How Emily Blunt’s Stylist Taught Her to Make Bold Fashion Choices
Filed in Articles Gallery Update: Interviews Interviews News & Updates Photoshoots Videos

How Emily Blunt’s Stylist Taught Her to Make Bold Fashion Choices

The actress looks back at her style evolution with stylist Jessica Paster for The Hollywood Reporter’s 25 Most Powerful Stylists in Hollywood issue.

Throughout her career, actress Emily Blunt has learned to have a little fun and take bold risks when it comes to fashion. Taking a stroll down fashion memory lane with stylist Jessica Paster, the Mary Poppins Returns star told The Hollywood Reporter how in her early red carpet days, she was all about simple sequins.

Looking at her Marc Bouwer gown from the 2008 BAFTAs, Blunt revealed, “I was scared to wear anything too crazy at that point.” Fast-forward to the 2014 London premiere of Edge of Tomorrow and Blunt stepped outside of the box with a beautifully patterned Osman dress.

That is an evolution because in the beginning, Emily did like simple colors,” Paster told THR.

Sequins, tight and beaded. That was kind of how I went,Blunt added.

In 2019, Blunt has become one of the best-dressed stars on every red carpet she walks, crediting Paster for teaching her a “great deal about boldness” when it comes to fashion.

I do really love red carpets because they’re full of fantasia and it’s so not what I wear every day, and so I think she’s taught me a great deal about boldness and it can bring out an element of yourself you didn’t quite know was there, and I think then the dress never wears you. You’re always comfortable,Blunt said.

THR

Check the photos in our gallery:

Gallery Links:
Photoshoots & Portraits > 2019 > The Hollywood Reporter

Screencaptures > Interviews > 2019: Emily Blunt Style Evolution with Jessica Paster | THR

Share
Emily Blunt on How Mary Poppins’ Adventures Are ‘Like Heroin to Her’
Filed in Articles Gallery Update: Interviews News & Updates Photoshoots

Emily Blunt on How Mary Poppins’ Adventures Are ‘Like Heroin to Her’

The Wrap

Mary Poppins was a part of all their childhoods. Rob Marshall remembered it as the first movie he ever saw in a theater, the one that would give the future director of Chicago and Into the Woods a lasting love for musicals. Emily Blunt recalled seeing it at the age of 5 or 6 and feeling “in safe hands” with Julie Andrews’ “practically perfect” nanny. Emily Mortimer said she watched it on BBC2 nearly every holiday. Lin-Manuel Miranda had it in one of those oversize Disney VHS boxes — but he never watched it all the way through, turning it off when “Feed the Birds” came on because the song was too sad for him to endure. “I didn’t see the end of the movie until I was in high school and could survive the musical trauma,” he said.

And Ben Whishaw said that it was the first film he ever saw, and one that consumed him. “I just watched it obsessively over and over again, rewound bits, learned all the songs,” he said. “I dressed up as her. I wanted to be her.” Mortimer, who plays the sister to Whishaw’s character in the new “Mary Poppins Returns,” laughed at this. “The first dinner we ever had, he showed me a photograph of him dressed as Mary Poppins,” she said. “It was the sweetest thing.”

“I was, like, 3, and I paraded up and down our street,” Whishaw added. “In my childhood memories, ‘Mary Poppins’ is mythically massive.”

And now there’s a new Mary Poppins movie, courtesy of Marshall, Blunt, Miranda, Mortimer, Whishaw and a great many others. All of them, from Marshall to his actors to songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, were intimidated by the thought of following the 1964 Disney classic, which landed 13 Oscar nominations and won five, including awards for Andrews and for the song “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”

“I was immediately daunted by the reality of it,” Marshall said. “But then I thought to myself, ‘If anybody’s going to do it, I want to be the one,’ because I knew how much the first film means to me. I wanted to protect that film and treat it with great care and attention to detail. For example, I didn’t want Mary Poppins to break into a contemporary song like ‘Let It Go’ or something like that, which could easily have happened. And so as scared as I was and as much as I knew how high the bar is, I wanted to invest myself in what I knew would be an incredibly long and complicated and difficult film to make.”

So he called Blunt, whom he had directed in the 2014 movie version of “Into the Woods,” and whom he thought was “the only actress” who could play the role. She said yes immediately before getting nervous. “I was like, ‘I get to do my version of Mary Poppins,’” she said. “And then I was like, ‘But everyone loves this other version of Mary Poppins!’ Never have I felt, ‘How am I going to carve out new space for myself?’ more than I did on this project.

Marshall set “Mary Poppins Returns” about 24 years after the original film, moving it from 1910 into the 1930s, when the original P.L. Travers books are set. But Michael and Jane Banks, the children that the stern but magical nanny Mary Poppins looks after, never age in the books, and Marshall changed that. “I wanted to set it after Michael and Jane have grown up,” he said. “And I felt that the Depression era feels so accessible, somehow. Struggling to make ends meet, dealing with and looking for hope in a darker time — what guided me through the process of making this film was the idea of sending a message of hope today, in this current climate. I thought Mary Poppins coming back can bring that injection of hope into people’s lives.”

For Blunt, the challenge was not only following Julie Andrews’ indelible performance, but finding the shades in a character who on the surface is not particularly nice. “That’s the delight of playing her,” she said. “When I dove into the books, I saw a duality that I was struck by and excited by. She’s fastidious and completely eccentric, and she’s grounded and yet airborne and practical and magical and stern and yet has great depth. She is someone who commands the environment she’s in but yet pretends not to. And I think that idea of how deeply she connects with people in their pain and yet holds them at arm’s length at the same time was so delightful to play.

I talked to Rob a lot about what she really feels when she goes on these adventures. And I think it should be that she’s like an adrenaline junkie. I said to Rob, ‘It’s got to be like heroin for her.’ She loves and she needs these adventures — that’s the child in her, that’s why you see her complete determination to infuse childlike wonder into people’s lives again.

While Blunt’s Mary Poppins has scarcely aged since the first film, Lin-Manuel Miranda steps into the role of Mary’s new sidekick. In the original, Dick Van Dyke played a chimney sweep (among other things) named Bert, but Miranda is Jack, a lamplighter with a similar devotion to Mary and her magical ways. And the fact that a “Puerto Rican dude” (albeit the Puerto Rican dude who created “Hamilton”) could be dropped into a movie set in 1930s London without a thought was not lost on him. “It feels significant, the same way it felt significant to me when I saw Raul Julia play Gomez Adams in ‘The Addams Family,’” he said. “That character was not a Latin guy in the original series I saw growing up on Nick at Night. Or seeing Rita Moreno on ‘The Electric Company’ when I was a kid. We’re not only playing the quote-unquote Latino roles, but also just playing great roles where race is just a part of it. It’s a step forward, I think, for representation.”

Given the film’s elaborate dance numbers and its 15-minute sequence blending live action with hand-drawn animation, Marshall knew “Mary Poppins Returns” would require meticulous planning. So he set a two-month rehearsal period, far more than usual. (“‘Hamilton’ didn’t have two months of rehearsal,” said Miranda.) And not only did he block and practice the dance routines, he reminded the cast that for a musical to work, the drama and the songs had to be seamless. “I think we were rehearsing the scene of Mary Poppins’ arrival,” Mortimer said, “and Rob kept saying, ‘You’re still in a musical even though you’re not singing and dancing.’ That was such a good note. Like, you’ve still got to keep the ball in the air, otherwise it could go flat between the songs. That was immediately the key to performing in those scenes.”

