English actress Emily Blunt is making it big in Hollywood, with roles in comedy drama Your Sister's Sister (released Friday, June 29), and bigger-budget flick The Five-Year Engagement (released Friday, June 22) alongside Jason Segel. The Devil Wears Prada star talks about mixing blockbuster and indie films and keeping grounded in Tinseltown.
By Jeananne Craig.
Emily Blunt plays a bride-to-be with a long and bumpy build-up to her big day, in new comedy The Five-Year Engagement. The star's own wedding preparations, however, couldn't have been more different.
British beauty Blunt married US actor John Krasinski in an intimate ceremony in Lake Como, Italy in 2010 and insists she didn't lose any sleep beforehand - despite a guest list that included Hollywood royalty George Clooney, Matt Damon and her co-star in The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep.
"I didn't want to have a big wedding. I wanted to keep it really laid-back," she explains, looking chic and relaxed in a belted black silk top, black ankle-skimming trousers and grey suede wedges.
"I'm quite decisive," Blunt adds. "I'm not one of those people who says, 'Oh, what about this, what about that?' I'm just like, 'That'll do, that'll do, that'll do', because I just think it's the day that's special, not all of the stuff that comes with it.
"The day should be kind of freewheeling a little, because something could go wrong. You've just got to roll with the punches."
Blunt is in her native London to promote the new romantic comedy with co-star and close pal Jason Segel.
The How I Met Your Mother funnyman - who plays Blunt's fiancé in the film - turns to her as she finishes speaking about the wedding, a wounded look on his face.
"It's funny you say that," he deadpans. "You could have put just a little more thought into the guest list."
Blunt, stony-faced, leans forward and confides in a stage whisper: "Jason wasn't invited."
For all his posturing, Segel clearly didn't have any hard feelings. He and Nicholas Stoller, who co-scripted and directed The Five-Year Engagement, wrote the role of British academic Violet with Blunt in mind, and his real-life rapport with the actress transfers brilliantly to the screen.
The film begins with talented chef Tom (Segel) popping the question. The wedding date soon gets postponed though, and cracks begin to emerge after Violet lands a new post in Michigan and Tom quits his job to go with her.
As the big day gets further delayed, the couple begin to wonder whether they are really meant to be together.
Despite the grace and poise which helped secure roles such as Queen Victoria in The Young Victoria, and ballerina Elise Sellas in thriller The Adjustment Bureau, 29-year-old Blunt is clearly game for a laugh, demonstrating her gift for slapstick as Violet gets shot in the leg with an arrow, runs into an open car door and performs an impeccable impression of The Muppets' Cookie Monster during a row.
"Emily's really capable of anything," Segel says enthusiastically.
"I'm in awe of everything she can do. She can be elegant, she can be a tomboy, she can be funny, she can be serious, but you always believe what she's doing. You never feel that she's 'efforting' at anything and it astounds me."
Blunt adds: "We didn't really want to do that Hollywood gloss of the romantic comedy that we're used to seeing. We wanted to make it really real and accessible and naturalistic, kind of messy."
And the Cookie Monster impression? "The director Nick's daughter gets him to do silly voices sometimes at the most inopportune moments, like when he's in a talk with his wife and she's like, 'Do the silly man voice'," Blunt explains, smiling.
"So I think that's where the idea came from, and what I love about it is the silliness of the voices and how funny it is to see two people arguing as Cookie Monster and Elmo. It undercuts the emotion and the earnestness of the scene."
Since her big break playing the ice-cold office bitch in The Devil Wears Prada, Blunt has taken on a wide variety of roles, from Ewan McGregor's love interest in Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, to voicing a garden gnome in animated movie Gnomeo & Juliet.
Upcoming films include the sci-fi war flick All You Need Is Kill alongside Tom Cruise, and futuristic thriller Looper, with Bruce Willis.
With such a busy schedule, Blunt clearly values her down-time with husband Krasinski, star of the US version of The Office, who she describes as "the funniest man alive".
The pair met in 2008 and now live in Los Angeles. After the A-list wedding, everyday life for the couple sounds low-key.
"At the moment I get chunks of time off, which we spend together," says Blunt. "It's also nice to have a shared understanding of what each other does."
The down-to-earth actress - who ensures her US home is well stocked with Marmite - seems unlikely to ever succumb to Hollywood diva behaviour.
"I have great friends," she muses. "And I think you'll always remain grounded if you wash the dishes every day and buy your own toilet paper."
Blunt is keen to "keep mixing it up", appearing in both blockbusters and indie films. As well as the romcom with Segel, this month she can also be seen in the new low-budget film Your Sister's Sister.
It's a comedy drama; Blunt plays a woman who invites her grieving ex-boyfriend to recuperate in her family's cabin, only for him to drunkenly get involved with her gay sister.
"I like the variety out there," she says. "Your Sister's Sister was made for no money and I think those experiences are really valuable - the collaboration and the sort of element of, who knows how this will turn out?
"I love that about the industry. I just don't think you can strategise the jobs that you do.
"It's so subjective. "I might love a script that some other actress wouldn't like.
"I think you've got to pick what you love."
Extra time - Emily Blunt :: Emily Olivia Leah Blunt was born on February 23, 1983, in Roehampton, south west London to QC Oliver and English teacher Joanna.
:: She credits "a really amazing teacher" with helping her overcome a childhood stammer by encouraging her to sign up for school plays.
:: Blunt was discovered by an agent at Hurtwood House, a sixth-form college known for its performing arts, and made her professional debut in a musical at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000, when she was still studying for her A-levels.
:: In 2004, Blunt had a breakout role in dark British drama My Summer Of Love, picking up an Evening Standard British Film Award for most promising newcomer with co-star Natalie Press.
:: The film that really put Blunt on the Hollywood map was The Devil Wears Prada, and Blunt insists she will never grow tired of being associated with the movie "because I love it so much".
:: The Five-Year Engagement is released in cinemas on Friday, June 22. Your Sister's Sister is released on Friday, June 29.