Emily Blunt's roles have included the sexually anarchic teenager of her debut in My Summer of Love (2004), the crime scene custodian in Sunshine Cleaning ( 2008), the Queen of England in Young Victoria (2009), and a lawn gnome in the animated Gnomeo & Juliet (2011). But after she received a Golden Globe nomination and earned the praise of co-star Meryl Streep for playing the harried go-fer in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), could some typecasting have crept in? She plays similarly beleaguered aides to difficult eccentrics in The Great Buck Howard (2008), The Muppets (2012), and her new movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2012). In the latter she does PR for a Yemeni sheik trying to bring the title sport to his desert country. We discussed this and other matters when she appeared in Boston to promote the film.
YOU'VE PLAYED THIS ROLE A FEW TIMES. The tortured assistant. But why? I didn't even think of that. What am I doing? Maybe it's something cathartic. Maybe I had a bad boss at one time.
ON THE OTHER HAND, THIS MIGHT BE THE ONLY FILM EVER MADE WITH THE WORD "YEMEN" IN THE TITLE. WAS THAT PROBLEM? There was a thought to change it at one point. But I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea. That's what the book was called. I think you can try and change the title to make it more accessible, and people try to strategize so many different things to make a film accessible, but it is what it is and people will have to go and see it or not.
IT SEEMS A DIFFICULT IDEA TO PITCH. LIKE,A RIVER RUNSTHROUGH IT MEETSTHE KING AND IMEETSFITZCARRALDO. . . . It's essentially a romantic comedy. It's got this ludicrous backdrop, this seemingly impossible task. But that's really the message of the film, that the impossible can be made possible. I think I was inspired by a script that at least was not generic and that had a different kind of message. Which stood out from the crowd, to be honest, from scripts I have read.
IT'S A ROMANTIC COMEDY BUT IT HAS A PRETTY HEAVY CONTEXT, WITH REFERENCES TO AFGHANISTAN AND TERRORISTS. AND YEMEN IS IN BAD SHAPE. It's one of the poorest countries in the world, especially now that they've been in turmoil for so long. But I think it's no bad thing to have a film with a message of East and West getting together with some sort of shared aspiration for the good of the people. At first it seems a kind of selfish escapade of the sheik, but I think that with the land restoration and the irrigation he will provide water and food for his community.
SO THE SHEIK WAS NOT SUCH A BAD CLIENT. OF ALL THE CHARACTERS YOU'VE PLAYED AN ASSISTANT TO, WHO WAS THE WORST? I'D SAY IT'S BETWEEN MISS PIGGY INTHE MUPPETS AND MERYL STREEP'S CHARACTER INTHE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Miss Piggy by far. She's tricky. She's bad news. If you catch her in a bad mood it's unpleasant. And she's kind of a diva and a scene stealer. She will try to sabotage your performance.