Emily Blunt: ‘Likable’ is ‘my least favorite bloody word in the industry’


I’m looking forward to The Girl on the Train. I might even see it opening weekend (it opens wide on October 7th). Apparently, Dreamworks is really hoping that this is an outright smash, or failing that, a thriller with box office legs that gains in popularity by word of mouth. While the book was readable but not great, I do think the source material will lend itself to a great film adaptation. Anyway, Emily Blunt and Girl/Train’s author Paula Hawkins cover the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a basic “making of” cover story, but it’s interesting because it’s a woman author, writing interesting female characters, and an actress who knows how to give good soundbytes. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Emily’s older daughter Hazel sounds American: “She’s sounding a bit American from what I see. ‘Can I have some wah-ta?’ I was like, ‘Wodder?’ And she went, ‘No, it’s wah-ta.’ I was like, ‘Oh, for God’s sake!’ ”

Female likability: “With so many movies, women are held to what a man considers a feminine ideal. You have to be pretty. You have to be ‘likable,’ which is my least favorite bloody word in the industry. Rachel isn’t ‘likable.’ What does that mean? To be witty and pretty and hold it together and be there for the guy? And he can just be a total drip?”

On Rachel’s feelings of inadequacy: “I’ve experienced those moments of feeling less than, where I was just trying to figure how to be a strong person and own who I want to be, but not for a while now, not since I met my husband. When I met John, everything changed for me, truly. And I really was emboldened to discover who I really am.”

Hiding her pregnancy: “It turned out to be a much more physical role than I had anticipated. She gets in a fair few tussles and gets knocked around a bit by various characters. Justin [Theroux] guessed because we’re very good friends. We were going over the final sequence, and I was being a bit wussy about some of the stunts. He pulled me aside and was, ‘What is with you? Are you pregnant?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ ”

Women and alcoholism: “A woman is a drunk, a whore, whereas the guy’s like a partyer, a player. I’ve been around both women who drink too much and guys who drink too much and it’s just as ugly on the guys. It makes me crazy. I don’t think that women should be seen as any less sexual than a guy. And maybe she doesn’t want to settle down, and that’s OK. And maybe she doesn’t want a kid, and that’s OK. And she’s just happy playing the field. There’s so much judgment with women.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

I think she’s right that if a woman is sh-tfaced and falling out of a nightclub every night, we’re like, “That’s so sad.” If a man is doing the exact same thing, it’s more of a shrug, or a “whatever.” I also cosign the “likability” issue for women specifically – why do we demand that female characters and women in general must be “likable” above all else? I don’t NEED to “like” Hillary Clinton (although I do): I need to think that she will be a great leader (I do).

As for her daughter’s American accent… oh, girl, you might have stepped in it again! What’s wrong with having an American accent, you bloody tosser?!?


Photos courtesy of THR.

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72 Responses to “Emily Blunt: ‘Likable’ is ‘my least favorite bloody word in the industry’”

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  1. Margo S. says:

    I like Emily blunt. Great comments!

  2. SM says:

    She looks scared in every single pic for this shoot. Quite bizzare choice to have that as a concept for a photoshoot

    • Tris says:

      I think she looks AMAZING! Moody and gorgeous.

    • V4Real says:

      “She looks scared in every single pic for this shoot. Quite bizzare choice to have that as a concept for a photoshoot”

      She’s probably thinking about what she said about her daughter having an American accent and she’s like oh bloody hell I just f-cked up again.

      There’s something about her that makes me think she’s somewhat similar to her character in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

    • Harryg says:

      She looks like Adele a lot!

    • susiecue says:

      I love the picture of her in the trenchcoat, but the cover is weird. Her expression doesn’t match Paula Hawkins’. It’s like they’re experiencing two different things.

  3. Tina says:

    I have a lot of American friends here in London. Some of them have actually moved back to the US when their children started developing British accents (not the only reason but one of them). It can be jarring when your child doesn’t sound like you!

    • Lara K says:


      Even John Oliver, my secret boyfriend, spoke about this. And John Oliver cannot be wrong. So I give her a pass.

    • uninspired username says:

      “It can be jarring when your child doesn’t sound like you!”

      That’s understandable.

      • Ripley says:

        It really is jarring… Disconcerting at the very least. My husband and I are raising our son in the Middle East and most of his teachers are from UK or Ireland. I about it the other day when he called me, “Mummy.” So weird.

    • Shambles says:

      I don’t see anything wrong with being a little weirded out/sad when your child doesn’t sound like you or sounds like they’re not from the homeland you love. Plus, the way she phrased it was very lighthearted.

