The most dangerous thing to want is more.
Emily as: Tamsin
Genre(s): Drama | Romance
Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski, Michael Wynne
Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
Other Cast: Natalie Press, Paddy Considine, Paul-Anthony Barber, Lynette Edwards
Release Date: June 17, 2005 (Limited)
Production Budget: –
Total Worldwide Gross: $2.7m
Filming Locations: West Yorkshire, England, UK and Lancashire, England, UK
Mona (Natalie Press) has just got hold of a brilliant moped that only cost a tenner. No engine but still dirt-cheap. She lives with her brother, Phil, (Paddy Considine) who used to run a pub before he found God and poured away all the booze. Tamsin (Emily Blunt) is rich, spoilt and trying to live a life of seductive decadence.
They meet on the moors, above their quiet Yorkshire village and begin an intense, unlikely friendship. Tamsin is tragic and fantastical, Mona, rough and witty. Tamsin is charmed and Mona is hooked.
Tamsin and Mona want to escape their lives but Phil wants to save them and save everybody else. Mona wants the old, dangerous, Phil back; the brother that she loved. Tamsin wants to see what it takes to break him.
Tamsin: You don’t look like a “Mona.”
Mona: It’s not me real name. It’s because of me brother. I were always complaining as a kid so he started calling me “the Mona.” ‘Cause me real name is Lisa. Mona Lisa. Get it?
Tamsin: Yeah, I’ve studied the original.
Mona: Yeah? It’s a Honda. I just got it off some Gyppos up at the maggot farm.
Tamsin: It doesn’t appear to have an engine.
Mona: It were only a tenner.
Tamsin: What’s the point of a bike without an engine?
Mona: Just me, me brother, and God.
Tamsin: Is he completely mad?
Tamsin: What happened to him?
Mona: He went inside and he came out funny.
Tamsin: He went to prison?
Tamsin: What for?
Mona: Robbery, burglary… fighting people.
Tamsin: What about your parents?
Mona: I don’t know me dad. And me mum’s dead.
Tamsin: What did she die of?
Tamsin: My sister died of anorexia.
Tamsin: Nietzsche. This great philosopher, and he just believed that… you know, there are some people that are just put on this planet who are made to succeed, who were just made to blossom. And it doesn’t matter how many lesser mortals suffer and get fucked over, it doesn’t matter, as long as they succeed. You know, like Shakespeare and Wagner… and your brother. All that crap. I mean, Nietzsche would string him up.
Tamsin: Were you ever?
Mona: I thought I were.
Tamsin: Then why’d you dump him?
Mona: He dumped me.
Mona: He said he couldn’t be bothered anymore.
Mona: Anyway, he had a wife and kid.
Tamsin: Men like that should be castrated.
Tamsin: Christ, you didn’t mention he was fat.
Mona: He’s not. It’s all muscle.
Tamsin: Yeah, right.
Phil: Absolutely, yeah. There’s darkness everywhere.
Tamsin: What, like the Devil?
Tamsin: Are you listening to me?
Tamsin: We’re gonna spend the rest of our lives together.
Mona: I know.
Tamsin: If you leave me, I’ll kill you.
Quoting: Emily Blunt
On her character: She’s pretentious and indulged, but also incredibly fragile and naïve, so I felt sympathy for her. Her cavalier cruelty wasn’t sinister; it was just a game she plays. I really enjoyed playing someone so layered who, deep down, is so lost.
On relating to her character: I was never Tamsin; I was the geek who wanted to be her friend. But I know girls like Tamsin, and I remember how magnetic they were. There are some people you meet who have a kind of static about them and they draw you in, even though you know you shouldn’t be friends with them.
