Skip to main content

Many of us struggle to maintain our work-life balance. And it seems as though movie stars also have to put in plenty of effort not to get burned out on a daily basis. Emily Blunt has an ultra-long list of recent movie credits, which led her to turn down a role in the recent Jungle Cruise movie twice. That is, before her prospective co-star, Dwayne Johnson, sent her a voice message even though the two had never met. Learn more about this exchange, why Blunt had originally turned down the role, and what the original plans for this movie were. 

Blunt turned down the ‘Jungle Cruise’ role twice

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson recorded a video to send to Blunt in 2017 trying to convince her to star as Lily in the Jungle Cruise movie project with him, based on a ride of the same name at Disneyland. Johnson stated he “had always admired her as an actor. But also, when I would watch her on talk shows, she had this personality that was effervescent, that was cool and very, very charming.” 

Johnson filmed this video because Blunt declined to read the script for the film. She was fresh off shooting several other films and wanted to take a break. Even after the chief of Disney’s live-action studio, Sean Bailey, sent her a letter, she still wasn’t interested. Disney decided to try another tactic to entice Blunt. The director, Jame Collet-Serra, flew to New York to deliver the script to Blunt at home. So Johnson wanted him to bring along a video to try to charm her into it. 

Johnson states, “I wanted to let her know via this video just how important she was to this movie and how I only wanted her in the movie… I actually never heard again from Emily. Didn’t respond at all. Just ghosted me.” Blunt told him, “I thought the video was sweet. [I] didn’t know you were going to be so sensitive.” After reading the script, Blunt finally opted to take on the role. 

Blunt was exhausted from other recent roles 

(L-R): Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt promote their movie 'Jungle Cruise'
(L-R): Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt promote their movie ‘Jungle Cruise’ | The Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA via Getty Images

Blunt was originally uninterested in taking on another leading role due to her busy schedule. At the time, she’d completed Mary Poppins Returns and A Quiet Place back-to-back before Jungle Cruise began shooting. This role also marked the fourth time Blunt played a role in a Disney film. Disney produced Mary Poppins Returns, along with The Muppets and Into the Woods.

Disney scheduled Jungle Cruise for a 2019 summer release. But after a series of delays, one of which was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it finally debuted on July 30th, 2021. Since Jungle Cruise filmed, Blunt worked on other projects, including A Quiet Place II and Wild Mountain Thyme

Jungle Cruise also features Edgar Ramírez. He worked with Blunt in the 2011 movie The Girl on the Train

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen could have starred in a different ‘Jungle Cruise’ project


10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Dwayne Johnson

CinemaBlend reports that the original idea for Jungle Cruise featured Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, both of whom starred in the Toy Story franchise.

That project eventually fell through. Johnson later explained in an interview that, “I just think in the world of Hollywood, as you know, things get developed and there’s an energy and fervor behind it and then something happens and somebody drops out and it just goes away. But also, everything happens in the way it should happen and by the time it got to me it was a complete rewrite from page one.”

After Johnson reworked the script, he ended up producing a well-regarded film. You can see Jungle Cruise in theaters or with a Disney+ subscription now.