    • Sixer says:

      The Sixlets have mild West Country accents – Mr Sixer and I speak standard British, really – and it is weird! Every now and again they will elongate an A and say laaaaast or something and it makes me do a double-take.

      Back in London, I have friends and relatives with children who speak MLE and therefore entirely differently from their own parents without ever having moved a mile. Now that IS a strange thing.

      I love all things accent.

      • Tina says:

        Accents are amazing. It would be horrible if we all sounded the same.

      • MI6 says:

        What’s MLE? My Lord’s English?
        Looove Emily Blunt. She is, literally.

      • Sixer says:

        Accents are the best!

        MLE is multicultural London English. It’s a mix of Jamaican and other Caribbean, Indian and Pakistani, and old-style Cockney accents. And it appeared and spread very, very, quickly compared to most accent changes – pretty much over just thirty years. Like I say, I know people whose children speak with a completely different accent to them, despite never having moved area. It’s the most fascinating phenomenon. I sometimes wish I were young again so I could get into the research being done on it!

      • Tina says:

        @MI6 – Multicultural London English. Here’s a good video explaining it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyd3VMoG3WM

      • SilverUnicorn says:

        When we have family gatherings we have about 6 different accents, trying to reconnect with each other. Some stuff is really amusing.
        If I had had children in England they would have actually sounded very different from my Scottish husband’s accent and my tweaked Italian one LOL

      • MI6 says:

        So cool! Thanks to you both! 🖒
        I wonder if I will develop an accent when I relocate to London if the screaming orange Cheeto gets elected this side of the pond.

      • BritAfrica says:

        Sorry, but I find the MLE accent utterly irritating. My Dad bent over backwards to make sure we didn’t sound like that.

        How the hell do you get a city job with one of those?? Sorry, I work in banking and unconscious bias is still very evident everywhere.

        Do not give the recruiter any reason to think it shouldn’t be you…I say!

      • Sixer says:

        We’ve had the cultural matching conversation before, haven’t we, BritAfrica?!

        You can no more stem an organic accent shift than you can stop the sun rising tomorrow. If recruiting in the City occurs along such classist and/or racist lines, it’s not accents that need changing; it’s the recruiting practice. Failure to change simply renders an industry – or country, even – moribund, as Frisbee noted on yesterday’s Normal Bill thread. It’s no different to US companies rejecting resumes because they racially code the names of applicants.

        Perhaps the City might even have a better reputation in the country at large (which it should, really, given its contribution to GDP and the tax base) if it wasn’t such a brazenly self-replicating bubble?

        In terms of taste, I’m not enamoured of MLE either – there are many accents I’d much rather listen to. But if I’m honest, that’s probably just because it’s new and a little bit alien. I think its rapid development is endlessly fascinating though, and also says positive things about multiculturalism in the UK. And goodness knows, with Brexit, we need some positivity in that area.

      • BritAfrica says:

        @ Sixer

        Ok, I bow to your optimism! 🙂

    • bleu_moon says:

      I’m a Yankee raising my kids in the south and I so get it. My kids pronounce the “t” in “often!” Drives me batty. It’s “often” like “soften.” They drop the “ly” from their adverbs. “Do this quick!” The other day my son said, ‘Do what now?” and I was just stunned.

      • Goats on the Roof says:

        Oh, this makes me homesick. I’m originally from the southern US, and some of us have a way with words, yeah? “Do what now?” and “fixin’ to” are personal favorites.

        My younger brother and sister both speak with very pronounced southern accents, but I do not. It’s led people to question whether we are actually siblings (we are) and if we were raised in the same house at the same time (indeed).

      • SusanneToo says:

        @ bleu_moon. What part of the South? Other than six years in Germany, I’ve lived my entire life in either Texas, Louisiana or Alabama and I’ve never heard the instances you’re referring to.
        PS Not disputing you, just wondering where that happens. I know we have our quirks-What’s that site-“Sh1t Southern Women Say” or something like that?

      • Looty says:

        I sometimes say y’all to this day, and it never fails to produce a Midwestern hushed silence, like, is she from mars?

      • bleu_moon says:

        “Fixin’ to!” I’d never heard that until I moved to the south. Also “cut” = “off.” “Cut the lights off.”

        My husband is from the south but has a much less pronounced accent than his siblings. I blame marrying a dreadful northern woman. 😉

      • Goats on the Roof says:

        I’m from Alabama–can attest to everything bleu said.

        @ Looty
        I slipped up and said “all y’all” the other day at work. It was almost comical how quickly people whipped their heads around and gave me the ‘In English, please’ face.

