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Emily Blunt thrilled 'Salmon Fishing,' 'Looper' resonate with audiences, awards voters

Published On: Jan 30 2013 02:25:23 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 08 2013 09:28:24 AM CST
Emily Blunt Salmon Fishing Looper

CBS Films, Sony Pictures

Left: Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." Right: Blunt in "Looper."

Awards season is back in full swing, and not surprisingly acclaimed actress Emily Blunt's name is back in the mix. The great thing is, the two different roles she's receiving accolades for couldn't be any further apart, creatively.

Blunt has a busy week in store, first with the Critics Choice Movie Awards Thursday for her nomination for Best Actress in an Action Movie for the sci-fi thriller "Looper"; and again on Sunday with the Golden Globes for her nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for the romantic dramedy "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."

In an interview last week, Blunt told me that she was pleasantly surprised by both nominations -- and especially the latter since it's been nine months since the film was released in theaters. In fact, Blunt said that she and her fellow "Salmon Fishing" star never honestly expected the independent film would find the audience that it did.

"When I signed onto it, Ewan McGregor and I talked about how we loved the script -- how it was so charming, original and rare, and we looked at each other and laughed, saying, 'Nobody is going to see this movie!'" Blunt recalled for me with a giggle. "So we were blown away when it made as much money as it did because it was made for nothing, and it's the kind of movie people have seen a couple of times. It's the film people talked to me about most this year and that just thrills me beyond belief."

Blunt added that it's just proof that, when it comes down to it -- all films are on equal footing when it comes to the quality of script. In the case of "Salmon Fishing," it tells the story of a fisheries expert (McGregor) who is approached by a consultant (Blunt) to a visionary sheik (Amr Waked) who wants to bring the sport of fly-fishing to the desert -- and something unexpected and inspirational happens in the process.

"It's just lovely when small films like this find a home, and it re-instills my faith in people just looking for a great story amongst all of the aliens, explosions and special effects," Blunt added. "What they're getting is a good story and something that makes your heart skip a beat. That's what I love about 'Salmon Fishing.'"

Even better, the Golden Globe nomination increases the visibility for a film that will no doubt attract new audiences that it might not have otherwise -- a film that Blunt says has a rare, mystical quality about it.

"It is lovely when you get awards recognition for a film that needs a little helping hand like 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' -- small movies like this one with the clunkiest title in the world," Blunt said, laughing. "So I'm really grateful for the Hollywood Foreign Press for this -- I'm so proud to be in it and am so glad that everybody enjoys it. There's something special about it that you can't quite put your finger on. I love that inability of trying to put your finger on what it is."

After playing a charming romantic in "Salmon Fishing," Blunt said she was in "hook, line and sinker" for her role as one tough mother -- quite literally -- as the no-nonsense protector of her young son with a chilling secret in writer-director Rian Johnson's futuristic thriller "Looper."

Just released on DVD and Blu-ray, "Looper" stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a hit man in a future where time travel is possible. Known as "Loopers," hit men like Joe are assigned to assassinate targets sent back by mobsters from 30 years in the future to effectively "close the loop." But when the older version of Joe (Bruce Willis) is sent back and escapes young Joe's hit, a mind-bending trek leads to a Kansas farm owned by Sara (Blunt).

Blunt's work on "Looper" signaled the second time in three years she's worked on a science fiction film, a funny coincidence since she has no inner sci-fi geek to fuel the desire to seek out work in the genre.

"I didn't really grow up watching sci-fi films, and only recently I saw 'Alien,' which I know is blasphemous, admitting that I've only recently watched it," said Blunt, 29. "But I seem to be drawn to these sci-fi-esque movies. I did 'Adjustment Bureau' and then 'Looper,' and now I'm doing this movie with (director) Doug Liman called 'All You Need is Kill,' with Tom Cruise."

And now that Blunt is in the sci-fi loop, so to speak, she can't get enough of it.

"I think the thing that I love about all these sci-fi films is that it offers an altered and heightened backdrop for these characters to interact," Blunt observed. "I think that's really exciting as an actor, because you really get to play make believe and you get to stretch yourself, because it goes really beyond what you've normally experienced as a human being."

Blunt said the great part about doing sci-fi films is that human characters and emotions can indeed co-exist among the fantastical premises. For "Looper," in fact, while Sara wears tough armor on the outside, at her core is a compassionate mother who will stop at nothing to protect a child that she regretfully once abandoned.

Those sorts of characters -- and emotional arcs -- are few and far-between, she said.

"You never do come about, and that's why you sprint through the streets of New York to meet with Rian Johnson," Blunt said enthusiastically. "Emotionally, she was really complex and really hard to work out, and that's what I think people are really like in real life. People aren't just one thing. She's not just tough and she's not just feeling guilty. She's not just one thing. She's all of them. She's tough because she's feeling guilty. There are so many layers to this character."

As for her immediate prospects of getting an award for "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" or "Looper," or any other future nominations that may come in her promising career, Blunt said in a way she already feels like a winner knowing that she's doing what she loves for a living.

"To be honest, awards are very flattering, but the fact that I'm even able to work in the business that often crushes people, the fact that I'm even able to work and do satisfying and fulfilling, creative jobs, is truly the thing I hold dearest to me -- not the accolades or anything else," Blunt said. "I hope awards recognition means business is good, and that means more business. That's all I hope for."