Writing believable female characters can be difficult for screenwriters, not so for Jason Segel. The actor, who co-wrote his latest film, The Five-Year Engagement with his Forgetting Sarah Marshall director, Nick Stoller, attracted English actress Emily Blunt with a strongly-written female lead.
“I really liked that the female role was such a laugh. She was so much fun and kind of awkward and flawed and there was something messy about the character. It didn’t feel like a guy had written a girl and objectified the girl,” Blunt told IF, adding that her co-star’s talent for writing female characters stems from the fact that he “writes them as guys.”
“I think trying to imagine the heart of a woman is a really poor approach. I think people are generally the same,” Segel explained, praising Blunt’s performance in bringing the character to life. “I think one of the things people notice about the movie is that Violet seemed like a very realised woman. 80 per cent of that is due to Emily Blunt’s performance.”
The Five-Year Engagement follows Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt) over a period from their engagement as they struggle to make it down the aisle and is the third time the stars have worked together (previous projects include Gulliver’s Travels and The Muppets).
To fill the smaller roles Segel and Stoller looked to the small screen. It was Community and Mad Men’s Alison Brie who had the difficult job of mimicking Blunt’s English accent in her role as Suzie, Violet’s younger sister.
It was a task Blunt helped with. “I sent her recordings of me telling stories or just talking to her. Which was so weird because I didn’t know her that well so I was like ‘Hi Alison, it’s Emily…’ She just listened to them and when I arrived on set I was like ‘ooh she sounds quite a lot like me’”
Though she retained her English accent for the film, there was a voice Blunt had to master – the Cookie Monster. “I was so nervous,” she reveals, discussing the scene in which Violet and Suzie argue as the Cookie Monster and Elmo.
“Nick got the idea because his little daughter, Penny, is always trying to get him to do voices and stuff,” she said. “So when he’s trying to have a conversation with his wife Penny will be going ‘Do the silly man voice’ or whatever. So he got the idea that that could be funny, could be a funny way to have an argument with two strange characters”
The Five-Year Engagement is in cinemas across the country
Emily Blunt and Jason Segel in The Five-Year Engagement