Emily BluntEmily Blunt seems to have been on the cusp of superstardom since she costarred with Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada," back in 2006. Since then, she's appeared in many interesting movies, more than a few of which have been would-be blockbusters (most recently, this summer's terrific sci-fi actioner "Edge of Tomorrow"), but she hasn't quite gotten there yet. That could all change with the Christmas Day release of "Into the Woods," a lavish, big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's beloved musical.

In the movie, Blunt plays The Baker's Wife opposite James Corden and, of course, Streep (playing the Witch), and she can really belt out the tunes. It's pretty impressive, especially given her ridiculously talented castmates, who include Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, and Johnny Depp. We got on the phone and talked with her for a few minutes about what it was like venturing "Into the Woods," working with Meryl Streep again, who the better wolf is -- Depp or her "Wolf Man" costar Benicio Del Toro, and whether or not she's talked to her "Looper" director Rian Johnson about a role in future "Star Wars" installments.

Oh, and for the very curious, we had a brief conversation before the interview about what our favorite Disney princess was (they were playing Disney music while we were on hold). And Blunt's favorite? "I'm going to go with Jasmine because I've always wanted a pet tiger," she said with some confidence.

Moviefone: What was your awareness of "Into the Woods"?

Emily Blunt: It was a general lack of awareness, I'm embarrassed to say. I only saw and read the musical after I was asked to audition for it, and then I was embarrassed that I hadn't seen it before or knew about it. In England, it's not such a big musical. I know in America they do it in every college and high school, or at least the first act, which is incredibly irritating. They only do "happily ever after" and not what happens after that. But once I'd seen it, I thought, like all of Stephen Sondheim's work, it says so much more than wanting to simply be a spectacle.

Are you the character you wanted to play after seeing it?

Oh, 100% the Baker's Wife. I think it's the best part I've ever been given, to be honest. It has challenged me the most -- she's comedic, she's tragic, she does morally very questionable things, she's conflicted, and she has to sing. So it was incredibly challenging and fun.

Had you sung before?

I did it in school a little bit. I was in "Guys and Dolls." I'm very honest. Which was fun. But I hadn't really sung in front of anyone in about fifteen years. I hadn't even sung in front of my husband, who was a bit shocked when he saw the film. So I was a little reluctant to audition for the musical god, Rob Marshall. He really wanted actors. Stephen Sondheim writes for actors. He isn't interested in it sounding pretty, he wants it to sound real.

And what was the biggest surprise from that whole process?

That I found, after a while, it to be strangely un-inhibiting. I found it so freeing that these characters are going through something so much bigger than them that they can't say it, they have to sing it. I think that the understanding that songs can just be extensions of these people and they can actually make an audience sit up more rather than ease back. And, more than anything, the joy of being surrounded by that music for four or five months was just the best.

Not only the music, but the cast was amazing.

Yes, it was wonderful. They're all just remarkable and I think Rob Marshall took such care in casting it and that's why everybody came in to read... everybody apart from Meryl. We have a joke that it was between her and Nicki Minaj and she just beat Nicki to the post. So, I think we all had to come in and sing and he wanted to find people with humanity and people who really wanted to do it. It was a fantastic band of players and such wonderful company because I don't feel like there was a hierarchy and poor Meryl, who is in a constant state of trying to defuse everyone's intimidation of her, which is such a strange way to walk through life. She's such a broad. She's so cool and fun and she headed this team of people in a great way and we really bonded. We had five weeks of rehearsal; you never have that.

And you recorded in that time, too?

Yes, we did pre-records and then we sang some of it live. I sang half of "Moments in the Woods" live.

Oh, really?

Yeah. I think Rob Marshall didn't want to know what was live and what wasn't. It should all sound organic and real. But with that song, particularly, she's contradicting herself a mile a minute, so you want to have fun and stretch it around and make as much of that conversational as we could. So we did a lot of that live, which was really exhilarating.

Do you have any thoughts about the controversy surrounding things that they cut out or changed from the original play?

