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Emily Blunt 'lucky' that studio took a chance on female lead in Sicario

Published 21/09/2015

Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro at the premiere of Sicario at the Empire Leicester Square
Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro at the premiere of Sicario at the Empire Leicester Square

Emily Blunt said she felt "lucky" that the film studio behind her new crime thriller Sicario took a chance on a female lead as she trod a wet red carpet at the UK premiere.

Blunt, 32, had previously revealed that writer Taylor Sheridan was offered more money by film financiers to rewrite her FBI agent character as male.

"We were lucky we had a writer and director and literally a studio who were willing to make it with just a woman in the female protagonist role," she said.

In Sicario - which translates to hitman in Spanish - Blunt plays FBI agent Kate Macer, who joins a government taskforce assigned to help end the escalating war on drugs, with Benicio del Toro playing a sinister figure in the operation.

Blunt said she found it odd that in 2015 someone still had to put their foot down to ensure a role went to a woman.

"I do find it odd but it doesn't surprise me. I do think things are shifting, there's a sea-change going on, but we do have ways to go before we have complete equality in the industry," she said.

Director Denis Villeneuve agreed and said: "For me, it was, 'At last, I have a great part for a woman'. Those are very rare so it never crossed my mind to change it."

Blunt has already received Oscar buzz for her role in the graphic film which has been praised for its blood-soaked action sequences.

The white-knuckle role is a change for Blunt who last appeared in dark Disney musical Into The Woods. She admitted that despite intense training and research for the role, including meeting female FBI agents, she still did not "love shooting guns".

She will be changing direction again as the lead in the big screen adaptation of Paula Hawkins's best-selling novel The Girl On The Train.

Blunt will play alcoholic Rachel Watson, known for her regular consumption of "gin in a tin", and joked she had been doing some "very responsible research".

"I think it's very unique to have your heroine be a black-out drunk. It's what people responded to - less the thriller aspect than the very damaged woman, in a very real way," she said.

Blunt was joined on the red carpet in London's Leicester Square by del Toro who plays Alejandro in Sicario.

The Che actor teased about his next role which is rumoured to be the lead villain in Star Wars Episode VIII.

"I'm excited about it. I've read the script. I might (play the villain), I might end up on the editing floor," he said.

Sicario will be released in UK cinemas on October 8.

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