Emily Blunt Dispels ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Edge of Tomorrow 2’ Rumors and Reveals How a Studio Contract Kept Her From Becoming Marvel’s Black Widow
Actress returns to the show ahead of her and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place Part II”May 11, 2021
Movie theaters haven’t exactly prospered since the onset of the pandemic, but as vaccination numbers go up and COVID-19 numbers go down it’s becoming safer and easier for film fans to return to the cinema. The popcorn makers have been oiled up and the Red Vines are stocked—the only thing missing now are the movies. But Tuesday’s guest Emily Blunt and her husband John Krasinski are doing their part to rectify that. Their new film “A Quiet Place Part II,” about a family fighting for survival in a world overrun with monsters preying on anything that makes a noise, hits theaters Friday. If it’s anywhere near as successful as the 2018 original, cinephiles will be lining up around the block—perhaps while socially distanced—to see it.
“This movie, particularly, was made for theaters,” the actress told Howard during her Stern Show return. “In many ways, our movie is a bit of a test dummy, which is a bit scary, but at the same time I think John always felt quite confident about this being one of the first movies to bring people back.”
Streaming services have thrived during the pandemic, and Emily is excited to soon be shooting a Western series for Amazon, but she still believes some experiences are best enjoyed in movie theaters. “There will always be these big-event movies. I’m a dusty old fart that way. I want to go to the theater. I love to go to the theater,” she said. “I do believe people will go back. I believe people are champing at the bit to go back.”
Considering “A Quiet Place Part II” features a world ravaged by an unexpected and difficult to understand menace, Howard thought his guest’s new film was perfect for the COVID-19 era.
“It’s sort of eerie how much the themes resonate with people much more now,” Emily agreed. “The world expands [in “Part II.”] The family’s home has been decimated, so they have to venture out, and it’s like which neighborhood will extend their hand to you? Who wants to help you and touch you and look out for you?”
The movie premiered in New York City last March just as the pandemic grabbed ahold of the world. As the public health situation worsened, Krasinski decided to pull the film from theaters just before its wide release. Now, over a year later, “A Quiet Place Part II” finally has its chance to shine.
“I feel like I’ve been sitting on my hands for a year, waiting for people to see it with my knees juggling. I just want people to see it so badly,” Emily said. “I never tell people to see my films, ever—this one is such an inspired sequel and I’m really proud of it.”
More Than Just Jim From “The Office”…
Emily and John may be one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples, but some feared for their relationship after learning they were teaming up to make movies.
“When we decided to work together there were a lot of people who were like, ‘You’re going to be divorced by the end of the movie,’” Emily recalled with a laugh.
“I said it!” Howard joked. “I turned to my wife and said, ‘They’re so lovely, but they’re so done’ … but, meanwhile, who knew John could direct and write the way he does?”
“Listen, I didn’t know!” Emily laughed, explaining she originally didn’t even plan to star in “A Quiet Place” but had a change of heart after reading the fabulous script her husband—hitherto best known for a comedic TV role—had penned. “I read it in on a plane and … I really had a cry because it was astonishing,” she recalled. “I said … ‘Is there any way you’d want me to do this with you?’ And he was really thrilled.”
She said the two worked really well together and imbibed a good deal of Macallan Scotch in the process. To her recollection, they fought only once on the set of “A Quiet Place.” Naturally, their voices didn’t get above a whisper. “It was a very emotional scene. He was going to start wide, [but] you don’t want to kind of run out of gas before they come to your close up, so I was like, ‘Can we just start close?’” she explained with a laugh. “But I won.”
In the end, she was blown away by her husband’s skills as both a writer and director.
“I’ve always known he was supremely talented,” she told Howard. “I was just waiting for the rest of the world to find out that he was more than Jim from ‘The Office.’ That’s a hard tail to shake.”
Live, Die, Repeat and Repeat?
Though she kicks a ton of monster ass in “A Quiet Place,” Emily’s big action breakthrough came a few years earlier in “Edge of Tomorrow,” a critically adored sci-fi flick in which she and Tom Cruise must repeatedly save the Earth from an alien invasion.
Howard wondered if working on such a massive project alongside one of Hollywood’s biggest stars made her nervous.
“That one I was scared for,” Emily confessed. “I have to get into this sort of crazy, physical shape for it because [the character] is supposed to be this sort of lethal warrior. I was in training three months beforehand, and I know he’s big into doing his own action.”
Considering “Edge of Tomorrow” was written, directed, and produced mostly by men, the actress was also nervous what type of set she’d be stepping onto.
“I thought it was going to be [a] boy’s club,” she admitted.
