EMILY BLUNT ON HER NEXT BIG PROJECT-MOTHERHOOD
by Eve MacSweeney
Emily Blunt has won over Hollywood with her effortless wit and wry, British charm. Now she’s embarking on her most ambitious production yet: motherhood.
“It’s really the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me,” says Emily Blunt of imminent motherhood. Never mind her debut on the London stage at eighteen alongside Judi Dench, directed by Peter Hall; the Golden Globe she won for her performance in the BBC movie Gideon’s Daughter, with Bill Nighy; acting opposite Matt Damon, Ewan McGregor, Meryl Streep (twice), and swinging on wires in an “exosuit” with Tom Cruise in this summer’s sci-fi spectacular Edge of Tomorrow. On a sunny January afternoon in Los Angeles, Blunt couldn’t be more excited about the baby “pretzeled in there,” as she puts it, a month or so away from birth.
“I feel good,” she says, “although I do wake up feeling like my grandmother. I sleep with a fortress of pillows around me. I’ve got one of those huge C-shaped ones,” she adds. “My husband calls it Gary.”
Blunt is dressed in a navy silk T-shirt and silk drawstring harem pants, an Isabel Marant cardigan-jacket that can accommodate a pregnancy in progress (it’s currently fastened a third of the way down), and gladiator sandals. Her toenails are painted a shade debatable between “fluorescent salmon” (my suggestion) and “undercooked salmon” (hers), and she is wearing a pair of Carrera sunglasses belonging to her husband, the actor and writer John Krasinski. We’re off to have coffee and take in a spot of maternity–and–post-maternity shopping, leaving Krasinski, newly sprung from a nine-year commitment on The Office, at home in his “writing cave” working on a movie script.
Blunt first grabbed our attention with her movie-stealing turn as a fashion-world assistant in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, when she was 22. (“I couldn’t have been more surprised that she was that young,” remarks Streep, who was struck by her “clear, confident comic instincts. Her humor is self-deflective in the manner of people much more veteran.”) Her line in that movie, “I’m hearing this [duck-quacking hand gesture] and I wanna hear this [finger and thumb pinched shut],” has become an immortal screen moment—as well as a useful tool in raising children. Everything about Blunt is infused with a pleasant irony, starting with her disembodied voice talking through the intercom at the gate of her rental house in the Hollywood Hills (the couple’s permanent home nearby is under renovation), which is full of character: part warm welcome, part sardonic twang.
It’s a quality that has enabled the 31-year-old Blunt to steer her way through a surprising variety of roles in a busy decade-plus career, from costume dramas to indie curiosities to big-budget thrillers to, most recently, the movie version of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. Even in a four-square romantic comedy like 2012’s The Five-Year Engagement, in which she stars opposite Jason Segel, Blunt brings such idiosyncratic charm to the girlfriend role it’s as though she’s found a fresh way to throw out convention and make eccentricity mainstream.
In person Blunt is relaxed and friendly, and she laughs a lot. She began acting to help conquer a childhood stutter, and her career took off virtually of its own accord. “She takes the work incredibly seriously, but she doesn’t take herself seriously at all,” observes James Corden, opposite whom she acts in Into the Woods. At a neighborhood café festooned with chintz and chandeliers, Blunt talks about the extraordinary year she’s had. “It’s hard to find fantastic female parts, and I feel like I found two of them,” she says. To prepare for Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, she endured three months of Krav Maga martial-arts training and gymnastics before going to work in an 85-pound costume with assault weapons built onto the arms and legs, held together by a steel plate. The shoot was so physically demanding, she says, “I looked like an aerobics teacher by the end of it. It was almost unattractive.” Even Tom Cruise—here she inhales sharply and grits her teeth to keep smiling, in imitation of the tirelessly upbeat actor—admitted to her that he found it “a challenge.”
Now, she says, “I understand what it takes to get in that kind of shape. And when I got pregnant, not long after I finished the movie, it helped me to keep active.” The result is a gorgeous pregnant person: all lean, glowing limbs plus bump. In the earlier stages, she did core exercises and Pilates; lately she favors hiking in the hills, where she sometimes has to dodge paparazzi leaping out of bushes who can’t resist stalking a burgeoning Hollywood family.
Blunt and Krasinski married three years ago at their friend George Clooney’s villa on Lake Como. Between their two careers, they have crisscrossed paths with many of the major names in Hollywood, from Judd Apatow’s circle to Matt Damon’s, Bradley Cooper, Jimmy Fallon, Amy Adams, Jennifer Aniston, and on. Since moving full-time to L.A. five years ago—she previously lived in Vancouver as the girlfriend of the singer Michael Bublé—the British-born Blunt has made herself very much at home in her tight network of industry and non-industry friends.
She orders a soy cappuccino (“I allow myself one coffee a day”) and gluten-free cookies—“I know everyone rolls their eyes, but I met a hippie doctor who suggested it, and it’s really helped me in the pregnancy.” Besides these peccadilloes, she takes a “non-fuss, non-intense” approach to the maternity business. “Everyone says don’t go online and read as few books as you possibly can,” she says, and she avoids neurotic health-and-beauty rituals in favor of “gallons of Kiehl’s Creme de Corps.”
After racing around a postapocalyptic set looking like a weapon in human form, Blunt made Into the Woods during her second trimester, alongside an all-star cast including Corden, Johnny Depp, Streep, and Star Trek’s Chris Pine. “I’m playing a baker’s wife, so I figured she must eat a lot of buns,” she says with a laugh. “By the end I was doing a lot of creeping behind trees and hiding behind other characters.”
It’s time to go shopping, and Blunt has selected the showroom of Hatch, a mixed maternity/post-pregnancy and regular clothing line launched two years ago by Ariane Goldman that has picked up such chic fans as Gwen Stefani and Jessica Joffe. Hatch is responsible for Blunt’s silk outfit today, and she’s looking for a few more pieces to take her through the coming months.
Blunt describes her style as “bohemian tomboy, quite urban.” For herself she likes shopping at the small L.A. boutiques Creatures of Comfort and TenOverSix, buying young labels Rachel Comey, Alasdair, and Ryan Roche, while for the red carpet she’ll break out Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Alexander McQueen, or Givenchy. Having worked with the same team for years for these events, including the stylist Jessica Paster, she has her routine down. “I’m out of the house in an hour and fifteen minutes,” she says. Her looks tend to be unfussy, and her hair, which runs the gamut of colors from blonde to dark brown, is mostly worn long and natural. “I like to make simple choices with what I wear, and I like to look like me,” she says. For her latest pregnant outing, the previous day—a charity luncheon for Operation Smile—she wore a nude Dior dress with a neon-green lining. “It was stretchy, thank God.”
At the Hatch showroom she chooses some long, flowing shirts she can imagine nesting in for some time. She hasn’t made plans to return to work yet but would like her next project to take her back to her roots on the stage, this time on Broadway. “I haven’t done a play for ten years. It’s so exposing, but it’s what I’m most interested in right now.”
There are no limits to what she can do, says Into the Woods director Rob Marshall. “She’ll have it all. She will have a Maggie Smith career if she wants,” he predicts. “If you want a leading lady, and someone who has great humor and vulnerability and warmth and smarts, women aren’t really bred for that anymore. She stands alone in many ways.”
In the showroom, it’s not all coziness and comfort. Not one to be typecast, Blunt picks out a sexy black silk jumpsuit and models it; then tries on a pair of leather leggings, as tight as can be beneath the baby bump.
Gary would love them.
Vogue (US): April 2014
EMILY BLUNT ON HER NEXT BIG PROJECT-MOTHERHOOD