      • MrsBPitt says:

        I moved from Boston to the south ten years ago, and sometimes, when speaking to a southerner, I felt like I was in a different Country! And. believe me, everyone here laughs at my New England accent!!! It’s funny, though, and an can be an ice breaker when meeting new people. “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?????” LOL

      • bleu_moon says:

        @Susannetoo- In the past 16 years we’ve lived in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

      • Wren says:

        Hey, I say “do what now?” and I’m from the west coast! My dad’s an immigrant so I imagine we all sound weird to him. He’s lived here for 60 years now and he still thinks American idioms are funny/stupid and mocks them. And I swear deliberately pronounces certain words wrong. Language is weird.

      • Sixer says:

        I love that “do what now” construction! I have even stolen it for use here in faraway Britland once or twice.

    • lilacflowers says:

      Emily’s kids will probably end up sounding different from either parent. John’s accent is Boston suburb but they’re raising their kids in California

    • perplexed says:

      I wonder if this is more of a British/American thing. Huh.

      Immigrants who come from other countries ( that are not Britain or America) don’t seem to mind when they’re kids sound different from them. In fact, this almost seems to be expected.

      This is not shade on British people or Americans — just interesting/fascinating to me.

    • Harryg says:

      I’m European and my husband is American. Growing up, I would have never guessed I’d have a child who speaks only English to me.

      • ab says:

        same here. I’m american and my husband is european. our daughter has a speech delay and is pretty much just focusing on english for now, and it’s a little weird for my husband sometimes. day-to-day it’s not a big deal, but when we have family or friends visiting from his country they comment on how strange it is to hear him conversing with his child in english.

    • Cee says:

      My grandmother spoke very formal spanish and it used to drive me crazy because I have a typical castillian accent with italian influx, like most everyone in Buenos Aires, and I would not understand her, at all! My father moved here when he was 15 and it took him 5 seconds to lose his accent LOL

      Accents are fascinating. I have more in common with an italian than with a spaniard, and all because of the way we pronounce certain words.

  4. Sixer says:

    One of my (many) cousins has been living in LA for about ten years now. She has three kids. The youngest, who was born there, speaks with an American accent. The oldest, who was born in the UK and was about 8 when they moved, also now speaks with an American accent. The middle one, who was born in the UK but was a baby when they moved and learned to talk in the US, speaks pure Britisher. Go figure!

    • lilacflowers says:

      My dad always had a bit of his parents British accent. His middle sister has a Boston accent and his youngest sister moved to Arizona in her early 20s and now speaks a very different accent.

      Families who speak a different language go through something similar but even more striking. The oldest child will very often speak the language of the parents while the youngest won’t speak it at all. My friend came from Nova Scotia when she was four and has always spoken just French with her parents. Her next brother, the parents will speak French and he’ll answer in English. But the youngest will only respond to English and cannot communicate in French.

      • Sixer says:

        And then, of course, you get people talking in macaronic hybrids. Hinglish here, for example, mixes English, Hindi and Punjabi. In Scotland and Ireland, you’ll often catch people using bits of Gaelic even though they don’t actually speak Gaelic. Presumably the same thing happens stateside with second generation kids from immigrant communities?

      • lilacflowers says:

        Yes, it does.

      • SilverUnicorn says:

        There are also hybrids between the foreign accents of a particular country and English. For example, an Italian from Naples or Sicily has a very different accent from someone who was born in Florence or Milan. Subsequently… when I meet another Italian I ask them to use our original language, not English because many of them sound unintelligible to me, they mix their local accent to the English language!

      • Sixer says:

        Silver – Teehee. “If you’re going to mishmash it, at least mishmash it the same way I mishmash it! “

    • Size Does Matter says:

      Hey, Sixer, question for you. Is “bloody” the equivalent of the F word in the US, or not that bad? My mother-in-law who was born and raised in the US – I don’t think she’s ever been to Europe – says bloody and I’m never sure how to take it.

      • Sixer says:

        Bloody is much milder than F or C. And so commonly used here that I’d bet most people don’t even know they are using it half the time. On a par with damn or damned?

      • dodgy says:

        Bloody is a mild swear word, like how the Americans would say ‘damn’ or ‘damned’. As in, “That damned dog dug up my roses again.” In Brit English, “That bloody dog dug up my roses again.”

        Depending on the tone of voice used, it can used to be shown a strong displeasure to whatever.