“It’s been my experience with a bunch of movies I’ve done … but this one [was] one of the first experiences I had where I was brought completely into the fold creatively … I was treated like gold,” she said, explaining it gave her more confidence to better assert herself on future projects.
Unlike Monday’s Stern Show guest Seth Rogen, Emily said Cruise never tried turning her on to Scientology. If there was a grueling part about working with him, it was trying to keep up with his stunt work. “My body was battered away like every day on that movie. It was an amazing experience. The hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was amazing,”
An “Edge of Tomorrow” sequel has been rumored for years, and Howard wondered if fans will ever set eyes on a follow-up.
“Honestly, I think the movie is too expensive. I just don’t know how we’re going to do it,” Emily lamented, saying she, director Doug Limon, and Cruise all wanted to do it, but it’s hard to align everyone’s schedules and even harder to produce a movie that expensive until the film industry figures out a more profitable path forward.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Scarlett Johansson playing Marvel’s Black Widow, who first appeared onscreen opposite Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man 2,” but the role in fact was first offered to Blunt. On Tuesday, for the first time ever, the actress revealed the real reason she turned down the part: she was obligated to star in “Gulliver’s Travels” instead.
“I actually do want to clean up the story,” she told Howard. “I was contracted to do ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ I didn’t want to do ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’”
While Emily wasn’t—and still isn’t—sure playing a superhero on the big screen is right for her, she said the decision that time was out of her hands because she was roped into an “optional picture deal” she had signed with 20th Century Fox ahead of her 2006 breakout “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Being forced to star in “Gulliver’s Travels” was “a bit of heartbreaker” for Blunt. “I take such pride in the decisions that I make, and they mean so much to me, the films that I do,” she said. “I care very deeply, very, very much, about the choices I make. That’s all I have, the choices that I make,” she added.
However, that didn’t stop her from being a consummate professional on the “Gulliver’s Travels” set. “There were a lot of really lovely people who were heaven to work with,” she said. “I actually had a good time, a laugh, with all of them, but it irked my heart for it to have happened in the first place.”
From Power Couple to Super-Powered Couple?
Another long-standing rumor Emily addressed Tuesday morning concerned her and John’s purported involvement in Marvel’s upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot. Word on the street was they’d been cast to portray the superhero group’s romantically entwined characters: Sue Storm, a.k.a. the Invisible Woman, and Reed Richards, a.k.a. the ultra-stretchy Mr. Fantastic.
“That is fan-casting. No one has received a phone call,” Blunt told Howard. “That’s just people saying, ‘Wouldn’t that be great?’”
“Are you too good of an actress to really take that role seriously?” Howard wondered. “Maybe the whole genre of superhero movies is beneath you.”
“It’s not that it’s beneath me,” she responded. “I love Iron Man and when I got offered Black Widow I was obsessed with Iron Man. I wanted to work with Robert Downey Jr.—it would’ve been amazing … but I don’t know if superhero movies are for me. They’re not up my alley. I don’t like them. I really don’t.”
She went so far as to explain watching them sometimes left her feeling “a bit cold.” “It’s been exhausted. We are inundated—it’s not only all the movies, it’s the endless TV shows as well. It’s not to say that I’d never want to play one, it would just have to be something so cool and like a really cool character, and then I’d be interested,” Blunt said.
Her Favorite Co-Stars
While Emily still hasn’t had an opportunity to star alongside Robert Downey Jr., she has shared the screen with a bevy of award-winning actors. Howard wondered who among them taught her the most.
“I worked with Meryl [Streep] three times and I just find her completely riveting,” she said of her “Devil’s Wears Prada,” “Into the Woods,” and “Mary Poppins Returns” co-star. “She’s just this chameleon-like weirdo who can do anything … a bit of a wild animal. It’s sort of different every time.”
Other actors Emily praised included co-stars turned real-life friends Benicio del Toro (“Sicario”) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Jungle Cruise”).
Co-host Robin Quivers could see the latter’s appeal right away. “Great actor!” she said of Dwayne.
As Blunt explained it, his greatest act was transforming into the Rock every day.
“The most polite man I have ever met in my life is Dwayne Johnson,” Emily insisted, describing his real-life persona as quiet, tentative, and even shy. “When you see him do the Rock—I said to him, ‘That’s the performance of a lifetime. He is the antithesis of who you are.’”
“He gets put in these movies that are sort of to accommodate his sort of colossal size or image, and yet there was something he did in ‘Jungle Cruise’ … It’s a real character. It’s a real performance,” she concluded. “So, for me, I only experienced that with him—and I loved it. He’s a joy.”
“A Quiet Place Part II” opens Friday, May 28 in theaters.