Don’t mention the strong female character descriptor to Emily Blunt. During a recent interview with The Telegraph (via IndieWire), the actor rejected the archetype and said she’s “bored” of getting scripts where her character is labeled a “strong female lead.”
“It’s the worst thing ever when you open a script and read the words ‘strong female lead,’” Blunt said. “That makes me roll my eyes. I’m already out. I’m bored. Those roles are written as incredibly stoic, you spend the whole time acting tough and saying tough things.”
Blunt said that her latest character, Cornelia on the western revenge series “The English,” is far “more surprising” than what the simplified “strong female lead” label describes. “She’s innocent without being naive and that makes her a force to be reckoned with,” the actor added.
“The English” stars Blunt as a frontier woman hellbent on avenging the death of her son. Cornelia partners with an indigenous farmer named Eli (Chaske Spencer), who is also on a mission of revenge in order to reclaim his land.
“I love a character with a secret,” Blunt said. “And I loved Cornelia’s buoyancy, her hopefulness, her guilelessness… She startles Eli out of his silence and their differences become irrelevant because they need each other to survive. I thought that was very cool.”
Blunt joins a growing list of female actors who have spoken out against the “strong female lead” label. “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” actor Tatiana Maslany told The Guardian in August that it’s “frustrating” for roles to be reduced to that one “strong” trait.
“It’s reductive,” Maslany added. “It’s just as much a shaving off of all the nuances, and just as much of a trope. It’s a box that nobody fits into. Even the phrase is frustrating. It’s as if we’re supposed to be grateful that we get to be that.”
“The English” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video for U.S. subscribers.