HEAT VISION

Emily Blunt on 'Wild Mountain Thyme' and the "Really Promising" 'Edge of Tomorrow' Sequel Script

Emily Blunt
JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images
The actor also reflects on 'Sicario' and watching husband John Krasinski pivot from 'A Quiet Place Part II' to 'Some Good News.'

After Mary Poppins Returns, Jungle Cruise and two A Quiet Place films, Emily Blunt wanted to play a role that harkens back to the dramatic and comedic work of her early filmography. Luckily, she found exactly that in John Patrick Shanley’s Wild Mountain Thyme. Set in rural Ireland, Blunt plays a farmer named Rosemary Muldoon who tries to settle a land dispute involving her neighbor Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan), someone she’s carried a torch for since childhood. For Blunt, the role couldn’t have come at a better time.

When it came into my life, it was rather serendipitous because I had been saying to myself, ‘Oh, I’d love to do something intimate and something a bit left of center,’" Blunt tells The Hollywood Reporter. “So it came in at just the right time, and I was completely bewitched by it when I read the script. I mean, I knew because it was Shanley. You know you’re going to read something singularly unique, and … I fell in love with these bizarre, lonely farmers.”

Wild Mountain Thyme was supposed to be Blunt’s third film of the year, but the novel coronavirus pandemic derailed the release of A Quiet Place Part II at the last minute, as well as Disney’s Jungle Cruise.

“Well, what happened with Quiet Place was so surreal. At some point, it became very clear that the writing was on the wall, and [director John Krasinski] insisted that we pull the movie,” Blunt recalls. “He called the studio saying, ‘You need to pull it right now. We’re not bringing this movie out.’ And then before too long, everyone was inside and I think it was surreal for everybody, not just for us.”

Once Quiet Place II was delayed, Blunt watched her husband, Krasinski, take the world by storm with his cathartic YouTube-based news show, Some Good News.

“He’d been wanting to do [Some Good News] for many years, but in a big format, not him alone in his office, rigging up cameras and crayon decorations,” Blunt reveals. “But ultimately, I think it humanized him and what we were all going through. It became like a wild horse in our house. From the moment he opened his eyes to the moment he closed his eyes, it was all he did. So I think it was one of the most humbling experiences, and it certainly infused our house with a sense of purpose and joy that I think we needed.”

Blunt also has an exciting update about the much-anticipated sequel to 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow.

“Yes, [the script] is really promising and really, really cool. I just don’t know when everything’s going to sort of align, you know what I mean?” Blunt shares. “Between all of our schedules, it would just have to be the right time. But there is something in the works, for sure, that’s a great idea. A great idea.”

In a recent conversation with THR, Blunt discusses singing for Christopher Walken on the Wild Mountain Thyme set, the exciting role reversal of Jungle Cruise and whether she’ll play Sicario’s Kate Macer again.

So after two huge Disney movies and two A Quiet Place films, which are gigantic in their own right, was it nice to return to something that was a complete left turn from your recent work?

Yes, very much. And truly, when it came into my life, it was rather serendipitous because I had been saying to myself, “Oh, I’d love to do something intimate and something a bit left of center.” So it came in at just the right time, and I was completely bewitched by it when I read the script. I mean, I knew because it was Shanley. You know you’re going to read something singularly unique, and I just loved it. I fell in love with these bizarre, lonely farmers. I just really loved it.

So I have it on good authority that your sister (Felicity Blunt) and Jamie Dornan’s wife (Amelia Warner) are friends. Did that connection serve as a jumping-off point for you and Jamie in an effort to build rapport?

(Laughs.) They are very good friends, yes. My sister organized a dinner with me, Jamie, Millie [Amelia Warner] and her before I started. I’d met Jamie a couple of times beforehand, but it’s always a point of contention between Jamie and I that I don’t remember meeting him. (Laughs.) So he finds this kind of appalling, but we do laugh about it a lot because we are really good friends now. I just knew that I would have a blast with him. He is incredibly funny and he is such a talent. I’m really excited for people to see Jamie in this role because I think there’s a perception of seeing him in a certain light, and as he would self-professedly tell you, all of his insecure awkwardness and oddities are able to come out in one character. It fit him like a glove, this role, and so it was easy peasy. It was just a joy.

