It’s not easy to steal scenes from Meryl Streep, but Emily Blunt managed to do just that as the love-to-hate-her assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. Blunt followed up that Golden Globe-nominated role with a series of diverse and fascinating characters, and the world hasn’t been able to take its eyes off the actress ever since. (Of course it doesn’t hurt her cool factor that she’s engaged to The Office’s lovable and hysterical John Krasinski.) In her latest film, Blunt takes on none other than Queen Victoria, capturing a part of the royal’s life we don’t often see. We recently sat down with the divine Brit to talk great parts, amazing costars and staying out of the Hollywood spotlight.
Los Angeles Confidential: Tell me a little about the movie you’re shooting in New York City.
Emily Blunt: It’s called The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon, and it’s based on a Philip K. Dick short story that has a sci-fi element to it. But it’s supposed to be a modern love story about two people destined to be against the system—the slightly big-brother-esque system. My character happens to be a world-class contemporary dancer, and that’s hilarious because I cannot dance.
LAC: Have you had dance training for the part?
EB: Yeah. Every day I’m in dance boot camp. It’s a wonderful idea to have the girl be a dancer, but it’s very high maintenance. I’m really loving the challenge. I’m training with this amazing ballet company, and it’s been a real awakening for me when it comes to fitness. Everything hurts all the time.
LAC: In The Young Victoria, which is released this month, you capture a side of Queen Victoria that perhaps a lot of people don’t know about—her sort of tortured existence becoming a queen so young and then being in a bad marriage. Tell me about the role.
EB: I really felt it was one of those rare parts to play, a character with such gravitas. I loved that the script was really focused on a dysfunctional family more than royalty. I thought it was a fresh look at her and royalty and a more intimate look because you really see the private life. She is a young girl, she is way over her head, and she doesn’t get on with her mother. She’s in love, and she’s a teenager. All of us were on the same page in that we wanted to make [the characters] very real. I thought it was interesting to offer the performance side of her life and the private side.
LAC: What’s so fascinating about your career is the diverse characters you’ve played from The Devil Wears Prada to Sunshine Cleaning and now The Young Victoria. What is it about a character that attracts you?
EB: It really is if they surprise me. It’s hard to specify why I respond to someone, or why anyone responds to anyone in real life. I like complexity, and I like people. People with some kind of inner turmoil going on are always interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a dramatic role. I don’t tend to go for passive characters, and I don’t tend to go for one-dimensional people because I don’t think people really are that way. I like characters who are hard to read—you have to find out who they are.
LAC: You’ve accomplished so much at the young age of 26. How have you managed to stay—for the most part—out of the limelight and away from some of the bad decisions we see a lot of young actresses make.
EB: Well, you wear underwear. That helps.
LAC: Well done, Emily.
EB: And you don’t go to the “scenes.” I’ve never wanted to, and Hollywood parties are not necessarily what I strive to be a part of. They’re really fun, but I think I probably have more fun behind closed doors. I think it’s easy to have balance if you make the choice not to be affected by the invasion [of privacy]. For me it’s a slight invasion, but it’s not huge. I know some people are completely hounded, and that’s certainly not the case for me. I feel very fortunate, and I know it’s a cliché, but I have an extraordinary job, and I know it’s not like any other job.
LAC: Your career started on stage with Judi Dench, which is an amazing place to start. Later you were in a movie with Meryl Streep, and she praised you as one of the best young actresses she’s ever seen. Does that feel surreal to you?
EB: Surreal is completely the word. It is utterly surreal and mildly embarrassing, and I slightly disconnect from myself. It’s a little too much, like my brain farts. I’m very grateful. It’s very cool.
LAC: You’re engaged to the lovely John Krasinski. Can you tell us how the wedding plans are going?
EB: There’s definitely no way I could speak of plans because there literally aren’t any.
LAC: Just one day it will happen.
EB: One day.
LAC: He’s so funny.
EB: He’s so funny it’s painful.
LAC: He seems very down-to-earth. Is that part of what makes it a good relationship?
EB: I think it’s really important to be down-toearth— for everyone to be down-to-earth. I feel that of my friends and my family. I think it’s vital to have that, and I think that’s the way to survive this business, too. If you’re down-to-earth and if you have a sense of humor and irony about things, I think you’ll survive just fine.
LAC: Let’s talk about some of your other upcoming films. You’re doing The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro.
EB: He’s the best. He’s bonkers in every way that’s right. I had a blast with him. And there’s so much about him that people don’t know, but I love the kind of mystique he’s managed to maintain. I think he’s really extraordinary to watch. He’s very brave. I love people who make a choice that’s left of center—but not for the sake of being weird, just for the sake of being interesting. I love that about him. And he is fiercely bright. Don’t try and outsmart him when it comes to music. You’ll fail.
LAC: You play a damsel-in-distress character.
EB: Oh, I’m so innocent and pure, it’s almost an eyesore. I usually play a bitch, so it’s really fun.
LAC: And tell me about another film you have coming out, Gulliver’s Travels.
EB: I play a princess in it, so this one will be for my future children. It was really too much fun—I love Jack Black. And Jason Segel’s a delight; it was a blast. I got to play someone who’s not really bright, and that was fun—the princess who’s about three steps behind the joke.
LAC: You are pretty good at picking costars.
EB: I’m so lucky with costars. I feel like I’ve worked with people who have their stuff figured out. I feel really lucky. And I learn from them every day— every single day.
LAC: You split your time between London and LA, right?
EB: My family is in London, so it will always be where I’m from and where my roots are, but I’m in LA most of the time now.
LAC: Tell us some of your favorite places to go in LA.
EB: But then I’d be giving away my dive bars. And then they won’t be my dives anymore.
LAC: Okay. Don’t give away your favorite. Give away your second favorite.
EB: I ate at El Compadre Restaurant recently, and I crushed those enchiladas. They were so good. I dominated that food. I inhaled it. And the margaritas are off the charts. I’m gonna recommend that place if you want cheesy Mexican food. It is unreal. And I love AOC, and I think Cafe Stella is great.