    • Bex says:

      Accents are strange things. I speak with a very standard Southern English accent, but we spent time in Australia as kids and so my sister has a noticeable twang even though it’s been years since we moved back. My dad’s accent is still discernibly Irish. You’d never believe we were related!

      • BeBeA says:

        I grew up in NC and I can’t hear an accent on my mom or sister’s at all but me, that’s a different story ! I live upstate now and had to take a call and this man got in trouble with his wife for saying he could listen to my country accent all day lol. Just yesterday someone from Mississippi of all places laughed at me and said “wooweee I know your from the country, about what part darling? ” it’s bad. Lol
        The only time it leaves is when I’m mad, that’s so the trouble maker is able to understand my mood and my curse words ,ha!

  5. uninspired username says:

    “What’s wrong with having an American accent, you bloody tosser?!?”

    Doesn’t she actually live here and raise her kids here? What did she expect? o_O

    I liked her quote on likability.

  6. Honest B says:

    I know Americans aren’t that great at picking up British humour but the comment about her child’s accent was obviously taking the p*ss.

  7. MrsBPitt says:

    I’m really looking forward to this movie, also. I loved the book, although, I saw the ending coming a mile away. I just don’t understand why they moved the locale of the book from London to New York. And, I really can’t picture Justin Theroux in the part of her ex…hopefully, he will prove me wrong. I actually thought the trailer looked pretty good!

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      I initially thought Justin was totally miscast as Tom, but I’ve started watching The Leftovers and he’s won me over.

  8. Jayna says:

    Emily is a great actress. Love her.

  9. Tig says:

    I so enjoy her work as an actress- she was so great in Into The Woods. This interview was interesting, tho her comments re “drunk in bars” gets a qualifier- once one is past say 35/40- and gets that s##tfaced in public pretty much the “that’s so sad” response is the same male or female. Back to movie- really looking forward to her scenes with Allison Janey.

  10. Lucy says:

    I saw The Devil Wears Prada again yesterday. I love most things about it, if not everything. But, I will always hold a special place in my heart for Emily’s interpretation. She’s hilarious and looks fantastic.

  11. Patricia says:

    My mom’s family is from Connecticut, her grandparents were Irish immigrants. She was raised with the very proper sounding, pronounce-all-syllables Connecticut accent.
    Well, she raised my sisters and me in a NJ suburb of Philly and our Philly-South Jersey twang was a point of contention in our house! She just can’t accept that we speak this way. It was a fight when we were teenagers but there was no stopping it. Losing battle. She remains appalled. 😂

  12. Onerous says:

    I’m confused – Her daughter sounds American but *doesn’t* say “wodder?” That’s how I’d pronounce it, as an American. What am I missing?

    • Snork says:

      I agree the quote seems all mixed up to me. Like her daughter sounds English saying “wah-ta” whereas “wodder” sounds American. I’ve reread it and I still don’t understand?

    • dodgy says:

      If her kid is on the West Coast, I guess she stretches the ‘a’ for waaadah, versus wodder.

      • Wren says:

        I’m from the west coast and I say it much more like “wodder” than “wah-ta”. Actually it’s “wotter”, really since the t is pronounced as such.

    • Sixer says:

      I couldn’t quite work it out either.

      To my, British, ear, we Britishers either pronounce the T as a T or put a glottal stop in front of it and don’t say it at all, while the American T in water sounds more like a D.

      • Hazel says:

        I re-read that a few times, too, and concluded the writer simply mixed up the phonetics in print vs. what the writer heard, or the editor got it backwards. Californian kids (I was one, once) don’t say wah-ta.

  13. Deanna says:

    Funny, my supervisor (an Aussie) was just telling me that a few Americans had trouble understanding her when she asked for water at restaurants.

  14. BritAfrica says:

    Love…love…love this actor. Can’t wait to see ‘The Girl on the Train’. I wish she and James McAvoy would do a movie together. Can’t wait to see ‘Split’ either.

  15. Granger says:

    “I think she’s right that if a woman is sh-tfaced and falling out of a nightclub every night, we’re like, “That’s so sad.” If a man is doing the exact same thing, it’s more of a shrug, or a “whatever.””

    I don’t agree at all. I think most people think that men who are alcoholic party animals, falling out of clubs every night, are sad too. The difference, in my opinion, is that people think *he’s* sad because he has an addiction, but they think *she’s* sad because she’s insecure and stupid and she needs to learn to control herself or something bad is going to happen to her. It’s a huge double-standard.

  16. Guesto says:

    I love Emily and her failure to people-please and just say and be who she is.

    And ‘Bloody tosser’ is so inappropriate here, even in jest.