Did the Swan Lake component of the movie give you any The Adjustment Bureau training and/or filming flashbacks?

(Laughs.) Well, I don’t know if my dancing around outside wearing my Doc Martens boots was comparable to what I had to go through for The Adjustment Bureau, but I do love that music and I do love the ballet. I genuinely love it.

Rosemary and Anthony were both a little baffled by Jon Hamm’s character’s insistence on knowing each farm’s total number of acres. What was your version of that when you first came to America? Were Americans preoccupied with anything that didn’t quite make sense to you?

That moment in the film is interesting because it’s about number-crunching versus a soulful connection to what you have. So I like that it comes up in the film. I think it’s very funny and it’s very telling. But I wouldn’t say I was sort of struck by that when I came to America. I think the thing that I found really hard when I first came to America was how willingly people look you in the eye and say nice things about you to your face. (Laughs.) I remember being horrified by it because in England, we don’t do that. You can write someone a note, but it’s very hard for us when someone looks you in the eye and goes, “I think you are really good at this,” or whatever. I just think people are so willing to be effusive over in America, and I like that now. I’m sort of used to it now to the point where I go back home and I tell my family how much I love them, what I feel about them and how clever they’ve been. And actually, everyone likes to hear that. Everyone likes to hear that about themselves. I just found it so painful when I first came to America. I was like, “Oh my God, this is agony.”

So I’ve talked to a couple other English actors who released Irish films this year, and they both insisted that the Irish accent is more difficult than most Americans might think despite the relatively close proximity between England and Ireland. Do you agree with that sentiment?

Oh God, it’s completely different. But also, if you think about England, there’s 100 accents or more. I don’t know how many accents there are just in England, and it’s the same in Ireland. I think there’s 50 to 100 different accents just in Ireland. (Laughs.) Even in Dublin, there’s North and South Dublin, and they sound completely different. So we had to learn a very specific midland, rural, quite thick accent, and it sounds completely different from a metropolitan, sort of Dublin Irish accent. I don’t even know all the accents. So yes, and even for Jamie, who’s from Belfast, he has a completely different accent from how he spoke. So accents are tricky. You just do your best and that’s all you can hope for.

After Into The Woods, My Little Pony and Mary Poppins Returns, I have to imagine that you’re comfortable singing in movies now; however, did singing in an Irish accent create a whole new anxiety?

Not really because I was so used to doing the accent by then that I didn’t think about it that much. It was more singing for Christopher Walken that probably had my knees knocking because it was just such a moving day for me. He was such an icon for me growing up, and I was supposed to sing this song for him. It’s me [as Rosemary] singing a song to remind him [as Tony] about love, and his character was supposed to get very emotional listening to it. So when you’re staring into those iconic blue eyes and they start to cry, it was so moving. And I’m one of these people that as soon as I see someone cry, I will instantly cry. So I had to try not to look at him too much because it was so emotional. He’s so beautiful and fragile in the movie. I mean, everyone loves to impersonate Christopher Walken, but we must never forget how delicate he can be.

Was the weather pretty unaccommodating through most of the shoot? There were several scenes where the conditions seemed brutal.

Yes. (Laughs.) Well, that was part of it. Listen, we shot the movie in four and a half weeks, so we didn’t have time to wait for good weather. So Shanley made it clear; he goes, “We’re going to be shooting whether it’s sunny or raining where we’re shooting.” So we all just prepared to get wet constantly, and that’s what happened.

I spoke to John Krasinski and Cillian Murphy hours before the pandemic became official in March. Of course, the three of you were promoting A Quiet Place Part II, which was soon put back on the shelf. So one minute you’re about to entertain the world with a new film, and the next, your family is entertaining the world with Some Good News instead, which was one of the few sources of joy in those early days of all this. Since you had a front-row seat, what was that whirlwind like for you?

