MAG­I­CAL MU­SI­CAL

EMILY BLUNT STARS AS THE BAKER'S WIFE IN NEW DIS­NEY FAIRY­TALE INTO THE WOODS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - NEALA JOHN­SON

Though ini­tially trep­i­da­tious about mak­ing a mu­si­cal – “Singing in front of any­one is like show­ing them your un­der­wear,” she says – Emily Blunt wouldn’t change her Into the Woods ex­pe­ri­ence for any­thing.

“Mu­si­cals, I have to say, are joy­ous. You just wanna run to work,” says the English ac­tor.

With the mu­si­cal – as well as three singing lessons a week for two months prior to shoot­ing – un­der her belt, Blunt is now a far more con­fi­dent war­bler. A nom­i­na­tion for Best Ac­tress at this week­end’s Golden Globes wouldn’t have dented that con­fi­dence, ei­ther.

“But I don’t know about tak­ing on a Broad­way mu­si­cal,” she adds quickly, “that would be just terrifying.”

Into the Woods is Chicago di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall’s lush movie adap­ta­tion of Stephen Sond­heim’s fairy­tale mu­si­cal mashup, putting a mod­ern twist on char­ac­ters in­clud­ing Cin­derella, Ra­pun­zel, Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood and Jack of the Beanstalk fame.

The film’s all-star cast in­cludes Meryl Streep as the witch, Anna Ken­drick as Cin­derella, Chris Pine as her prince, Johnny Depp as the wolf and James Cor­den as the baker.

Blunt found it the “ul­ti­mate irony” to be play­ing the baker’s wife, a woman cursed to never bear chil­dren, while she was preg­nant with her first.

“It was bizarre and yet poignant for me,” says Blunt, 31, who with ac­tor/writer hus­band John Krasin­ski wel­comed a daugh­ter, Hazel, last Fe­bru­ary.

“I felt in­cred­i­bly lucky be­cause it is just a won­der­ful thing. But I un­der­stood the baker’s wife so much, this woman blinded by des­per­a­tion. There are a lot of women like that who are ei­ther un­able to have kids or have been try­ing for years and it’s all they think about, it’s all they see.”

As film­ing on Into the Woods pro­gressed, Blunt grew big­ger and big­ger.

“They hid me be­hind trees and cows and scarfs and other char­ac­ters,” she laughs. “But the ob­jects just got pro­gres­sively big­ger. By the end of the film, the cow was my preg­nancy cow, specif­i­cally for hid­ing me.”

It didn’t slow her down, how­ever. Blunt even claims to have saved the life of Streep – her old The Devil Wears Prada spar­ring part­ner – when the veteran tripped on her witch’s cape and was tum­bling head­first from a table­top to­wards a con­crete floor.

While Cor­den and Mar­shall froze, Blunt leapt into ac­tion and res­cued Streep – “The preg­nant woman caught her!” as she told David Let­ter­man.

That’s just the kind of mod­ern, in­de­pen­dent, can-do woman Blunt is. And that’s why Into the Woods is her kind of fairy­tale, one where Cin­derella doesn’t need a man to have a hap­pily ever after.

“I like this Cin­derella – she de­cides the Prince is a bit of a douche,” Blunt laughs, “and that she wants more. She feels OK say­ing, ‘I want some­thing dif­fer­ent, this is not what I thought it would be’.

“That’s a much more hon­est por­trayal and def­i­nitely one I want my daugh­ter to see. Not only is that a man doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily lead to a bet­ter life, but to also see women mak­ing smart de­ci­sions for them­selves and their fu­ture hap­pi­ness. That’s what I love about this movie, it’s not so much about fan­tasy, but more about re­al­ity.”

Since giv­ing birth to Hazel, Blunt has made just one film – Si­cario, a crime thriller by Pris­on­ers di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve in which she plays a green FBI agent pushed to her lim­its in tak­ing down a drug car­tel.

“It was a pretty heavy and meaty role. She’s thrown into the law­less world of the war on drugs, so her moral stand­point is be­ing ques­tioned at ev­ery turn,” says Blunt, who co-stars with Beni­cio Del Toro and Josh Brolin.

Blunt has crushed phys­i­cally-tough roles be­fore – see Looper and Edge of To­mor­row – but the men­tal­ly­tough Si­cario posed a new kind of chal­lenge.

“I usu­ally I have a pretty good abil­ity to de­tach and leave work at work,” she says. “But there was a spe­cific scene in Si­cario that I had trou­ble sleep­ing ’cos it was re­ally in­tense.

“I’ll talk to you about when you see it, ’cos I don’t want to ruin it.”

Into The Woods opens to­day.

Pic­ture: DIS­NEY EN­TER­PRISES

James Cor­den, as the baker, and Emily Blunt, his Into the Woods wife, meet the witch (Meryl Streep).

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