For an actress best known for quiet dramatic turns ("The Young Victoria," "Sunshine Cleaning") or light comedy ("The Devil Wears Prada," "The Muppets"), Emily Blunt is jumping into the sci fi realm feet first.
On the heels of her first dip into the genre - "The Adjustment Bureau" - comes "Looper," a time-traveling thrill ride from writer/director Rian Johnson ("Brick") that also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as present and future versions of the same person. As the mysterious Sara, Blunt is the emotional center of the film and must contend with the violently different agendas of both men.
In October, the British-born actress (who is married to "The Office" star John Krasinski in real life) heads to London to begin filming "All You Need is Kill," a big budget, futuristic blockbuster starring Tom Cruise. Blunt, 29, will play Valkyrie One - a role she describes as a "kick-ass soldier" and one that requires intense physical training.
Were you a fan of this genre previously?
It’s funny cause I didn’t grow up being one of those kids obsessed with comic books or superheroes or sci fi. Recently I think I have been drawn to these movies with a high concept, but all these movies I have done – "Looper," "Adjustment Bureau" and the one I am about to do with Tom – they all have a real human heartbeat and something that feels incredibly familiar and close to home. I don’t want to be swanning around in silver spacesuit. I want to play real people and to be put in the dilemma of a different time and different place with them and have new experiences.
Why are you so proud of "Looper"?
There is so much complexity and the story is so rich and surprising that there is a lot to get excited about. There are so many twists and threads and turns. It's extraordinarily unique. I feel really lucky to be part of a film that is carving out new space for itself in every sense of the word. I think it is probably one of the best movies I have been lucky enough to be in.
What's the best thing you will take away from it?
The experience of working with Rian. Best director I have been lucky enough to work with, I think. His material is so strong and so unique, rife with originality. It definitely inspired me to keep thinking outside the box and keep finding scripts that are carving out new space in storytelling.
So it was the writing that drew you in?
Oh yes. It’s like a singular voice that he has. My agent sent me the script and luckily we got in quite early with it. I read the first 20 pages and then called my agent and said you've got to get me in the room with this guy. Then my agent asked what I thought of my character and I hadn't even got to her yet.
What makes his work so special?
Nothing he does feels derivative of what you have seen, yet he has seen every movie under the sun. So I think that is very inspiring to work with someone like that. He's such a humble, sweet person yet he seems to have quite a dark imagination to be able to create these incredible, complex movies.
Next up is "All You Need is Kill" with Tom Cruise. What can you tell us about that?
That I am in the most horrific training ever: I do two workouts five days a week learning martial arts and all kinds of stuff. I have to be a kick-ass soldier in this film. I think, to be honest, it’s a good thing. If I didn’t work out like a lunatic you are going to get hurt doing a movie like this. They are so physically demanding. My character is just a bad-ass - as they say in this country. She is one of the most highly decorated soldiers around and could pretty much beat anyone up.
Do you deliberately seek out these kind of diverse roles?
It’s very deliberate though I wouldn’t say that I strategize any role I do – like this will take me to this place and then I will be able to do that. It’s never done with that intention because I really believe you can’t strategize anything. You never know what is going to hit or what people will like. I’ve just tried to take advantage of all the variety that is out there. There’s such a diverse number of roles and movies and genres and budgets to work amongst.
Well, there is a book sequel to "The Devil Wears Prada" being released next year. Would you consider stepping back into your role if they turn it into a movie?
I had heard that, yes. It would have to be a team effort. If everyone was on board I'd probably do it. I feel like if Meryl said she wanted to do it we would all be idiots not to. I don’t know – the thing that worries is all of us having to be emaciated all over again.