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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 23, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 12
Emily Blunt discusses Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
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Emily Blunt discusses Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

by Gary M. Kramer - SGN Contributing Writer

In Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Emily Blunt plays Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, who facilitates Dr. Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor's) efforts to bring a Yemeni sheikh's (Amr Waked) fly-fishing dream to the desert. Blunt gets a meaty role in this romantic comedy-drama. From Harriet's crisis moments when she learns her boyfriend Robert (Tom Mison) goes missing in war, to her budding relationship with Fred, and her efforts to get salmon swimming upstream, Blunt makes her character engaging. She spoke with Seattle Gay News about the film and her related experiences with travel, fly-fishing, romance, and crisis.

Gary Kramer: You tend to play uptight or vulnerable, and Harriet is a little of both. What drew you to this character?

Emily Blunt: I liked that she was a complex girl in a complex situation - that's fun to play. She's bubbly and tenacious and good at her job, but she suffers this loss when her boyfriend goes missing/is presumed dead. What a predicament, to be on this crazy mission with perseverance and hope and she's feeling grief and loss! She has this huge spirit.

Kramer: You have some interesting body language in the film - slightly rigid in the early scenes, then depressed with crying jags and eventually relaxed and romantic. How do you approach your character's disposition?

Blunt: I don't really have a conscious awareness of it. The physical stuff happens when you feel [it] underneath. She's proficient and spirited and gutsy, and there's a briskness and upbeat way in how she goes about life. But then the news she receives [about Robert] - what that does to her! You have to put yourself in that person's position and figure out what's going on under her skin.

Kramer: What experience do you have with fly-fishing, or Yemen, for that matter?

Blunt: None! I'd only watched the horrific turmoil in Yemen on the news. We shot in Morocco, where they shoot every desert scene in every movie. I don't remember being a high-achieving fisherwoman. My dad took us on these expeditions, but I don't have a stomach for it. It was a pukefest. My little brother had a better stomach for deep sea shark fishing than my sister and I.

Kramer: Are you more of a traveler/adventurer or a homebody?

Blunt: It's funny, I'm a bit of both. I love traveling and my parents who are big historians would take us off to amazing far-off places - Egypt, Crete, South Africa, Australia - and I think they loved it. It was not a lying-on-a-beach holiday. My mom said, 'We are going to get out and soak up this culture!' But I also get to go away and have these remarkable experiences on movie sets, and once I come home from that Neverland experience, I just want to be at home and sit on the couch and watch the Food Network. You have to balance being nomadic and being at home amongst the familiar.

Kramer: You get to wear some pretty nice frocks in this film. Are you still into the 'laid-back bohemian' look you told me you had when we last spoke for your film, My Summer of Love? What's your sense of style these days?

Blunt: I don't know if I'm bohemian now. I morphed into edgier. As for my character's clothes, there was a sweetness to what she wore - cardigans. I'm not a cardigan fan, but I love that aspect of creating a character, it makes you feel like someone else when you look in the mirror. You walk differently.

Kramer: You also told me when we spoke that you dread romantic moments in film. Is that still true, even with Ewan McGregor as the love interest?

Blunt: [Laughs.] I don't remember saying all these silly things! I think I usually approach [love/sex scenes] humorously now. I usually laugh throughout most of it. With Ewan it wasn't as physical, just the chemistry stuff. They are technical, and it's embarrassing. It's never sexy.

Kramer: Harriet has romantic troubles, but in real life, you've been fortunate in your relationship [with John Krasinski]. Can you discuss your secrets to a good relationship?

Blunt: Keep it interesting. Have adventures!

Kramer: Salmon Fishing is about achieving the impossible. What is something you've done that's been an uphill climb and how did you handle it?

Blunt: Probably this job.

Kramer: Talking to me?!

Blunt: Yeah. [Laughs.] & This profession is quite a challenge because it's shape-shifting and it's a business where you need a helmet in many ways. It's a miracle than anyone can make it in this overcrowded, competitive business. I feel unfathomably lucky.

Kramer: There is also a fear of an epic fail in the film. How have you dealt with disaster?

Blunt: Emotionally. I don't know that I'm a pragmatist. I'd probably spiral and rationalize. I have a brief moment of spiral&.

Kramer: The sheikh talks about having faith. Where do you find this non-religious faith in your life?

Blunt: I think in those I love and those around me. I draw a lot from the people in my life. You do have to find it within yourself to concentrate on the good stuff and not lament or dwell on it. It's all water off a duck's back. Otherwise you can miss out on a lot. I try to be positive in the moment and maintain the good things.

Kramer: Were you familiar with the book, which is a bit different from the film? What do you like to read?

Blunt: I read some of the book, but I don't try to read adaptations. You have to go on what the script is. I like to read everything. Jennifer Egan's Welcome to the Goon Squad is the best thing I've read in a while.

© 2012 Gary M. Kramer

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