Though she’s played some forbidding characters on-screen (including her breakout role in The Devil Wears Prada), it’s easy to fall for Emily Blunt. For me, affection came instantly over lunch at the Chateau Marmont as Blunt picked up a menu and cried out, “Arugula and bacon-wrapped dates! Have you had them?”
“Yes,” I said. “Bacon-wrapped anything is—”
“Awesome. I know.”
A woman after my own heart. And Blunt’s clever summation of the actor-ridden Chateau—“It’s a bit like a drama school party, isn’t it?”—didn’t hurt either.
Over the course of the next hour, the 26-year-old Blunt charmed while discussing her busy year: the just-released Sunshine Cleaning is already a modest indie success, and she has the Martin Scorsese-produced royal drama The Young Victoria yet to come, as well as a high-profile turn opposite Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins in The Wolf Man. The London-born actress doesn’t mind spending promotional duties on the Left Coast; in fact, says Blunt, “I think particularly British people have a sort of faux snobbery about LA. We all secretly fucking love it, believe me.” Once those bacon-wrapped dates arrived, we began by catching up on the few movies this year that don’t star Blunt—their loss.
What haven’t you seen yet that you want to?
Have you seen The Wrestler? I want to see that really bad. I’m so desperate to see it. Is it good?
It’s my favorite of Darren Aronofsky’s films, actually.
[smiling] Surely not more than The Fountain!
Have you seen Che?
No, I haven’t seen it yet. Benicio [Del Toro] sent me an email saying, “There’s a screening of the long movieeeee. You wanna come see it?” I was like, “I can’t, buddy.” I hear he’s stunning in it, and I have every faith that he is. He’s a rare breed, Benicio. He sees the world in a different light. He’s very brave as an actor, and he doesn’t have a false note in his repertoire.
The two of you work together in The Wolf Man. Are you playing another aggressive character in it?
She’s the damsel in distress. I’m a vision of purity in that. Something I definitely haven’t done before! I met with the director Mark Romanek, who was originally attached, and he wanted me to do it. I was a bit tentative about it because it’s a big studio movie, but if I’m going to play the game, I’d rather play it with those two actors, who are extraordinary. I wanted to work with them more than anything, and I really liked a lot of the work that Mark had done in his music videos. He really had an interesting eye, and I thought it would look so edgy and cool and gothic.
And then Romanek fell out, and Joe Johnston came on board very late.
He was brilliant. He was such a calming, stoic figure. It was the most draining film—I’ve never seen a director lose so much weight during a movie. He was a shell of a man by the end of it! Eighteen weeks, really, really hard, lots of night shoots, two weeks to prepare. He was amazing and unflappable.
Promoting Wolf Man led you to your first Comic-Con, right?
I didn’t stay that long. We went in on the third day, and we’d been advised not to go on the third day because by that time, the costumes are really starting to stink! [laughs] We flew in and flew out.
So you didn’t have any amateur Wolverines ask you questions?
We had a couple mini-Darth Vaders. But the questions were mainly directed at Rick Baker, who’s like the king of Comic-Con, and Benicio, who’s known for Sin City. I’m sure there was, like, a lukewarm clap when I came out. But we were so lucky to have Rick. There’s something frighteningly human about the look of the Wolf Man.
When it was announced that Benicio was cast in that role, it seemed right somehow.
Oh yeah. Benicio’s halfway there anyway. He’s lupine-looking! And he milked it.
Tell me about winning the title role in The Young Victoria.
I came in there and I really wanted it. I was aware that I was probably at the end of an elimination process for many other actors [laughs], and I said that to the producers! I was completely aware that everyone wanted that role. I think they thought there was something quite royal about demanding it like that, so they thought they’d go with “the bossy actor.”
When you lobby that hard for a role, do you ever get second thoughts after they hire you?
Oh, it’s one thing to say it, it’s another thing to follow through. I think it’s a very invigorating thing to feel like you’re a fraud, though! It pushes you, it doesn’t limit you. You can have those wavering moments as long as you have a beam of hope that you’ll get there.
Does it seem to you, though, like we venerate English actors in the U.S.?
We’re revered! We must all be related to Shakespeare or something, by the way people react…You can get away with a lot with this accent over here! I can say awful words and they sound OK.
One thing I’m sure you’re not a fan of is our paparazzi. You were recently photographed with your rumored boyfriend John Krasinski inside a Whole Foods.
It’s abusive. It’s an assault. They are effectively stalkers with cameras—in fact, they are only one object away from being classified as stalkers. I don’t really get it that badly, but it does happen. My sister told me she saw something on YouTube of me at this cafe and someone was filming me, and you can hear the camera guy say, “Get a shot between her legs.” And I was like, “When the fuck did I turn into the crotch girl?” Those lenses, man! You can zoom in…
What do you have to do to avoid it?
You don’t go to the scenes. Don’t give them anything, because the abuse I’ve had friends of mine hurled in their direction in order to get someone I love to cry is really shocking.
Just to get a picture?
Just to get a picture. You couldn’t even print it. Off the record… [Blunt leans in and utters a particularly shocking chain of four-letter words. Still, as she’d forewarned, her accent makes the expletives go down like honey.]
Do you worry, as you become more famous, that you’ll become more insulated? Bodyguards, a house in the hills, a staff at your mansion?
I don’t need it. I have no desire to have that. It’s as simple as making a choice to have that or not, for me. Because I’m away so much, I do get a bizarre joy out of going to buy my own loo roll. And I wonder, if you become insulated like that, does your curiosity cease to exist? That frightens me. I don’t ever want to lose being curious. The world is a very beautiful place and you miss everything if you become like that.
Is that part of the price you pay as you become more observed?
Here’s the thing. I think in this town, particularly at those parties, everybody’s so busy being seen that you don’t actually see anyone. I really think it’s as simple as choices, I do. This job can enrich your life in so many ways, but I think it can limit you as well if you become insulated like that.
Does the whole business of snagging, say, a Vanity Fair cover affect you?
I really try to leave that to everyone else. That’s the meat market side.
Does that ever threaten to intrude on what you like about the business?
Yes, because it’s so relevant now. I feel like when I come [to Los Angeles], I worry about things more than when I’m in London. The importance of things here…it’s vital that you meet this person! It’s vital that you do this shoot! It’s vital that you read this scripts. It’s not. It’s really not that vital.
Just wait until you have publicists pushing you for awards season. Getting you out on the circuit, doing Q&As at…
…at old people’s homes? [laughs] I think it’s OK, actually! It does change things when you win an Oscar. You can say it doesn’t, you can shrug it off, but it does. I’ve known even the most down-to-earth actors, friend of mine, who have campaigned the shit out of wanting to get an Oscar. Play the game, then go home and walk your dog. But I think it’s OK to play the game. It’s gross—but as long as you know that!