Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt on the Edge of Tomorrow
By Lynn Barker
In the sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow, the world has been at war with an unrelenting alien invasion force that no military or weapon has been able to conquer. There is one last big battle to come. There will be many casualties lost to the “Mimics” unless an unlikely recruit can use an alien ability against them.
Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is a military PR man who’s never been to the front line but who is assigned there when he mouths off to a four-star general. Now he is trapped in an alien-induced time loop reliving his death and the same battle over and over. Only if he can learn from mistakes each time can he help win the day. When Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) interacts with Cage, she ends up teaching him to fight and stay one step ahead and one step closer to a big win. Of course, in the process, there is an attraction between the two.
Speaking from England, Tom and Emily told reporters just what it took to make the film work.
Q: You are working together for the first time. What about each other surprised you?
- Emily: I was amazed at how much we laughed even when wearing the Exo-Suits which were very, very heavy. We just found ways of working through the day and that was cool. I was really excited to play someone as tough, badass and physically dangerous as Rita. But when I read the script, mixed in with this very cool story and intense action sequences I also found a lot of laughs, as well as incredible determination and perseverance of the human spirit.
- Tom: Working with Blunt, she’s so charming, funny and talented (Emily squirms in delight). Every day, no matter how challenging the day was, she made me laugh from morning to night. This is the kind of film where you are working very long hours. We’d all go back to a conference room and have script meetings.
- Emily: It was a really collaborative film. It’s the biggest film I’ve ever done but the most collaborative one which is surprising. I would have thought with a big studio film, people get wary of too many ideas but the best idea won.
- Tom: (There was a lot of) “What’s going on again?” “What’s coming off?” This is also a unique love story and it’s also the most challenging structure for a film that I’ve ever been a part of; being able to reset the day and start over. My character gets this alien power.
- Emily: But we’re using it as an advantage for entertainment rather than it becoming a tedious concept.
- Tom: But it is progressing character and story the whole time. Emily’s character is a fascinating role because my character Cage is essentially a coward who makes a mistake and tries to blackmail a general so gets sent to the front in a war. He gets this alien power and our two lives intersect. She’s a soldier, a great warrior. She had the power at one point but lost it and feels she’s going into this battle and is going to lose and all humanity is going to lose. Here is my character who has this power and he’s not a solider. He doesn’t want the power and doesn’t want to fight.
- Emily: He’s a coward really.
- Tom: Yes and very human really so she becomes his Sensei (teacher in the martial arts), his tormentor, his …
- Emily: He’s a very good weapon for her.
- Tom: She’s unrelenting and he’s like “Let’s just take a moment here”.
- Emily: She is “No. You’re injured, reset”.
- Tom: As this progresses, every single day, she no longer remembers him.
- Emily: It’s an unrequited relationship.
- Tom: Yes and he learns about her and the audience learns about her through Cage’s journey. It’s got the kind of humor I love in a film.
- Emily: It’s got a kind of irreverence, doesn’t it?
- Tom: In this film death is emotional but also quite humorous. I was constantly pushing the stunt guys “Look this is like Wiley Coyote. Throw him against the wall and make it more violent.” That’s my sense of humor on this. How funny this will be to die this way.
- Emily: It was so much fun that I got to kill him in many different ways. (Tom laughs). How many times can I shoot him in the head? There was one day where I think I shot him twenty-five times! Do I feel bad about it? Am I nonchalant about it? Do I not want to see? I loved that. Tom was so game. We did days where we would just improv stuff. He’d say “why don’t we do one where my leg is broken and I’m saying ‘I’m okay! I’m okay’? And that’s the one that made it into the movie. At that point he’s so over it. At first he is terrified when she kills him. Then it happens so many times it’s like “just do it!”
- Tom: It was so much fun doing it. So many angles and she’s just non-plussed by it whereas Cage, it hurts every time and he still does not like the sight of blood so just wonderful scenes to come up with and play.
- Emily: She was always meeting Cage for the first time, so building a character whose interactions with another existed in an environment that was essentially the same again and again made it a challenge to progress the relationship. How does she change toward him, how does their familiarity grow if she can’t remember him? It was tricky for me to play that and to find the right measure of intimacy.
Rita gives Cage battle tips Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Emily as Rita in training Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Cage (Tom Cruise) and Rita (Emily Blunt) on the drop ship Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Rita finds an old helicopter Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Rita and Cage discuss what he must do next Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Rita in combat Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Cage on the battlefield Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Q: Let’s talk about action and stunts. Tom is used to it but was it hard for you, Emily?
- Tom: Hard for her? Poor Emily (they laugh).
- Emily: I remember signing on for this and Tom said “This is going to be physically the most challenging movie I’ve ever done” and I’m just like “Oh great! I get thrown into the deep end of action movies”. But, we trained a lot for it. I think that was the only way to do it, to prepare.
- Tom: I have to say for Emily, she worked really hard. In the film she made with Matt (Damon in The Adjustment Bureau) where you trained as a dancer, I knew the kind of commitment (she was capable of). It’s not just that. She’s a great actress and has an understanding of comedy and drama and a sense of a cinematic and romantic quality. She trained hard for three months and was really, really prepared but I knew that this was the deep end of action.
- The stuff that we wanted to accomplish together just for the look of the film and the characters in the movie that would make it original is that we actually do wear the (heavy) Exo-Suits, and they are practical (real on set). I spent almost two months working with the suit before the (other) actors came so I knew it was going to be very challenging. We would not have been able to get the shots we did if she hadn’t actually been in the suit. It’s not just action, it’s also character and story so I have a great respect for Emily in what she was able to do.
- Emily: Thank you, Tom.
- Tom: She didn’t just come in and let someone else do those scenes. I want people to know that.
Edge of Tomorrow is in theaters June 6th!