‘Edge of Tomorrow’: Emily Blunt talks Tom Cruise, brutal sci-fi battle

April 25, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
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Tom Cruise as Major William Cage and Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski in the sci-fi thriller "Edge of Tomorrow." (Warner Bros.)

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Emily Blunt as Rita Vrataski and Tom Cruise as Bill Cage in the sci-fi thriller "Edge of Tomorrow." (Warner Bros.)

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Actress Emily Blunt photographed at the Four Seasons Hotel, April 14, 2012. (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

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Tom Cruise stars as Bill Cage, a man who must relive the same brutal battle against an unrelenting alien race in the epic sci-fi thriller movie "Edge of Tomorrow." Doug Liman is directing the film, which also stars Emily Blunt. (David James/Warner Bros.)

For the cast, crew and a platoon of weary extras shooting the 3-D sci-fi extravaganza “Edge of Tomorrow” at England’s Leavesden Studios in late 2012, the beach set became synonymous with suffering.

Built to recall such World War II coastal conflicts as the Invasion of Normandy or the Battle of Dunkirk, the sandy set proved to be as loathsome as the brutal alien marauders known as “mimics” that star Tom Cruise battles while wearing an 85-pound metal exoskeleton in the film (which reportedly cost between $175 million and $200 million and is due in theaters June 6).

“That beach became known by everyone working as ‘the Bitch,’” said “Edge of Tomorrow” costar Emily Blunt. “It was England. It was cold. The sand was so cumbersome. There were explosions. And everyone was running around in the metal suits. It became like this six-week mission to just get through the beach set.”

“Edge of Tomorrow” is based on the Japanese young adult novella “All You Need Is Kill.” Director Doug Liman grafts “Transformers”-like robot shoot-’em-up action onto a gritty wartime drama a la “Saving Private Ryan” with a strong narrative debt to 1993’s time-warp comedy “Groundhog Day.”

Cruise’s character, Lt. Col. Bill Cage, finds himself stuck in a “time loop,” thrown wholly unprepared into a brutal combat scenario in which he’s killed repeatedly, only to find himself inexplicably resurrected anew after each death to fight the same beach-set battle again.

Blunt portrays a legendary Special Forces soldier who killed 1,000 mimics in a single shootout and now serves as mentor to Cruise’s bewildered hero as the Doomsday Clock on Earth’s invasion ticks toward zero.

“She had the same power that Tom’s character now has,” Blunt explained. “She really is the only person on the planet who understands what he’s going through. She no longer has that power but sees he’s the key to winning the war.”

For her part, Blunt — known for portraying an evil fashionista in 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada” and starring in indie fare such as “The Adjustment Bureau” and “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” — went on a three-month crash course in Krav Maga, track running and gymnastics to meet the physical challenges of acting and fighting in metal battle armor while strung up on aerial wires.

“I almost broke my nose in training,” Blunt said, laughing at the memory. “I caught my sword on the wire. That was the only part where I was like, ‘I won’t be able to shoot tomorrow!’”

– Chris Lee | @LATHeroComplex

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