But the cast was also reminded of the spirit they were trying to achieve when a special guest came to play a small but crucial role: Dick Van Dyke, whose appearance was “a sob fest for everyone” on the set, according to Blunt. “It was so gorgeous to be around him, and he’s so sprightly and full of life and energy and sparkle,” she said. “I mean, Lin and I were there to assist him onto the desk where he’s supposed to do a tap dance, and he just waved us away and didn’t need any help. I don’t think Rob could even say cut, he was so emotional.”

Blunt’s guess about his emotional state, Marshall said, is entirely accurate. “She’s right. He is one of my heroes, and he did a beautiful monologue where he talks about Michael as a young boy and the tuppence and all of that. So there he is, Dick Van Dyke, and he’s 91 years old [at the time], and he’s talking about things from the first film and doing it so beautifully. I have ‘Feed the Birds’ in my ear, which we use as underscore. And so I’m hearing ‘Feed the Birds,’ I’m seeing Dick Van Dyke deliver this extraordinary speech, and I just lost it. Emily heard me not say cut and she knew. I couldn’t speak, it was so moving to me.”

That day, Blunt added, also gave her one of her peak “Mary Poppins Returns” moments, right up there with the sequence where she floats back into the Banks’ lives on a kite. “We all just sat around Dick Van Dyke and wanted him to tell us stories of his whole career,” she said. “Which he did, and he’d break into song all the time. It was just so terribly moving. And there was a weird moment when he finished the monologue and gave the Banks family their house back. He just sort of looked up at me with those blue eyes, and I thought, ‘Holy s—, I’m Mary Poppins!’

Check the photos in our gallery:


Gallery Links:
Photoshoots & Portraits > 2019 > The Wrap

Share
Emily Blunt on motherhood, magic and taking on Mary Poppins for Harper’s Bazaar UK
Filed in Articles Emily Gallery Update: Hazel Interviews John Krasinski Mary Poppins Returns Movies News & Updates Photoshoots Violet

Emily Blunt on motherhood, magic and taking on Mary Poppins for Harper’s Bazaar UK

Despite her childhood stutter and shyness, Emily Blunt has shone throughout her career with a series of show-stopping performances. Now she’s reaching her highest heights, taking on the iconic role of Mary Poppins in the sequel to Disney’s classic. The actress speaks to Lydia Slater about motherhood, marriage and the magic of soaring through London skies.

Emily Blunt gazes quizzically at the camera. Perching jauntily on the brim of her black hat, George the robin does exactly the same, apparently unfazed by the flashes and clicks. “Sit! Good lad!” coaxes his handler.

Bazaar cover shoots are always exquisite, but this one seems particularly magical, inspired as it is by the world of Mary Poppins in honour of Blunt’s latest starring role. The weather has been horrible for the past few days, but now the sky is a limpid blue. Assistants on ladders throw artificial blossom that falls like pink snow, a carousel has been temporarily set up in the garden, and we have been joined by a pack of a dozen dogs, ranging from a tiny chihuahua called Manuel to a colossal Great Dane named Parker. To add to the fairy-tale surrealism, just across the street from our location, hundreds more dogs are gathering with their owners for an anti-Brexit ‘Wooferendum’ march, a scene of cheerful chaos itself worthy of Cherry Tree Lane, the setting for the original Mary Poppins stories.

But there is no doubt that George is the star of the show. “Oh my God, the robin!Blunt cries. “I want one! Every girl needs one!

Mary Poppins, of course, has one. In the original film, starring Julie Andrews, the magic nanny makes a confidant of an oversize (American) robin, to which she sings ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’. For Mary Poppins Returns, this robin has been stuffed and added to her hat, a neat device that instantly prepares you for a less saccharine interpretation of the childhood classic. “It’s a dark time, the Thirties, isn’t it?” says Blunt.

A few days after the shoot, she and I meet at the Olympic, a former recording studio turned café and private members’ club in west London, near where her parents are based and where she was brought up. Blunt, who is slender, and blonder than I am expecting, has a face that radiates amusement and intelligence as well as the rose-petal beauty of a Fragonard painting.

She is now dressed in a Dior Tarot sweater, grass-green trousers adorned with large pearls, scarlet Louboutin shoes and a Dior patchwork handbag, an ensemble that strikes me as faintly Poppins-esque in its colourful quirkiness. “Why not, right? I like mixing patterns and styles,” she says.

It wouldn’t be surprising if a little Poppins has rubbed off, for Blunt immersed herself in the world of PL Travers’ bossy heroine, basing her interpretation solely on the books. “Even though I’d seen the film as a child, I decided not to watch it when prepping,” she says. “She was so clear to me from reading that I decided not to be intimidated by the iconic Julie Andrews in the iconic role, and just approached it as I would any other part.

“Because I couldn’t speak fluently as a child, I watched and I’d wonder about people”

Blunt plays Poppins as satisfyingly vain, capricious, enigmatic and occasionally alarming, with a fruitily refined accent that periodically slips into broad Cockney. “She thinks she’s better than everyone – which she is… I think the pace at which she speaks and the way in which she speaks is a way to hold people at arm’s length and not over-sentimentalise moments.

ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW

Her other source of inspiration for the role was Rosalind Russell’s fast-talking journalist in the 1940 screwball comedy His Girl Friday. “She’s like a tornado. I went, ‘That’s it!That’s the pace!‘”

The Mary Poppins sequel is set in the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. Michael Banks, now grown-up and recently bereaved, is struggling to cope with financial travails and three children. Enter Mary Poppins at the end of a kite, descending through the grey clouds that cover London like a pall. “I was about 50 feet in the air, hanging from a crane, having to look effortless…” says Blunt, appearing a little queasy at the memory.

“But then one of the camera guys came up to me and said [she slides into Estuary], “It was really emotional, seein’ ’er come back.”’ Sitting in the darkened auditorium, I had felt the same thrill of childish hope watching the navy-coated silhouette with its primly turned-out feet descend: would she be in time to bang a few politicians’ heads together and send them to bed until they’d agreed to behave sensibly? Even if not, the film itself is an antidote to current national gloom, as Mary once again catapults the Banks family out of their dismal reality into a world of glorious Technicolor.

There are dancing lamplighters, cartoon elephants, upside-down houses and even Dick Van Dyke, playing the bank owner Mr Dawes Jr, and performing a creditable tap dance on top of a desk. “Yes, he’s 92 years old, but the eyes, and the smile, are seared into your memory,” says Blunt.

“It was terribly moving having him there. Obviously he’d be exhausted by the end of the day, but between takes, he’d put his hand on my arm and sing, “It’s a jolly holiday with Mary”.”

I wonder if Blunt had a Mary Poppins in her own life? She was born into that sort of upper-middle-class English milieu where nannies are commonplace: her grandfather was a major-general, her father is a QC and her uncle is the Eurosceptic MP Crispin Blunt. But she says her maternal grandmother came closest. “She was so magical! She’d make up wonderful stories, and she was a beautiful artist – we have her water-colours and pastels and acrylics all over my mum’s house and all over my apartment. She could whip up something fanciful and fab from a few things in the fridge – she was such a presence in all of our lives.

