It’s not easy to steal scenes from Meryl Streep, but Emily Blunt managed to do just that as the love-to-hate-her assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. Blunt followed up that Golden Globe-nominated role with a series of diverse characters, and the world hasn’t been able to take its eyes off the actress ever since. (Of course it doesn’t hurt her cool factor that she’s engaged to The Office’s lovable and hysterical John Krasinski.) In her latest film, Blunt takes on none other than Queen Victoria. We recently sat down with the divine Brit to talk great parts, amazing costars and staying out of the Hollywood spotlight.
Tell me about the movie you recently shot in New York City.
It’s called The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon, and it’s based on a Philip K. Dick short story that has a sci-fi element to it. But it’s supposed to be a modern love story about two people destined to be against the system—the slightly Big Brother-esque system. My character happens to be a world-class contemporary dancer, and that’s hilarious because I cannot dance.
Have you had dance training for the part?
Yeah. Every day I’m in dance boot camp. It’s a wonderful idea to have the girl be a dancer, but it’s very high maintenance. I’m really loving the challenge. I’m training with this amazing ballet company, and it’s been a real awakening for me when it comes to fitness. Everything hurts all the time.
In The Young Victoria, which is released this month, you capture a side of Queen Victoria perhaps a lot of people don’t know about. Tell me about the role.
I really felt it was one of those rare parts to play, a character with such gravitas. I loved that the script was really focused on a dysfunctional family more than royalty. I thought it was a fresh look at her and royalty and a more intimate look because you really see the private life. She is a young girl, she is way over her head, and she doesn’t get on with her mother. She’s in love, and she’s a teenager. All of us were on the same page in that we wanted to make [the characters] very real. I thought it was interesting to offer the performance side of her life and the private side.
What’s so fascinating about your career is the diverse characters you’ve played from The Devil Wears Prada to Sunshine Cleaning and now The Young Victoria. What is it about a character that attracts you?
It really is if they surprise me. It’s hard to specify why I respond to someone, or why anyone responds to anyone in real life. I like complexity, and I like people. People with some kind of inner turmoil going on are always interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a dramatic role. I don’t tend to go for one-dimensional people because I don’t think people really are that way. I like characters who are hard to read—you have to find out who they are.
You’ve accomplished so much at the young age of 26. How have you managed to stay—for the most part—out of the limelight and away from some of the bad decisions we see a lot of young actresses make.
Well, you wear underwear. That helps.
Well done, Emily.
And you don’t go to the “scenes.” I’ve never wanted to, and Hollywood parties are not necessarily what I strive to be a part of. They’re really fun, but I think I probably have more fun behind closed doors. I think it’s easy to have balance if you make the choice not to be affected by the invasion [of privacy]. For me it’s a slight invasion, but it’s not huge. I know some people are completely hounded, and that’s certainly not the case for me. I feel very fortunate. And I know it’s a cliché, but I have an extraordinary job, and I know it’s not like any other job.
You’re engaged to the lovely John Krasinski. Can you tell us how the wedding plans are going?
There’s definitely no way I could speak of plans because there literally aren’t any.
Just one day it will happen.
He’s so funny.
He’s so funny it’s painful.
He seems very down-to-earth. Is that part of what makes it a good relationship?
I think it’s really important to be down-to-earth. I feel that of my friends and my family. I think it’s vital to have that, and I think that’s the way to survive this business, too. If you’re down-to-earth and if you have a sense of humor and irony about things, I think you’ll survive just fine.
Let’s talk about one of your other upcoming films. You’re doing The Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro.
He’s the best. He’s bonkers in every way that’s right. I had a blast with him. I love the mystique he’s managed to maintain. He’s extraordinary to watch and very brave. I love people who make a choice that’s left of center—but not for the sake of being weird, just for the sake of being interesting. I love that about him. And he is fiercely bright. Don’t try and outsmart him when it comes to music. You’ll fail.
You play a damsel-in-distress character.
Oh, I’m so innocent and pure, it’s almost an eyesore. I usually play a bitch, so it’s really fun.
Tell us some of your favorite places to go in LA.
But then I’d be giving away my dive bars. And then they won’t be my dives anymore.
Okay. Don’t give away your favorite. Give away your second favorite.
I ate at El Compadre Restaurant recently, and I crushed those enchiladas. They were so good. I dominated that food; I inhaled it. And the margaritas are off the charts. I’m gonna recommend that place if you want cheesy Mexican food. It is unreal. And I love AOC, and I think Cafe Stella is great.