The first thing Benicio Del Toro said walking on set the first day was, “I can’t wait to shake the hand of Roger Deakins.”
I won’t give it away, but by the time we get to the last scene, I had no idea what was going to happen.
That last scene, it wasn’t written like that.
How was it written?
I can’t say because it would be wrong … but we had an issue with the scene. It had a sort of slightly romantic feel to it.
Was it a alternative version of what we see, or completely different?
But what we see, there really is a feeling of anything could happen.
What’s very upsetting about the scene … what I felt in that scene is such a betrayal and what he’s asking me to sign away is everything I’ve ever believed in.