Blunt was the second of four siblings; she’s especially close to her elder sister Felicity, a literary agent married to Stanley Tucci (Blunt’s co-star in The Devil Wears Prada). “There’s only 17 months between us, so we really grew up together, we have a secret language.” Her brother Sebastian, an actor, and Susannah, now a vet, were born several years later.

She was a quiet, bookish child with a stutter. “Because I couldn’t speak fluently, I watched and listened. I’d be on the Tube, and I’d wonder about people and invent back stories for everyone. There’s always been a natural desire to walk in the shoes of others.” Moreover, only when she was playing a part did she find herself able to speak freely. “It started quite young, because it was the only tool I had to speak properly,” she reflects. “I was that kid, upstairs in my room, trying out stuff in the mirror. But I’d never tell anyone about it. It was always very private.

Consequently, it never occurred to her to dream of being a professional actress; instead, she wanted to read languages at university with the aim of becoming an interpreter. But while studying for her A levels at her co-ed boarding-school, Hurtwood House, she was picked for a school production that then went to the Edinburgh Festival.

One of her fellow actors was a supply teacher, Adrian Rawlins (who played Harry Potter’s father in the films). “It was a rock opera called Bliss and it was incredibly intense,” says Blunt. “There was this horrifying scene where I had to do a makeshift abortion with a coat hanger, while singing a ballad.” She bursts into an infectious guffaw. “Maybe 30 people saw it in the entire run!

Fortunately, one of those 30 was Rawlins’ agent, who immediately signed up Blunt too. “I didn’t have a desire to pursue acting and I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t fallen into it,” she admits. “Crazy, isn’t it? But that’s probably why I ended up booking jobs, because I didn’t have any nerves. It was very charmed – rather embarrassingly, in fact.

And so it has continued. Blunt’s first professional stage performance, opposite Judi Dench in Peter Hall’s production of The Royal Family, won her a Best Newcomer award, while her film career seems to have been a continuous string of highlights, from her debut in Pawel Pawlikowski’s poignant coming-of-age romance My Summer of Love, which was swiftly followed by a show-stealing turn as a fashion-obsessed personal assistant in The Devil Wears Prada, to acclaimed roles in period drama, science fiction and most recently, the stylish horror film A Quiet Place.

Perhaps it is precisely because her success seems to have come so naturally that she manages to carry it off with élan. She herself credits Dench for setting her the perfect example of good leading-lady behaviour. “She taught me everything about how to be gracious and graceful and not take it seriously; she showed me how I wanted to be for the rest of my career. It just takes one person to toxify everything, and those are the movies you can’t wait to see the back of.Blunt is delightful, un-starry company – today feels like having lunch with a friend – and she seems to have made allies of most of the Hollywood A list.

It’s very rare I meet someone I can’t get along with. I’ve been warned about working with certain people, and then I have a great time with them. I like the different, weird, idiosyncratic personalities that you meet – you get a fresh injection of new people all the time.

All the same, she manages to stay below the radar, no small achievement especially given that in the US (where she now lives) her spouse is as famous as she.

“I rediscovered how much I adore London, the general irreverence and authenticity”

She first met John Krasinski, the actor, director and screenwriter, in 2008, and they married two years later, in an intimate ceremony held in their mutual chum George Clooney’s villa on Lake Como. “John’s known George for a long time, they did Leatherheads together, but I can’t believe he offered us his house, actually. I’m still rather shocked about it. We thought he was joking the first couple of times he said it.

ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW

They have two daughters, Hazel, who is four, and two-year-old Violet, whose births have prompted a move from LA to Brooklyn, which felt closer to Blunt’s own London upbringing. “There’s a multicultural, villagey feel, we don’t have a car, we walk everywhere and people are cool, they leave us alone.

She revels in the ordinariness of domestic life, using her slow cooker and doing the school run. “We are both massively hands-on, and we love it,” she says of parenthood. “I’m so lucky with John. But I was colossally unprepared for how life-changing it is. Like all mothers, I think, “What was I doing with my day before I had children?” It’s so full-on and they need you so much; I do find myself in a perpetual state of distraction.”

For her, A Quiet Place, in which she and her husband starred together (Krasinski also directed) is less a horror film than a homage to parental love, and the sacrifices we are prepared to make for our children. The world has been invaded by spidery aliens that hunt by sound. Total silence is the only way to avoid being eaten – as one of their offspring finds out the hard way.

It’s probably the most painful role I’ve played – the most personal, the hardest to shake off, because it was so close to home.” The couple have a rule that they won’t spend more than a fortnight away from their children; which in practice often means the two girls accompany their parents on set.

Today, the whole family is in London because Krasinski is filming the TV drama Jack Ryan here; and they all spent almost a year living in Richmond for Mary Poppins Returns.

I rediscovered how much I adore it,” she says of her native city. “I love the attitude here, the general irreverence and authenticity. I love being back and seeing my friends and going to all the familiar places. When you grow up, it sometimes feels that version of yourself is slipping through your fingers. To rediscover something is really special.

It’s a sentiment that’s sure to be echoed by any fan of the original film who goes to see this sequel, me included. For Emily Blunt’s Poppins is practically perfect in every way; just the tonic to lift our spirits, despite the bluster, Brexit and bad weather.

Mary Poppins Returns’ is released in cinemas on 21 December. The January issue of Harper’s Bazaar is on newsstands from 4 December.

Check the photos in our gallery:


Gallery Links:
–  Magazines & Scans > 2018 > Harper’s Bazaar UK
–  Photoshoots & Portraits > 2018 > Harper’s Bazaar UK

Share
Emily Blunt for Vogue Magazine!
Filed in Articles Gallery Update: Interviews Mary Poppins Returns Movies News & Updates Photoshoots

Emily Blunt for Vogue Magazine!

After confirmation of her cover for the magazine, we finally have our first look at Emily Blunt’s Vogue US shoot for the December issue. Co-star Lin-Manuel Miranda also features in the editorial, which shows both in character for their upcoming project  Mary Poppins Returns.

PRECISELY WHAT IS MARY POPPINS? We know her to be a humanoid who does not age, is capable of tele­kinesis, is not constricted by the ordinary bounds of time, space, and gravity, and flies through the air with the aid of an umbrella, albeit in upright, duck-footed fashion. She is stern, fastidious, and speaks with a posh accent, but enjoys vaguely romantic relationships with common laborers. She is beloved by children and former children the world over, yet is, when contemplated at an intellectual distance, utterly unknowable, even bizarre.

She’s a superhero,” says Emily Blunt without hesitation. “You could say she’s some sort of angel. She recognizes what people need, and she gives it to them, yet they discover something about themselves in the process.” With a rather Mary Poppins–like firmness, Blunt concludes, “I don’t think she concerns herself with what she is. There’s nobody else like her—which she quite likes.”

In ripped vintage blue jeans and a ruffled black velvet blouse by Frame, her hair blonde, Blunt does not bear much physical resemblance to Mary Poppins when I meet with her in early autumn, at a loft in lower Manhattan that she and her husband, the actor and director John Krasinski, use as an office. But in her rapid yet thoughtful response to my question, Blunt reveals how much consideration she has given to her starring role in next month’s Mary Poppins Returns.

