From Scene Stealer to Star on the Rise

Emily Blunt may have had a bit too much wine.

But, you know, she has been strapped in a corset all day, and now she’s at her nana’s house in London, just trying to relax with a little roast duck and conversation about the reserve of the British monarchy.

So she needs her refuge and a nip, too. Surely, the queen would understand.

Blunt has been working continuously since her breakout role as a conniving fashionista in last year’s “The Devil Wears Prada.” The corset won’t appear on screens until next year, when Blunt appears as a temperamental monarch in the historical drama “The Young Victoria,” but this week audiences can catch her as a sullen French teacher in the new romantic comedy “The Jane Austen Book Club.”

“The Jane Austen Book Club,” based on a bestseller by Karen Joy Fowler, follows a group of modern Sacramento women (and one man) that comes together for monthly discussions of Austen’s novels. Before long, the members of the book group begin to view their imperfect lives through the guise of the famous author and her tales of societal manners and mores.

Blunt’s character, Prudie, for instance, is a married but melancholy woman, whose understanding of herself and the world is rattled by disappointment in her own husband and the lure of a younger man. “What would Jane do?” Prudie imagines a street sign asking as she stands at the precipice of life-altering temptation.

“I loved Prudie because she was a bit of a removal for me,” the British actress says. “I’d never played someone who was that moody and that much of a wallflower.” Without “Prada,” Blunt, 24, isn’t sure she would’ve had the chance.

She began acting in high school and worked steadily after graduation, finding success in serious theater productions and dramatic films. Her role opposite Bill Nighy in the 2006 British television movie “Gideon’s Daughter” earned her a Golden Globe.

“And of course, as usual, you’re pigeonholed and limited by your previous jobs, and no one thought I could ‘do funny,’ ” she says of her pre-“Prada” career. After that movie came out, she was offered “more of these wacky, off-the-wall people, which I think I’m more prone to playing.”

“Off-the-wall,” however, is not likely the first description that comes to mind when one thinks of Britain’s Queen Victoria, who was a widow in black for the last 40 years of her life. But the last 40 years aren’t of much concern to Blunt, who plays a brash, obstinate version of the same woman in “The Young Victoria.”

“I’ve got a day of shouting sometime next week,” Blunt says of the film’s shooting schedule. “You talk about these massive tantrums that she’d throw and they’d be sort of reverberating around the castle, and I just thought, ‘God, what a great girl.’”

And what an interesting insight into public and private personas from an actress who says she often feels as if she’s living a dual life.

“My private life hasn’t changed. I’m still the same person I was,” she says of her increased fame. “It’s just that I have more recognition now, and when I step out of the house to get my groceries, it’s different.”

Ah, well, if that’s the biggest pratfall of a flourishing movie career, she’ll take it. She’ll take it and hope that all of it — good and bad — just keeps coming.

“What do people say? The journey is far more exciting than getting there. Hopefully, I’ll just get lost in the car on the way,” Blunt says. “And I’ll never have to get there.”