British actress Emily Blunt wants nothing better than to laze around on the couch, but at the Sundance Film Festival she is working double time to promote two movies in which she plays a pothead and a publicist.
Running from interview to interview like the acidic, overworked assistant to Meryl Streep’s Miranda in her break-out role in “The Devil Wears Prada,” the 24-year-old Blunt finds the demands on her time, “a bit overwhelming.”
“I do feel, like in ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ on the verge of an anxiety attack coming here,” Blunt told Reuters in between screenings for comedies “Sunshine Cleaning” and “The Great Buck Howard” at the festival in this ski resort east of Salt Lake City.
Expectations for stardom run high for Blunt. She won a best supporting actress Golden Globe for British TV movie “Gideon’s Daughter,” was Globe-nominated for “Prada,” and has received high praise from co-stars such as Oscar winner Streep.
In “Sunshine Cleaning,” one of the most talked-about movies coming into the top festival for U.S. independent film, Blunt plays Norah, the pothead sister of Amy Adams’ Rose, who runs a “biohazard removal business” — a euphemism for mopping up blood and splattered brains at crime scenes and suicides.
Upon seeing a blood-smeared wall from one couple’s domestic dispute, Blunt deadpans: “Do you think they loved each other?”
“She is a little lost and kind of wacky and looking for answers. She is a joy to play,” said Blunt of Norah, whose ratty clothes and tattoos are a far cry from her uber-polished “Prada” character with her clipped British accent.
But like in “Prada,” Blunt shows her flair for comedy as she rolls out one-liners and pratfalls. In one scene, Blunt’s Norah grosses out audiences by tripping and falling onto the putrid mattress of a dead woman.
In “The Great Buck Howard,” Blunt plays a neurotic publicist in charge of staging the comeback of a show business has-been, played by veteran actor John Malkovich.
“I loved it because I am in that world a lot and I based it on a few people I knew,” said Blunt, who makes audiences laugh with her character’s disdain for her pathetic client.
But the up-and-coming British actress breaks from her comedy routine after the two Sundance films, portraying Britain’s Queen Victoria in “Young Victoria,” an American-funded period piece which has yet to be released.
“To play the Queen of England and for it to be a subtle drama was great for me because I have played a lot of comedy roles since ‘Prada,”‘ said Blunt. “That seemed to be what was coming my way because I like doing funny stuff. But I think I can mix it up.”
Blunt, who lives in London and Vancouver when she is not filming, laments not having more opportunities to work in Britain and said she’s determined to make more independent films with stories that fall outside mainstream movie-making.
“I am prone to playing people a little off the wall, and they are usually in independent films,” she said.
Those films offer her something Hollywood studios often do not — directors who gives her free rein to explore her character.
“That is my kind of filming experience. If you just let me play, then I will find something good,” Blunt said.