And no wonder: Blunt has her work cut out for her. From the moment in the film when the character hovers into view—“As I live and breathe!” says an awed Lin-Manuel Miranda, playing Mary’s lamplighter friend Jack, admiring the supernormal caregiver’s emergence from the parting clouds—there has to be instant buy-in, not a moment of disbelief. The person portraying Mary Poppins in 2018 has to be—oh, what was that phrase on the magic tape measure?—practically perfect in every way.

This is because, for most of us, Mary Poppins has always been Julie Andrews, who made her screen debut in the 1964 original, winning an Oscar in the process. That film remains a canonical piece of American popular art, visually extravagant and full of unforgettable songs by the brothers Richard and Robert Sherman (“A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds [Tuppence a Bag],” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”). It’s a hell of a legacy to contend with—and Blunt knew that she was in for something big when she received a phone call of an uncommonly “ceremonious nature,” as she puts it, from Rob Marshall, the sequel’s director, in the summer of 2015. The two had worked together a couple of years earlier on Into the Woods, Marshall’s film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim–James Lapine stage musical, and had developed an easy rapport.

This time, Blunt felt a different energy coming from Marshall, as if he were building up to a marriage proposal. Which he sort of was. After a long preamble in which he explained that he and John DeLuca, his partner in both his personal and professional lives, were closing in on an opportunity to work on a dream project—all the while withholding what the project was—Marshall finally let drop what he was talking about: another Mary Poppins. The original was the first film Marshall ever saw, with his parents at a theater in downtown Pittsburgh, when he was four years old. For the better part of his adult life, he had harbored a fantasy of making a sequel to it.

Rob basically said, ‘If you don’t want to do this with us, we are going to find something else, because we won’t do it if you don’t want to,’ ” Blunt says.

For me, there was no one else but Emily,” Marshall confirms. “There wasn’t even a possible other choice. She’s rare in this world because she’s incredibly warm and funny, and has a great deal of vulnerability as well. And at the same time, she’s British and can sing and dance.

Blunt agreed on the spot. Only later did she consider the risks involved. Actually, there was a bit of a prompt for this: She told a friend about the pending project, and the friend remarked, “Oof, you’ve got balls of steel!

And then I remember a feeling of slight panic creeping in,Blunt says.

AND WHAT OF MIRANDA, for whom Mary Poppins Returns would be his first major undertaking after departing the Broadway cast of his own Hamilton, the show that seismologically changed his life? And whose new character, Jack the lamplighter—or leerie, to use the Anglo-Scottish term preferred in the film—bears the weight of being both a protégé and heir to Dick Van Dyke’s beloved, chim-chimneying Bert?

Were you leery of playing a leerie?” I ask Miranda in a Brooklyn café.

I was not leery of playing a leerie, nor was I weary of playing a leerie. It was eerieto play a leerie,” Miranda replies.

But did it get teary, playing a leerie?

It did,” Miranda says. “There are dreams you have when you’re a kid, and then there’s the notion that Mary Poppins would have a sequel someday and you could somehow possibly be in it. And if I had said that this was a dream of mine, you’d have been like, ‘What are you on?

I have a nod to the Sherman brothers in Hamilton, actually,” Miranda goes on. “In King George’s song, there’s a moment where he sings ‘Oceans rise, empires fall,’ and that’s a very Shermanesque move, to have the note go down on rise and up on fall—just like how the note goes up on the down in. . . .” He sings the line “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Miranda began his Poppins prep by watching the ’64 movie for the first time since his boyhood. “It’s so timeless and weirdly resonant,” he says. “I mean, one of the first numbers is ‘Sister Suffragette,’ a men-are-stupid, voting-rights-for-women song”—sung by Glynis Johns as Mrs. Banks, the mother of the children to whom Mary Poppins ministers—“so that’s fantastic. And then the visual and musical sequences are as magical as anything you’d see in a movie today.

Blunt took a different tack. Banishing her self-doubt, she made the executive decision not to rewatch the ’64 film, which she, too, had last seen in childhood. “I knew that if I watched Julie Andrews’s version, maybe I would take the edge off of what my instincts were telling me to do,Blunt says. “Also, I didn’t want to be completely intimidated by the brilliance of her voice.

Before Into the Woods, Blunt had done little in the way of professional singing, though she was not unmusical growing up. She played the cello as a child, and at Hurtwood House, the boarding school that she attended in her teens in England, she starred as Adelaide in a production of Guys and Dolls and performed in a four-girl vocal group. “We’d sing things like TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’—crushed it,” she says.

Still, there was some collective nervousness to be overcome. The film’s composers, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (HairspraySmash), grappled with how “certifiably insane” it was to try to measure up to the Sherman brothers’ work. “And then, on top of that,” Shaiman says, “what could be more wonderfully torturous than ‘Let’s write songs for Lin-Manuel Miranda’?

Blunt, Miranda, Shaiman, and Wittman all happen to be based in New York, and so, in the spring of 2016, the four regularly convened in a Chelsea studio. “We got to tailor the songs for Emily and Lin, make them bespoke,” Wittman says. For instance: The songwriters came up with a comic duet titled “A Cover Is Not the Book” that gives Miranda an extended moment to spit rhymes in the breakneck style for which he is known—“For it’s not so cut and dried/Well, unless it’s Dr. Jekyll/Then you better hide, petrified!”—albeit not, thankfully, in the form of an anachronistic rap. Among the conventions of the British music-hall genre is the patter song, a Gilbert and Sullivan–style demonstration of vocal dexterity, “so we felt we could deliver that kind of moment for Lin without compromising the style of the movie, or its time and the place,” Shaiman says.

For Blunt, these sessions served a therapeutic purpose. She was in the process of finishing up The Girl on the Train, in which she played a depressive voyeur, and was also heavily pregnant with the second of her two daughters with Krasinski, Violet, who is now two. (Their older girl, Hazel, is four.) “It was medicinal, singing these happy Mary Poppins songs after what I’d been through every day,” she says. “Poor Violet; she’d been rattling around inside me while I played this alcoholic train wreck. But then I think she benefited from all the singing.

SIX WEEKS AFTER VIOLET’S BIRTH, Marshall arranged for Blunt and Miranda to workshop the new songs for a week opposite trained Broadway actor-singers in a mid-Manhattan rehearsal space—with Blunt ducking out every so often to pump milk. (“Mary Pump–ins; that’s what I felt like,” she says. “It was ridiculous.”) Next up was three months of rehearsals in England before filming would begin. Blunt, who moved her whole family to London for the shoot, told Marshall she needed some time off. “I said, ‘You’ve got to give me four or five months before I’m ready to crack on with the rehearsals, for the baby.’ ”

The downtime allowed Blunt to immerse herself in both films’ original source material, the eight children’s books by P. L. Travers, the series’ Australian-born, London-based author (who was so notoriously protective of her literary creation that Disney devoted an entire feature film, 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks, to the difficulties the studio had in securing Travers’s blessing to make the original picture). In the books, the title character is severe and forbidding, with some antiheroic traits, such as overweening vanity (“Mary Poppins was very vain and tried to look her best. Indeed, she was quite sure that she never looked anything else”) and a steadfast refusal to discuss her inner life (“Mary Poppins never told anybody anything”).

