VIDEO: Emily Blunt Takes on Grittiest Role Yet in Sicario: The Film ‘Doesn’t …

13 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Sicario’ Stars Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt Talk Mexican Cartel’s Brutality in Drug Wars at TIFF.

Emily Blunt owes a piece of her gritty performance in Sicario to the real-life women of the FBI, who prepared her for the violent realities of the Mexican drug cartels. “I spoke to a bunch of women in the FBI and that was really helpful because you’re not given much backstory in the script,” Blunt exclusively tells PEOPLE at the Toronto International Film Festival, while seated next to her costars, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. “I don’t think I knew enough about it,” she admits. “The sheer brutality of the imprint that they leave on people’s lives, I think that’s really disarming, really shocking.” After learning the harsh truths about the war on drugs from the inside, Blunt says she appreciates the film’s honest portrayal of the situation in Mexico. When asked if she prefers making lighthearted films or action thrillers, Blunt says, “I don’t have a preference really – usually what I’ve done before will dictate what I’ll do next.” But the serious nature of her latest effort doesn’t mean her comedic and musical tendencies completely go away. The gritty drug-trade thriller from director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Incendies) tells the story of an idealistic FBI agent (Blunt) enlisted to join a shady task force battling cartels on both sides of the U.S. Posing up a storm at the Princess of Wales Theatre in the Canadian city, Emily flashed a hint of cleavage in the strapless blue dress, from Dior’s AW12 Couture collection.

While there’s no singing on screen in Sicario, her costar Brolin confirms that she did break out into song a bit “off camera.” For full coverage of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival – including the hottest premieres, the biggest stars and the buzziest films – check out people.com/tiff, instyle.com and ew.com The couple – who are parents to one-year-old daughter Hazel – were seen putting on an amorous display as she stood with their arms wrapped around one another’s waist. The film stars Emily Blunt as an idealistic, reserved FBI agent who volunteers to serve on a special task-force about which she is told little other than that it will get her closer to the root of the drug war that recently claimed the lives of several colleagues. Her character battles drug cartels in the gritty thriller, in which Benicio stars as a cold-blooded Mexican national and Josh plays a shady government operative from the anti drug cartel unit.

The operation is led by a smarmy “consultant’’ (Josh Brolin) who Blunt’s character suspects is a CIA agent, and includes a shadowy South American operative (Benicio del Toro), whose motives are also suspect to Blunt. Blunt talked to four female FBI agents, modeling her character on one of them. “I said to her, ‘What do you do to decompress after a day like that, when you do a SWAT assault and you see something terrible?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I go home and watch ‘Downton Abbey,’” Ms. The film’s subject matter, harrowing vibe and excellent use of Del Toro — easily one of the best actors in the world — all evoke memories of 2000’s Traffic, which was nominated for best picture and bagged Oscars for director Steven Soderbergh and, in the supporting race, Del Toro. I don’t want to go into any more detail about “Sicario,’’ which my colleague Kyle Smith will be reviewing when it opens in New York on Sept. 18.

But, in many respects, the film is more similar to another best picture nominee, 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, not least in its depiction of a female intelligence officer (Oscar-nominated Jessica Chastain in the older film) as poker-faced, tough as nails and able to hang with the men. Blunt plays Kate, who is recruited by a mysterious federal drug agent ( Josh Brolin) into an operation that includes a possibly sinister consultant ( Benicio Del Toro).

Del Toro, on the other hand, has a character arc of the sort that actors dream of, culminating in a scene for the ages, and he handles it all masterfully. I fully expect him to be in serious contention in the same Oscar category that he won 15 years ago — perhaps alongside cinematographer Roger Deakins, who — criminally — is still in search of his first win, and also merits serious consideration. Streep in “Into the Woods” and went head-to-head with Tom Cruise as a supersoldier wearing Transformer-like armor in “Edge of Tomorrow,” a sci-fi action movie that has gained a cultish following. She has done rom-coms, independent films and period pieces, playing the queen-in-waiting in “The Young Victoria.” “It’s very deliberate,” she says of her career choices. “I haven’t discovered my whole bag of tricks just yet.” She will play the lead in “The Girl on the Train,” based on the best-selling psychological thriller. She has finished making “The Huntsman,” a prequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman,” and says of that character, “She’s a villain with a great back story.

I think the movie is about how America gets involved in conflicts outside of its border.” Cynicism would require answers, he says, and his film raises questions. “We are dealing with enemies abroad that are using methods that are darker and darker. The question is: Do we need to become like them in order to fight them or is there another way?” He also sees the film as a counterpoint to cartoonish action movies. “How come America needs so many superheroes, Batman or Spider-Man? There’s a need for America to believe that there are some people who have superpowers who can do things above the law and solve problems with strength.” Kate is the audience’s surrogate in entering that morally clouded world.

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