Emily Blunt opens up about “terrifying” career as teen pop star: “They wanted me to be Britney Spears”

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Emily Blunt proved that she could hold a tune in the film version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods back in 2014.

In fact, her vocals were so impressive that Disney handed her the titular role in their upcoming Mary Poppins Returns – in which, much like Julie Andrews did in the original film, she will be required to sing like a robin feathering his nest.

However there’s no denying that the award-winning actress is, in our minds, exactly that; an actress.

A phenomenal actress, who just so happens to be good at singing.

But, as it turns out, Blunt was originally going to be a pop star.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Girl On The Train star explained that at 18, she signed a recording deal - and even went on to cut a demo. 

The 33-year-old explained that she lost her nerve when she realised that the people managing her were attempting to turn her into a clone of a famous 90s popstar.

"I got terrified and pulled out, because I felt they were wanting me to be like Britney Spears," she said.

"And I was like, 'I can't dance, and I don't sing like Britney Spears.'

“I just felt it was snowballing too fast and it wasn't ultimately what I wanted to do.”

She added that she hopes her demo will never land into the hands of the public, telling the interviewer: “I'm not singing it for you.

“It was a pop song and it seems so unlike me now. It's like a different person.”

Thankfully, her acting teacher pushed her to find an agent around the same time – and she soon found herself on the right path, going on to make 30 movies.

Her latest silver-screen outing sees her take on the lead in the film adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel, The Girl On The Train.

Blunt plays the novel’s unreliable narrator, Rachel Watson, a woman who – like so many of us – takes the same train journey each and every day.

So, in a bid to break the monotony, she makes up stories about the people she sees along the way… and, in particular, one ‘perfect’ couple.

As the alcoholic struggles to come to terms with her recent divorce, she becomes more and more obsessed with the couple, creating increasingly vivid fantasies about their life. However she is rocked to the core when, one fateful morning, she spies something truly shocking from her train window.

It is soon confirmed that Megan Hipwell (Haley Bennett), the female half of the couple, has gone missing, and Rachel herself becomes a key witness in the police investigation.

Speaking about what attracted her to the role, Blunt explained: "I loved the twist in this one, that your main character is a black-out drunk. That was a huge draw for me.

"Usually female roles are held in a feminine ideal of some sort, they're required to be perfect and pretty and appealing and 'likeable', which is my least favourite word in the industry right now. It's such a cliche.

"I loved that you have three very damaged women in this film, and your heroine is somebody that people don't want to breathe the same air as – that was very unusual and complicated to play."

Some fans have suggested that Blunt is "too pretty" to play Rachel, who describes herself as "worthless", as "overwight", and as a "barren, divorced, soon-to-be-homeless alcoholic".

Hawkins herself even commented on Blunt’s looks at the Chiswick Book Festival recently, saying: “Everybody moans about, ‘Oh, she’s too beautiful to play Rachel’ and she is.

“But the thing about Rachel, you know the key part of her is her self-loathing and how bad she feels about herself. They’ve done their best, I mean to sort of make her look a bit shit, but you know…”

However she went on to add that Blunt’s performance is “extraordinary”, and that fans of the book should give her the benefit of the doubt.

"I love Emily Blunt," she said. "Mostly, I thought of her as like a comedy actress.

"I remember her sort of scene-stealing role in The Devil Wears Prada, but she does the most extraordinary job in this. She really does."

The Girl On The Train will open in UK cinemas on 7 October.