No surprise then, that the Mary Poppins that emerged from Blunt’s preparations is more tart, clipped, and expressly comic than Andrews’s—“closer to Dorothy Parker, or Katharine Hepburn in those thirties screwball movies, with a bit of Gene Wilder’s Wonka in there,” as Miranda puts it. Blunt says she drew inspiration from Rosalind Russell’s rat-a-tat speech cadences as the bulldog reporter Hildy Johnson in Howard Hawks’s screwball masterwork, His Girl Friday, and from the peculiar, frozen-in-the-thirties locutions of Princess Margaret, which she describes as “incredibly posh and quite strange, yet very light and well placed.”

The thirties, it so happens, were when the first two Poppins books were published, and there are glancing allusions within them to the financial hardships of “the Great Slump,” as the Depression was known in Britain. Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, home to the Banks family, is the only house on the street “that is rather dilapidated and needs a coat of paint.” Walt Disney chose to transpose the first film’s action to the more manifestly merrie Edwardian era, circa 1910. But Marshall and the new film’s screenwriter, David Magee, decided to stay true to the author’s 1930s setting.

Their big departure was to leap ahead into the next generation. Jane and Michael Banks, played with tender sincerity and maximum adorableness by the moppet actors Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber in 1964, are now played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw. While Jane retains her spark, picking up her mother’s activist mantle (though her cause is organized labor), Michael is in the dumps. He is the father of three little Bankses, Annabel, John, and Georgie, but he is a recent widower, an unfulfilled bank employee, a creatively stunted artist, and a man so hopeless with finances that the very bank where both he and his father have worked is now threatening to repossess Number Seventeen—a suite of unfortunate circumstances that serves as the magical-nanny equivalent of a Bat-Signal.

All that said, what Marshall and Magee have not done is go down the well-trod path of the dark, dystopian franchise reboot; this is not Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Nanny. If anything, Mary Poppins Returns is remarkably faithful to the spirit of its predecessor. “The sequel sort of rhymes with the original,” says Miranda.

There is, once again, a bravura animated sequence, executed in the vintage hand-drawn Disney style, for which Marshall coaxed some veteran animators out of retirement. There are vibrant costumes, this time by Sandy Powell, that stand out against the London gray: caped, fitted overcoats in red and blue for Mary; knits in bright lime and Kelly green for Jane and Michael; bankers’ suits in irregular chalk stripes for Colin Firth (the film’s villain, devilishly cunning and wearing a Snidely Whiplash mustache) and his flunkies.

There is a visit by Mary Poppins and the children to a daffy relative of Mary’s, though this time it’s not Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert, whose levity literally made him levitate, but Meryl Streep as Cousin Topsy, done up in carrot-colored hair and chartreuse eye shadow, madly gallivanting about her fix-it shop, sometimes while upside down. There is—!!!—a hoofing 92-year-old Dick Van Dyke, echoing not his role as Bert but his other role, as the elderly banker Mr. Dawes. And Shaiman and Wittman have provided Miranda with his own “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” a gambol across London’s rooftops called “Trip a Little Light Fantastic.”

BY THE TIME filming began in London, in February of last year, the world was suddenly quite different from the one in which the plans for Mary Poppins Returns had been excitedly hatched. The unsettling outcomes of the Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. presidential election placed the making of the movie in a new perspective for its creators.

It took on a new poignancy because of how volatile the times felt,Blunt says. “I remember Meryl commenting on that, saying that coming in to work took on much more depth once things really started becoming more incendiary out there.

I couldn’t believe that, given all that was going on, this is what we got to put into the world,” says Miranda. “It’s so clichéd, but we got to make this enormous present, this beautiful, uplifting, joyous family movie that makes you cry, that made even my stone-hearted-scientist wife cry when she saw an early rough cut of it. I feel really grateful that that’s what we spent our year doing.

LATE IN THE FILM, a character utters the words “I never thought I’d feel this much joy and wonder ever again”—about as unabashed a statement of a sequel’s intent as you’re ever likely to come across. To Marshall, I raise the question of whether such a sentiment will resonate with kids growing up in times like these—and whether they will be as responsive to Mary Poppins Returns as 1964 kids were to its forebear.

“It’s more important than ever that this film is out now,” he says emphatically. “Because kids are more cynical, and people are more cynical.” For the director, the lessons imparted by the Mary Poppins books and now the two movies amount to something resembling a wellness regimen, and one that bears propagating. “To be able to understand that the only way to get through life is to find, deep inside, that childlike wonder—I mean, that’s how I live,” Marshall says. “Without that, I would find the world an incredibly dark place. And I don’t feel old-fashioned saying that. To me, it’s a life choice.

With the seal now unbroken, and the sacrosanctity of the ’64 film unviolated by its sequel, could this be the start of more Poppins screen adventures? The source material is not unlike that which fuels the James Bond movie franchise: a stack of lively books by an ornery British author concerning an iconic British character who neither grows old nor dies. So would the applicable parties be amenable to a return after Mary Poppins Returns?

Marshall, for now, is eager just to get the film out. “But I do know,” he adds, “that there’s a lot of material there and it’s very rich with all kinds of adventures and ideas. It’s certainly ripe for the picking.”

Blunt doesn’t hedge for a moment. “Oh, I would pay Rob to do it again with me. Yeah, I would. Definitely,” she says. “More stories left to tell.” There always are for superheroes.


Gallery Links:
–  Photoshoots & Portraits > 2018 > Vogue US

Share
Filed in Articles Gallery Update: Interviews Mary Poppins Returns Movies News & Updates Stills & Posters

Mary Poppins Returns brings a wonder woman back to this week’s EW cover

Entertainment Weekly

Everybody’s walking around with their cheeks a little pinker, and you just know that everybody…they’ve got a secret. They’ve got something really good under wraps until Christmas.

That’s the picture Meryl Streep paints for EW of the set of Mary Poppins Returns, Disney’s high-stakes, high-magic sequel to the 1964 musical classic. Any number of elements from the original film — its indelible songs by Richard and Robert Sherman, its career-making performances by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, its significant strides in animated penguin awareness — have amounted to Mary Poppins being nothing less than a crown jewel for Disney for more than five decades. So it’s only natural that all eyes are now on the people entrusted with bringing Mary Poppins back to audiences this December — and as EW learned spending time with them for this week’s cover, the cast and filmmakers behind Mary Poppins Returns feel they’re sitting on a movie with more than a little shine of its own.

Sharing the cover of EW’s Holiday Preview, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda sat down for a conversation about the biggest movie of their careers (and perhaps the most ambitious sequel of the year that doesn’t involve an Avenger). Blunt, 35, was director Rob Marshall’s first choice to inherit the role of magical nanny Mary Poppins — and Julie Andrews gave her approval as well — yet for Blunt, stepping into the iconic part required a stiff upper lip. “I did, going into this, [hear] the preamble of everyone turning to me — including a friend of mine who said, ‘You’ve got balls of steel’ — and I would just try to allow all of that to be white noise and really approach her as I would any other character,” recalls Blunt, who first began collaborating with Marshall on 2014’s Into the Woods. “The beauty of Rob is that he kept it intimate enough so that you don’t feel the bigness too much. We just focused on this story and these people and this moment.

