Oscar File: ‘Overacting’ Pays Off For Emily Blunt In ‘Prada’

British actress is Golden Globe nominee for scene-stealing role opposite Streep, Hathaway.

Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway may have been the film’s name talent, but it’s British actress Emily Blunt who steals the show in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Her performance as Emily, snooty assistant to Streep’s ruthless magazine editor, was recently rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress. In an exclusive interview with MTV Movies, the hilarious and surprisingly foul-mouthed Blunt, 23, talks about what it’s like to be an awards contender, why “Prada” is a chick flick for guys and how to win bets by hamming it up.

MTV: When your name was called at the Golden Globe announcement ceremony, there was a feeling of mild surprise in the room …

Emily Blunt: I’m sure there was! Was there a gasp of outrage?

MTV: Definitely no outrage.

Blunt: [She laughs.] That’s nice to know. As long as we don’t have outrage then we’re all right, like, “Why the hell is she there?”

MTV: Was it a surprise for you?

Blunt: It was a complete surprise because the film was released so long ago, and I think that comedic performances are overshadowed by dramatic ones in that supporting category.

MTV: Have you gotten a chance to speak with Meryl since both of you received nominations on Thursday?

Blunt: I haven’t. I want to e-mail her and congratulate her, although I’m sure for her it’s a shoulder-shrugging 15th nomination or something. She’s like, “Whatever!”

MTV: Did she ever talk during filming about what it’s like to get nominated?

Blunt: No, because nobody had these predictions for the film. All of us thought, “For all we know this film could be a fart in the wind.” And now everyone’s just overjoyed and surprised. You never know with these big films. We were up against “Superman Returns,” and anything could have happened. And then it took off, and I think at first it was something like 70 percent women and 30 percent men, and then it started to tilt. It was really cool how it became a very universally accepted film.

MTV: It’s called a chick flick for guys.

Blunt: Yeah, I think men were kind of dragged along reluctantly, muttering, “Oh f—, ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ ” but they actually kind of grudgingly enjoyed it. They probably told their friends — I could just imagine guys going, “Yeah, my wife dragged me along to this stupid ‘Prada’ movie, and it’s actually kinda good.” My boyfriend said never in a million years would he have gone to see it unless I dragged him. He said, “If you hadn’t been in it, I would never have gone to see it.” Guys have caught on to it slowly.

MTV: That’s in no small part thanks to you. Did you know while you were filming that your role would be so memorable?

Blunt: I knew I had some good one-liners, but I think all of us underestimated the impact this film and our performances would have. Honestly, I didn’t realize how big a deal the performance would be at the time. I was having a huge amount of fun with it, overacting my little butt off.

MTV: Is it true that you had a contest with Stanley Tucci to see who could overact the most?

Blunt: Yeah, and I won hands down. Both of us were playing the larger-than-life characters, so we definitely had room to ham it up a little more. We just decided one day to see who could be more hammy.

MTV: How much of that over-the-top hammy stuff was in the script and how much did you bring?

Blunt: I actually thought she was even colder in the script and in the book as well. I think all of us tried to make the characters as dynamic as possible and bring our own take to them. When Meryl read the script, I’m sure on the page the character [she played] could have been far more generic and dragon-like. [But] she did the read-through in a whisper, and that was all she needed to do for it to be thrilling and frightening.

I think I could have played [my character] even bitchier, if that’s possible, because it read even bitchier. But I felt it was important that you see glimpses of vulnerability through the sarcasm. I think in humor you find vulnerability, so if I could make her as funny as possible then there would be that side to her that people would feel sorry for. She’s so desperate, she’s so outrageously desperate, and I always feel sorry for those kinds of people.

MTV: Is it true that you lobbied to have the character be British?

Blunt: I wouldn’t say that I lobbied. I just read for it British and thought it would be funnier. When I read this part I thought it would work in a British accent [because] there was something imperious and snooty about it. I felt it would help me look down upon Anne’s character more. There’s a superiority thing that some British people have — the Queen’s English and all that bullsh–.

MTV: You’ve worked with some real heavy-hitters. Do you have any cinematic idols?

Blunt: My heroine is my fellow nominee Cate Blanchett. I think she’s magnetic, she’s chameleon-like. I just love watching her. I had this surreal thing: We had a party for “The Devil Wears Prada” recently, and she came. I was standing next to Meryl and next to Cate, and those are my two idols.

MTV: And your biggest competition.

Blunt: I guess so! It’s been very strange.

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