Roaring our of quiet lockdown

Evelyn (Emily Blunt) braves the unknown in A Quiet Place Part II.PHOTOS: TNS
Evelyn (Emily Blunt) braves the unknown in A Quiet Place Part II.PHOTOS: TNS
Emily Blunt and John Krasinski nearly blew off the sequel to A Quiet Place, writes Sonaiya Kelley.

John Krasinski
John Krasinski
Just before Covid hit hard last year, Emily Blunt was poised to have a huge summer.

The star of A Quiet Place Part II was in the middle of promotion for the sequel to the blockbuster original when the film’s director, her husband, John Krasinski, announced the postponement of the movie’s release. It was March 12, 2020, just before the United States shut down.

Suddenly forced into quarantine, Blunt dove into reading books and scripts. She homeschooled her two children, then 3 and 6 years old. She had guest spots in family members' quarantine projects, most notably Krasinski's Some Good News and brother-in-law Stanley Tucci’s viral cocktail tutorials on Instagram. Now more than a year later, she’s back in the spotlight not only with A Quiet Place Part II, which finally opens in theatres, but also with Disney's Jungle Cruise — two blockbuster releases that many hope will reinvigorate the struggling box office.

"It’s just been mad," Blunt says.

"We’re on the other side of it [now] so I’m feeling sort of hopeful."

A Quiet Place Part II, Krasinski’s follow-up to his critically and commercially successful 2018 sci-fi horror film, is a portrait of a family in crisis. After the loss in the first film of her husband (played by The Office alum Krasinski), Blunt’s Evelyn Abbott has to find a way to survive with three kids in a post-apocalyptic world where terrifying creatures hunt humans by sound.

"The movie is made for theatres so I’m relieved and grateful that we waited and were given the support to wait," Blunt says.

"Because I do believe that it’s an event movie, and I think to gain the full experience you’ve got to watch it in a theatre."

She’s speaking by Zoom from Spain, where she’s filming the Western series The English — "if I can remember how to act after a year and a-half of not doing it".

It’s been nearly that long since A Quiet Place Part II had its world premiere in early March 2020, just over a week before stay-at-home orders began to be issued across the US.

"It’s weird that it was almost about to come out and then it didn't," Blunt says.

"But we just had to ride it out and wait for the right moment. And I think John always felt quite sure that he’d like it to be one of the first movies back in theatres. It was always sort of what he wanted for it."

"It’s certainly a bizarre circumstance to go through all of the motions to come out with a movie and then to have to put it back in the box," Krasinski says.

"But the truth is, as bizarre as that was, it doesn’t hold a candle to all the other things that everyone else has been going through so we just took it in stride."

One bright spot about the delay is that the film’s themes of isolation and the value of community likely will feel much more resonant now.

"I think it was pretty wild to see what we were dealing with so clearly in this movie thematically was happening very physically in the world only months later," Krasinski says.

"There are themes that run through it of keeping to yourself and not extending your hand to your neighbour," Blunt says.

"So I think that idea of tiptoeing out there into the big bad world is probably resonating with people more so now."

Despite the success of the first film, the couple had been ready to walk away from the burgeoning Quiet Place franchise.

"I don’t believe that everything should be sequel-ized," Blunt said in a separate interview back in March 2020.

"I think that was why we had our heels dug in at the idea of one; we just weren’t entertaining the thought of it."

The couple knew the studio was planning to move forward with a sequel whether or not they were involved but were firmly against revisiting the story until Krasinski came up with an idea for Part II’s opening sequence while in Kauai with Blunt when she was in production for Jungle Cruise.

"He goes, ‘I have an idea for how I would open it if I did it, but I’m not saying I would’," Blunt recalls.

"And I was a bit cautious. But he started to pitch it and I just felt like my eyes got wider and wider. It was just undeniable.

"We’re very honest with each other. He always knows when I’m for real or not. So when he saw how arrested I was by it, it became pretty apparent that he was going to write it.

"I think that’s when I started to realise, ‘Is my snobbery turning into idiocy?’," she says.

"I wanted to be in that sequence. I would want to do that film whether it’s a sequel or not. I said to him, ‘we need to approach this as if someone is just turning the page and it’s the continuation’. And if you are at all invested in this family, you’re going to want to see what happens to them."

Krasinski hadn’t intended to return as director.

"But I just said, ‘if you don’t direct it, I’m not going to do it’," Blunt says.

"So then he had to do it. That’s where it helps being the wifey."

With the opening figured, Krasinski wrote "a near perfect script" in two weeks, Blunt says.

"He writes in a really interesting way in that he doesn’t put pen to paper at all for months on end. He talks about themes and then he needs to iron out all the kinks. And along the way he’ll pitch me stuff and I’ll say, ‘that’s really interesting, what about this?’. I do feel very valued by him. I think that’s probably why we’re able to work together without killing each other."

"I’ve got to say, she’s the best collaborator I’ve ever had," Krasinski says.

"And it’s not just her performance, her preparation, how professional she is. It is her energy. She is unbelievably warm, providing energy for every single person on set. She makes everyone feel comfortable and focused on the goal of making this movie great."

But Blunt also emphasises that the film is entirely Krasinski’s brainchild.

"Ultimately I could never birth this sort of story," she says.

"That is definitely his talent. I think I’m good at adding to scenes and brainstorming ideas."

That penchant for tinkering is what led her to become more involved in production.

"I’m definitely now producing everything I’m in going forward," Blunt says.

"I love to produce, I really enjoy it. I think I’m good at being given a scene and saying, ‘oh, let me rewrite it’, but I don’t think I'm a good birther of ideas.

"I think the job, sometimes when you go into it, makes you feel like you have to wait by the phone to be summoned," she says.

"And actually it’s nice to take matters into your own hands and mold a path for yourself. So I’m sort of grateful for the quarantine in that way because it did make me read a lot and get the rights to stuff and so the projects ahead are very much passion projects."

Jungle Cruise, a film based on the Disneyland ride, is Blunt’s third Disney film after starring in 2014’s Into the Woods and 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns, both directed by Rob Marshall.

Blunt plays Dr Lily Houghton, a 20th century explorer who persuades a shady sea captain (played by Dwayne Johnson) to take her down the Amazon in search of a healing tree with the power to change medicine.

"She’s Indiana," Blunt says.

"She’s this slightly reckless, galvanised personality who throws herself into danger headfirst and thinks about [consequences] on the way down."

Working with Johnson was "the coolest thing", she says.

"Dwayne is a remarkable person to work with. He’s such a joy. He’s funny as hell and yet I think people have this image of him as being a bit larger than life and bombastic. But he’s such a gentle soul and such a wise, contemplative person deep down."

Having two huge movies out simultaneously is "weird" but "I’m happy that these two movies that are so polarised and so wildly different from each other are being received in the right way," Blunt says.

— TCA

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