Emily Blunt on working with hubby John Krasinski for 1st time
LOS ANGELES—“Most nights were rounded with a stiff drink of whiskey. The prospect of working together was nerve-wracking,” Emily Blunt quipped about working for the first time with her
husband, John Krasinski, in “A Quiet Place.”
Not only did Emily act for the first time with the man she’s been married to since 2010; John also directed Emily in his first feature directing gig for a major studio (Paramount).
Emily and John must be celebrating with whiskey—and champagne—because their horror-drama topped the US box office last weekend with a whopping $50 million. “A Quiet Place” is also a hit with the critics, who are unanimous in praising John’s first directing gig.
In the story set in 2020, the Abbotts—Evelyn (Emily), Lee (John) and their children, deaf daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress John fought to cast), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward), must live in silence to avoid being killed by blind, predatory creatures. Hailed since it debuted at SXSW, “A Quiet Place” is considered one of the finest horror films in recent cinema.
Emily, who dated Michael Bublé for three years, has two daughters with John—Hazel (born in 2014) and Violet (2016).
John was recently quoted as saying he’s seen her breakout movie, “The Devil Wears Prada,” about 75 times. The Golden Globe-winning actress’ other credits include “Sicario,” “The Girl on the Train,” “Into the Woods” and the coming “Mary Poppins Returns,” where she plays the titular character once famously played by Julie Andrews.
What was the experience like for you and John to work together for the first time? The prospect of working together was nerve-wracking. We didn’t know how our processes were going to align, whether we were going to be creatively in tandem with each other or crash heads too much.
So now, because I found it so effortless working with him, I want him to rewrite every script I get sent (laughs).
Is it true that you were the one who suggested to John that he should direct this script? Yes, I did. He had been sent this script as an actor. He discovered that he very much had a connection to it. We just had our second daughter. He walked through the door and pitched the idea to me (as an actress).
I had originally suggested a friend of mine to play my part. Then I read the script and went, “You need to tell her it’s not happening (laughs).” My friend is so great that, she went, “Oh my God, you are firing me (laughs).” She goes, “Is it for Emily?” He goes, “Yes.” And she goes, “OK, that’s fine.”
Are you still friends with that actress? Very close, yeah.
What struck you most about him as a director? The multifaceted abilities that you need to have as a director fit John like a glove. He’s so entrepreneurial. He strives for so much more than most actors do and cares so deeply about the script.
What surprised you about working with John? I’ve been honest with him on this—I underestimated just how visually clear he was on this film.
After all these years of being together, is there a place where you actually draw the line? We dot a line with our time management skills. I’m very good at planning when you leave and go to the airport. John has zero concept of date or time and is always late. He calls me “time mode.” I cease to be any fun, and I don’t speak to him (laughs). Because he’s usually packing his bag at 5 a.m. when I have planned it for two days. That is probably the thing we differ on the most.
How much of a survivor are you? (Spoiler alert) If you stepped on a nail while going down the stairs, as in the film … (End spoiler alert) I wouldn’t know what to do (laughs). I’d be like, “John!” I’m not very good in those situations. I tend to panic. And it’s so great watching that scene. John and I spent last night watching the film, holding each other’s hands and shaking with laughter. It was extraordinary watching it with an audience, who was screaming at the screen.
When you read the script, were you concerned that you had no lines? I find that if actors are concerned with how many lines they have, then that’s probably an issue. This is a family who needs to communicate more than most, because there’s so much to overcome.
And not to spoil it or anything, but the first time John and I have a talking scene, that’s probably the first time we talk about our child from the beginning of the film who died.
Do you have a quiet corner in your house? I quite enjoy my own silent company. My life is pretty dialogue-heavy because I’m constantly negotiating with my two young children (laughs). So, the quiet moments for me are when I get to drive in a car, which is rare. I don’t even listen to music sometimes, just to have complete peace and serenity.
Talk about working with the child actors, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. Did you enjoy learning sign language? I did. I was nervous to do it in front of Millicent at first because I didn’t want her to be like, “My God, that’s not what that means.” She and Noah are both incredibly profound people in how they see the world. They’re like old souls.
You have a big movie, “Mary Poppins Returns,” coming up late this year where you also work with kids. Wait till you see it. She isn’t terribly nice to the children (laughs).
How different is your Mary Poppins from Julie Andrews’? It was the most magical experience. Rob Marshall made it feel like an intimate experience and less of what I worried it would be, which would feel like a boulder to move out of the way to try and reimagine this character that was played by an iconic actress like Julie Andrews.
I just read the books. So, this will be my version of Mary Poppins. She’s batty, eccentric and incredibly vain. It was a joy to play somebody who knows that she’s better than everybody but, ultimately, has this incredibly warm core.
Are you enjoying playing these roles at this stage in your life? This film, neither of my children should see until they’re least 40 (laughs). But I do feel that I’m more aware of what I’m putting out into the world now. I don’t necessarily warm to certain roles or projects in the way I’m used to. I’ve become so much more selective about when I work, what it is and who it’s with, because it costs you so much emotionally to be away from your kids.
Are these things what you expected when you started as a young actress in the UK? When I was starting out, I was not a terribly ambitious actress. I was never planning on being an actress. Mother is a great linguist, so I wanted to be just like her.
An agent saw a school play I did and said, “Oh, you’re good. You should do this.” I was 17. So, I remember doing my first (professional) play and I was working with Judi Dench. It was so thrilling.
I remember saying to my agent, “I’m getting $400 a week, oh my God (laughs)!” I had never seen that much money in my life. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. So I didn’t have any of these feelings of, like, what’s next?
And now, as I’ve lived in the industry for a long time, I’m so grateful. I’m also aware of how much I’ve had to put a helmet on. There are tough sides of it where you have to readjust. But I’m reclaiming the idea of ambition as being a positive thing.
Can you talk about your work with the Malala Fund? John and I, being the parents of two daughters, and seeing the huge benefits to communities and the socioeconomic growth of women who are entitled to an education, that has been exciting for us.
What’s next for you? I’m going to do a film called “Jungle Cruise,” with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s inspired by “The African Queen” and “Romancing the Stone,” which were my favorite films as a child. Dwayne is a gem, so I’m excited to work with him. We’re filming in Kauai (Hawaii), so feel terrible for me (laughs).
E-mail [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.