Miles Fielder discovers how Emily Blunt taking centre stage in The Young Victoria is only the start of the English actress's cinematic rise
hen people got an eyeful of Emily Blunt's striking good looks and acting ability in My Smnmer oflxn'e. winner of the Best New British Feature award following its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2001. the general consensus was: hot new talent. It didn‘t take long for word to get to Hollywood. and within two years she was stealing scenes from Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Pradu. But despite having made seven films since (four are still to be released here). we‘ve not yet seen thejust-Zb London-bom Blunt in a leading role. That's set to change with The Young Victoria. a
period romance-cum-biopic of the early years of
the longest reigning British queen. Playing queens on screen has done wonders for Blunt‘s forbears: Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I. Judi Dench as an older Victoria. Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II. And. like the ﬁlms showcasing those acclaimed performances. The anmg Victoria beneﬁts from a strong script (penned by Julian Fellowes. who won an Oscar for Gaston] Park). Fellowes' script focuses on teenage Victoria. cosseted by her weak mother and scheming partner. bullied by the court and
16 THE LIST 5—19 Mar 2009
parliament and facing stiff competition for her affections by Lord Melbourne and her future husband. Prince Albert. The ﬁlm requires its leading actress to take Victoria from child to woman. heiress to queen. It's a good role in its own right. and a great one for Blunt's first shot at being the ﬁgurehead of a ﬁlm.
‘There are much bigger linglish actresses out there.‘ Blunt says. ‘1 pretty much just demanded they cast me — or pleaded first. then demanded — and it seemed to work. Maybe there was something quite queenly in that.‘ she laughs. ‘commanding them to choose me please!‘
Blunt‘s insistence got her a foothold on the role. After meeting (iraham King. the Brit who introduced the ﬁlm‘s unlikely producers Martin Scorsese and Sarah Ferguson. Duchess of York. King and Many saw Blunt collect an award for the TV ﬁlm Gideon's Daughter at the Golden Globes. which prompted Scorsese to say. ‘that's Queen Victoria'. Then the hard work began.
‘Playing Victoria is wonderful.~ says Blunt. ‘but a challenge to say the least. I do feel the weight of responsibility. [I was frightening — then as soon as you start. the nerves dissipate a bit. She was a remarkable girl and you want to do her