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British-born Emily Blunt has forged an acting career and life for herself in the States, living in New York with her husband and actor John Krasinski and their two daughters Hazel, seven, and four-year-old Violet.
And although she may be hundreds of miles away across the pond, the 38-year-old enjoyed the joys of homeschooling during lockdown like we all have.
“We would try to muddle our way through homeschooling, just like everyone else – but I think this time at home gave people the ability to take stock in what you have and to notice every detail of your children,” she tells us.
As well as being a doting mother, Emily is a hardworking actress and her latest flick, romantic drama Wild Mountain Thyme, set tongues wagging for her on-screen chemistry with Fifty Shades Of Grey hunk Jamie Dornan.
And when we speak to The Devil Wears Prada star, who plays lovestruck Rosemary in the film, she says, “Jamie is endlessly funny and cool, so it was a dream to get to do this with him.”
Here, Emily reveals the lessons she learnt in lockdown, her work to help children with a stutter and what we can expect from her next…
The last year has been tough on everyone. How did you get through it?
I tried to look towards that sense of togetherness that we had as a family. There’s been no schedule and no need to be rushing out the door, grabbing school bags and lunches. When you strip all of that away – all of that white noise and madness – you just get to be with each other. I think that was a real discovery for me. How do you want to spend your time? What matters? I think that’s what I learned a lot about during the last year.
How did you explain the pandemic to your children?
With the kids, they’re very young. We’ve been very honest about there being this thing called Coronavirus out there, but that we want them to feel safe. We just try to keep things as normal as possible.
The world is slowly opening up, but were you scared during the pandemic?
When we had the first lockdown, everyone panicked. There was so much uncertainty – you’re scared and you’re dealing with all of these emotions. Once the sense of surrender comes in, your blinkers come off and you suddenly see everything. It all fans out in front of you and you go, “Wow, look at what matters to me. Look how lucky I am.” Being far from my parents was very painful, but I don’t think it’s been any more challenging for me than it has for anyone else.
How did you find homeschooling?
We would try to muddle our way through homeschooling, just like everyone else – but I think this time at home gave people the ability to take stock in what you have and to notice every detail of your children.
Between you and your husband, who was the best teacher at home?
I would say, maybe I was better at the English and the writing, but John’s better at the arts and crafts. And maths. I’m genuinely dreadful at maths, so I’m always going to give John the maths problems.
As a child, you grew up with a stutter, and you’re now deeply involved with the American Institute Of Stuttering. How has that experience been for you?
I feel like I have a real sense of purpose with this foundation because it’s so personal to me. I understand the anguish that these kids and adults are going through. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about stuttering, so it’s my job to enlighten people on what it’s about; that it’s not anxiety ridden, it’s not that you have a mental disability and it’s not that you have a nervous disposition. It’s neurological, it’s genetic and it’s nobody’s fault – and kids can do nothing about it.
What advice would you give to youngsters who stutter?
I have so much empathy for them – it’s also the kind of disability that you can’t even explain to people, because you cannot speak. You can’t even tell people, “Oh, it’s because I have a stutter.” You’re completely imprisoned by it. I find it incredibly moving, so what I tell the kids and parents who call me is that you just have to learn to wrap your arms around that part of yourself. You have to learn that it’s not the whole you, it’s just a part of you and everyone’s got something they’re dealing with. This just happens to be your thing and it’s OK. You know, I love the fact that I’ve never met a mean stutterer. Once you’ve been humiliated, you’ll never do it to anybody else. Ever.
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You just released a new romantic film, Wild Mountain Thyme. What was it like to work with Jamie Dornan?
It was a dream. Jamie is endlessly funny and cool, so it was a dream to get to do this with him. We had so much fun working together. I think people have this perception of Jamie being his character from Fifty Shades, but he’s actually much closer to his character in Wild Mountain Thyme. He has all the uncertainty and awkward oddities that his character has – and I’m not speaking out of turn here. Jamie would tell you this himself. Jamie is adorable.
What was life like on the set of the movie?
Lots of fun because it was incredible to play Rosemary. She’s in love with this guy and wants to soul gaze with him – and it’s quite confident of her to be, “Oh, I know you’re unwilling now, but I’m going to persuade you. I will make sure you know that you are loved.” I think he’s just uncertain. He can’t understand why she’s so in love with him and that’s what I like about this role reversal. However frustrating Anthony [Jamie’s character] can be, you’re like, “Come on, she wants you. Go for it!”
Your character Rosemary lays down a lot of hints in the movie. Do you think there’s a much more level playing field today when it comes to dating and pursuing love?
I think women are more empowered to take matters into their own hands now, and they should. They’re probably better at it in some ways. What I truly loved about my character in this movie is her ferocious pursuit of this man who’s rather unwilling, but she’s so determined to drag him into the next phase of his life. And she completely believes it’s with her.
Finally, what are you working on next?
A six-part limited series called The English, which is a western. It’s epic and as witty as it is violent. I play a rather extraordinary character and I’ve always wanted to do a Western. I can’t wait. My heart is racing about it.
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