Emily Blunt on ‘brutal’ birthing bit in A Quiet Place: ‘The crew was really upset by it…’ | Scene Stealer
In this week’s chapter of Scene Stealer, we revisit the terrifying but terrific birth-giving sequence featured in Emily Blunt and John Krasinski’s 2018 blockbuster horror, A Quiet Place. The scene had no dialogues, not even a tiny moan (for the most part).
Making movies, getting the script off the ground and assembling people for it is a huge challenge in itself, but once the project is on floors, there are other things to take care of. For instance, shooting a particularly emotionally taxing bit. One would imagine that filming a birthing scene could be an issue in itself — how to make it look authentic or realistic, the actor portraying the person in labour and her conviction in doing such a part. What adds to the challenge — the actor can’t make a sound, not even a tiny moan. In 2018, first-time director and beloved The Office star John Krasinski managed to pull that feat off incredibly (with the help of a talented team, no doubt).
If you have already watched A Quiet Place , you would be aware of the scene in question; the one where Emily Blunt’s character Evelyn goes into a labour in a bathtub, fearing for her and her unborn child’s life the whole time. The scene lasts over two minutes, a long time when you are the only one facing the camera, especially with zero dialogues, reacting to something that’s not even in present in real time as you act — a creepy, scaly, long-fingered flesh-devouring monster that gets active whenever it hears even the slightest noise.
Clearly, the entire thing could have been a disaster, more so when the crew had been shooting it chronologically to better capture the experience of being a pregnant lady, which was in fact lead star Emily Blunt’s suggestion. Speaking about it, Blunt told CinemaBlend in an earlier interview, “The giving birth sequence was pretty brutal. It was just really intense, and kind of exhausting at times. We shot it over the course of a week, and I asked John to schedule it. He was like, ‘Are you going to be exhausted? Do you want to break it up in the schedule or do you want to shoot it all in one go?’ So, I just maybe stupidly said ‘Let’s just shoot it all in one go because then you can get a real sense of the progression of the birth’, so that really played out in real time. So we shot it actually in sequence. The whole thing.”
In fact, it was so well done that there were articles about whether giving birth silently is something that women actually do, and its possibilities. Blunt herself had to face this question in an interview once. The sequence is painful to look at, but is at the same time so compelling. You’re horrified for Evelyn (perhaps even doing all the screaming she herself cannot do), but you also are invested in the moment as an audience. Your need to know if, and how she makes it. Blunt is terrific. Her silent groans which you can almost hear, her pain — it’s all palpable, bouncing off the screen and into your senses. You have to believe, she leaves you no choice.
“She (Emily Blunt) changes the air in the room. It’s not acting, it’s like you are witnessing a moment you shouldn’t be witnessing. I have a whole new respect for her. Only one guy would talk to her and he said, ‘I don’t think we were supposed to watch that. None of us should have been there,’” filmmaker Krasinski, who also happens to be Emily’s partner in real life, told Entertainment Weekly. But John had also once mentioned to Variety how Emily switches on and off between takes. For instance, after filming this excruciating scene, Blunt was hungry for Fajitas and quickly wanted to go for lunch.
Read more Scene Stealers here, including the one where Rasika Dugal discusses about ‘that’ horrific but extremely well shot confession bit in Delhi Crime
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The fact that they are actually married in real life as well as they were in the movie, might have added an extra layer of tension to filming this, with John’s character Lee searching for his wife desperately post her escape from the bathtub, and at one point even believing her to be dead. Considering all the layers attached, one cannot help but applaud the team, who as Emily had once told Entertainment Weekly, were quite devastated by it. “Everyone on set was feeling rather fragile. The crew was really upset by it,” she had said.
One can’t really blame them.