Emily Blunt: It’s hard thing for ‘a British person to start discovering their own worth’

emily blunt bazaar UK

Emily Blunt covers the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK to promote A Quiet Place: Part II. It’s a good piece, but unlike most of the British fashion magazines, the interview was not conducted in England. It was conducted in Brooklyn, where Emily lives with her husband John Krasinski and their two daughters, Hazel and Violet. Incidentally, I keep forgetting that they have two girls! And two little New Yorkers now, I’m sure Emily finds it a bit depressing that her girls are growing up with American accents. Still, she spends a chunk of the interview talking about how much she loves Brooklyn. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Living in Brooklyn: “I walk around Brooklyn in a baseball cap and tracksuit bottoms most of the time. So there’s an embarrassing moment when parents will say to their kid, ‘This is Mary Poppins,’ and the kid will look at me, like: ‘No, it f–king is not.'”

She loves her Brooklyn Heights neighborhood: “Isn’t it the best area? It’s idyllic, with all the history, and the great figures of literature who lived here. People there couldn’t care less about celebrities. No one has the time or inclination to stop and stare. You can walk everywhere too, which I love – to a supermarket, to a dry cleaner, with the kids to school – you don’t need a car. It’s leafy and villagey, and you can see the sky. I would love to live in London, but this is the next best thing. And I adore Brits, so I gravitate towards them over here, because I miss the irreverence and the silliness and the cavalier attitude.”

On A Quiet Place: Part II: “If the original film was a metaphor for parenthood, and how far you’d go to protect your children, in an exaggerated version of a world where you feel you can’t (which I feel, every second of everyday in this one), the metaphor is that fractured sense of community that I think we all feel too. The idea of not extending your hand to your neighbour, the question of who is “worth” saving; those are big ideas that I think we’re experiencing, globally, and John saw A Quiet Place as a magnified version of that – that loss of hope, that sense of desperation and isolation, loneliness and despair.”

She never really wanted to be a big movie star after being raised by high-achieving parents, an actress mother and a lawyer (Queen’s Counsel): “I didn’t have any burning ambition for this. I do find the whole thing quite serendipitous…. I think [my parents are] part of the reason I wasn’t terribly ambitious, because my mother was brilliant, and had too many children, a really busy husband, and didn’t know how to juggle it all…I’d seen within my own family that the business can be really cruel, so why would I want to do that?”

Her stutter as a child: “It’s such a misunderstood disability. It is neurological, it’s biological, it’s very often hereditary.” She now works on behalf of young stutterers, and sits on the board of directors of the American Institute for Stuttering. “Their therapy is more emotional these days, about how you can connect with your stutter and make sure that it doesn’t define who you are.”

Meeting John Krasinski in a restaurant in LA in 2008. “I’d just bought a place in London and was going to live there with my sister. I didn’t ever see it as a move to the US, but gradually more and more of my stuff just accumulated at his house, and then suddenly I was living in LA. I think it’s the best way to do it – just to sneak-attack them, rather than turn up with trunks.” They stayed in the city for seven years, “but I never really felt at home until we moved to the East Coast. We’ve found our place in the world.”

Moving into producing. “You get to the point where you’ve been doing something long enough and you do have an opinion,. It’s a very hard thing for a British person to start discovering their own worth, but at some point you’ve got to…. Ambition in men is seen as something quite heroic and cool, and in women it is seen as cold and self-serving and unlikeable. So everything that has happened in the last few years has been really vital. Because I want nothing more than for my daughters to be really ambitious about something that they love and want to do.”

[From Harper’s Bazaar]

“It’s a very hard thing for a British person to start discovering their own worth…” I think that’s part of it, but it also seems like “the British way” is to not appreciate or value ambition, right? Ambition is seen as suspect, as trying too hard, as trying to step above one’s station. Emily might not want to admit it, but living in America has changed her. I know she talks about missing England and all of that, but maybe she doesn’t want to admit that she actually enjoys the American way sometimes.

Photos courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK.

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19 Responses to “Emily Blunt: It’s hard thing for ‘a British person to start discovering their own worth’”

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  1. Nahema says:

    Kaiser is spot on. Brits find it a hard juggling act between ambition and not stepping above your station. I’d say they are ambitious and do value it but your ambition must be a career move or a move to improve your families living situation, only to the level you require. It can’t be seen as greed, showing off or social climbing for the sake of it, like Carol Middleton for example. Too much ambition just translates as greed, I think to the Brits.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Fascinating analysis. Not being British it’s not my place to comment, but I do find Blunt grating. Like, she opens her mouth and Brooklyn hipster nonsense spills out, so this whole bit comes across as humble brag to me. “I never meant to be famous and living in one of the priciest neighborhoods in America but here I am.”

      Which isn’t to say the rest of the analysis isn’t on target.

