Emily Blunt on Oppenheimer, family and ‘trauma’ she’s ready to face

The star talks candidly about her life and career
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Despite initially having what she describes as a “cavalier” attitude towards her future as an actress, Emily Blunt, scored a Golden Globe almost straight out of the gate.

Watch Below: Emily Blunt’s emotional tribute to husband John Krasinski at the SAG Awards

She was recognised for her role in the TV movie Gideon’s Daughter in 2007, the same year she was also nominated for her scene-stealing part in The Devil Wears Prada.

Her success started the ball rolling, with stand-out roles in films including The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Into the Woods (2014), The Girl on the Train (2016), Mary Poppins Returns (2018) and A Quiet Place (2018), co-starring and directed by her husband, John Krasinski, with whom she shares daughters Hazel, 9, and Violet, 7.

Now, ahead of her 41st birthday on February 23, the British beauty – who appeared in Oppenheimer as Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, wife of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by fellow Oscar nominee Cillian Murphy) – talks to WHO about her career, family and the “trauma” she’s ready to face.

Emily Blunt didn’t have a ‘burning desire’ to act. (Credit: Getty)

What steps did you take to be an actor? 

I wouldn’t say I had this burning desire. My mum was an actress and she had too many kids and a very busy husband, and I think she sacrificed a lot. I don’t think I had this sort of rose-tinted view of it. I saw that it was a profession that you needed to wear a helmet for, emotionally, and that it could be hard on you and hard on your soul.

When I was still in school, the Head of Drama said, ‘Do you want to be in a class play? We’re going to go to the Edinburgh theatre festival.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, sure.’

I was 17. One of the substitute teachers was in the show with me, and he called his agent and said, ‘You should come see this girl.’ He came to see the play and he said, ‘I think you’re really good. Do you want to do this?’ I entered into the industry without white-knuckling a grip on a desire to succeed. I finished my exams, and I started auditioning, and that was how it happened. Now I’m so ardently passionate about it that I can’t believe I sound so cavalier in the entry of it, because I’m obsessed with it.

What is it like when Christopher Nolan offers you a role? 

Someone calls and says he wants to meet, at which point you put a jetpack on, and you go, you run. His ideas are so vast, and they transcend your normal understanding of things. Maybe that’s what pins everyone to their seats, that sense of wonder he elicits in people. And yet he’s so understated as a person. He doesn’t walk around like this walking brain; he watches Love Actually every year. He loves a gossip. We’d be on set, and I’d be like, ‘Chris, did you hear about this thing?’ And he goes, ‘No. What? Tell me.’ He’s so wonderful and cool. And I just adore him.

Emily Blunt with husband John Krasinsky
Emily Blunt with husband John Krasinsky (Credit: Getty)

How do you like to quiet your mind? 

I started doing transcendental meditation about nine years ago when my first little one was born, and I felt exhausted all the time. It’s so efficient at just calming the noise for me. My team on set called them my ‘psycho naps’ because I literally can sleep sitting up.

Can you tell us about working with Cillian [Murphy]? 

I love Cillian, Mr Ocean Eyes. Everything was just such a masterclass watching him. He’s going to kill me for telling this story!

I was very concerned about Cillian’s sleep when we first started shooting because I just felt he had a monumental undertaking with this role. I didn’t feel he had much joy outside of the set, so I bought him this really fantastic pillow as a shoot gift. He told me he woke up in the middle of the night and he just was so thrilled to fluff himself back to sleep on the pillow that he, like, threw his head down back onto the pillow and he smashed his head open on the side table. They had to glue his head shut – all because of the pillow! He was luxuriating in it so much, he smashed his head open.

Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy (Credit: Getty)

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given or received from a co-star? 

I got Dwayne Johnson a good wrap gift. He didn’t get me anything [laughs]. He’s gonna kill me! I got him an original signed poster of Raiders of the Lost Ark because it was the inspiration for Jungle Cruise, and I remember just dragging it up the stairs of his trailer and he opened the door going, ‘No, no, no, no, no, I didn’t get you anything. Oh my god. Oh my god.’ He was so horrified. He’s made up for it since, he gets me great gifts.

What is your favourite project that you have worked on? 

It’s tough because some are like euphoric, creative journeys that can be taxing but amazing. Some of them are just like a hoot. Like The Fall Guy and Jungle Cruise were just, oh my god, a joy bomb. Then there’s an experience like Oppenheimer … the fingerprints [of which] will be on me forever. I’ll never stop being grateful I’m in it.

Finally, is there something on your acting bucket list that you are eager to tackle? 

I was a kid that stuttered really prominently for many years. I’ve always wanted to make a movie about that. I know they did it with The King’s Speech, but maybe it could be something in a different tone, a different world. It’s a plight that I clearly understand. Maybe it would be a bit traumatic, but I’d quite like to play a stutterer.

Where to watch Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer is currently available to rent or buy on both Prime Video and AppleTV+. 

Fortunately, for Australian cinephiles, Oppenheimer will be available to stream online from March 22, 2024, on BINGE. 

Stream Oppenheimer now on BINGE with a 7-day free trial. Subscribe here.

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