Emily Blunt: Salmon Fisher, Impressionist, Dialect Coach

Emily Blunt (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

“Noodling” is the unusual method of catching fish in which a person plunges their arm into muddy waters and uses their fingers as bait. It’s also something you probably won’t catch actress Emily Blunt doing.

“Wait, so they bite these people’s arms?” Blunt gasped during a recent interview. “Oh my god, how awful – just waiting for the moment when your hand’s just shredded.”

The 29-year-old British actress has been waist-deep in fish talk while promoting her new film “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” which opens in limited release March 9, but Blunt doesn’t have much experience with bait and tackle, let alone that of the “Hillbilly Handfishin’” variety.

“I don’t fish that much, actually,” Blunt told me. “I tried it in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but there were so many fish in the Snake River that anyone could catch a fish. It wasn’t even that impressive that I caught some fish.”

The new film follows a successful consultant named Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt), who joins fishery expert Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor) in the seemingly impossible task of populating a manmade river in the middle of the Yemen desert with salmon. Along the way, Harriet copes with lost love, Fred struggles with a crumbling marriage and the wealthy sheik who ordered the project faces the criticism of the local people.

If you’re looking for a date night movie on a weekend packed with horror and sci-fi adventure, it doesn’t get more dram-rom-com (heavy on the “dram” and “rom”) than this.

“I was really charmed by it,” Blunt said of her attraction to the film. “I love the romantic side of it. It just had such a spark of originality about it – the whole premise and backdrop of this ludicrous idea of salmon fishing in the desert. It was very fresh.”

Even during its slowest moments, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” remains palatable thanks in part to Blunt’s intoxicating charm and beauty, as well as the performance of Ewan McGregor, who is one of the most digestible actors in Hollywood. During our interview, Emily playfully imitates the slowly drawn way the Scottish actor says her character’s name.

“He’s kind of oozing with charm and accessibility,” she says of McGregor. “I think that’s what everyone loves about Ewan. And he makes really interesting choices. He switches it up and you never quite know what he’s gonna do. He has a whole bag of tricks he hasn’t unearthed yet.”

Coincidentally, Blunt has a few tricks yet to be unearthed as well – namely, her comedy chops. Next month, she stars alongside Jason Segel in the Judd Apatow-produced comedy “The Five-Year Engagement.”

“It’s so stupid. It’s so brilliantly stupid and bawdy,” she said. “It’s got real heart. It’s got this ‘When Harry Met Sally’ feel to it, amongst all this ludicrous behavior. I love the movie.”

“Engagement” co-stars American “Community” actress Alison Brie as Emily’s British sister. According to Blunt, she helped Brie with her English accent by sending her voice recordings.

“I would tell her stories from my childhood,” Blunt said with a smile. “So when I arrived [on set], she did sound rather like me. She was pretty note perfect, actually.”

Emily also praises “Engagement,” which has been tapped to open this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, for giving an equal amount of “funny” to both the male and female leads. “I don’t have an interest in playing the sappy girlfriend who’s kind of boring while the guy gets all the fun stuff,” she said.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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