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How Emily Blunt Found Her Voice

"When you have a stutter, you become a really good listener"

On a rainy afternoon last November, Emily Blunt arrived at marie claire US editor Anne Fulenwider’s house in Brooklyn to talk to her 11-year-old son, Sammy, about something they have in common: stuttering.

A true fan of hers since 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada (not to mention Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario, A Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns), Fulenwider became an even bigger fan once it became apparent how deeply involved she was in the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS).

Sammy has been attending the AIS institute on and off since he was seven, and in 2016 he was asked to speak at its annual benefit in New York. The two other speakers that evening were then–vice president Joe Biden and actor Bruce Willis, and the whole night kicked off with a video from a very pregnant Emily, who has hosted the event since 2010. 


Blunt is passionate about stamping out misconceptions surrounding the speech disorder. “It’s not psychological. It’s not that you’re nervous, it’s not that you can’t read, it’s not that you don’t know what you want to say. It’s neurological, it’s genetic, it’s biological. It’s not your fault” she says. “What they teach [at AIS], is that it’s really not about ‘oh, I stutter really badly.’ It’s more ‘I stutter really well. I’m a brilliant stutterer.’ It’s sort of the reverse psychology. That’s really helpful.”


Growing up, the actress felt her stutter really start to take hold when she was six or seven and she has struggled with it ever since, however she manages to put a positive spin on it and has blocked out the people who defined her on her speech impediment alone.

“I think in some ways, when you go through something like having a stutter, you become a really good listener. You absorb the world in a different way. Because you’re maybe less inclined to talk when you’re going through it. You become really conscious of a lot of stuff going around you, so I think I was a really observant kid. I was a really empathetic kid, and still feel that’s something I try to lead with. And I encourage empathy in my kids and embracing differences and not being scared of them, or teasing people for them, you know?” says Blunt. 


For the average person living with a stutter, acting would not be the career choice that would come to mind. Blunt, however, took it completely in her stride and is only getting better with each role. There is one movie that is convenient to her struggles, A Quiet Place, where she barely talks at all. “It’s the perfect role for a stutterer, being quiet. That’s why we’re doing another one. If [only] I could do Quiet Place movies for the rest of my life.”

A Quiet Place: Part II is in cinemas from March 19. 

Emily Blunt stars on the cover of marie claire’s April issue, out tomorrow. 


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