But Blunt allowed the gravity of Mary Poppins to seep in every once in a while, like when Dick Van Dyke came to set and serenaded her with “Jolly Holiday” between takes…or when she revisited the original film after wrapping (“I showed my oldest daughter and it was this incredible two-pronged emotion because I thought, ‘Thank God I didn’t watch this before I did the movie’”)…or when she visited Miranda backstage at Hamilton in 2015 — her third time doing so, yet the first since they had both signed on to the film. “The whole project was cloaked in a sense of protection, and by that time it had sunk in that it was happening,” she recalls. “It was becoming so deep in my bones that I was going to be doing this, and that first overwhelming rush of thrill and fear when I got offered this role had diluted to something quite real… and so I think it was exciting knowing that Lin and I were going to be playing cohorts and kindred spirits.” Miranda remembers that night just a bit differently: “That was a really stressful show,” he laughs. “I felt like I was auditioning for Mary Poppins, the person.

Miranda’s Poppins character — Jack, a lamplighter and old friend to Mary and the Banks family — marks the performer’s first major role since creating and starring in Broadway’s Hamilton (look it up). Yet for his big debut, audiences will meet him solely as Lin-Manuel the actor, not Lin-Manuel the Pulitzer-winning writer (although his famous verbal dexterity is certainly on display in the film’s nine new songs, custom-written by Hairspray duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman). Miranda calls Poppins his “first big movie,” but acknowledges how unusual the film actually is from the typical big-movie experience. “The highs were so high, in terms of: ‘Today we’re dancing with penguins, tomorrow we’re dancing with Meryl Streep, the next day we’re biking in front of Buckingham Palace,’” Miranda laughs. “For me, coming from theater, the adrenaline source is having the audience there, and when you take that audience away, where is it? Where does that part come from? And you realize, it comes from ‘We’re never coming back to Buckingham Palace to get a second take.’ The adrenaline source is in getting it right in that moment.

Elsewhere in EW’s deep Mary Poppins Returns carpet bag: another sit-down with director Marshall, who toured us around the film’s London set for EW’s first look last year. Marshall has shepherded movie-musicals to the screen like Chicago and Into the Woods, yet Poppins marks his first original musical and a passion project for the director, who assembled a veteran creative team (including Shaiman, Wittman, producer John DeLuca, and Finding Neverland screenwriter David Magee) to craft a new story from author P.L. Travers’ eight-book series. “I used myself as a barometer, honestly,” says Marshall, who cites 1964’s Mary Poppins as the first film he ever saw. “Just say I wasn’t involved at all. What would I want to see in this film? I knew I wanted to see an animation sequence in the hand-drawn 2D style. I knew I wanted to have those wonderful characters, Mary’s famously eccentric cousins, or uncles, or aunts. But the most important thing was an emotional story. I wanted to find something that you could connect with. When we chose to set it in the Depression era, it felt like today: people struggling to make ends meet, or in this case, to deal with a loss, which many families deal with. How do you move through that? We had to create a reason for Mary Poppins to come back after 54 years, and it had to be real.”

What Marshall and team came up with is a new tale set in the 1930s that reflects the economic hardship of London’s Great Slump. Mary Poppins finds herself revisiting Cherry Tree Lane to help a now-grown Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) raise Michael’s three children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, Joel Dawson) after the death of his wife. “They’ve also lost a sense of wonder and joy,” says Marshall. “And the theme that drove me — of finding that child alive inside you — was, to me, an important story to tell. We live in such a fragile time that we need this film. I certainly felt that I needed it. I needed to turn off the news and be launched into a magical world where wondrous things can happen still, and there’s hope.

If Marshall’s wish comes true, Mary Poppins Returns might deliver some similar optimism to audiences this Christmas. It’s for that same reason that Streep, who sings and dances in the film as Topsy, Mary’s gravity-challenged cousin, calls the film a gift to the world. “I just can’t wait for people to see it,” gushes the actress. “I feel like we have this little secret all tied up in a bow. Why can’t we just give it to them today?

As Mary Poppins would say: patience, Meryl Streep, patience.

Share
Emily Blunt Dances Through London in a new still of “Mary Poppins Returns’
Filed in Articles Interviews Mary Poppins Returns Movies News & Updates Stills & Posters

Emily Blunt Dances Through London in a new still of “Mary Poppins Returns’

Entertainment Weekly 

Life tip: Catch up on your chores before Mary Poppins commands you this Christmas. Or, conversely, don’t, and find that the banal things like bathtime will become brilliant when there’s a magical nanny around to help you discover the joy in the job.

Eighty-four years after writer P. L. Travers debuted the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins on the page, and 54 years after Julie Andrews immortalized her onscreen in Disney’s 1964 classic, it’s now Emily Blunt, director Rob Marshall, and an all-star cast who are shepherding Mary Poppins back to Cherry Tree Lane for this winter’s Mary Poppins Returns (Dec. 19).

There’s never been a moment when I’ve felt like I want to in any way re-do the original,” explains Marshall, who directed, among other movie-musicals, the Oscar-winning Chicago. “The thing that’s so mortifying is when people say it’s a remake. Never. No one could touch that,” he continues. “But can we continue the tradition of that storytelling with our own cast, with our own world, with our own sensibility? There’s so much more story to tell, and it’s because the character’s so great.

It’s right back here on Cherry Tree Lane, some 25-odd years after the first film, that the story of Mary Poppins and the Banks family continues: An economic slump has claimed the Banks family home and a tragedy has claimed the wife of grown-up Michael (Ben Whishaw), leaving him, his three children, and sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) without much hope or happiness these days. That’s the jumping-off point for the vision of Marshall, producers John DeLuca and Marc Platt, and screenwriter David Magee.

In the filmmakers’ effort to embrace the 1964 film but stay true to the further adventures of Travers’ eight-book children’s series, “we felt it was important to not only reflect the depression era [of the books], but that there had to be a very important reason for Mary to come back,” says Marshall. “It had to be something true and real, and so in our film, Michael’s a young father who has three kids and has not only lost his wife, but because of the time period, has also lost his whole sense of wonder and joy and optimism.

Enter the plausibly implausible Mary, who brings with her the kind of adventures you’d expect of the beloved nanny — not to mention the tunes, written by veteran songwriting team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Mary charms the dread out of household chores (“In our film, taking a bath becomes a magical adventure,” says Marshall); introduces the Bankses to more of her eccentric relatives (like Meryl Streep’s oddball cousin Topsy); and kicks up her heels. In particular, Blunt and costar Lin-Manuel Miranda (who plays a street-smart, singing lamplighter) shine in one of the film’s showstopping numbers, “Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” a musical gambol through London, pictured exclusively above.

She’s just such fun to play,” gushes Blunt, who took her principal Poppins inspiration from Travers’ novels and the film His Girl Friday. “I’m so different from this character, but I do know a lot of people like her, so it does feel familiar,” she continues. “The dancing is the thing I really had to learn. Lin and I are not trained dancers in any way, so that was the most arduous part. You see why dancers have the best bodies on planet Earth. You just pour with sweat all day.

Well, fortunately, we know someone who makes bathtime quite the enchanted experience.

