‘Listen up, f–ker:’ Emily Blunt on falling in love with Looper
Emily Blunt has had her share of feminine roles. She was a princess in Gulliver’s Travels, the Queen in The Young Victoria and the voice of Juliet in Gnomeo & Juliet. But to listen to her talk about her latest part, in the science-fiction action pictureLooper, she’d rather be one of the boys.
“I like that she’s not written like a girl,” the 29-year-old Brit says of her character, a single mom named Sara. “You read so many parts that have been written by men where the women are either objectified, or obviously they’re compassionate and sympathetic because they’re a woman.
“I’m always saying to people … don’t write me as a girl; write me as a personality. Write the character; don’t write a gender.”
Looper, from writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), tells the story of a future in which time travel is used by organized crime, sending people into the past in order to kill them. Trouble ensues when a hitman (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sees that his latest target (Bruce Willis) is an older version of himself.
Johnson shares Blunt’s distaste for “girl” roles, she says. “He doesn’t base it in any kind of gender. He just writes the story.” She laughs: “It was pretty cool that my first line in the movie is: ‘Listen up, f–ker.’ ”
Preparing for the role meant working on her American accent. Blunt chose to listen to male voices, though she can’t quite say why. “Something grounded,” she hazards, “and the strength of it, and not acting on any kind of femininity.”
Since her character hails from Kansas, she looked for a Kansan role model. “I listened to Chris Cooper a lot,” she says. “I love his voice; it’s quite emotional and melancholy. I was like Chris Cooper’s stalker on this movie.”
Blunt hasn’t seen much science-fiction, but what drew her to Looper was not the genre but the story. “When I read this script I didn’t see it as any sort of genre,” she says. “I actually found it impossible to categorize. It just seemed to be carving out completely new space for itself.”
Even before she met Sara on the page, she was hooked. “I was desperate to be in the movie 20 pages in. I hadn’t even got to my character and I was desperate to be in it. It is a film that’s three steps ahead of you at all times.”
Blunt’s past few roles have been in romantic comedies and dramas – The Five-Year Engagement, Your Sister’s Sister, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Even the science-fiction film The Adjustment Bureau was more romance than action for her. But Looperseems to have started something.
“I got to fire a shotgun and cut wood, which is pretty cool,” she says. “I practiced for a couple of months beforehand. I thought, I can’t have this girl chop like a sissy; it’s something she does every day.”
Blunt is in London next month filming her next picture, another sci-fi time-travel tale starring Tom Cruise. It’s called All You Need Is Kill, and Blunt plays a character called (I kid you not) Valkyrie One.
“Right now I’m doing all the fight training,” she says. “I’m playing a highly decorated soldier who’s really good at kicking ass.” Sounds like it was written for her.