Follow Us on Twitter

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen - Emily Blunt and Paul Webster interview

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Interview by Rob Carnevale

EMILY Blunt and producer Paul Webster talk about the making of Salmon Fishing in The Yemen, including its use of Scottish locations and why it offers something different for audiences.

Emily Blunt also reflects on her career and why she feels continually fortunate to be doing what she’s doing, while Paul Webster reflects on how the film almost had to change its name. They were speaking at a UK press conference for the film…

Q. Scotland looks beautiful, naturally, in the film, particularly the castle where the Sheikh lives…
Paul Webster: That’s Ardverikie. It’s just south west of Inverness. In the middle of nowhere, [but it’s a] beautiful place. It was a great pleasure to work there, but it was a complicated place because it was more difficult to get to the Scottish locations than it was to get to the locations in the desert, actually, because there’s not very many hotels up there. Not many people live in the north of Scotland, so finding places to put people was difficult, but it was great fun and the midges were okay, weren’t they?

Q. How were the midges on that one day in Scotland, Emily?
Emily Blunt: It is a scary thing when you look around and your entire crew are wearing balaclavas…

Q. Emily, I believe that the most excited people when you were cast in this were your mum and dad. Having seen the film what is their verdict, what’s their critical appraisal?
Emily Blunt: Well they must have liked it a lot because they are going to see it again tonight. I’ve offered them dinner with their long-lost daughter, who lives in the States, but they’ve said no [laughs]. They are going to instead sit through the film again, because they love it. I think my mum’s brought like 15 other Blunts with her. Many, many family members are coming tonight! So they love it. I think my mum said to me after seeing it, she said: “How refreshing to see such an original, uplifting film.” I think there is an audience fatigue with all of these big blockbuster movies – some of them are great but a lot of them are mind-numbing – and people are crying out for great stories and something that will make you feel something in some way.

Q. Paul, was this in any sense a tough sell going in? Because as Emily suggested, once you’ve seen it, the charms are obvious. Was it a tough sell for you initially? Was there a resistance to the title?
Paul Webster: Setting up? Yes it was. It took the combination of Emily and Ewan and then Lasse [Hallstrom, director] joining, fortunately on the back of a big hit movie, Dear John, to get us a green light to make the movie. I still think the movie is quite a hard sell. People, particularly in America, they think [the name] Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a documentary. But to their, credit CBS Films never asked us to change the title. We thought about it at first and then realised that you’ve got to play to your strengths. I always remember many years ago, with Four Weddings and a Funeral, when that was made, some of the executives at Polygram originally suggested they should change that title and call it The Best Man. And Four Weddings and a Funeral has now slipped into the lexicon. I think you make sense of complexities like that, I think it’s a wonderful collision, it’s a great tribute to Paul Torday.

Q. Emily, the film seems to be about believing the unbelievable and making it happen. Is there anything that has happened to you that you thought would never happen but you’ve achieved it? Is it faith or good luck?
Emily Blunt: I never know how to answer that. I don’t feel like in my career there’s been a specific job that I thought was going to be impossible. But I think that in general, the fact I get to do this for a living is pretty improbable because it is so competitive and the main percentage of actors aren’t working, so I think that’s fairly lucky. I quite enjoy the unknown of this job and being quite fatalistic about what is going to happen and being fatalistic about the choices that you make. So, I don’t know if there’s any one particular moment I can think of.

Read our review of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Read our interview with Ewan McGregor