Well, here's the thing -- I feel bad for Stephen Sondheim because he made a joke that they might Disney-fy it and it was taken out of context. We haven't Disney-fied it. It's still a fairly uncompromising movie that is, yes, joyous, but also very dark -- there's infidelity, there's loss, there're huge themes in it. Now, listen, if true lovers of the musical wanted a three-hour version on screen, that's just not going to happen. You've got to make it cinematic and give it momentum and make it dynamic. Movies are usually all about pacing and Rob Marshall is very careful about that. There were two new songs written -- one for James and I, and one for Meryl. They were absolutely beautiful. When we put them on their feet and did them in rehearsal, Meryl actually filmed her song, we decided to lose ours during rehearsal because it just didn't feel right. It wasn't feeling like it was propelling the story along and everyone understood it and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine were the first to say that we didn't need it.

[Editor's note: the song, "She'll Be Back," was also cut from the final version of the film but is said to be slated to appear in an elongated cut on home video.]

What was it like working with Meryl again after so many years? Did you guys keep in touch?

We did. It was lovely working with her again, but we've stayed in touch over the years... but we've just now firmly established our dynamic on screen, which is that she can only torture me. We could never do anything else now.

She's obviously handled her career and fame with such elegance. Do you ever go to her with certain things that you're dealing with that she's maybe been through?

Well, I just try and be a sponge around her and soak up how she operates as a person. She is inspiring, especially when you become a mum and juggling that and being a working mum. She sets such an amazing example for her kids, being a working mother and it being important to be important as a woman. I think it's a great thing. So, yeah, I think she's done it with real grace and she's maintained a mystique over the years.

You've now worked with two men who are either wolves or who have turned into wolves -- who is your favorite, Benicio Del Toro or Johnny Depp?

I have to say that I didn't work directly with Johnny, so I have to go with my friend Benicio, because I've known him forever and I had direct contact with the drool and the teeth. Direct contact. Johnny certainly cuts a more charming figure in a zoot suit.

Should it be the phenomenon that it appears to be, you could have a Baker's Wife walking around Disneyland.

Wouldn't that be awesome? Would I be a Big Mac meal? Would I be a Happy Meal toy?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Guys, let's not get ahead of ourselves, I'm getting way over my head just then. Isn't that the ultimate? If you're at Disneyland or if you're part of a ride at Disneyland.

You were in a great movie earlier this year that not enough people watched -- "Edge of Tomorrow." What was that whole experience like?

People talk to me about it every day, so I feel completely confident that it has found its audience. People come up to me every day to talk about "Edge of Tomorrow." And you never know what is going to hit and what isn't. I'm sure, unfortunately, when people saw the trailer, they thought, Oh, people clanging into each other in metal suits. But that is so not what the film is. So the element of surprise of the film is such a thrill -- that you get to see Tom Cruise playing a coward and it's a real relationship, him and this action heroine. And it's funny. It's really funny. It's a popcorn movie. So, do I feel sad that it didn't do better? Probably. Do I think that it has found its audience? For sure.

And it must have felt good for you to be one of the few strong female characters this past summer.

That was really awesome, to be awesome. It was unusual, in an action movie, to not be the moony-eyed love interest, but got to kick the sh*t out of Tom Cruise. He was very nice about it and he said he wouldn't let anybody else do it.

You were in "Looper" a couple of years ago and now your director, Rian Johnson, is going to direct the next two "Star Wars" movies. Have you talked to him about it, like, "You know, I can really handle a lightsaber"?

I'm like, "You know what, I fought with a helicopter blade... I know how to handle a saber." No, I haven't had that conversation. I feel like his cast is well established and I just think he's going to be brilliant. He's such a visionary and has such a unique vision, and that's what the franchise needs -- somebody like him. It's cool.

"Into the Woods" is in theaters Christmas Day.
Into the Woods Movie Poster
Into the Woods
Based on 41 critics

As the result of the curse of a once-beautiful witch (Meryl Streep), a baker (James Corden) and his wife... Read More

categories Interviews, Movies