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Emily Blunt Spreads the Word on The Young Victoria, One Theater at a Time

The critics and media have widely praised Emily Blunt’s performance as The Young Victoria's turn-of-the-century monarch: This weekend she’s up for Best Actress at the Critics' Choice Awards and the Golden Globes. Now all she has to do is get people who haven’t had free press screenings to see the damn thing, which is no small task for an actress in a small period piece released during the season full of studio-backed "event" movies. So the job has fallen to Blunt to personally win over audiences: She spent Thursday night at the Grove theater in L.A., participating in a post-screening Q&A. “This is the first time I have been directly opposite people who have paid money to see it rather than review it,” she explained to the non-industry crowd before joking, “Someone’s suddenly like, ‘Boo!’”

She spent nearly 30 minutes discussing how she got the part, her “genius” director, Jean-Marc Vallée, the elaborate and uncomfortable costumes and hairstyles (for Victoria’s teen years, “I literally looked like a spaniel”), and the current monarch’s opinion of the film (“I heard she quite likes it and wants to know what happens next”). She kept things light, cracked jokes, and even posed for photos with fans and signed autographs after. About the only time she stiffened up in her director’s chair was when someone inquired about her sparkly engagement ring and whether she and her fiancé, The Office’s John Krasinski, had picked a time and place for their wedding. "My mother is asking the same question," she said. "So, uh, you will be the first to know."

Despite the intrusion into her personal life, she told us after the session that she still felt it was time well spent. “It was wonderful to get feedback from people who actually spent their hard-earned money on our film and are there to be swept away by the love story,” said the 26-year-old actress. “I see it as a real gift to have been a part of Young Victoria, so if it takes doing a few Q&As to get people in seats, I’ll do them. Smaller films need that kind of support to get people to see it. But I would hate for people to miss our film because we don’t have the same advertising budgets as [the big studio releases]. They’re who we make them for; I don’t make them for critics or to win awards.”

Come on: Strapping into a period corset and going the full royal is often the quickest way to make yourself awards bait. But Blunt swears that wasn’t her motivation. “I wouldn’t say it was a burning ambition of mine to play a member of the royal family,” she says. “It is usually what’s out there for us." (As she told us last summer, "As an English actress, you have to don a bonnet at some point. This was my time.") Why does she think this kind of role is so often rewarded during Oscar season? “There’s a mystique around the royal family,” she says. “Everyone wants to know how they take their tea and no one knows. It’s history, ancestry, spectacle. There is great gravitas around a king or queen role. These are characters under a lot of duress so there’s a lot emotionally to play with.”

We got the feeling that she doesn’t think she’ll be finishing the weekend with any trophies, and is more excited by the prospect of her fellow countryman, Ricky Gervais, hosting the Globes. “Ricky is going to kill it. I think he will be all shades of wrong and that is my favorite kind of funny and the best kind of Ricky. I think most Hollywood types adore him, and even if he offends them, they’ll probably forget by the end of the show on account of all the cheap table wine they provide.”

Photo: Momentum Pictures