It feels like just yesterday Paula Hawkins’ 2015 thriller The Girl on the Train sped onto millions of bookshelves and Kindles, topping best-seller lists and, possibly, inciting readers to regard fellow commuters with more suspicion than usual.
But DreamWorks, which bought the rights to the book in the spring of 2014, wasted no time in jumping onto Hawkins’ tracks. The film adaptation of The Girl on the Train was set into motion quickly, with director Tate Taylor (The Help) and star Emily Blunt (Sicario, Edge of Tomorrow) at the helm. On Oct. 7, movie-going audiences will get to know Blunt’s devastatingly destitute version of Rachel Watson, an alcoholic divorcee who creates an intricate fantasy life for a beautiful young couple she sees out the window every day while commuting into New York City. But one morning, Rachel sees the woman, Megan Hipwell (breakout star Haley Bennett), with another man — and shortly after that, Megan goes missing. With nothing else to do and an irrational attachment to the couple, Rachel inserts herself into the police investigation — but an addict with memory lapses doesn’t make the most reliable witness. Especially not when the missing woman lives a few houses down from Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom (The Leftovers’ Justin Theroux) and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson).
“I read it, and I loved it,” Blunt says of the book and the subsequent script. “I was completely sucked into it and thrilled by the idea that your protagonist was a blackout drunk. That’s very unusual. Especially in cinema, to have a woman who’s just so messed up at the forefront of the film.”
While unreliable narrators like Rachel and Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne are carrying best-selling novels, it’s still rare, as Blunt notes, for a screwed-up, damaged, and downright frightening woman to be the star of a film. So the casting challenge for Taylor and the Train producers was to find someone who could deliver a nuanced, believable performance — without losing the audience’s trust. Blunt fit the bill perfectly, and her explosive portrayal of Rachel is certain to be a career-defining role.
For more on The Girl on the Train — including the hair-raising, terrifying scene that’s not in the book and why the story moved from the U.K. to America — pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, or buy it now. Check back on EW.com for even more Train scoop – and don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.