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23 August 2014
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Gideon's Daughter
Emily Blunt plays Natasha

Gideon's Daughter


Emily Blunt plays Natasha


Emily Blunt plays Natasha, the title role in Gideon's Daughter.


She has become alienated from her father because his love for her is ardent to the point of claustrophobia. She harbours bitterness that he was absent during great swathes of her childhood. Crucially, Gideon was also out phoning his mistress as her mother's life was ebbing away in a hospital bed.


Anxious to put distance between herself and her father, she first plans a year abroad in remotest South America and then decamps to Edinburgh as a student.


So how would Blunt characterise Natasha? "She's someone who appears externally calm, but in fact on the inside she is angry, hurt, bereaved and unable to forgive her father for not being there both during her upbringing and at her mother's death."


Blunt feels this portrayal of the father-daughter relationship has universality about it.


"That's true for a lot of girls and their fathers. The fathers are so often left in the dark about their daughters' feelings as they're growing up. Then suddenly the daughters hit 16, and all these unspoken rules apply. Almost overnight, the father must learn to let the child go and allow her her independence.


"That certainly applies to Gideon and Natasha," continues the actress, who won rave reviews for her performance in the acclaimed Paul Pavlikovsky movie, My Summer of Love.


"He doesn't get her at all. She has slowly but surely drifted away from him because he has been totally focussed on his quest for success at work. That's the case so often these days: parents miss their children growing up because it's so hard to remember what's really important.


"We're constantly bombarded with the need to succeed professionally and that's what's happened between Natasha and Gideon. She was utterly bereft, and he just was not there for her. There have been a lot of women in his life, but all along he has not been paying attention to the one woman who mattered: his daughter."


The actress, who has previously headlined as Linnett in Poirot: Death on the Nile, Catherine Howard in Henry VIII, and Isolda in Boudica, explains that: "Natasha then sets about getting her revenge on her father, not in a violent way, but by breaking his heart.


"In a way, it's a cry for help, but that sort of steely indifference that so many teenagers adopt so well expertly covers it. It's frightening for a parent when a child seems so remote and untouchable. It's not the normal shouting and rowing between a father and a daughter. This conflict goes a lot deeper than that."


Blunt, who is soon to be seen starring in Who Killed Norma Barnes?, Irresistible and Empire, says she can understand where Natasha is coming from in Gideon's Daughter.


"I can relate to how delicate that father-daughter relationship can be. Between the ages of 14 and 16, I went through a patch where I decided not to be nice to my parents. I was not fun to be around. But my parents never abandoned me; they stuck by me even when I was being vile! My relationship with them is great now.


"But I've had friends who had difficult times with their parents, and still harbour anger and an inability to forgive or move on. I never went through that, but I can empathise with it."


Blunt clearly relished acting opposite Bill Nighy, who plays her father.


"I love Bill! I laughed so much with him; he's a wonderful friend. He's effortless to work with. He is completely without arrogance, and that comes across in the total sincerity of his work. He's a gentleman of the business. With Bill, everything is beautifully placed, nothing is overdone."


The actress had a comparably positive experience collaborating with Stephen Poliakoff. "He's a genuine actors' director," she beams.


"He knows exactly the right note to give you, and you always think, 'Oh my God, that's it!'


"He's also acutely aware of what he needs to do. He knows every single beat of the film before he even starts shooting.


"With Stephen, you feel like you're entering a different dimension. He sees the world in a very different light. He views everything in a much more poetic way and uses images you'd never see in a more run-of-the-mill drama.


"You might call it a kind of heightened realism, but the most important thing is that it all rings absolutely true."



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