Playbill: December 02, 2014

EMILY BLUNT ON HIDING HER REAL-LIFE BABY BUMP, VOCAL NERVES AND THE MUCH-TALKED-ABOUT “MOMENT” IN THE “WOODS”
by Michael Gioia
In Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, the Baker’s Wife yearns for a child. Emily Blunt had that part of the role covered — almost too well. The Golden Globe-winning actress was pregnant on set…and had to hide her real-life baby bump from the cameras.
“At the time, I was pregnant,” explained Blunt — who gave birth to her first child, Hazel, in February 2014 — in an upcoming interview with Playbill magazine. “I hadn’t had my daughter yet, but it was kind of extraordinary being pregnant and playing this woman, who was desperately yearning to be pregnant, and feeling like I was the luckiest person in the world… In a way, it gave me a deeper insight into this woman and her yearning to be a mother. Those maternal instincts were kicking in for me. It was kind of a trip, being pregnant and hiding behind every tree in the woods by the end of my pregnancy!”
She continued, “I don’t know if there are many roles in Hollywood that I would have been able to play pregnant, but the Baker’s Wife is certainly one of them because I feel like she would have eaten a lot of carbs working in the bakery.”
Although Blunt was strongly connected to her character — both preparing to give birth for the first time — she knew very little of the enchanted Woods before discovering them through the eyes of director Rob Marshall.
“I’ve never heard of it,” she admitted. “In England, it’s not as big of a musical. The way I found out how much of a big deal it was here was that [when I told] my husband — who is not a fan of musicals — I was auditioning for ‘Into the Woods,’ he sang, ‘Into the woods!’ And, I went, ‘How do you know it?! You don’t even like musicals.’ He said, ‘Because every college in America does Into the Woods.'”
For her audition, Blunt learned “Moments in the Woods,” the second-act number for the Baker’s Wife in which she sorts out the difference between right and wrong, shouldn’t and should, and “and” and “or.” (The Baker’s Wife’s other big “moment,” “Maybe They’re Magic,” has been cut from the film adaptation.)
She confided, “I was very, very nervous about going in to audition for it. I really don’t like singing in front of people. I find it very embarrassing and nerve-wracking, but I’d been very much encouraged by Rob, who I knew previously from meeting him. He just said, ‘Come on! I want to find the character. I don’t need to hear it sung perfectly.'”
To sing with the massive orchestra assembled for the major motion picture “was everything,” said Blunt. “It was exciting and challenging and daunting. It was all of those things. Ultimately, I feel like my life was so enhanced by this experience. It was joyous, actually, getting to sing with a 60-piece orchestra — getting to feel like I was in another play. I haven’t felt that way in a long time. I haven’t done stage for about 10 years, and even though it was a very cinematic experience, it also felt intimate and collaborative and [like] the camaraderie that you don’t get on film sets.
“We rehearsed it for six weeks before we even did the pre-record, so at the time we did the pre-record with the orchestra, we knew exactly what the scene was going to be we knew the movement, we knew all of it.”
As for that much-talked-about “Moment” in the woods, in which the Baker’s Wife is seduced by Cinderella’s Prince (Chris Pine), Blunt said that the scene (believed to be too steamy for a Disney movie and rumored to have been cut) is true, tasteful and very much there.
“I don’t know where that rumor came from because we’ve been completely loyal to the causes and consequences of the musical that the stage production so cleverly encompasses,” she said. “This is not watered down. This is not Disney-fied. It’s definitely still the theme ‘Careful what you wish for,’ and so that scene has not been cut, and it’s dealt with in a really clever way, and it has not been watered down. I will tell you that much. Lovers of the musical shouldn’t worry. I think we’ve been very loyal to it, and yet at the same time creating an even more intimate, powerful experience.”
It isn’t only the Baker’s Wife who discovers things about herself within the woods. Coming out of the “Woods,” Blunt said, “I ended up finding it exhilarating to sing publicly and to discover how you can find such depth with something when you sing it. I think that’s where Rob and [producer] John [DeLuca] work so cleverly. They only want you to break into song [when you] feel like you can’t not sing. I just thought that was such a cool way to approach the musical because often you can have the hardedge transition from talking to singing, and people find it so off-putting. I think I found so much joy in the woods.”
When the film was completed, Blunt and husband John Krasinski welcomed their first child, Hazel, who will be ten months old Dec. 16.
“I think everything gets illuminated, emotionally, for you when you have a kid,” she shared. “I think that you understand everything a bit better, if that makes sense. I understand my parents better. I understand what I mean to them. I understand family. I understand worry and fear and love in a way that I never have before, so I think when John and I saw the film, we both were very affected by it, exponentially more so now that we are parents.”
Look for more from Blunt and the stars of Into the Woods in an upcoming issue of Playbill magazine.