Emily Blunt: ‘I Want to Be a Gay Icon’

As it happens, her next film, Into the Woods, adapted from Stephen Sondheim’s musical about fairy tales, was also shot in London, though by this point Blunt was into her second trimester. ‘Well, I auditioned, got it, and found out in the same week I was pregnant,’ she says. ‘I told [the director] Rob [Marshall] two weeks before rehearsals and said, “I completely understand if you need to recast.” But he was awesome. He said, “As a director, I’m like, ‘Oh fuck.’ But as your friend, I’m overjoyed, and we’ll make it work.” By the end of the shoot’ – when Blunt was seven months pregnant – ‘I was hiding behind trees and using bags and aprons as disguise.’ A month later she ‘ballooned’ and found herself with cankles. ‘Doesn’t everyone? I hope everyone does. Probably Gisele doesn’t. But I definitely did.’ But apart from the fat ankles and slight queasiness and the stutter (an affliction from childhood that resurfaced because of pressure on her solar plexus), the nine months were a joy. ‘I loved being pregnant,’ Blunt says. ‘I think people don’t like hearing that because some women have a terrible time, but I really liked it.’ It was nine months of people telling her she looked amazing and touching her bump: ‘It’s an instant conversation starter, your stomach.’ Though of course there were also (here she takes a deep breath) ‘the books – don’t take any advice’ and everyone sharing their ‘horrific birth stories’ a week before her due date. But this she laughs off. The high point, apart from the baby arriving, obviously, was ‘when you find out. That’s really wonderful and completely surreal. I don’t know if you can compute it at the time. Not until you’re holding that little body, which is just so incredible. It cracks you in half. I cry a lot now. There’s something about the purity of these little things that is really cool’.

Inevitably, becoming a parent has changed things. ‘Everything has slowed down,’ she says. ‘You realise that nothing else really matters. This industry, this town especially, can make you feel that all this stuff matters; this rather transient world and the gush and the work and the success and the competition. You can get drawn into that bubble, of thinking it all matters. Having a baby has made me realise that it doesn’t. None of it. It really doesn’t.’

That said, Blunt is heading back to work in a few weeks to promote Edge of Tomorrow (‘Redcarpets? Terror!’) and then in July (when Hazel will be five months old) to start a new film. She didn’t plan to – September would have been ideal, after return to acting so soon seven or eight months off – but a good script with ‘a great female role driving the movie’ was too exciting an opportunity to turn down. The film, Sicario, co-starring Benicio Del Toro and directed by Denis Villeneuve (whose Prisoners was a hit last year), is a violent tale of CIA corruption and drug cartels. Blunt was ‘a little tentative’ at first. ‘Do I want to be in New Mexico for 10 weeks shooting something with this subject matter when my house, my whole world, has become very pink and sweet and pure? But actually,’ she goes on, ‘I was talking to my friend and she said, “It’s exactly what you should do right now, because you’re a lioness. You’re a mama bear.” I think when you become a mother, you inherit a strength you’re not even aware of. I know it’s something John’s mentioned to me. He thinks I’m so much stronger now.’

On acting and motherhood, she later elaborates: ‘Some of my actor friends who are mothers have said it actually enhances your experience of everything. You experience love in a way that you never have, panic in a way that you never have, and fear and concern… So then you can pop that in the bank and you can access it.’ Sicario is being shot in Albuquerque. ‘I feel very aware of the juggling act with a baby so young. We’ll have some help,’ she says. ‘I think John might be busy, so…’

In her last interview for Bazaar in January 2011, a few months after she married Krasinski, Blunt talked about their promise never to spend more than two weeks apart. I ask if they have kept to that. ‘Yes. Well, I think we’ve done three weeks a couple of times, which was horrible. Two weeks is about our limit. We really do try. Edge of Tomorrow was tough. We did longer with that movie. LA to London is just so far, and he was on The Office at that point. Now that he’s not on that show, it’s a lot easier. Albuquerque and LA, it’s an hour and a half by plane.’ But why make that promise? ‘Because we miss the hell out of each other. It just becomes a sort of rule that you try and keep. Not even something you have to endure, something you want to do. Even if you see each other for 24 hours, I think it’s important. It’s everything, really. Time together. It’s not a nice thing to get good at being on your own.’ Besides, she adds: ‘I’m with someone who makes me incredibly happy. I’m not one of those people who sub- scribe to the idea that marriage takes the romance out of things. I think it gets better, it deepens. I love being a wife. We have a blast.’

Blunt’s parents are still together (as are Krasinski’s) and her family has always been close. When she was growing up in Roehampton, the six of them (including her parents, two sisters and brother) would come together every single night for dinner. ‘We still do when I go home. It’s made me realise how much you appreciate tradition and consistency when you’re a kid.’ The family, including Blunt’s literary-agent older sister Felicity and her actor husband Stanley Tucci, gathered for Christmas in Ojai this year. Blunt and her younger sister Susannah prepared slow-cooked pork with roast potatoes, cabbage, apple sauce and gravy. (Cooking is a passion of Blunt’s. She loves watching the Food Network and has even contrib- uted a recipe for chicken soup to Tucci’s upcoming cookery book.) ‘My mum was a bit cross because she wanted me to sit down and put my feet up. But it was fun having everyone there.’

Having two American husbands in the family now is itself cause for amusement. ‘At my sister’s wedding,’ Blunt recalls, ‘my dad said in his father-of-the-bride speech, “I really hope another American doesn’t come through my door, sling my last daughter over his shoulder and take off into the night screaming Geronimo.”’ For the sake of Anglo-American relations, the two sons-in-law feign a regard for cricket, which in fact ‘neither of them has any interest in or understands’. As for Blunt, California may be home, but she hasn’t lost her taste for some quintessentially British things. Like pub culture. And never taking life too seriously. Two things that LA sorely lacks. Oh, and Marmite too, which seems to have divided opinion in Blunt’s otherwise harmonious household. ‘I gave it to John once,’ she says, dryly. ‘I think he almost divorced me.’


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