By Marta Balag
October 16, 2022
Emily Blunt left her mark on Cannes, and not just with her acclaimed performances.
The actor, in town for the pre-Mipcom premiere of the first episode of her six-part series “The English,” also left a handprint in wet concrete, joining the likes of Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep or David Lynch
Blunt was joined on the red carpet by co-star Chaske Spencer, as well as writer and director Hugo Blick, the latter also behind Maggie Gyllenhaal starrer “The Honorable Woman.”
In “The English,” Blunt plays an aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Cornelia Locke, who comes to America in the 1890s. It’s hardly a welcoming place, but she joins forces with Pawnee Scout Eli Whipp. She is hoping to track down a man who is responsible for her son’s death. He wants to reclaim his land.
“Twilight” alumni Spencer starred in Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. Sundance premiere “Wild Indian.” Toby Jones and Ciaran Hinds also featured in the episode.
“I was completely kidnapped within the first line, to be honest. I opened the script and I couldn’t stop [reading]. It was gripping and startlingly beautiful. I knew I was in, immediately,” said Blunt after the screening.
“It’s a heart-stopping chase thriller. With the most tender of love stories at its heart.”
She also executive produced the series alongside Greg Brenman (“Peaky Blinders”) and Blick. Mona Qureshi is executive producer for the BBC.
“I loved standing shoulder to shoulder with Hugo and Greg. I think I have been around the block long enough to not just be interested in acting. I am interested in all of it,” added Blunt.
“The English” will premiere this November on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in the U.K., and on Prime Video in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
It’s produced by Drama Republic and Eight Rooks. Amazon Studios is co-producing in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand in association with All3Media International.
“Jimmy Stewart once said that the Western is the purest form of cinema. It’s one person, or now a woman and a man, in a big space, alone. The bigger the space, the bigger the pressure on them,” said Blick.
“Even if it’s not every filmmaker’s dream, it certainly was mine.”
The team also discussed the “European sensibility” of the series, as well as its many twists and turns.
“We shot around Madrid, which was fantastic. It provided everything we needed,” noted Greg Brenman.
“It was a huge, epic challenge. It always is with Hugo.”
“I literally had no idea what was going to happen,” added Blunt.
“I adored playing a character with a secret. Seeing her being able to enact this revenge, she is able to reclaim a sense of identity.”
While Spencer teased more things to come – “You will see a lot of adventure, a lot of chemistry, a lot of romance. These characters will impact you and they will stay with you,” he said – Blick also opened up about trying to provide a more authentic representation of Native American people on screen.
“I was pleased to receive positive feedback,” he said, recalling sending drafts of the script to IllumiNative: a Native woman-led racial and social justice organization. He also went on to work with Pawnee and Cheyenne advisors.
“The English” doesn’t shy away from violence and the harsh reality of that time. But its cast soldiered on.
“They are heavy characters. There were times when I would go home and drink a whole bottle of tequila after a hard night of crime,” joked Spencer, to the mock horror of Blunt: “A bottle?!”
The conditions were challenging, she added.
“It was incredibly hot in Spain. You are in a corset, with all these layers and a big, red rug. But it added to the atmosphere and to the characters. The sun would be setting, the horses would be kicking up the dust and it just added this shimmer to the entire look of the piece,” she said.
“I am happy to take some dust if it ends up looking like that on the screen.”
All3Media International has already confirmed a range of presales for “The English” in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
In Europe, a multi-territory acquisition has been agreed with Canal+ in France, Disney+ covering The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Amazon Video has acquired the series in the Nordics, HBO Max has signed a pan-territory deal for the CEE region, Spain and Portugal. “The English” has also been secured by Deutsche Telekom/ Magenta TV for Germany and Cosmote in Greece.
A further multi-territory deal has been signed with HBO Max covering Latin America, while Pumpkin Film has secured the drama for China and Naver Webtoon has picked up rights for South Korea.