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Emily Blunt on the Rise of ‘Girl’ Thrillers

Emily Blunt.
Emily Blunt.

From Gone Girl to the upcoming Girl on the Train and arguably going as far back as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, we’re living in the age of the “girl” thriller — films that are anchored by complex, ambiguous women making their way through a dangerous world (and often making it more dangerous themselves). We ran into Emily Blunt at a luncheon hosted by the Peggy Siegal Company for her film Sicario, where she plays an FBI agent whose moral compass is set swinging. Blunt is also currently filming for Girl on the Train, so we were eager to get her opinion on the recent explosion of woman-centric thrillers, and what she thinks is fueling them.

“My sister’s a literary agent, so she said there is this new wave of ‘domestic thrillers.’ I think that there is something enticing, for readers and for viewers, of the danger or the violence being incredibly close to home. Girl on the Train is definitely sort of exploring that,” said Blunt. “Yes, it is a thriller, but the twist of the film or the book for me was never the most exciting part. It was delving into the world of three really damaged women. You’re dealing with addiction and you’re dealing with voyeurism, and what we think we see and don’t see, and I think a lot of people are going to relate to this film.”

But a main part of the attraction of these pieces is not just the closeness of danger, but the women they center on — women whose motivations are murky or less than noble, who have real depths. “Those are the kind of parts that I look for, because you get sent a lot of scripts where the female role is just there to facilitate the man and they’re there to boost the man’s one-liner or just serve it up to them,” acknowledged Blunt. “And I don’t have an interest in playing those parts. I think tides are turning because films are actually coming out with women at the helm of them that are making money. There’s this myth that films should just be made for 14-year-old boys, but there’s a hell of a lot of other people out there.”