Be careful what you wish for.
Emily as: The Baker’s Wife
Genre(s): Adventure | Fantasy | Musical
Written by: James Lapine (screenplay), James Lapine (musical)
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Other Cast: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine
Release Date: December 25, 2014
Production Budget: $50m
Total Worldwide Gross: $213m
Filming Locations: Berkshire, England, UK and Surrey, England, UK
Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.
The Baker’s Wife: I was just trying to help.
The Baker: Magic beans? We’ve no reason to believe they’re magic. Are we to dispel this curse through deceit?
The Baker’s Wife: No one would have given him more for this creature. We did him a favor. At least they’ll have some food now.
The Baker: Five beans?
The Baker’s Wife: Do you want a child or not?
The Baker: Of course I do.
The Baker’s Wife: We have one chance. Don’t you see that? And if we fail…
The Baker: I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a father.
The Baker’s Wife: Why would you say that?
The Baker: Because of my father.
The Baker’s Wife: You’re not him!
The Baker: I don’t know.
The Baker’s Wife: If you can’t do this for yourself, can’t you at least do it for me?
Cinderella: It’s not quite what I expected.
The Baker’s Wife: What? Princes and castles and gowns?
Cinderella: I have no experience with those things.
The Baker’s Wife: But you will return to the Festival tomorrow eve?
Cinderella: Yes. No. I don’t know.
The Baker’s Wife: You don’t know? Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be in your shoes. Well, your slippers.
The Baker: Yes, I’ve got the cape. Only two items left.
The Baker’s Wife: Three.
The Baker: Two. We’ve the cape and the cow.
The Baker’s Wife: You’ve got the cape!
The Baker: What have you done with the cow?
The Baker’s Wife: She ran away.
The Baker: What?
The Baker’s Wife: I never even reached home. I’ve been looking for her all night.
The Baker: How could you?
The Baker’s Wife: Well, she might just as easily have run away from you.
The Baker’s Wife: Because we have to, if we’re going to be together.
The Baker’s Wife: Please, just stop. Just hear me out.
Cinderella: You have attacked me once before.
The Baker’s Wife: I didn’t attack you… I attacked your shoe. I need it. Look. I have a magic bean in exchange for it.
Cinderella: Magic bean?
The Baker’s Wife: Yes.
The Baker’s Wife: No! Wait, please! I haven’t much time! I need that shoe, to have a child.
Cinderella: That makes no sense!
The Baker’s Wife: Does it make sense that you’re running from a prince?
Cinderella’s Prince: The giant?
Baker’s Wife: Yes. Haven’t you heard? We have a giant in our midst. Not an earthquake.
Cinderella’s Prince: Of course. The giant.
Baker’s Wife: [Laughing] It’s a lady giant. Which is very unusual.
Quoting: Emily Blunt
On her character: My character, who we first meet at the beginning of the film, has a desperate yearning for a child. Then they [The Baker and The Baker’s Wife] find out that a curse has been placed on their family which precludes any of the women from getting pregnant and that they must venture into the woods to secure a list of items given to them by the Witch. So she becomes this sort of tenacious and determined character who is willing to go to any lengths to get what she wants. Eventually we see her unravelling. She is innately a good person, but gets swept up by the woods and their potential. She definitely wears the pants in the family, and is the more determined of the two when it comes to wanting a baby. The Baker approaches life in a more laconic and fatalistic way while she is certainly not willing to leave things up to the stars, and so while they love each other, it is a very realistic portrait of a married couple in that they’ve been together for a long time and are beginning to realize that they are very different. I think a lot of people will be able to see themselves in these characters.
On her preparation for the role: We were given five weeks of rehearsal, and even before the official rehearsal started, we had our own time. I certainly had tons of singing lessons and weeks to prepare, which was wonderful. You never normally get that on a film. When you’ve got a creative like Rob Marshall, the attention to detail is so vast. And Colleen Atwood designed the costumes, working with the D.P. on how the light was going to look and what colors were going to work. There’s so much that goes into it, before you show up on set. I think everyone felt really prepared, at the end of the five weeks, to just go in there and try to do it justice.
On her preparation for the role: I listened to a lot of Broadway music on Sirius. I do love Cabaret, Chicago, and Forum — A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
On the challenges of the role: I don’t think I’m the best singer in the world, for sure, but I loved doing it. I’ve always enjoyed singing. I find it joyous. This music gave you such space and allowed for you to be an actor within it. You didn’t have to hit a high-C perfectly. You didn’t have sing live perfectly, every time. It allowed for these songs to be an extension of the character. They were emotionally so challenging and complex. I think we were all encouraged to focus more on making them conversational and making the audience want to listen. I’ll always find it tough, singing in front of people.