Gallery Links:
– Film productions > Mary Poppins Returns [2018] > Stills

Share
Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson Announce Start of ‘Jungle Cruise’ Production
Filed in Articles Jungle Cruise Movies News & Updates Videos

Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson Announce Start of ‘Jungle Cruise’ Production

On Tuesday (31), Walt Disney Studios teased one Jungle Cruise, based on the studio’s iconic theme park ride.

The one minute long video begins with Emily Blunt presenting the set of her new film – before growing irritated when she’s interrupted by co-star Johnson.

Hey let’s be like Humphrey Bogart and Kathleen Hepburn,‘ says the Dwayne.

Kathleen? Or is it Kathryn Hepburn?‘ asks a visibly annoyed Blunt.

Like, do your research.


Gallery Links:
–   Film Productions > Jungle Cruise [2019] > Production Announcement

Share
Emily Blunt Is Being Eyed for Third ‘Sicario’ Movie, Producer Says
Filed in Articles News & Updates

Emily Blunt Is Being Eyed for Third ‘Sicario’ Movie, Producer Says

INDIEWIRE – Emily Blunt does not appear in the upcoming “Sicario” sequel, but that doesn’t mean we have seen the last of her character, Kate Macer. In an interview with CinemaBlend, franchise producer Trent Luckinbill revealed behind-the-scenes talks have already begun about bringing Blunt back into the fold to appear in a potential third “Sicario” movie.

“I think Taylor [Sheridan] certainly has some ideas about all of that, but we’re open to that world and certainly would love to bring Emily back,” Luckinbill said. “We haven’t written the script yet, but yeah it would make a lot of sense. We’re all fans of the movie, we’ve all come to the same conclusion, which is ‘It would be great to see her again.’ So I think we’re striking up those conversations now.”

Lionsgate has not greenlit a third “Sicario” film. The first sequel, “Day of the Soldado,” centers around the characters played by Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin and opens in theaters later this month. The sequel is already earning strong reactions from critics, and a third film will be a no-brainer if “Soldado” takes off at the box office.

“Sicario” screenwriter Taylor Sheridan previously admitted he’s the reason Blunt’s character was not included in the sequel. Sheridan told The Wrap in November 2016 he felt Blunt’s character completed her arc by the end of the first movie and he didn’t want to disrespect the actress by bringing her back for something aimless in the sequel.

“Her arc was complete [and] I couldn’t figure out a way to write a character that would do her talent justice,” Sheridan said. “What do you do next? She moves to some little town and becomes a sheriff and then gets kidnapped and then we have ‘Taken? I had to tell the story that was true to this role, and I didn’t feel like I could create something with that character that would further that world that would do Emily’s character justice.”

Despite not including Blunt in “Soldado,” Sheridan admitted at the time “there could be room for [Blunt’s character] somewhere else down the road.” Blunt expressed interest in playing Kate Macer again during an interview with IndieWire earlier this year, saying she loved the experience making the original and would definitely come back if she had the chance.

“Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado” opens in theaters June 29.

 

Share
Filed in A Quiet Place Articles Movies News & Updates

How A Quiet Place Defied All Odds to Become a Blockbuster

VULTURE – Since April, media coverage of the Paramount Pictures horror hit A Quiet Place has generally coalesced into two distinct groupings. There are the “Can you believe Jim from The Office made such a good movie?”–type of profiles that came out right around the $17 million film’s release in early April — detailing how John Krasinski surpassed all expectations to co-write, direct, and star in the ecstatically reviewed family drama/monster movie, his first foray into genre fare as either a filmmaker or an actor. Then there are the financial over-performance analyses announcing how A Quiet Place made “noise at the box office,” capturing the top spot in its first and third weekends in theaters, becoming Paramount’s most profitable film since 2015’s Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, and racking up more than $300 million worldwide in less than two months to rank as the year’s third-highest-grossing film and most surprising breakout success.

But to hear it from the filmmakers and production executives who worked behind the scenes to develop the material and guide it through the studio system — namely, Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who co-wrote and executive produced A Quiet Place, and Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, co-founders of the production company Platinum Dunes, who produced it — there’s a competing narrative that has received far less media scrutiny. They point out the creative leaps of faith required to make an original film like AQP in modern Hollywood’s risk-phobic, cinematic-universe-obsessed, IP-chasing marketplace, while also laying out all the ways the project could have failed to achieve liftoff.

Containing almost no dialogue, and based on an oddball 67-page screenplay full of maps and diagrams and Photoshopped images, the project was willfully dissimilar to anything coming out of the studios’ major moviemaking pipeline. The writers were actively discouraged from even putting together what some people close to them dismissed as their “silent movie.” Nothing in Krasinski’s filmic oeuvre suggested the affable Everyman actor — whose two previous directorial efforts, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men and The Hollars combined to gross just over $1 million — was even remotely capable of handling the material. Many of the executives who originally gave A Quiet Place the green light were either fired or quit Paramount during a recent regime change — an outcome that has orphaned or derailed many films in the past. Then when the earliest cuts of AQP were first screened at the studio, missing visual-effects shots and incomplete sound design made the movie seem almost incomprehensible, leading some to doubt its commerciality. And it wasn’t until the film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March that anyone had any inkling it could connect with audiences.

“The movie was risky on every level,” says Form. “You start reading [the script] and go, ‘Oh, there’s no dialogue.’ The idea was so original. And here we are coming to the studio with John: ‘This is the guy we’re betting on to star, write and direct this movie for us. And we’re all in on him! You have to trust us. We’re not going to let you down.’”

Inspired by their love of silent films from the 1920s, Woods and Beck (who co-wrote and directed the 2015 horror-thriller Nightlight and the action-Western The Bride Wore Blood) started writing a spec script in 2016 with almost no spoken lines that would effectively “weaponize” sound design. Plotted around a family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world where predatory creatures with keen hearing but faulty eyesight rampage through the woods, mauling to death anyone unfortunate enough to fall within their earshot, the project proved to initially be a tough sell. “We would pitch it to studio executives that were fans of ours, producers that we had worked with, even close friends, and people would just look at us and their eyes would glaze over,” recalls Woods. “They’d just be like, ‘What are you guys talking about? A movie with no dialogue? I don’t see how that’s a movie. That doesn’t sound very commercial. You should just move past it.’”

But antipathy turned to interest when the writers began circulating a short script utilizing visual cues not commonly found in screenplays. Almost immediately, the project was bought by Platinum Dunes — better known as tentpole-movie director Michael Bay’s production company. “Knowing the last thing anyone behind a desk at Paramount or any other studio wants to receive is a 120-page script with blocks after blocks of description, we appropriated the sparest writing style possible, cribbing off our heroes like Walter Hill and David Giler’s draft of Alien,” says Beck. “We drew pictures into the script. We would literally Photoshop pictures of a Monopoly board for the Monopoly scene in there. We would put in handwriting and newspaper headlines — all these devices that would communicate the future version of the movie that people would see in theaters.”

Platinum Dunes had enjoyed a run of success mounting reboots of classic horror and slasher flicks such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street (as well as its own successful Purge franchise). But the company’s top executives were on the hunt for original material — specifically, a thriller they could produce for under $20 million. “Drew and I have killed more kids in basements than anyone you’ll ever meet,” says Fuller. “That’s what we did for years and years. There’s nothing the matter with it. But it did get kind of boring. We’d be in Starbucks talking about the right way to dismember someone. And people are looking at us like we’re serial killers. By that point, we had made 12 or 13 of those types of movies. We wanted to do something else.”

