The Young Victoria: Interview with Emily Blunt

Here is an interview with actress Emily Blunt, on her role as Victoria in the 2009 period-drama movie The Young Victoria. This movie follows Victoria's accession to the throne, her romance with Prince Albert, and her first few years as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

The interview, footage, and photograph shown below were kindly provided by Brian Gross, an official promoter of the movie.

Interview with Emily Blunt (December 4, 2009)

You've been in your fair share of major motion pictures — How would you describe the shooting experience on Young Victoria?

It's funny because I was so nervous going into it and shouldering the responsibility of this character but it was really joyful shooting. The day sort of flew by and I think that's a credit to the director Jean Marc cause he created such an atmospheric set to work on and it bubbled everyday, it was really fun... and great co-stars, great to be filming in England again and it was also cliquey that we all know each other and it's kind of incestuous in that way. Everyone knows so and so has dated so and so, so it was really fun.

How much of this was a character study, compared with taking creative license?

It's funny cause I felt like I had a free reign with her because nobody knows about the youthful side of Queen Victoria, the love and the passion and I felt like no one really knew about that so I think there was an element of me sort of saying well prove it to me, prove to me that she wouldn't have sat like this or said that, said something in that tone of voice, but I think I wanted at the same time to do her justice cause it was very well documented, that whole side of her life. So everything that I read about her wouldn't necessarily been read about by most people but, but I thought it was important to do justice to what I had read which presented her as this remarkable girl who had such strength and fire in her and literally everything that you see in the movie, virtually everything was true almost to the word.

You were allowed access to Victoria's private diaries and letters — how did that help you form the basis for your role?

The diaries were the most helpful because she was so open in them and you know very expressive and would go into great detail about people or what she thought about them and who she hated, who she liked, and even with Albert she'd talk about the way he looked in such such detail. The curl of his mustache... was like she'd rapture about it for a paragraph and so it was really helpful to me to delve into that cause I could start to hear her voice in a way.

What other special research/training did you do to prepare?

I learned to side saddle a horse ride and I learned how to waltz. Both of them were frightening experiences but I overcame them in the end. It was a bit of a task but we did alright.

Is there one scene in the film that you are particularly fond of?

It's funny, I really like the scene where she meets the privy counsel for the first time where she addresses the room full of sort of 60 old men who are there to judge her really, and doubtful of whether this young girl can... is up to the task. As an actress when there's so much to play with that you know she's terrified, she needs to assert herself, this is a huge moment for her, she knows that they doubt her, she's feeling very vulnerable about the fact that her dearest uncle has just died and it was so much to play with that I really enjoyed that scene, I just really enjoyed it. I thought it was her really coming into her own. I think on the day that I read about it in biographies, she really did surprise them and they talked about the strength and the femininity but also that she was someone that was quite hard to read and I found that interesting that she was actually quite an ambiguous girl. You couldn't quite figure out what she was thinking so there's something quite powerful in that. That's the thing and that's what I loved about the film. You see the private side and the public side and she lead such a duel existence as you know so many of the monarchs do.

We've heard that playing the young Victoria was a dream role for you, how did you first learn of the script?

My agent sent it to me and he said you know read it quickly cause everyone's gonna want it. So, I got in very early and said to Graham I would love you to give me a shot but I knew that there were gonna be waves of women behind me being like I would also like a shot so I had to get in early I think.

@JulianatDerby: What was the most challenging aspect of this role?

I think trying to make it familiar to people. Trying not to be swallowed up by the costumes and the sets and trying to make it accessible for a modern audience. You know, trying to stray away from it being too arch and approaching her as the girl, almost eliminating the idea that she was the Queen from my brain. I think that was a big challenge for me.

@flubdubs: How much did you use your knowledge of Victoria's later imperial self in your portrayal?

Well Flubdubs, I tried not to think about the later years cause obviously I have to play in the immediacy of what's going on at that time, so, I'd seen Mrs. Brown years ago and had been swept away by it, just adored it and, stunned by what Judy did in it. Of course, again she just nailed something else but it's hard because you have that image of her in your brain but you try not to be ruled by that because she was the antithesis of the older Victoria when she was younger. She was so full of life and exuberance that I had to really capture that rather than be swayed by the mourning grieving side that I knew.

Young Victoria (Emily Blunt) and Albert (Rupert Friend)
Victoria (Emily Blunt) and Albert (Rupert Friend) in love.

@Jillglb: Emily, what was one thing that you most connected with the young Victoria?

I think I connected... I understood the teenage rebellion and I think everyone's been through that and made silly mistakes. I think we can all identify with that and I think identifying with the fact that you know you are, I'm also in a job where I feel a bit over my head sometimes and exposed and that, you know, the implications of saying the wrong thing are so huge and so I think I understood that side of her life as well.

@EmilyKrasinksi — if you could keep anything from the movie, what would it be?

I had one, I had these earrings, these yellow diamond earrings which I wanted. I could have stolen them but that would be wrong.

Amina Powers (Facebook Fan): Did you feel any pressure playing such an important figure in history?

I did. I did feel pressure because I really wanted to do her justice. I really had read so much about her and I didn't want to do an half ass job if this person that was so revered and she was so emblematic of our country but at the same time I wanted to approach her as a human being so there was pressure for sure but I honestly feel frightened every time I approach a new character whether they're fictional or real.

Nancy Hackett Beyer (Facebook Fan): What was it like wearing those amazing dresses?!

It was amazing. I mean they do look beautiful. They're beautiful to wear for about half an hour until your inner organs are screaming and you feel like you're being buried or something I mean it's definitely quite, it's a workout wearing those dresses.

Lisa Crispignani Rizzo (Facebook Fan): While preparing for this role were you surprised by any of Queen Victoria's accomplishments?

I was surprised by, actually what her and Albert did together. They did such incredible feats for social reform and the arts and sciences and architecture and poverty. I think for me I was surprised on a whole like what they managed to achieve and how they went against tradition and wanted to make things better. There was a real need to make things better and I loved that about them. They were courageous in that way.


Back to the articles list or the main page.