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Page last updated at 09:42 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009
Victoria actress 'felt pressure'

In The Young Victoria, Emily Blunt plays the title role and was determined to portray a very different side to the youthful Queen Victoria than we've ever seen. The Devil Wears Prada actress explains what it was like working with co-star Rupert Friend, how she managed to squeeze into those corsets and what happened when a real princess came on set.

Emily Blunt with Edith Bowman
Emily Blunt says she had sleepless nights with worry over the role

What was it like to wear the giant dress you had to wear in The Young Victoria?

I'm glad that I didn't get used to seeing myself like that because it wasn't that much fun to wear all of those costumes. I think without the corset it would have been beautiful and fun but the corset makes it painful. I have painful memories of them as opposed to beautiful ones.

What was the crown like to wear?

It was just incredibly heavy, to the point it gave me a dent in the middle of my forehead for my close up afterwards. We had to leave it for an hour until the dent had managed to raise itself again.

Were you warned that you may struggle with the costumes before filming?

I think when I started having the fittings, I became aware of the scale of the dresses that I was going to have to wear. I had something like 43 different dresses. When you see the dresses on the rack, you're like, 'Oh. It's gorgeous', and if you wear it for 15 minutes in the fitting it's gorgeous and then when you wear it for two hours it's not so gorgeous.

Did you have to have lessons in etiquette and for the dances of the period?

Rupert Friend and Emily Blunt
Emily says she had a real laugh working with Rupert Friend

We did. Rupert and I learnt how to waltz together, which was actually an accelerated bonding in a way, which is great, because we were both useless. And you have to physically be close to someone to do that and we didn't even know each other but we had a real laugh doing it and we worked our socks off. I think Rupert had blisters on his feet on the day of the actual ball. He got a bit teed off with that.

We had a wonderful etiquette advisor on set who has close ties with the royal family. I think he was great because it wasn't coming from a contrived place. He wanted it be real. He wanted it be authentic because at the end of the day it's such a performance being a royal.

And that's what I loved about the script, that you see the performance side of being the queen of England but also the very private side where she kicks back and relaxes. I'm sure other etiquette coaches or etiquette advisors would have been flapping about some of the things that I did but Alistair was wonderfully supportive of those moments where you have to show the humanity of this person.

You had a real royal princess - Beatrice - who played a role as your lady in waiting. What was that like?
Princess Eugene, Sarah Ferguson and Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice's mum Sarah Ferguson was a co-producer

She was just very normal and I think very excited to be there and certainly not wanting to lord it about that she was a princess. She was very helpful. She actually carried my mile-long train for me, she was really sweet.

Did you worry about representing a queen that was such a figurehead?

I did feel the pressure. I certainly felt the weight of responsibility before I started it and had a few sleepless nights. It was a wonderful atmosphere to work in, so as soon as I arrived on set I felt comforted by that and I had great playmates to support me throughout this. But I think I did worry about doing her justice more than anything because I read everything I could on her and she was the most remarkable girl. I think I was very keen to be contrary to people's original perception of her, which is usually when she's older, she's a widow, she's mourning and sour-faced.

When she was younger she was the polar opposite of that. I think we all decided we had to be courageous with that and show the youth and the exuberance and Victoria as this very rebellious young girl, who's in a job where she's way over her head. I thought that that was an accessible figure rather than someone who no-one can identify with.

Playing a queen does seem to be one of those award-winning roles as well...

[Laughs] I don't know. You can't say that, because what if nothing happens! I think what we've made here is not necessarily that Hollywood-ised because it's a much gentler film and it doesn't have the reverence and arch attitude that a lot of these period dramas have that are the real show-stoppers. It's not the conventional period drama because it's a very intimate portrait of this girl.

I was reading that the director [Jean-Marc Vallée] brought music in to help you get into character. What did you have for your role?

He played a lot of this Icelandic band called Sigur Rós and he loved them, so he'd play their music on set. He has a very contemporary flair and a different sensibility coming from Canada. He just bought that different light into a film that could've been stuffy if it had been left up to the wrong hands.

I played some Patti Smith as well to bring out the rebellious side.

Did it work having that on set to get you in a certain mood?

Yea, it really did. That was the great part, it was a very atmospheric set to work on. It was relentless, it never stopped moving so I don't think I was given room to take a breath and feel panicked by it. We laughed so much and it was the most rewarding experience I've ever had on a film set.

Emily Blunt was talking to Newsbeat's Frances Cronin.

The Young Victoria is in UK cinemas from 6 March.

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