Given Bay’s long-standing first-look deal with Paramount (the studio is home to his multibillion-dollar grossing Transformers franchise) the Melrose back lot became the producers’ obvious first stop. And while production executives contemplated green-lighting the film, Fuller and Form reached out to Krasinski — who had appeared in Bay’s biographical war drama 13 Hours and was then set to star in the Platinum Dunes–produced Amazon series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan — offering him the part of A Quiet Place’s male lead. His initial reaction: “Oh man, I don’t do horror movies, so I’m probably not your guy. But if it’s a cool idea …”

A journeyman actor with an eclectic resume, Krasinski has appeared in such movies as 2011’s The Muppets, Sam Mendes’s adaptation of Jarhead, and Cameron Crowe’s Aloha; on the other side of the camera, Krasinski executive produced the Oscar-nominated drama Manchester by the Sea, co-wrote the 2012 drama Promised Land with Matt Damon, and premiered his directorial debut Brief Interviews With Hideous Men at the Sundance Film Festival. But despite a two-decade run in high-profile film and TV projects, Krasinski had struggled to shed his “Jim from The Office” identity.

Within hours of reading the script, the actor began brainstorming a rewrite; his second daughter with wife Emily Blunt had been born three weeks earlier, and the project’s themes of family resonated deeply with him. Ten days later, he called the producers. “‘I’ve got great news for you guys! I’m gonna play the dad,’” Fuller recalls Krasinski saying. “‘Okay, great. We gotta set the movie up.’ He goes, ‘Oh, there’s more. I’m gonna rewrite the script and I’m gonna direct it!’”

Krasinski then proceeded to dazzle the producers with the specificity of his vision for the film: He wanted to remove a flashback sequence in the film’s opening act, planned to cast a deaf actress as his character’s deaf daughter, and promised to deliver an “A-level” actress to portray his character’s pregnant wife. Fuller and Form left the conversation convinced they had found their filmmaker. “The things he wanted to do with the film were smart ideas that we hadn’t come up with,” Fuller says. “And then there was a large meeting where John was going to present his vision of the movie to Marc Evans, [Paramount’s] president of production. As we were walking in, John turns to us and said, ‘By the way, Emily read the script and she said she needs to do the movie.’”

Based on that meeting, Paramount gave the production the go-ahead. And filming took place from May to November 2017 in upstate New York (during Krasinski’s hiatus from filming Jack Ryan). “John was not the obvious choice as director for the film,” says Woods. “But as an actor, he had worked with so many of our favorite directors, he had to have learned something. And we were fans of his earlier work. Even though The Hollars didn’t necessarily imply that he could direct a horror film, he had done some really solid character work in that film we thought would translate.”

Adds Beck: “We’re huge fans of The Office, so it was very flattering!”

But when Krasinski began to screen his initial cut of A Quiet Place, the unfinished film didn’t necessarily scream blockbuster. According to a source close to the production, certain studio executives didn’t like the film. Worse, one of its early champions, Paramount’s president of the motion picture group Marc Evans, had stepped down from his job in September. And amid a mass exodus of top studio executives at Paramount over the last few months, it’s fair to assume his successor Wyck Godfrey did not have the same emotional investment in AQP. (The studio sold the cerebral sci-fi thriller Annihilation to Netflix in February largely because the executives who commissioned that movie no longer worked at Paramount, and the new executives lost faith in the film’s commercial prospects.)

The producers deny there was anything but a positive reaction from Paramount. But they point out that anyone under-awed by Krasinski’s early cuts was likely responding to a lack of computer-generated imagery in the footage — specifically, the monsters were missing from key scenes, draining them of dramatic tension. “There are plates in the movie where you had actors and behind them, nothing, because the creature was going to be put in with CG,” says Form. “So the moment in the cornfield where Regan is bending down and the creature comes up behind her — and you see that the feedback is going from her hearing aid into the creature — that was never in the cut. She just bends down in the cut, grabs her ear and there’s nothing behind her and nothing happens. You have this young girl and something’s bothering her but you have no idea what it is. The minute you get that creature in the shot, you see that they’re connected, it changes the entire movie.”

The writers also point out that early versions of the film lacked the sound design responsible for many of A Quiet Place’s biggest scares. “It wasn’t until the very final mix was done that all of a sudden the story made complete sense,” says Woods. “It was such a precious tightrope that that sound mix and that sound design really had a huge effect on the success of the film.”

Despite being untested and unfinished, in February the film was accepted by Texas’s South by Southwest Film Festival and later, selected to be its opening-night premiere. Krasinski only managed to finish the movie’s final visual effects 18 hours before its first public screening. The stakes were high. If Paramount indeed had a dud on its hands, word of A Quiet Place’s general crappiness would radiate out of the festival on a swarm of negative tweets. Halfway through the premiere, Fuller’s anxiety got the better of him. “You don’t know how into it the audience is until the third act. They start cheering and all of that,” he says. “Midway through, I couldn’t tell. I was so stressed out, thank God they had that bar right there in that theater. I went to the bar and did two shots of vodka. I couldn’t sit there anymore. I just could not bear it.”

“You knew it was going to go one of two ways: Either it was going to work or it was going to kill the movie if it didn’t play to that audience,” says Beck. “So it was an insane risk to take, in some regards, but at the same time it was the riskiest choice to make with a risky movie.”

Of course, the SXSW audience went bananas for the film, singing its praises across social media to dominate Movie Twitter. Critics warmed to A Quiet Place too; the movie had a 100 percent “freshness” rating on Rotten Tomatoes coming out of the festival. Realizing it could have a hit on its hands, Paramount aggressively promoted the film, purchasing a $5 million Super Bowl commercial for AQP — a relatively enormous ad buy for a $17 million movie. Over its opening weekend in theaters, the movie shattered prerelease “tracking” estimates (in the $30 million range) to pull in $50.4 million (the best opening ever for an original horror movie).

In light of A Quiet Place’s success, a sequel was quickly (perhaps inevitably) commissioned. Paramount’s chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos announced at Las Vegas’s CinemaCon that AQP would provide a kind of template for the new direction the studio is taking after a rough couple of years filled with such flops as Baywatch and Ghost in the Shell. “We’re laying the foundation for the success that Paramount had in the past and I’m incredibly confident that we have the right team, culture, and attitude in place to take Paramount to new heights,” Gianopulos said at the convention. “And we already started on that road to giant success with A Quiet Place.”

That announcement came as something of a shock to the producers. “We’ve been at Paramount for eight or nine years. There was certainly a time when they were not interested in making those kinds of movies,” says Fuller. “We really were banging our heads against the wall. With earlier administrations there, there was no hunger to do horror movies at all.”

And in perhaps the purest manifestation of A Quiet Place’s growing cultural footprint, the movie was even lampooned on Saturday Night Live earlier this month. “It was one of those things that Bryan and I always joked about when we were writing the script,” says Beck. “We’re like, ‘This is a bizarre enough idea that if it hits, the gold standard is to be parodied by Saturday Night Live.’ But we never thought that would actually happen. I can’t stress how humble the beginnings of this project were. So to be sitting in the afterglow is a super surreal place to be.”

Share