On her attraction to the role: What’s wonderful about this story is that it’s a highly-complex, emotional musical and you have all of the most famous fairy tales involved in this one story. Yet it doesn’t end happily ever after and there are these rather strong under currents to it, which I think is exciting for people to see. This is probably one of the most human of all of Stephen Sondheim’s musicals and I like the fact that it challenges you to think. The majority of the songs we see in musicals have a rather simplistic outlook, whereas Stephen Sondheim’s songs are more like monologues or conversations in that they don’t sound too perfect or too lyrical or too melodic, which is so refreshing.
On her hesitation to audition for musicals: I got approached to go and audition for all of them and I sprinted away as fast as I could. I was very daunted to go and sing for people. When I heard about the audition for Nine, my husband said, “You’ve got to go.” And I was told (by my reps) to bring my jazz shoes, which is a sentence that fills me with sheer terror. And I said, “Over my dead body.” I just loved the “bring your jazz shoes” part, as if people just have them in their closet. I was very reluctant to audition, but I felt encouraged by Rob Marshall this time. Also, there were all kinds of temptations going on with Into the Woods, such as working with Meryl Streep again.
On her connection to Disney movies: I grew up watching all of the Disney movies. I remember the first Disney movies I had were Robin Hood and The Sword in the Stone. My sister and I got one each for Christmas, and we watched them 55 times. They were so good. So, I would say, for nostalgic reasons, those two were my favorites because they were my first experience with watching Disney movies.
On the set pieces: The sets were all just stunning. They built this absolutely enormous set with real trees that looked kind of magical and slightly other-worldly, and I have to credit the amazing Dion Beebe, our cinematographer, who I’ve worked with before, as I think he is just genius. His lighting is absolutely stunning and everything he did to make it look as magical and real as possible… it was just so clever. And Dennis Gassner, our production designer, did an extraordinary job on the sets as well because he used real shrubbery and real flowers but then he would add to them to illuminate them to make them look truly enchanted.
On the wardrobe: I owe Colleen Atwood a huge debt of gratitude because she had to deal with the fact that I was pregnant during the shoot so there were limitations with what I could wear. And there were only so many aprons and scarves and bags that could cover my ever-growing bump and only so many trees that I could stand behind, so Colleen was constantly having to adjust my costumes. And with the Baker’s Wife we didn’t want her to look
too put together…she needed to have a sort of slightly-flustered look, and she was masterful at not only creating beautiful costumes but at hiding the fact that I was pregnant during the shoot, the irony being that I was playing a character who desperately wants a child while I actually had a child inside me.
On being pregnant during the shoot: It was a surreal, bizarre, lovely, profound, and slightly ironic situation to be in, and to be playing this barren woman, and to be with child myself. And I think it did help me a great deal, that I was going through such a life shift at that time. Before I even arrived to shoot, I was preparing for the role, but also kind of preparing myself that director Rob Marshall might say, “You know what? We can’t make this work.” I waited for a while, a good ten weeks, two weeks before we started the main rehearsals, before I called Rob Marshall and had to tell him. And he was amazing about it and supportive and, probably deep down, really concerned that I was going to blow up like a balloon over the course of his film. I’m just glad Rob Marshall let me do it and hid me behind lots of objects. Lots of trees! And I did a lot of stuff where I was sort of creeping behind James [Corden], and he would put his arms out as if he was trying to protect me from what was in front of us, but really, it was just to cover my stomach.
On the audition process: I basically had a couple of singing lessons before I went in and I learned the music even though I was told I didn’t have to. It was probably the most prepared audition I’ve done, but because it frightened me. I think sometimes our fear leads us to the most courageous of places. I sang the big solo from Moments in the Woods, the song after my character has had the fling with Prince Charming and she’s in great conflict and contradicting herself. And it’s a really fantastic song and sort of a self-discovery.
On the mystery behind the woods: The woods really lure all of these characters to discover what they really, really want in life. And a lot of the characters get lost within that. I don’t think the woods are necessarily a good influence on most of them.
On the opening song: Into the Woods is the song that most people know. And it’s a very, very complicated opening number where all the characters are singing on top of each other, and it’s fast, and if one character’s off by a beat, the whole thing’s off.
On her favorite song in the film: No One is Alone is a song that made me cry when I first heard it… I just thought it was so moving particularly given the circumstances of the Baker’s Wife. I think it’s a song that speaks to a lot of people who’ve lost somebody that they love and they don’t know how to move forward, which I just loved.