Well, what happened with Quiet Place was so surreal. At some point, it became very clear that the writing was on the wall, and John insisted that we pull the movie. He called the studio saying, “You need to pull it right now. We’re not bringing this movie out.” And then before too long, everyone was inside and I think it was surreal for everybody, not just for us. It was just so disorienting and scary. I think John needed some sense of purpose, and he’d been wanting to do Some Good News for a while. So even though everyone talks about it being our family thing, it was him all the way. I mean, I was drifting around making too much banana bread. (Laughs.) I don’t think he expected it to become the runaway train that it did or the source of necessary joy that people wanted. I think he was thinking it would just be this fun thing he could do. He’d been wanting to do it for many years, but in a big format, not him alone in his office, rigging up cameras and crayon decorations. He said it was just the most lo-fi version of what he thought it would be. But ultimately, I think it humanized him and what we were all going through. It became like a wild horse in our house. From the moment he opened his eyes to the moment he closed his eyes, it was all he did. And he did it alone with people virtually, at a distance, but he was doing all of it. So I think it was one of the most humbling experiences, and it certainly infused our house with a sense of purpose and joy that I think we needed. So I’m grateful to him for that.

Please give my regards to the logo designers (the daughters Krasinski). Aside from John, that was the defining piece.

(Laughs.) I will. We just got it framed, actually! They were very pleased.

It’s going to be rather interesting when journalists like myself finally publish 13-month-old Quiet Place Part II interviews, barring any further delays.

Yeah, I’m sure. But I’m really happy that at least you guys got to see it, and some other people got to see it. It’ll come out when the time’s right.

The pandemic also delayed Jungle Cruise’s release. When that movie was first announced and production was underway, I would come across tweets that were written as “Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt’s Jungle Cruise,” and being a fan of yours, I’d reply with corrections such as: “Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson’s Jungle Cruise.” Well, lo and behold, the eventual marketing campaign leaned into that playful rivalry over top billing, whether it was that early production announcement or those hilarious posters. As much as I’d like to take credit for this, do the characters also jockey for position, which would explain the marketing choice?

(Laughs.) Oh God, yeah. Dwayne plays Frank, who is this sort of wise-cracking, swindling captain of this rather Frankenstein-ish boat that’s supposed to get us down the Amazon River. And I play Lily, who’s this sort of reckless, exciting, determined explorer, so there’s a bit of a role reversal as to who’s in charge. She’s one of these people who dives head first into situations and thinks about it later. DJ plays a more unwilling character and a more cynical character. So it was really exciting to play with the reversal of those roles. We fight and bicker and contend our way down the Amazon River, but ultimately, it’s a love story and it’s so romantic. It was so nostalgic for us to film it because we were both completely madly in love with Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone when we were growing up. So it was a terribly nostalgic experience for us to shoot it, and I cannot wait for you guys to see it. It’s really special.

From watching your interviews over the years, I get the impression that you’re not too fond of questions like, “When are we going to see Rita Vrataski again?” or “When are we going to see Emily Charlton again?”

(Laughs.)

And yet, I can’t help but do the same because you made a perfect movie called Sicario. At this point, should I give up my hopes and dreams of seeing Kate Macer in a third Sicario film, or is the door still ajar?

Well, I’m not sure. Since they made the second one [Sicario: Day of the Soldado] without Kate Macer, I’m not sure what happens now. So I’m not sure.

I just learned that Sicario originally began with the introduction of Benicio Del Toro's character as he was interrogating/drowning someone, and by cutting that opening scene, it allowed Kate to be the audience’s eyes and ears. Were you pleasantly surprised when you first realized that the movie was actually beginning with Kate?

I remember thinking that was interesting to really use her as the audience because you, as an audience, are as in the dark as she is. You are as morally torn as she is. And what I find so impressive about Sicario is that the amazing [cinematographer] Roger Deakins used that camera as another character. It’s that prowling, surveying camera that focuses on what you think you see and don’t see. So I just love that Sicario is really uncompromising about how little information you’re given. And you very much feel for Kate Macer because you’re kind of with her the whole time. She is your eyes and ears. So I think that perspective, of it being through her eyes, was the right decision, yeah.

As far as Rita Vrataski and Edge of T(w)omorrow, Doug Liman said that a script was finished late last year. Have you read anything yet?

Yes, it’s really promising and really, really cool. I just don’t know when everything’s going to sort of align, you know what I mean? Between all of our schedules, it would just have to be the right time. But there is something in the works, for sure, that’s a great idea. A great idea.

Wild Mountain Thyme is available in select theaters and on demand Dec. 11. Interview edited for length and clarity. 

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