She has Hollywood at her feet, but English actress Emily Blunt knows she’ll stay grounded – so long as she does her own washing-up, as Jeananne Craig discovers
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 U.S. 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.
“I’m quite decisive. 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 to the screen.
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. In The Five-Year Engagement she demonstrates her gift for slapstick as Violet gets shot in the leg with an arrow, runs into an open car door and performs an 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.”
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.
“So I think that’s where the idea came from, and what I love about it is the silliness of the voices. 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 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 values her down-time with husband Krasinski, star of the U.S. 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 U.S .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.”