On improvising scenes: It’s very different for me to work in that way, cause I’m used to working with a fixed script where you know the exact time, location and scene that will be taking place. But I think for me to work in this very organic way, really does feel like a collaborative effort. I mean you feel very open, and you bring so much of yourself to the table. It’s sort of a revelation, because you find things that ring true. Every scene, there was a freedom to it. We could try new things, and it was never frowned upon when we tried something new. If something wasn’ t working, it was about persevering until we found something that was golden.
On her hesitation to audition: I was a real wuss about it. I was really scared about working in a different way, a modern, gritty, unique way of working. But I went and I met Pawel [Pawlikowski] and I really liked him immensely and then I met Natalie [Press] and I really liked her immensely. And the whole way the process was unfolding before my eyes, I could suddenly see it and see myself in it, and felt that we could go there together, because the chemistry was great. And I wasn’t scared any more.
On appearing nude: I think it’s very hard with those scenes to be completely at ease. You’re standing there with your tits out and of course it’s embarrassing on one level and it’s one of the most unsexy things you can film – there are so many technical things going on. It’s always a bit excruciating for everyone and terribly time-consuming. Pawel was like, “We’ll talk about that scene later.” But we had to be brave about it, you have to be to make them work. The main thing about them is there’s nothing very merry about shooting them.
On filming emotional scenes: They’re hard in a completely different way. It’s hard to get those to ring true. I watched it with some friends, and they just stared at me, but I loved doing it. Pawel just kept teasing things out of us, getting different reactions and trying again and again until we finally hit gold with it.”
On filming the love scenes: Natalie and I were both aware it wasn’t going to be gratuitous. We knew why these characters would do what they did, and I think as long as you know that and understand the material and why you’re going there, you’ll always be brave enough to do it.
On working with Pawel Pawlikowski: Pawel has taught me a great deal. I think I learned more from him than anyone I’ve ever worked with, which is just have a bit of courage. And that ambiguity is actually really interesting. And that there are so many different ways to interpret a moment or a scene, and you should just have some courage and some guts.
On working with Natalie Press: There’s a very effortless chemistry there. We’re completely different people—such contrasting personalities off-set—and I think it gave us a spark together on-camera.
Quoting: Cast and Crew
Director Pawel Pawlikowski: When she appeared, she just felt very right and relevant. She was very confident and had these animated, seductive eyes that made contact with you while hiding at the same time. I knew she could carry Tamsin off.
Director Pawel Pawlikowski: The big task was to find Tamsin. We started looking high and low at established actresses–quite famous ones–until we came across Emily. When Emily came and tried out a couple of scenes, there was a real spark between them, and they were so fundamentally different as characters, actresses, everything, that it got very interesting immediately. There was a sort of magnetism on screen.
Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle: Press and Blunt have never been in a movie before let alone starred in one, but you’d never know it from the way they command the big screen. The actresses have chemistry, which makes the romance plausible, and they complement each other without competing for attention. With her dark hair and piercing eyes, Blunt looks like Ali MacGraw and has the haughtiness she brought to Goodbye, Columbus. But Blunt’s performance is subtler. Always the manipulator, her Tamsin puts on airs for effect. She drops them when she begins to confide in Mona so her new best friend will be grateful for the intimacy.
David Ansen, Newsweek: Press and Blunt are major discoveries: in this sly and wonderfully atmospheric gem, they conjure up the role-playing raptures of youth with perfect poetic pitch.
Derek Elley, Variety: Press, putting on a flawless Yorkshire accent, almost steals the movie as the ditzy Mona (real name: Lisa), a plain-but-pretty lass swept away by Tamsin’s erudition and poise. But Blunt’s perf as the mysterious, mixed-up Tamsin grows, adding a sense of menace which coincides with Considine’s loony Phil.
Awards and Nominations
Below is a list of all accolades Emily has received for her role in the film.
NOMINATED: British Independent Film Awards – Most Promising Newcomer
NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – British Newcomer of the Year
WON: Evening Standard British Film Awards – Most Promising Newcomer
WON: Motovun Film Festival – Special Mention (shared with Natalie Press)