TIME – Emily Blunt has come a long way from her star-making turn as a Louboutin-loving fashionista in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada. To play the lead role in The Girl on the Train, out Oct. 7, she had to deglamorize like never before. “Talk about no makeup,” she says over salmon teriyaki and iced green tea at a Brooklyn sushi joint on a late-summer evening. “We added makeup to make me look even more like I had no makeup.” Each day she was decorated with prosthetic under-eye bags, varicose veins and rosacea, along with a changing array of contact lenses meant to evoke various stages of inebriation: pinkish for buzzed, bloodshot for hammered, tinged with yellow for brutally hung over.
Yet for all the attention on the minutiae of her appearance, the key to playing such a truly damaged character—a divorced, infertile alcoholic obsessed with the perfect-looking lives of a couple she whizzes past on her daily commute—lay far beneath the bleary-eyed surface. To bring Rachel Watson to life, Blunt, 33, had to learn how to identify with the humiliation and isolation familiar to many addicts. She disappeared so thoroughly into the character that even her husband, actor and director John Krasinski, says he didn’t recognize her onscreen. “For the first time ever,” he says, “I forgot it was my wife.”
High praise as that may be, Blunt will need to impress legions of tougher critics: the millions of readers who buoyed the movie’s inspiration, Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel of the same name, to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list for 13 weeks straight. While the book is the kind of impossible-to-put-down Hitchcockian psychodrama that begs for a film adaptation, its success creates a daunting bar for the movie to clear. “That’s what I found so appealing,” says Blunt. “It’s less about the thriller of whodunit. It’s the idea of your blackout drunk protagonist making sure she didn’t do it.”
The novel weaves together the perspectives of three interconnected women. There’s Rachel, who rides the commuter train from suburban Westchester into New York City. (The movie transplants the story from the book’s London setting to the U.S., though Blunt keeps her accent in tribute to Hawkins’ story.) Then there’s Megan (Haley Bennett), whose house Rachel’s train passes each day and who, Rachel imagines, has a perfect marriage. And finally there’s Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), the real estate agent whom Rachel’s husband (Justin Theroux) left her for. When Megan goes missing, Rachel believes she can help solve the mystery— though she can’t be sure that she didn’t, during a blackout, have something to do with Megan’s disappearance.
C MAGAZINE – “You should see what I’m wearing right now,” confesses Emily Blunt. Just five days ago, the expectant actress stole the show as a presenter at the Oscars, flaunting her new silhouette in a custom blush-colored Prada gown. But today she’s in New York, sitting in bed in flannel pajamas, talking on the phone. “There’s not a piece of Prada on me,” she says with a laugh.
These days, Blunt is not only juggling a high-profile career, but her growing family, too. Married to actor John Krasinski since 2010, Blunt, 33, gave birth to their first child, daughter Hazel, in 2014. Now, with the arrival of their second baby on the horizon, Blunt is ready to take a well-earned break from the spotlight in the final months of her pregnancy. “The first pregnancy is the most self-indulgent thing in the world because you get massages and prenatal yoga and hypnotherapy CDs. During this one I forget that I’m even pregnant. I’m hoisting my 2-year-old around!”
Six weeks ago, Blunt wrapped production on The Girl on the Train, fall’s psychological thriller based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling book of the same name. Blunt takes on protagonist Rachel Watson, an alcoholic recovering from a divorce who witnesses something from a train window and becomes ensnared in a mystery. The role was a demanding one that became even more challenging when the actress discovered she was expecting. “It was actually more physical than I realized, which worried me a little, but I wasn’t telling anyone until a little later on,” says Blunt. “I told a couple of people like [co-star] Justin Theroux pretty early because he and I were doing some of the physical stuff together. He’s my friend, and I think he knew anyway—you know how friends just have a feeling.”
It’s the latest in a string of action-heavy flicks for the actress, who also starred as a FBI agent in Sicario (2015) and as a soldier battling aliens alongside Tom Cruise in the sci-fi thriller Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Yet her career started off on an entirely different note. Raised in a suburb of London as the second of four children to a former actress-turned-teacher and a barrister, Blunt enrolled in acting classes at an early age to overcome a stutter. In high school she was discovered by an agent, making her professional stage debut soon after in 2001, opposite Judi Dench in The Royal Family.
Critically acclaimed on-screen roles followed; Blunt went on to appear in the British television drama Gideon’s Daughter in 2005, which garnered her a Golden Globe. The following year, she landed her breakout role as Emily Charlton, the catty, self-important co-assistant to fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. In the 10 years since her game-changing performance (which also earned her both Golden Globe and BAFTA nods), Blunt has continued to prove her acting chops in the likes of The Young Victoria (2009), Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) and in 2014’s charming musical fairy tale Into the Woods.