In Sicario, a thriller from filmmaker Dennis Villeneuve, Brit actress Emily Blunt plays tough FBI agent Kate Macer, who stumbles onto a horrendous crime scene during the movie’s early moments. However, Blunt wasn’t always going to be the film’s top star.
Things changed when Lionsgate jumped on board, and agreed that a female persona belonged in the spotlight. Blunt is no stranger to the action world – she starred alongside Tom Cruise as battle hardened soldier Sergeant Rita Vrataski in last year’s Edge of Tomorrow.
“People were afraid [of the screenplay] because the lead was female,” said Villeneuve, the director of last year’s Prisoners, during the recent Cannes Film Festival. “The screenwriter was asked to rewrite it several times.”
Macer is an Arizona FBI agent whose entire belief system is rocked to the core when she uncovers numerous bodies in a house belonging to a brutal drug cartel. Shortly thereafter, she’s recruited to team up with a top secret Black Ops team – headed up by a secretive Colombian operative known only as Alejandro – and special agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin).
“We needed an actress who could authentically portray an FBI agent yet would also be a very relatable person,” commented Villeneuve in the film’s production notes. “It’s a very tough part because as the witness of this operation, Kate’s beliefs are slowly disintegrating. It’s a profound journey she goes on.”
Blunt says her character is easily tempted by the world of the Black Ops gang.
“She realizes she was barely scratching the surface doing things by the book and now she wants to believe she can do something that will make a real difference. Yet the very idea of no longer following the rules turns Kate’s whole world upside down. Nothing makes sense anymore.”
Blunt says her character is the film’s “moral compass.”
“I was intrigued by her need to always do things in the right way, by the law. When she gets thrown into this incoherent world of CIA ops and cartels, it is completely alien to her. Whereas she’s always been held accountable for every bullet she fires, they spray bullets.”
Especially intriguing to Blunt is her character’s relationship with Alejendro – someone who comes across as a quiet and even mystical figure.
“She has her eye on him, and she doesn’t necessarily trust him. At the same time, I think he sees in Kate something that he’s lost in himself,” surmises Blunt. “They have this rather strange, almost magnetic link that they never fully get to explore under these extreme circumstances. They’re drawn to each other in an unspoken way.”
Director: Dennis Villeneuve
Stars: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Trujillo, and Julio Cesar Cedillo.
Producers: Basil Iwanyk Edward L. McDonnell, Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill and Trent Luckinbill
Executive Producers: John H. Starke, Erica Lee, and Ellen H. Schwartz
Screenwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Image Info: Kate Macer (Emily Blunt, right), Dave Jennings, (Victor Garber, center right), Phil Coopers (Hank Rogerson, center left) and Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya, left) in SICARIO. Photo Credit: Richard Foreman Jr. SMPSP