Emily Blunt recently starred in Into the Woods as The Baker’s Wife, a mostly good-hearted if conflicted woman. Now, though, Blunt is preparing to go bad. She’s been enlisted for The Huntsman, the follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. “Other than Into the Woods I haven’t really done a big fantasy,” Blunt told EW. “I am really ready to play a villain.”
As we premiere an exclusive featurette from the Into the Woods Blu-ray, out March 24, Blunt talked with EW about fairy tales, getting a costume upgrade for The Huntsman, and her Into the Woods co-star James Corden’s big late-night debut.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: One of the things people have loved about Into the Woods is how it rewrites some of the tropes of fairy tales. What do you think draws people to fairy tales, and their rewriting?
EMILY BLUNT: I think you have got this escapism factor, and we tend to romanticize these stories, and they feel nostalgic to people—they remind us of our childhood. But also, a lot of these fairy tales—and especially a musical like Into the Woods, which doesn’t shy away from the darker side of them—I think often you encounter characters who are in a moral dilemma of some description. That’s always interesting for an audience to watch, and to put themselves in their shoes. There’s often lessons to be learned. I think people like to go on a journey and feel that they’ve learned something, and maybe they see themselves in these fairy tale characters.
Speaking of moral predicaments, The Baker’s Wife gets into a big one. I was amazed by how funny Chris Pine was in the movie. What was it like doing that seduction scene?
He’s just impossible to work with and not laugh. He was so willing to look idiotic and utterly arrogant. He was just willing to look foolish, and I think that is what people love about this character. I guess you fall in love with the dumbness of him more than anything. He is that more two-dimensional character—and wants to be that way, and does it willingly.
I just think it’s interesting because my character, The Baker’s Wife, lusted after him for years. It’s almost like she’s been reading about him in Us Weekly for years. And suddenly, he’s there, and he wants to make out with her. And she’s in that predicament of being torn and wanting that—finally, all of her dreams have come true—and at the same time, it’s really not what she imagined it to be. She can’t believe what really happened. Then she’s feeling guilty, incredibly guilty, about what she’s done to her husband, and the potential betrayal that went on. That song that she has after that seduction scene is really the inner turmoil of feeling completely excited by what just happened, but guilty about it as well, and trying to work out really what matters in life—which unfortunately comes a little bit too late for her character.
It’s one of my favorite songs.
It’s great. I think a lot of the characters go through that in Into the Woods. The woods represent risk, and they seduce you, and it’s an alternate universe that you can enter into. Yet you come out of it realizing that what you thought you needed was not necessarily what you want.
Having had this experience working with Stephen Sondheim, would you ever like to do a musical again?
I really would. I really would. I’d be daunted again, but the whole experience was really liberating—to learn how to sing properly. I think I would be more drawn to doing Stephen Sondheim again, because he relies less on whether you can hit a high C perfectly and more on the emotional drive of the characters. I think for me, as someone who is not necessarily [the most] confident of singers, that is more appealing than singing arpeggios every day until I get the note right.
Any specific roles?
I can’t even think. I wouldn’t even like to put it out there just in case it’s—I don’t know I have to think about it.
You’re going to be in The Huntsman.
I don’t know how much I can say. I’m playing a villain. I can say that much.
What about that are you excited for?
I’m excited about working with all those amazing people, like Charlize [Theron] and Chris [Hemsworth] and Jessica Chastain, who is in it too. I think the script is wonderful, and I think the costumes are going to be insane. I’m so excited about that. And Colleen Atwood is doing the costumes again. I don’t know—other than Into the Woods, I haven’t really done a big fantasy. I am really ready to play a villain. I’m ready to do that.
I haven’t really done it before. People say I was a villain in Devil Wears Prada. I don’t really see it that way. She was pretty horrific, but I don’t know if she was quite evil.
She wasn’t a wicked witch.
I think she’s desperate more than a wicked witch. I think this is an avenue I haven’t gone down before, and that’s what I’m thrilled about. I’m wondering if it will come more easily to me than I would like it to, which would be interesting. My inner villain is like, ready to pounce.
After Into the Woods, what do you like about doing a fantasy?
I think just the variety of stuff that’s out there. I always try and take advantage of it. I don’t know, I guess it appeals to me because I haven’t really done it before, and I think it’s that slightly larger-than-life world that you can be a part of and embrace. The film I did after Into the Woods was a very, very gritty, incredibly dark thriller called Sicario, about the War on Drugs. So this is a complete departure from doing that. I kind of like to flip-flop a bit,.
The costumes in Snow White and the Huntsman were amazing.
She is a creative genius, really, and she takes such care and attention to detail. I think more than anything, with Colleen, the attention to detail is miraculous. She gives you so much as an actor. She just understands what you need to feel like this person, physically what you need. And so my costumes are sort of insanely gorgeous. A little dark and insanely gorgeous.
So it’s fair to say you get to be more glam than The Baker’s Wife…
Exactly, I was always a little jealous of all the girls in their ballgowns, and I was there in an apron. It was a great apron—it was a Colleen Atwood apron. But it was still an apron.
On a separate note: James Corden, your Baker, is starting The Late Late Show soon. Why do you think James will be great at late night?
Well, he’s got the most amazing British irreverence about him. Really self deprecating and silly. And he’s also got a real tap on the youth—he just understands what’s appealing for young people, and appealing for the kind of people that will be still awake at the time that his show is on. He knows exactly how to tap into that. I think Americans really like Brits and what they bring to the table comedically, and I think he plans on embracing every facet of being a British comedian like that.
Around awards season, there was talk of how the Brits are taking over. What do you think it is about American film that loves these performances from British actors such as yourself?
I really have no idea. I don’t know. Maybe it’s this myth that we are all related to Shakespeare in some way, so we must all be better. I don’t know.