Emily Blunt knew as soon as she read the script for her new series “The English” that she’d star in it, but she also realized that she had to have more of a role in the Western than just on camera.
Blunt is also executive producer of the new drama, which she debuted at MIPCOM on Sunday evening along with its creator, Hugo Blick, co-star Chaske Spencer and producer Greg Brenman.
“I opened the script and couldn’t stop. It was heart-stopping and gripping, and startlingly beautiful, so I knew I was in immediately. When it came to just being a part of it in all its entirety, it just seemed to make sense for this project,” said Blunt during a Q&A after the first episode was shown. “I loved standing shoulder to shoulder with Hugo and Greg on it along the way, and I think I’ve probably been around the block enough to not just be interested in the acting part of it, I’m interested in all of it.”
Blunt stars as Cornelia Locke, an Englishwoman who travels to America in the late 1800s to exact revenge for her late son. Spencer plays a Pawnee scout who saves her from danger. Blunt describes it as “a heart-stopping chase thriller with the most tender of love stories at its heart.”
Though the plot takes its characters through the American West, it was actually shot in Madrid.
“It provided everything we needed, and we thought the money would be better spent to be honest with you, shooting it in Spain and not going all the way to North America,” said Brenman.
Blick noted that while shooting an American Western in Europe may seem antithetical, Europeans have had a long connection to the genre.
“Many of the filmmakers in the golden age of the Westerns in Hollywood in the 1950s were in fact European practitioners,” said Blick, who wrote and directed the drama.
To ensure authenticity in regard to its Indigenous storyline, Blick said he consulted with the social justice organization Ilumintative, as well as representatives from the Pawnee and Cheyenne tribes.
“The journey that I was researching and evoking here on the screen was as awful for the Native experience of Western expansionism as this story tells,” he said. “It was very telling and very important to us as filmmakers to use the genre of the Western … to explore some pretty hidden histories.”
The series is set to debut on Prime Video Nov. 11.