Emily Blunt covers the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, mostly to promote her role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Emily is a dual American and British citizen now, even though she only sought American citizenship for tax reasons. Years ago, she seemed pretty bummed about becoming an American, although thankfully, her publicist convinced her to stop talking about it so much. I bring this up because Blunt does make some references to her American life and you can tell that she still misses living in England. Also: Emily is 40 years old now and still working a lot, which she’s happy about… and then in the same breath, she talks about how she’s taking a year off. Some highlights:
Americans don’t get British innuendos: “I was just talking to a friend last night about our love Affair with The Great British Bake Off. It’s the irreverence of it – you’d never get away with some of the innuendos over here.”
She’s been a naturalized American citizen for eight years: She admits to being “seduced by America’s great qualities… I have to be, right? My husband’s American, my children are American… That’s three of my favourite people in the world.” A stint living in LA left her pining for London, but in Brooklyn she found the sense of community she had been missing. “I feel very at home here. It’s like a village within New York, with all the spontaneity combined with the reality of being in a big city.” So many of her close friends live nearby, she adds, that “it’s almost like being on Sesame Street!”
Playing Kitty Oppenheimer, the frustrated wife: “She wasn’t an easy woman – she definitely didn’t conform to the 1950s housewife ideal, and yet she found herself confined to an ironing board in Mexico’s Los Alamos, which must have driven her mad… I found her so interesting to play, because she was a great scientist herself, but limited by the era she lived in. A lot of women a few generations ahead of me weren’t allowed the juggle of a career and children – there was an expectation they should choose, and if they did choose their career, they were frowned upon. Even now, I see women in their seventies whose whole identity has been caught up in motherhood, and then once that’s done, there’s this sense of, well, who am I and how do I reclaim myself?”
Mixed feelings on the streaming era: “Of course I’m hugely supportive of streaming, but when it first became part of the ecosystem, I was afraid we were losing the sense of event and ceremony – that thing of going out and putting your phone down and getting immersed in a world with a roomful of strangers. I’m very nostalgic about [cinema], because I have so many distinct memories of it from my upbringing.”
She’s not obsessed with her status: “When I see myself up on a billboard, I have this complete dissociation with it… I’m like, who’s that? And I can see my children doing the same – they might say, oh, there’s Mama, but it’s not exciting for them. What’s exciting for them is when I can pick them up from school and take them swimming.”
She’s never away from her kids for more than a fortnight. “Because even though they’re hardy, and they’re used to this strange life, it’s still rough on them when I have to go away.”
Taking the rest of the year off: “There are cornerstones of the girls’ day that I don’t want to compromise on – like, will you wake me up, take me to school, pick me up and put me to bed? And I just want to be able to say, yes, yes, yes. It’s such an exhale for me to be able to do that.”
The industry isn’t always kind to women: “My toes curl when people tell me, ‘My daughter wants to be an actress.’ I want to say, don’t do it! Because it’s a hard industry and it can be very disappointing. A lot of people tell you not to take things personally – but it’s completely personal, especially when you’re being judged on how you look. So you just have to endure that side of things.”
Equal pay: “Ambition is healthy – it shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing. It’s about knowing your worth and what you bring to a project, and never apologising for doing well.”
Turning 40: “I’m sure at some point it’s going to catch up with me, the burn of my forties, but I don’t feel it yet. It may be because I’ve stepped into a position of self-generating, so it feels like I’ve got control – I’m not just waiting for the next thing to come along.”
While this is not Blunt’s fault and it doesn’t fall on her shoulders, I hate when people within Hollywood are like “why aren’t people going to movie theaters?!?” Because it’s crazy expensive and it’s not the same as it was when people my age and Blunt’s age were in our teens. Back then, you could buy a movie ticket for less than five dollars. There was a dollar movie theater close by. The theatrical-chain monopoly has done more to destroy the theater-going experience more than anything. As for Americans not being able to pull off the “irreverence” of the Great British Bake-Offs innuendos… lord. It’s just sex jokes about baking.
Cover & IG courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK.