Last week in Los Angeles I landed an exclusive interview with Emily Blunt, who plays the Baker’s Wife in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical, Into the Woods. During our conversation we discussed the making Into the Woods, which included five weeks of rehearsal that was invaluable when it came to making the film work. We also touched on Sicario, her new film with director Denis Villeneuve and famed cinematographer Roger Deakins. In addition we covered her experiences making Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Doug Liman and her thoughts on the title (she prefers All You Need Is Kill), Dunkin Donuts opening in L.A., and a lot more.
If you’re not familiar with Into the Woods, the Disney production stars James Corden and Emily Blunt as a Baker and his wife who venture into the woods to confront the witch (Meryl Streep) responsible for putting a curse on the childless couple. Along the way, they run into a number of familiar fairy tale characters including Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), her Prince (Chris Pine), Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), and the Wolf (Johnny Depp). The film also stars also stars Lucy Punch, Daniel Huttlestone, Tracey Ullman, and Christine Baranski. For more on Into the Woods, here’s the trailer, some clips, Matt’s review, and all our previous coverage.
Collider: I interviewed Steve Carell for Foxcatcher.
EMILY BLUNT: Isn’t he amazing in it?
He’s kind of talented, just a little bit. But I spent the first minute or two talking about Dunkin’ Donuts in L.A., so clearly I have my priorities completely out of whack. Although I just remembered you are married to somebody who also appreciates Dunkin’ Donuts.
BLUNT: Has Dunkin’ arrived in L.A. then?
It is on 12th and Wilshire.
BLUNT: Oh, wow! When did it arrive?
A few months ago.
BLUNT: Are you from Boston?
I am. I think I have discovered what your Christmas present really should be.
BLUNT: Dunkin’ Donuts coffee?
It should be a gift card to the Dunkin’ Donuts and say, “It’s open on 12th and Wilshire. I’ll never see you again.”
No but I’m being serious because, what are you really gonna get him? He’ll buy what he wants for himself, you gotta get something thoughtful and that’s why it’s Dunkin’ Donuts.
BLUNT: I know. That’s really smart, actually. I’m gonna do it, that’s perfect. But what if I’ve already gotten something better than that?
Well, that’s like the added bonus.
BLUNT: Alright. Good plan.
Didn’t he grown up in Boston?
By the way, I didn’t mean to enter into the personal talk.
BLUNT: No. You know I don’t care. I’ll tell you as much as I want to.
Jumping into other things. One of my favorite films of the year is Edge of Tomorrow. I love that movie.
BLUNT: I love that movie.
Right. So, before I start talking about Into the Woods…
BLUNT: I always love talking about Edge. I love that.
Do you prefer Live, Die, Repeat or Edge of Tomorrow? Because Warner Bros. seems to be unsure.
BLUNT: Is it awful to say, neither? [Laughs]
First of all, let me be honest, Warner Bros. seems like their titles are determined by marketing departments rather than filmmakers with a vision.
BLUNT: That’s a bummer isn’t it? I gotta say, I love All You Need Is Kill. I loved it.
They named Batman vs. Superman, Dawn of Justice, which is without a doubt…
Because it’s the Dawn of Justice League. It’s the worst title ever. It should just be Batman vs. Superman. It’s literally rinse and repeat, they didn’t learn from Edge of Tomorrow. And I love Warner Bros. I love those guys.
BLUNT: I do too. I love them. But I don’t know, I loved All You Need Is Kill, personally. I thought it was more ironic and totally more than a movie, you know?
BLUNT: I know, I’m hearing that. It’s funny, we were just talking about it in an interview that we’re in this sad day and age where films are judged by that or that, and we’re also in a day and age where films are judged by how good they are on how their Friday night did. I find it sort of nauseating and a bit depressing but yet I do have faith that every movie, if it’s really worth its weight in gold, will have an audience. People talk to me about Edge of Tomorrow, I will say every single day. People will come up to me and say something about that film. They either saw it on a plane or they saw it in the theater, or they saw it on VOD, whatever. It’s one of the most beloved films I’ve ever done. People were surprised by it. They felt their hair was being blown back by how fun and exciting it was, and how brilliant Tom is in it. I think Doug Liman directed an impossible feat.
A lot of people call it a video game movie. It’s what a video game movie could be.
BLUNT: But with depth.
All I can say is positive things. Love the film.
BLUNT: I love it too. I’m so glad people love it. It means so much to us because we worked so hard on that movie and it’s awesome.
