Emily Blunt: So many women are angry at being defined by marriage or motherhood

The Oppenheimer cast obviously did a lot of pre-strike interviews and promotion, and it looks like Emily Blunt chatted with the Guardian within hours of the SAG-AFTRA strike. The Guardian’s piece is somewhat incomplete, and they basically had to use Emily’s sister to fill in some quotes because no one in the Oppenheimer cast would speak to journalists once the strike was called. Emily did speak about her character, Kitty Oppenheimer, and how she was a woman ahead of her time. Some highlights from Emily’s interview:

Kitty the nonconformist: “There was something flighty and wild and nonconformist about her. It was a time where contortions were happening to women, as they tried to kind of mould themselves into perfect housewives. But Kitty was a terrible mother and she wasn’t a very good housewife – and had no desire to be one….[It was a fate of] a lot of women with great minds – that brilliant brain gone to waste at the ironing board. I know so many women of a certain age who are angry at their lives being defined by being someone’s mummy or someone’s wife. And I have empathy for that. It’s OK that that’s not enough for them.”

She is pro-strike: “I am a big believer in unions getting exactly what they want.” She is also pro-resolution: “I’m a huge believer in getting our crews back to work – the people who will suffer most.”

Kitty also had no sympathy for her husband: According to the book, she left both babies with friends for months. Oppenheimer died alone because his wife found his final-hours regression to infancy “pitiful”. “Just horrific. She was pretty ruthless in so many ways. She worshipped Robert, but also really called him on all his sh-t.” Still, Blunt gamely attempts empathy. Perhaps some people are just allergic to weakness? And don’t label Kitty an alcoholic: surviving on cigarettes and martinis at Los Alamos was understandable, she says. Plus, Robert’s genius got him a free pass denied to his wife. His gender, too? “Yes, I think so. I wonder what the world would feel if it was Kitty Oppenheimer who created this bomb.”

Female actors worry about being likable: “I think there is still a pressure to be likable, and sort of warm and understood, and men are not held to that same standard. No one cared if Leonardo DiCaprio was likable in The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Are women, broadly speaking, more forthright? Yes, says Blunt, “but I could equally generalise and say a lot of women tend to try to dance around things because we’re not often given a platform to speak honestly. Or you’re considered too ambitious or emotional if someone appears to be speaking their mind with spirited opinion.”

Kitty was revolted by her husband’s desperation to atone for his sins. “She just wanted him to own it. You see that explosion of frustration and rage start to build. I remember Chris saying to me: ‘She’s wild, she’s unpredictable, the drinking is now out of control, but she’s right!’ And she was always right, and she knew it.’”

Officially, Blunt is not on social media. “But I have been prone to getting occasionally pulled into lurking on Instagram, and it just makes you feel terrible. I don’t feel good after doing it. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything beneficial to myself.”

She’s not a scientist irl: “I am very easily overwhelmed by the idea of the vastness of the never-ending universe,” she says. Contemplating black holes “would be the depths of hell”. She is shaky on the nuclear physics casually strewn through the movie – and uneasy about more recent technological advances: “AI unnerves me. It’s human nature to propulsively want to keep inventing new things. But do we have to put into action everything that we create? Does it better us? Or does it really start to eviscerate what it is to be human? Sometimes I’m like: oh my God, I’m such a dusty old fart about this stuff. But I can’t wrap my head around how beneficial it will be to us, as people, in our souls.”

[From The Guardian]

She’s right about likability and actresses always wanting to find something redemptive or “nice” in characters or stories. I wish more actresses would realize that it’s great to play the villainess. Well, I wish more writers would write fully-fleshed female characters who are more than a cookie-cutter “mom” or “wife.” As for the AI stuff… I think AI scares the sh-t out of a lot of people, not just actors. I also can’t really wrap my head around the “why” of it, beyond “this is what’s next, this is the next scientific evolution.”

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and Cover Images.

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