Emily Blunt is a rarity in Hollywood.
Not because she’s a foreigner conquering the U.S. box office—those are a dime a dozen these days—but because she has managed to become a full-fledged movie star without becoming a tabloid target in the process. Many critics agree Blunt gives a tour de force performance as an alcoholic divorcée trying to piece together a murder in The Girl on the Train (in theaters Friday). And unlike the biggest stars of the ’90s—people like Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts,Meg Ryan—Blunt has managed to keep her private life private, giving her an edge over many of her peers.
Perhaps Kathie Lee Gifford said it best on NBC’s Today Tuesday: “Emily, we’ve said on the air, is the Meryl Streep of our generation.” Blunt, who starred alongside Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and Into the Woods, was flattered by the comparison—even if she felt unworthy. “I very much appreciate that,” she said, admitting that the admiration made her feel “uncomfortable.”
Hoda Kotb said Blunt is so convincing in the thriller that she forgot who she was looking at onscreen. “You disappear. You morph into your character in a way that very few people [do]. You forget it’s you,” she told Blunt, a Golden Globe winner and five-time nominee. “A lot of people when you see it, you’ll say, ‘Oh, there’s so-and-so playing that.’ With you, it’s different.”
Critics have been praising Blunt’s talents for years—and with good reason. The actress has held her own against the likes of Tom Cruise (Edge of Tomorrow) and Matt Damon (The Adjustment Bureau)—no easy feat. She’s triumphed in comedies (The Five-Year Engagement), dramas (The Young Victoria), and dramedies (Your Sister’s Sister), not to mention action movies (Looper). Blunt has proven she can do just about anything, and on Oct. 15, she’ll challenge herself again when she hosts NBC’s Saturday Night Live for the first time. Of course, like every actress with a lengthy résumé, she has also starred in a box office bomb or two (The Wolfman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War). No matter—she remains one of the most sought after stars in show business. (There’s a reason Blunt’s name pops up whenever a new Marvel movie is announced, after all.)
Part of Blunt’s allure is that audiences don’t know much about her. Sure, she will share funny stories about motherhood and her marriage to John Krasinski during talk show appearances and in magazine profiles, but she’s not one to over-share. She’ll help Jimmy Kimmel carry out a prank and joke about becoming a U.S. citizen with Ellen DeGeneres. She’ll even discuss how she overcame her childhood stutter—but, like a true Brit, she won’t disclose anything too personal.