  2. Rhys says:

    Yes, I’m sure Brooklyn Heights is a wonderful place for people with money who moved into the neighborhood, remodeled their townhouse or two, and now walk everywhere “unnoticed”. It’s a very posh place now because people like Emily wanted all that leafy greenery to hide in.

    • Gentri Vacation says:

      I just remember her comment on the first time Matt Demon said something horrific on camera, teh Project Greenlight thing, and it was saying not to call out powerful white men bc then they will get mad and stop helping you. That was a stunning quote.

  3. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    Ambition is seen as vulgar in the UK (unless you’re a man, and even then you have to walk a tight line: it usually goes hand in hand with being ‘brilliantly intelligent’) and must not be spoken of openly or the speaker will be shunned as ‘not quite’ (upper class), or ‘getting above yourself (lower-middle to working class. Ambitious women are automatically defeminised. Ambitious men have stay at home wives to manage their lives for them. We Brits are supposed to be self-effacing, downplay our talents, to be ‘modest’ and self-deprecating. If I were to come out with ‘I can speak five languages, have absolute pitch, have exhibited my paintings in galleries, have an Oxbridge education and written a novel’ I would be shunned in the UK as a boastful loudmouth, or someone would try to ‘take me down a peg’ (hope you won’t do that, fellow Bitchies!!). Instead I’m supposed to downplay my intelligence, not to be too articulate in conversation (because it might intimidate) and reject every and all compliments given (we’re spectacularly bad at receiving compliments)
    It’s all quite sad, really

    • Yup, Me says:

      That sounds like a bullshit way to exist and a really effective way for the ugly mediocre people in power to not be threatened by the multitude of more talented, skilled, and charismatic people surrounding them.

      • Andrew’s Nemesis says:

        Well, yes. Look at our government and shadow cabinet, the ‘leaders’ in business and industry, and the majority of the public sector.

    • Tila says:

      Really? I’m a fellow brit in my early 30’s and along with my friends and even acquaintances will openly talk about our ambitions and encourage each other and I live in London! We are always networking and introducing friends to friends of friends who can help give someone a boost on the career ladder. I think what you described is being boastful.

  4. Neners says:

    The US is very far from perfect and I freely acknowledge that, but I have to say that this is one aspect of being American that I’m truly grateful for: valuing ambition, valuing moving up in life, valuing achievement and not expecting people to apologize for it or be ashamed that they earned what they have rather than having it handed to them, etc. Don’t get me wrong: it can absolutely be a double-edged sword and that’s a dialogue that needs to be had IMO. But reading what Emily said about the perceived pitfalls of being ambitious made me a little sad. What is the value in encouraging people to put a lid on their goals? I can’t wrap my head around it.

    • Deering24 says:

      Stomping on other folks’ goals keeps down the competition. As well, it’s a nasty form of social control—and insuring life stays the same.

  5. Gentri Vacation says:

    ‘irreverence and the silliness and the cavalier ‘

    Before this year, I would’ve been charmed by this, but now I see that it is describing a defining facet of English culture that is ugly; women hate, poc hate, class hate, expressed by joking about it, and then being in denial about it.

    Stiff upper, keep calm and, stop whinging/moaning, never explain/complain. Recipe for British Cruelty.

  6. Whitelist says:

    She’s awesome and her husband’s cute. One of my fav actors. The Brit self-effacing thing is a very effective cultural tool to keep everyone in their “rightful” level in the social structure.

    On the other hand in the US everyone supposedly has equal potential when it comes to achieving the American Dream. If you’re not successful, you just haven’t worked hard enough. All those how-to books showing how you can life-hack, visualise, and hustle your way to the top. Very useful cultural tool to keep things as they are too.

    On the whole it’s great to be empowered and take charge of your destiny and believe you have the power to steer the course of your life. But too often it’s a convenient thing to get people to accept zero change in, say, policies relating to tax, student debt, healthcare, etc.

  7. Soupie says:

    Love her! Class, talent and beauty supreme. Bought The Devil Wears Prada DVD because of her. Interesting take on self worth too.

  8. Jumpingthesnark says:

    A lot of ‘em apparently do it by bagging on a biracial American duchess while politely ignoring a criminal in the same family!!! I kid, I kid!!! I don’t think Emily Blunt is like that , I really like Emily Blunt, loved her in Mary Poppins especially. The one thing I don’t get is why she disavows her ambition so much. She clearly is very ambitious and works very hard. More power to her! But I’m a gauche low class American, so what do I know……..

  9. L4frimaire says:

    I don’t like those washed out colors on her, or the Tom Petty shag thing they did to her hair. She looks so much prettier with more vivid colors and makeup. She looks like Miss Havisham in those pics. She definitely has a cool Brooklyn hipster mom type. I like her work as an actress and glad she is acknowledging her ambition and she deserves to.

  10. Imara219 says:

    It really grates on my nerves when I hear rich white people benefiting from regenerification. She’s basically bragging about how lovely it is but it’s only lovely for her because it was legally stolen from black families. The same black families who gave it that cool culture. 😒