Why Emily Blunt Says She’s Out On Playing The 'Strong Female Lead'

Emily Blunt on The English
(Image credit: Amazon)

Emily Blunt has made a career out of playing different characters. Things were quite different for her early on, as she played a series of strong female roles, like Emily in The Devil Wears Prada. Over the years, she’s played variations of the archetype across multiple genres, including comedy and sci-fi. More than a decade since her breakthrough role though, Blunt has had her fill of playing the strong and independent woman on the big and small screens. With that, the fan-favorite actress explained why she’s out on tackling those particular kinds of roles.

The A Quiet Place star seems to be relishing her latest role as revenge-seeking mother Cornelia Locke in the miniseries The English. Having acted in film and TV for two decades, Blunt found roles for women were quite limiting and that they can fall into certain tropes. Oftentimes, the acclaimed actress would find herself reading through scripts with the term “strong female lead” characterizing the part. This archetype became a source of frustration for her, as she put it. She explained to The Telegraph why the phrase immediately turns her off from certain roles:

It’s the worst thing ever when you open a script and read the words: ‘strong female lead’. That makes me roll my eyes – I’m already out. I’m bored. Those roles are written as incredibly stoic, you spend the whole time acting tough and saying tough things. Cornelia is more surprising than that. She’s innocent without being naive and that makes her a force to be reckoned with. She startles Eli out of his silence and their differences become irrelevant because they need each other to survive. I thought that was very cool.

The Hollywood A-lister just wants to play complex characters and not stereotypes. Her role as a mother looking for vengeance could’ve turned into a flat archetype, but the protagonist has layers, which Blunt enjoyed. Her words may be somewhat surprising, given her penchant for action and sci-fi films in recent years, including the upcoming action flick The Fall Guy. As Blunt mentioned though, the strong female role can get old quickly if there aren’t different dimensions to the character outside aside from a stoic nature. These sentiments are just further proof that Blunt has never shied away from speaking her mind on Hollywood, like when she expressed her lack of interest in joining the Marvel's Fantastic Four.

The six-part Amazon Prime/BBC miniseries was the right move for the Golden Globe winner, it seems. In the same interview, Blunt went on to explain what drew her to the production:

I love a character with a secret. And I loved Cornelia’s buoyancy, her hopefulness, her guilelessness.

Characters with secrets can be very interesting in most cases, especially if handled skillfully by a writer. In the case of The English (one of this year's biggest TV premieres), it's almost a fish-of-out-water story, which sees Cornelia Locke in the American West and on a mission. Emily Blunt is great in the role, and one can only hope that she gets to play even more dynamic individuals as time goes on.

If you're interested, you can learn more about The English before streaming it using an Amazon Prime video subscription. Also, Emily Blunt will return to the big screen, as she is part of the all-star ensemble of Oppenheimer from director Christopher Nolan, which arrives in theaters on July 21, 2023.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).