Emily Blunt on ‘Into the Woods‘ and Why She Thinks ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ Didn’t Catch On
While standing in the hallway of New York’s Waldorf Astoria, Emily Blunt approached me, assertively, and said, “We’ve met before.” This happens from time to time before interviews, even from people I’ve never met, but it’s usually with an I hope I’m right question uptick at the end. This seemed different. I responded, “We have, Comic-Con two years ago. There’s no way you remember that.” Chit chat continued and, it was at this point, that a publicist approached us and asked that we not conduct an interview in the hallway, so we were led into a hotel conference room with a big round table. Even in a desolate room like this one, Blunt has the ability to be on and funny when nothing funny should ever happen in a room like this.
Blunt is starring in Disney’s adaptation of ‘Into the Woods’ as The Baker’s Wife, a woman who makes a deal with a witch—played by Meryl Streep, which makes this the second movie in which Streep torments Blunt—in exchange for a successful pregnancy. The role requires Blunt to sing, which is not something Blunt had done much of, as she explains ahead, outside of her own shower. She also looks back on this summer’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ (Blunt insists on calling it ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ instead of its new title, ‘Live. Die. Repeat’; so, that’s settled) and why she thinks it didn’t quite catch on with viewers, even though she’s hopeful that it still will.
Emily Blunt: You’re just going to stay standing?
You just like to be above all of us.
I wasn't sure where to sit.
I’m impressed with you went all in on “We’ve met before,” because there’s a 50/50 chance that wasn’t going to be true.
Oh, no. I’m kind of good with faces but I’m terrible with where I’ve seen you before or what your name is.
‘Into the Woods’ is another movie in which Meryl Streep torments you.
Oh yeah. Ohhh yeah.
People aren’t talking about that enough.
I’ve made sure people know it. Yeah, that I’m being tortured yet again by Meryl, playing another sort of witch. But, it’s sort of an odd dynamic and I think we should just stick to it. I don’t think we could ever play people who like each other. Or lovers, even.
It could be one of those Best Buy DVD packs, “The Meryl Streep Torments Emily Blunt Collection.”
We need a few more—at least one more.
It can’t just be two.
But people would love that.
They’d love it.
What if you tormented her?
Oh, I’d love that.
That’s the title. “I Torment Meryl Streep.”
We can set it in Marie Antoinette time. She’s my downtrodden tortured dressmaker, something like that.
You have one ticket bought already.
I didn’t know you could sing. Should I have known that?
No, no, no. No, you shouldn’t, unless you have showers with me, which I don’t think you do.
I like that I immediately said “no” so defensively, like there was a possibility that’s true.
[Laughing] No, I really had only sung in the shower or in the car by myself. I hadn’t even sung in front of my husband.
So was he surprised you agreed to do a musical?
I think he was a bit surprised. Although. He heard from my mother, “You know, Emily can really sing.” And I was always like, “Mom, shut up. That’s not true.”
I like the thought of the two of you singing together.
Me and John? Or me and mom?
I don’t know if we should go on the road with a husband and wife duet team.
Another ticket sold.
I’m telling you...
Some nights it’s John, other nights it’s your mom. The audience won’t know whom they are getting from night to night.
I know. You just never know. I’d only sung by myself and a little bit in school. So, when I got the call to audition, I was very reluctant, simply because it filled me with dread—the thought of singing in front of Rob Marshall, who is like a musical god. I think I said, “no,” the first time to audition, even though I really wanted to do it. I was just a bit frightened. And he said, “I want actors who can kind of sing, not the other way around.”
What’s that mean? Why not the other way?
This is not about it sounding pretty, it’s making sense of it and delving into it in a kind of profound way. Rob said, “I want actors with humor and humanity and vulnerability.”
I know there’s real bravery and “actor bravery,” but that sounds brave to audition for a singing role because there’s a chance they could say, “We love you as an actor, but you can’t sing.”
“You can’t sing for shit.” Yeah.
But that didn’t happen.
It’s a relief. And I think I got better because of this movie and I had a bunch of singing lessons.
Do you want to do more singing?
I do now. It validated me in some ways that I could do this. I’d love to do Broadway or something. I’m slightly in awe of those Broadway stars who do eight shows a week, I don’t know if I’m quite up for that.
‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is one of my favorite movies of the year, or whatever it’s called now. ‘Live. Die. Repeat’?
Call it ‘Edge of Tomorrow.’
Is it frustrating that it struggled at the box office? I was surprised it didn’t catch on.
I know. I feel sad about that. I wish they’d shown more of the humor and the relationship in the marketing. And I love Warner Bros., I do love them, but I think the movie seemed to be, from everyone’s reaction, “Oh my God, it’s not what I thought it would be.” So, something must have gone awry there. But, I think Tom is amazing in it as well.
He’s really funny in it.
He’s so funny. I think it’s one of the best things he’s done. But, I don’t know. I don’t think you ever know what’s really going to hit and what’s not. And sometimes movies take you by surprise and you think no one is going to see it, and they all see it. I don’t know. But I’m glad that people are seeing it, it’s a movie that everybody talks about.
It’s catching on.
And I think it is very hard for these original sci-fi films to make a dent, compared with what the Marvel movies do, where people already have a preconceived idea of who this character is. But with a brand new sci-fi movie—I think other big budget sci-fi films have had similar issues—it’s hard to get people into the theater. Because I think people feel, maybe, they’ve seen people in big metal suits clanging into each other. And this is not that.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.