On working with the cast: There really was an abundance of talent in the movie, starting with Meryl Streep, who is arguably the greatest actor working today. And she was just extraordinary to work with and is hilarious and vile at the same time. And then Chris Pine plays the incredibly arrogant but not very bright Prince with whom my character has a bit of an obsession. James Cordon plays the Baker and he’s just wonderfully lovable and such an unlikely hero for the film. He’s fantastically funny, so playing against him in a lot of my scenes was just awesome. And Anna Kendrick is such a beautiful singer and she plays Cinderella with great wit which is lovely because I think that character can sometimes be played a little straight. But Anna is innately witty and funny and she brought a lot of life to that character.
On working with Stephen Sondheim: Obviously music is a massive part of any musical, but the most exciting part for me was recording it with Stephen Sondheim and the specific notes he gave us about how he likes his lyrics to be sung. So for someone like me who does not consider themself a singer, it was really reassuring to have Stephen come in and tell us to not worry about making it sound pretty, but to make it sound real. I think he really likes having actors who can kind of sing rather than singers who can kind of act, so it was just exciting and bizarrely wonderful.
On working with Rob Marshall: Rob Marshall is just the most talented and wonderful man. He is generous and loves seeing what you can bring to the role. He’s a very specific director in that he knows exactly what he wants, which is so reassuring with a musical because you want someone who’s going to tell you when it’s too much or it’s too little, and he has a really delicate hand. He didn’t want this to be a show tune kind of musical, he wanted it to seem like a film and for the songs to be very seamless so the audience isn’t jarred when it’s time for a song. It was wonderful working with him every day…he’s just the most positive and happy person, and as an actor, all we really want is someone who has a spirited opinion who’s not going to hold us back, and he does both of those things in spades and with a huge smile on his face.
Quoting: Cast and Crew
Director Rob Marshall: I honestly thought Emily Blunt would be perfection in the role of the Baker’s Wife, but I didn’t think in a million years she could sing as well as she does. And she came in and sang Moments in the Woods, and it was a full performance and I couldn’t believe it. By the end of the song I literally found myself crying because I was so happy that someone had all the ingredients required for the Baker’s Wife. The character has to be incredibly warm and accessible, funny, have a big heart and be able to sing as well, and she had all of it.
Co-star Meryl Streep: It’s an amazing cast…it’s a real actors’ group of talent. Rob Marshall has assembled a group of people who know what they’re doing, but nobody ever gets a chance to play this kind of heightened reality, fantasy, fairy tale, and it’s a unique opportunity: actors are chewing it up. I was delighted to be working with Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife again, as she’s wildly talented and has a particular warmth and sense of humor that’s perfect for this… and a gorgeous singing voice as well.
Co-star James Corden: When Rob Marshall told me that Emily Blunt was going to be playing The Baker’s Wife, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I’ve known her for a while so I knew I didn’t have to worry about our chemistry together. I just love her and get along with her socially and professionally, and have adored every minute of working with her. Emily is always so much fun and is so relaxed, and while she takes the work incredibly seriously, she doesn’t take herself seriously, and for me, that’s like the perfect person to work with. She is just a constant source of fun.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: In the central roles, Corden and Blunt have disarming chemistry, in both the comic and romantic sense. He’s sweet-natured, guileless and burdened by the sins of his father, while she’s a shrewder type, willing to stray from the path.
Lou Lumenick, New York Post: Into the Woods showcases two of the year’s very best female performances, from Streep and Blunt.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: The unexpected standouts here are Blunt, who manages the songs, the comedy and the despair of the baker’s wife with utter brilliance, and Chris Pine (channeling all the inner Shatner that he’s kept out of the Star Trek movies)
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: Though all the performances are, like the prince, charming, Blunt as the Baker’s wife is particularly good as a young wife trying to sort out her role in this life. The actress effortlessly moves through so many moods, it’s as if her charisma is carried on the wind.
Robbie Collin, The Guardian: Streep has played more than her fair share of witches since taking on the mantle of the venom-tipped magazine editor in The Devil Wears Prada. But as she was in that film, she’s upstaged here by Blunt – if upstaged weren’t entirely the wrong word to describe a performance this honest, generous and piercingly tender-hearted. When Blunt sings Moments in the Woods, peeking playfully around tree-trunks, you can see the lyrics washing her character’s thoughts this way and that – a beautiful, therapeutic little passage of subtlety in a genre that rarely supports it.
Awards and Nominations
Below is a list of all accolades Emily has received for her role in the film.
NOMINATED: Critics Choice Awards – Best Acting Ensemble
NOMINATED: Detroit Film Critic Society – Best Ensemble
NOMINATED: Gold Derby Awards – Best Ensemble Cast
NOMINATED: Golden Globe Awards – Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)
NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – British Actress of the Year (also for Edge of Tomorrow)
NOMINATED: Phoenix Film Critics Society – Best Ensemble Acting
NOMINATED: Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards – Best Acting Ensemble
WON: Satellite Awards – Best Ensemble (Motion Picture)