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Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt Interview
Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt Interview
Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt are two British actors who have not only made it big at home, but have also both conquered American shores with roles in several successful films such as Trainspotting, Star Wars I, II and III and The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria and The Muppets respectively. Currently starring in the film adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which tells the story of a Yemeni sheik who wants to introduce fly-fishing into the desert where he lives.

Playing Dr. Alfred Jones, a government advisor for the Fisheries department, and Harriet, Sheik Muhammed’s financial advisor Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, they took the time to speak to View’s Matthew Turner about filming on location in Scotland and the desert, adopting the accent of an old aunt, and how films with tricky titles can sink into the national conscience.
Scotland looks beautiful, naturally, in the film, particularly the castle where the Sheikh lives.

Paul Webster

That's Ardverikie. It's just south west of Inverness. In the middle of nowhere, beautiful place. Great pleasure to work there, but it was complicated because it was more difficult to get to the Scottish locations than it was to get to the locations in the desert, because there's not very many hotels up there. Not many people live in the north of Scotland, so finding places to put people was difficult, but it was great fun and the midges were okay, weren't they?

Emily Blunt

There was that one day where it was really bad.
How were the midges on that one day in Scotland?

Emily Blunt

It is a scary thing when you look around and your entire crew are wearing balaclavas ...
Emily, I believe that the most excited people when you were cast in this were your mum and dad. Having seen the film what is their verdict, what's their critical appraisal?

Emily Blunt

Well they must have liked it a lot because they are going to see it again tonight. I've offered them dinner with their long-lost daughter, who lives in the States, but they've said no. [Laughs] They are going to sit through the film again, because they love it. I think my mum's brought like 15 other Blunts with her. Many, many family members are coming tonight! So they love it. I think my mum said to me after seeing it, 'How refreshing to see such an original, uplifting film.' I think there is an audience fatigue with all of these big blockbuster movies - some of them are great but a lot of them are mind-numbing - and people are crying out for great stories and something that will make you feel something in some way.
Ewan, it's been suggested that you used a very effective prissy Scottish accent in the film. I wonder if you could you tell us why you used that?

Ewan McGregor

Fred's not Scottish in the book, and I felt like there was no reason why he shouldn't be. And in actual fact it would be helpful if he was. I was speaking to Simon Beaufoy, the writer of the screenplay, and he was the one who suggested the Morningside accent. It's such an uptight [accent] it's perfect for Fred.

It was one of the things that made me realise I was in such good hands with [Emily] the first time we met. I'd met Simon and I read some of the scenes with the accent and some without and I just couldn't decide. It seemed like such an unromantic accent. [Laughs] I thought regardless of how Fred is at the beginning of the script, he is sort of the romantic lead of the film and can it work with that accent? So when we met in rehearsal room, Emily said, 'Well lets hear it.' So we read a scene with the accent and without and she went, 'You've GOT to do the accent!

Emily Blunt

Instantly it transformed you, it was so instantaneously perfect.

Ewan McGregor

It was a leap. I needed the support of my fellow actor there to help convince me to do it. I had an old, distant relation called Betty Burnside who spoke like that but every now and again she would slip and she'd go, "Oh I dinnae ken." [Laughs] So I called my secretary in the film Betty Burnside in remembrance of old Betty.
Paul, was this in any sense a tough sell going in? Because as Emily suggested, once you've seen it, the charms are obvious. Was there a resistance to the title?

Paul Webster

Setting up? Yes. It took the combination of Emily and Ewan and then Lasse joining, fortunately on the back of a big hit movie, Dear John, to get us a green light to make the movie. I still think the movie is quite a hard sell. People, particularly in America, think [the name] Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a documentary. But to their credit CBS Films never asked us to change the title. We thought about it at first and then realised that you've got to play to your strengths.

I always remember many years ago, Four Weddings and a Funeral, when that was made, some of the executives at Polygram originally suggested they should change that title and call it The Best Man. And Four Weddings and a Funeral has now slipped into the lexicon. I think you make sense of complexities like that, I think it's a wonderful collision, it's a great tribute to Paul Torday.

Emily Blunt

I remember Simon Beaufoy [producer] saying, 'I seem to only do movies with titles that everyone wants to change. Slumdog Millionaire, Full Monty, this one.' He's like, what's wrong with these titles?
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 08:14

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