I think that’s another thing that a lot of people don’t realize. I’ve been very lucky and visited a lot of movie sets and the thing that continually gets me every single time is the crazy hours and days that people do to make a movie. Everyone thinks it’s a nice 4-hour day or whatever it might be and in a few days you’ve made your movie. They don’t realize the time and energy it really takes.
BLUNT: They don’t. I was nervous going into Edge of Tomorrow because I thought, “I think this is probably going to be boys club.” And you’re dealing with very experienced people in this field like Tom and Doug Liman, Chris McQuarrie, and the other writer, Erwin Stoff, and I wondered how collaborative it would be. I will say, it’s the most collaborative experience I’ve ever had. It’s the biggest budget and yet intimately so collaborative. I was in every script meeting, we built those characters together and I never felt more valued on a film set as I did there. It did increase the hours because we would have script meetings after work.
I wasn’t even specifically talking about Edge of Tomorrow, I just mean even in general, making movies. I try to always bring it up with people because the average person, I don’t thing really understands what it really takes to make a movie. And the drive and determination that all parties must have.
BLUNT: It’s really hard to make a good movie. I think I’ve discovered over the years. It takes so many elements for it to come together and for it to work, and then for people to see it.
I know Rob was saying you guys had a big rehearsal period and he said that’s the only reason the film could be made at the budget it had and the shooting schedule.
BLUNT: Yeah. We had five weeks of rehearsal, so I think day one of rehearsal, we all felt ill-prepared for the task at hand, and we had work to do. Then, by the end of the five weeks, we couldn’t wait to get on the set and do it. That’s really a credit to Rob for just demanding that rehearsal time and also they were wanting to film it. He was like, “No. This is intimate time for these actors to find their feet and we were all doing things which were very out of our depth. For me, it was completely out of my depth to sing in front of anybody, let alone Rob and Meryl. It was invaluable, that time, invaluable.
The last few years you’ve been very lucky and you’ve been able to do these very cool projects. Is there something you’ve done that you’re like, “Oh my effin’ God, I can’t believe I am here or meeting this person?”
BLUNT: Yeah. I would say, just probably because it’s recent history and my memory isn’t as good as it was now that I’ve had a child, sleep deprivation or something. I would say in recent history, Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods have been so memorable. Edge of Tomorrow because I was playing this kind of action heroine alongside the biggest action star we have. On that huge beach set, the Dunkirk-esque set with the explosions, real explosions, tons of extras, just vast. I’ve never been on something that big. I had that moment running across the beach in this exo suit with explosions going off, left, right, and center going, “My God, this is really happening.”
I think with Into the Woods, more than anything, overcoming my trepidation and my fear about taking on the challenge of singing Stephen Sondheim and ultimately how life-enhancing it is to be on a musical. It’s just so joyous, especially one like this. I think those two moments have been really big for me.
You just worked with Denis Villeneuve on Sicario. I know some people that are involved and they all say to me, “It was a great script, it’s going to be a ridiculously awesome movie.” Everyone’s just been raving to me privately.
BLUNT: Oh, that’s good. I’m hearing that too, which always makes me—it’s exciting but it makes me a little nervous because I haven’t seen any of it yet. But certainly, the experience was really awesome and it’s an intense movie. It’s a dark movie. It’s a very interesting debate about the drug war and I think this movie sort of encapsulates it in a great way. And to work with the great Roger Deakins was just, I can’t even tell you. Benicio [Del Toro] showed up for his first day and the first thing he said to me he went, “I cannot wait to shake the hand of Roger Deakins.” He just couldn’t wait. Denis and Roger together are just heaven.
BLUNT: He shoots emotionally and you know a Roger Deakins movie. It has his stamp on it. He has something singular about what he does and I just loved him. I loved being around him.
I definitely want to know, who do you play in the film? Talk a little bit about your character and what was it like collaborating with Roger?
BLUNT: I play an FBI agent named Kate Macy who basically is brought into this really incoherent world of the cartel and the CIA, and she’s asked to do morally very questionable things, and she’s asked to work in a pretty lawless way. This is an FBI agent who abides completely by the law, as all FBI agents do. It sort of is a film about the questions of who is more complicit in the war on drugs. Is it the people snorting it up their noses or is it the people who are trading it? It sort of makes you think about which side you should be on and who’s doing it the right way and who’s not doing it the right way. She’s a really tough girl, she’s a pretty lonely girl, and she’s put to the test in a way that she never has been, in this film.