The 29-year-old, who stars in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with Ewan McGregor, co-stars with Bruce Willis, Jason Segel and Colin Firth in three forthcoming movies, while she is negotiating to appear opposite Tom Cruise in All You Need Is Kill, a potential sci-fi blockbuster, and to play Nora Charles in a remake of The Thin Man starring Johnny Depp, according to Variety.
Blunt will be appearing in cinemas again soon, alongside Segel in a romantic comedy, The Five-Year Engagement, about a couple who have promised to marry each other but can’t seem to get to the altar. She will follow it with Looper, a sci-fi drama starring Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which is due in the autumn.
It looks certain that 2012 will be the year when Blunt, whose star has risen since featuring in The Devil Wears Prada six years ago, cements her place in the Hollywood A-list.
“She’s well past the point of upcoming,” said Andrew Saffir, president of New York’s Cinema Society. “If she’s not already, she’s very close to the league of Kate Winslet. She’s a very versatile actress. She was wonderful in The Young Victoria and in Salmon Fishing she displays great timing and a very appealing and natural quality.”
The London-born actress – daughter of Oliver Blunt, the QC who defended serial killer Peter Tobin – first won over American audiences with her portrayal of an American Vogue assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. She was asked to lose weight to reach the required fashion ideal, and recalled: “I had to ask just how thin they wanted me to be. They said, ‘On-the-edge of sickness thin,’ so I figured, ‘Great, I’ll call you from A&E.’”
While Blunt isn’t as doll-like as many of her American contemporaries, US audiences have taken to what the New York Times describes as her “distinct whiff of Kensington”.
Saffir said: “Right or wrong, there’s a sense of very serious training that comes with an English background and a perception English actresses are rooted in a rigorous, Shakespearean theatre training that gives them an edge.”
But her appeal is not entirely class-based. Nicholas Stoller, director ofThe Five-Year Engagement, said: “She’s so funny, she has such an amazing intelligence and she’s very pretty, obviously. But she’s still likeable. Women identify with her, men want to date her. She’s got that Meg Ryan thing.”
Blunt did well to avoid getting trapped in costume dramas. One of four children, she did not go to drama school. She started out by performing in school plays, telling the New York Times that the shelter of “pretending to be someone else” helped to rid her of a powerful stammer. She was “drifting around, shrugging my shoulders like every other 16-year-old” when she was spotted by her future agent in the musical Bliss at the Edinburgh international festival. Instead of going to university to study languages she went straight into theatre and then television.
She made her television debut in 2003 with Boudica, and in the same year won acclaim for her performance as the 16th-century queen Catherine Howard in the ITV drama Henry VIII, alongside Ray Winstone as the king.
The accolades soon came. The following year she won the most promising newcomer award from the Evening Standard for her part as Tamsin in My Summer of Love. A year later she won a Golden Globe for playing the troubled child of a Labour spin doctor in Stephen Poliakoff’s drama Gideon’s Daughter.
She has worked steadily every since. But at about the time of The Devil Wears Prada, she insisted that she was no workaholic. “You meet a lot of people in this world who are defined by the job they do,” she said. “It’s sad, because they cease to develop on a human level, they’re so fear-driven.”
After a three-year relationship with Canadian singer Michael Bublé, she married the US Office actor John Krasinski two years ago at Lake Como.
For Salmon Fishing in the Yemen she sealed her reputation for being a light-hearted co-star. She said last week that some people might find her annoying because she liked to “jump around like the Energizer Bunny” on set.
“I always try and have a good time. I think if you approach anything being too earnest or intense it certainly doesn’t do me any favours anyway. I think it should be fun.”