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Arts and Culture

Take A Romantic Trip To The Irish Countryside In Emily Blunt's 'Wild Mountain Thyme'

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And now a trip to the lush Irish countryside, where two lifelong neighbors are forced to reckon with the future of their farms and their feelings for one another.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WILD MOUNTAIN THYME")

EMILY BLUNT: (As Rosemary) Oh, but it's a force. And women are the salvation of the world. I believe that. I mean to make you believe it.

JAMIE DORMAN: (As Anthony) I'd like to believe it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "Wild Mountain Thyme" is the new romantic film from director John Patrick Shanley. Emily Blunt plays the heroine, Rosemary Muldoon, and she joins us now. Welcome to the program.

BLUNT: Thank you. How are you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am OK. How are you?

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's about as much - as far as I'll go. How are you?

(LAUGHTER)

BLUNT: I mean, I'm good today, actually. Today is a good day. To be honest, for me, it's quite good fun to be able to kind of get dressed in nice clothes and sort of get myself out of the sweatpants that we've all been sort of cocooned by for the last nine months. So I don't mind that at all.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No. Let's talk about the film. Your character, Rosemary - she's stubborn. She's direct. She's lonely. What was it like for you to step into her shoes?

BLUNT: I mean, it was a real joy because I think I had been looking for a script that was not derivative of others. And I think there's such a lyricism to the way John Patrick Shanley writes. And so to get to say those kinds of words that were so beautiful and poetic and off-kilter was wonderful. So I think she embodies all of those elements. You know, she is off-kilter and quite strange and has been driven a bit mad by her isolation and loneliness. And I think it was so refreshing to read something where people are awkward and odd and all the - our strange humanity. It sort of feels much closer to home and speaks volumes to me because we are so bad at expressing ourselves in England, you know, and I think in Ireland, too. You know, there's a there's a reluctance to be direct, you know? That we're just sort of more abstract people, I guess, and - or just really repressed. So...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, this does feel to me a little bit like a fairytale. Sort of watching this, it was very - not only the lyricism but the sort of whimsy of it. And there's this line in the film that really struck me where Jon Hamm, who's also in this - he plays the sort of boorish American cousin - tells your character that the dreams of childhood are meant to be let go because they make adults unhappy.

BLUNT: Yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that felt kind of true to me. That felt like a true thing. But that's not where the film lands in its message. I'd like to get your thoughts on that.

BLUNT: Well, I think that, you know, Jon Hamm's character comes in and I think on the page could have been perceived as the obnoxious American, you know, in broad strokes coming in to disrupt this idyllic landscape and these poetic people. But actually, I think he does come in and try and talk some sense into her. But I'm such an eternal optimist that I think for me personally, I probably try not to live by that character's advice, really.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I think that's why it kind of - it moved me because I did think about, you know, my own advice to my daughter - she's 8 - to believe in fairies, to believe in whimsy, to never let that go because that's something that's taken away from you at a certain point.

BLUNT: For sure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: People tell you it's not real and not true - and that you should never let that get taken away from you.

BLUNT: I agree. And I think that cynicism is something I just try to avoid, and I think that's probably why I loved this film. And if you're a cynic, then the movie's not for you. And if you believe in that sort of whimsy and that escape and the fable-esque quality that I just love to tell my children about, then those are the kind of people I want to hang out with. Those are the people I'm friends with. I think that so often, we can get bogged down in the practicalities of life and the routine of life and being terribly pragmatic about things. And I just - I'm not a pragmatic person, really, and so I guess this film appealed to me for that reason alone.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So now that you're sort of in this period where there's a lot of change in the movie industry - you know, this film is being sort of put out streaming, and it's also being put out in cinemas. Warner Brothers this week announced its plans to put out films on HBO Max. There's been a lot of controversy about that. And I'm just curious about how, as an artist, you feel you can connect with people better. Does it matter the way that your material is delivered?

BLUNT: For me, I think it's dependent on the film. And I am a nostalgic for exhibition at heart. I love the experience myself. I would be devastated if we didn't do it anymore because I think there are some big event films that are made. Every frame is sweat bullets over. You want to see it and experience it on the big screen. But something like "Wild Mountain Thyme," I think that I'm thrilled it's coming out right now. And I think if people don't want to go see it in the theater which I completely understand, it's exactly the kind of film - because it's intimate - that you can cozy up on a couch with. I mean, I also try to be quite positive about what's happening because I think for so long, my issue with theatrical releases is that it can be very gladiatorial. It can be that opening weekend dictates what your film is. It's like thumbs up or thumbs down. And in many ways, if more goes to streaming - that's why a lot of actors - you know, really big actors are wanting to do television because the material is so wonderful. It's so interesting. It's so unique. And I think that's what, ultimately, we're all wanting. That's what people are wanting to watch. There's not such a bright line between film and television anymore - between theater and small screen. But yet I am a massive believer in the theatrical experience. I hope it comes back. I think it will take a while to recover, but I'm desperate for it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is actor Emily Blunt. Her new film is "Wild Mountain Thyme." Thank you so much.

BLUNT: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.