Exploring the Delights of Awkward Intimacy With ‘Arthur Newman’ Stars Emily Blunt and Colin Firth

Kara Warner
Senior Reporter
Movie Talk

From the outside looking in Emily Blunt and Colin Firth are two of the most charming and likable actors working today. And not just because of their British accents, because of their talent, sound role selections and general good reputations in the moviemaking biz. That said, in knowing that the two have teamed up together in the movie "Arthur Newman," we might assume that they have put their collective charms together in order to bring the most naturally heartwarming and universally appealing characters ever to the big screen, but as it turns out it's quite the opposite.

See Emily Blunt and Colin Firth in a clip from 'Arthur Newman':

"Arthur Newman" is the unconventional story of a middle-aged man (Firth) who after a series of disappointments and setbacks attempts to reinvent himself with a new identity. His plan is thwarted when he encounters an eccentric woman Mike (Blunt) with similar identity issues and they embark on an unplanned journey that involves pretending to be other people they meet along the way and an eventual romance. When Yahoo! Movies met up with Blunt and Firth recently to discuss the film they admitted, via a series of playful and often hilarious back-and-forth exchanges, that they reveled in the opportunity to play two seemingly unlikable people struggling with disappointment, awkwardness and identity crises.

"I wasn't looking for charm," Firth said when asked what made him take on the role. "[My character] is someone I think who would consider himself to be very disappointing in the charm department, hasn't impressed his wife or his girlfriend or his son or anybody and Mike makes a big deal of being unimpressed with him as well."

"I think Mike wants to try as hard as she can not to be charming, she wants to repel people and not draw them in," added Blunt, who started to explain the character's unique dimensions before Firth jumped in with his own segue.

Emily Blunt: She broke my heart actually, when I first read the script. I was confused at first, I thought--

Colin Firth: When I watch a movie I think...

Blunt: Are you just going to cut me off?

Firth [deadpan]: Yes. I was getting bored.

Blunt [playfully upset]: Goddammit you driveled on, let me get a word out! Now I don't remember what I was saying. Colin, after you.

Firth: Oh I don't know. What I find interesting about characters is seeing them liking someone else. You fall in love with people when you see them in love with people, it happens. They may not be particularly attractive, it's just that there is something attractive about someone who is attracted to someone. If you start to like characters it's because they're connecting with the other person then you start to put yourself in their position and you can inhabit that with them. That's what I hope to connect with and that's what draws me in."

Despite their make-believe differences of opinion, Blunt and Firth agreed that the heart of "Newman" is in their two characters finding themselves and exploring actual emotional connections.

"These are two outcasts who don't know how to ask for intimacy and are terrible at doing so," said Blunt."

"It's about people trying to find something for themselves through all of these other stories and other identities," added Firth. "I think people are afraid of intimacy and need to feel safe and protected. In the case of these two, being other people gives them the safety."

And while the film does explore some heavy issues, Blunt and Firth's characters experience them in quirky and often comedic ways, which led to a playful environment on set and an even more playful interview, if you haven't already noticed. When asked which actor was responsible for cracking everyone up the most, Firth assured us his jokes were the ones to beat.

"I was the funniest probably,' Firth humbly admitted.

"Very much so," said Blunt. "We laughed at Colin most of the time, so in that case you were the funniest."

Backhanded compliments or no, it was obvious that these two genuinely had a great time working together. Might we hold out hope that they'll team up again in another film someday?

"Never again," joked Blunt. "I don't know. I would like to work with you again," she said to Firth. "I don't know what we should do actually."

"It would be great, but like in the next 20 years or so," Firth joked.

"We need time," Blunt agreed, chuckling. "Give it a breather."

"Arthur Newman" opens in select theaters April 26.

Watch the trailer for 'Arthur Newman':