English actress Emily Blunt first stepped—in vertiginous heels—into the limelight when she appeared as Emily, the couture-crazed “first assistant” to the editor in chief of “Runway” magazine, in “The Devil Wears Prada” in 2006, alongside three-time Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep. Since then, the 31-year-old has shared the screen with a long list of Hollywood heavyweights, from Tom Cruise to Bruce Willis, and has won accolades of her own—including a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the BBC TV drama “Gideon’s Daughter,” in 2007.
Just last week, Ms. Blunt—who lives in California with her American husband, actor John Krasinski, and their daughter, Hazel, who was born in February—received her fifth Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of a humble baker’s wife in Disney ’s “Into the Woods.” The movie, released on Christmas Day in the U.S. and in early January in the U.K., is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1987 Broadway musical of the same name, which weaves together the plots of several of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. The role required the actress to take singing lessons for a couple of months. Before that, her vocal performances “took place in the shower. It was a very steep learning curve,” she says.
These days, Ms. Blunt, who grew up in London, is a bit more relaxed with the actors who inspired her, including Meryl Streep who plays the witch in “Into the Woods.”
“People always ask me what’s it like working with Meryl Streep,” Ms. Blunt says. “I’ve known Mel for many years now. It doesn’t mean that I am any less awe-struck by her—but I am not star-struck anymore.”
I am happiest when I am breathing the same air as my husband and my daughter. As long as they are in my general vicinity, I am happy.
I can play the cello. I played since I was seven, and probably my proudest moment playing the cello is that I managed to tackle the Elgar Cello Concerto, my favorite piece of music. I practiced for months and there is a very difficult run in it to do. I remember [when] I finally did it. I was 16 or something and my mum would listen to me every morning from the kitchen trying to get this run right. I got it, and I heard her scream and it was just awesome. I don’t think I got it [right] again.
I love stationery. It’s the weirdest obsession. I get giddy when I walk into Papyrus [a U.S. stationery chain]… Someone just sent me a box of stationery with my name and my daughter’s and my husband’s name on it—the best gift you could ever give me. I love beautiful natural paper that looks like it was used in medieval times. It almost feels furry.
A lesson [I’ve] learned in life is, “Don’t strategize: Embrace the unknown.” Any time I tried to plan or strategize things too much it ended up turning on its head. I learned to walk into every day with great hope.
I miss pubs. I love the Sun Inn in Barnes [in southwest London]. They have the most fantastic roast lunch on Sundays, their Yorkshire puddings are fantastic, they have jazz music playing—and it smells like a pub. Pubs have a very specific smell. In America they try to make superficial reproductions of it and they don’t smell right.
My guilty TV pleasure is [watching] the Food Network. If I could, I would watch it all day with snacks in front of me.
My favorite restaurant is La Esquina in New York City. It’s dark and dingy with beautiful twinkly lights; the food is fantastic and they have the biggest tequila menu in the world. I love an old speakeasy. I love something that feels like a forbidden fruit.
When do I feel the most creative? In the moment, during a take. Some days and some scenes require a lot more focus than others, but in that moment is spontaneity, the feeling in the air. It’s one of the things that I live for in this job. You’ve got to learn to shut out all of the white noise, you’ve got to pay attention and you have to listen so neatly to what that person you are in a scene with is saying.
I would give my right leg if I could see Otis Redding [in concert]. If I could have seen Otis Redding in concert. I just love him.
If I were to open my own hotel, it would be a boutique hotel. I’d want it to be kind of cool and low-key. I’d want it to be a little bit bohemian, with a feeling of the ’60s, where naughty stuff goes on—a little bit back to the rock ’n’ roll era where if you trash your hotel room it’s OK.
[If I could own a piece of art], it would be a Jackson Pollock but I would be absolutely penniless, living on the street. [Pollock] was my initiation into the contemporary art world. I went to the Tate Modern with my husband, who is a huge art nut, and I was still of that mind-set that I wasn’t too much into contemporary art. I stared and looked at one of Jackson Pollock’s; one of those ones that he splatters. I suddenly thought I was going to cry because I got it. I stood back and didn’t look at the detail but looked at the whole: It was gorgeous.
My most invaluable tool is my ability to host a great dinner party. We are going to move into our house that we have been renovating, so we are going to have a Christmas party. You’ve got to light a fire, dim the lights, have lots of different types of alcohol and the house has to smell of food like you cooked it. And you’ve got to get the right dinner guests, the right mix of people. That’s the trick.