Emily Blunt opens up about stuttering, which afflicted actors from Marilyn Monroe to Bruce Willis

Travis M. Andrews

April 4, 2018

Article taken from The Washington Post.

Emily Blunt’s new movie “The Quiet Place” is about a family who tries to live silently, lest terrible things befall them. She won’t be speaking much — which is a tad unusual for the British actress. More often, her roles display flawless vocal abilities, via her American accents (“The Girl on the Train,” “Sicario”) and singing (“Into the Woods,” upcoming “Mary Poppins”).

So it’s difficult to believe that Blunt spent her childhood bullied for a nearly debilitating stutter. But that might be what helped launch her acting career.

On the cusp of her teenage years, Blunt was relentlessly mocked by her classmates. As a defense mechanism, she recently told People’s Jess Cagle, she essentially hid herself in characters.

“I used to do a lot of funny voices and funny accents because I could speak more fluently if I didn’t sound like me,” Blunt said.

Her parents enrolled her in various therapies and relaxation classes, but nothing took — until she began acting.

A “fantastic teacher” overhead Blunt’s impressions and funny voices, and asked the then-12-year-old to enroll in a school play despite her stutter, a suggestion she greeted with vigorous objections.

“This is kind of remarkable for someone who’s not a stutterer, that he had this instinct. It was so special,” Blunt recalled.

Blunt, bitten by the acting bug, eventually conquered her stutter, but it will never disappear completely.

“It still comes back and flares if I’m really tired, or when I was pregnant, it was really prominent again,” Blunt said.

A stutter might seem to many like a minor affliction, but it can be anything but. For example: Annie Glenn, the wife of astronaut and former senator John Glenn, stuttered so badly that when her 7-year-old daughter stepped on a nail, she couldn’t speak well enough to call an ambulance. She had to fetch a neighbor, as blood gushed out of her daughter’s foot.

Others have trouble finding work.

“It’s a real problem for a lot of people. It’s not just kids. You have adults in the 40s and 50s who haven’t been able to get the jobs that they deserve, because you’re sort of misrepresented by how you speak,” Blunt said.

Stuttering is a surprisingly common affliction in Hollywood — a place generally unkind to those living with disabilities — despite a main tenet of acting being flawless line-reading and enunciation. Several big-name actors managed to enjoy a lucrative career regardless.

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