Emily Blunt Says Algorithms ‘Frustrate Me’ and ‘I Hate That F—ing Word’: ‘How Can We Let It Determine What Will Be Successful?’

Emily Blunt seems staunchly opposed to algorithms making any decisions in Hollywood. Ahead of the release of her summer tentpole “The Fall Guy,” the Oscar nominee joined co-star Ryan Gosling for a Vanity Fair Italy cover story in which she expressed frustration over algorithm-driven decision making. Blunt pointed to Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” as the kind of gamble that an algorithm or data-crunching practices would probably advise not to make, given it’s a biopic with an R rating and a three-hour runtime that features no action scenes.

“Some new things frustrate me: algorithms, for example,” Blunt said. “I hate that fucking word, excuse the expletive! How can it be associated with art and content? How can we let it determine what will be successful and what will not?”

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“Let me explain with an example,” she continued. “I was in a three-hour film about a physicist, which had the the impact it had – the algorithms probably wouldn’t have grasped it. My hope is that ‘Oppenheimer’ and similar projects are not considered anomalies, that we stop translating creative experience into diagrams.”

Gosling then chimed in and said: “You can’t beat an algorithm at its job. And this, paradoxically, forces me to be more human, to choose ‘handmade’ projects like ‘The Fall Guy,’ which is based on personal experiences, our footprints and our stories, which we poured into the characters.”

Blunt might certainly have a point with “Oppenheimer,” which grossed more than $960 million at the worldwide box office to become the highest-grossing biographical drama in history. Even with Christopher Nolan behind the camera, very few in the industry expected such a huge gross for a super dense biographical drama.

“I’ve just made a three-hour film about Robert Oppenheimer which is R-rated and half in black-and-white – and it made a billion dollars. Of course I think films are doing great,” Nolan told Empire magazine earlier this year about his film’s success. “The crazy thing is that it’s literally the most successful film I’ve ever made. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and in the United Kingdom it’s my highest-grossing film. So I feel great about the state of the movie business, based on my own experience. But also based on seeing other movies break out, seeing audiences come back.”

“The audience’s desire to be surprised, to see something new, to see something they did not know they wanted, that’s always been the most powerful force in theatrical film,” Nolan added. “So it was wonderful to see that this year.”

Just recently, “A Knight’s Tale” director Brian Helgeland told Inverse that it was an algorithm that likely killed the chance of making a sequel to his 2001 medieval action-comedy. One sequel idea that would’ve centered on the daughter of Heath Ledger’s character was pitched to Sony, which apparently was interested in bringing Netflix on board.

“I pitched it to Sony because they own the rights, and it seemed like they were interested in making it with Netflix, releasing it as a Netflix movie,” Helgeland said. “My understanding is that Netflix tested this sequel idea through their algorithms, which indicated that it would not be successful. ‘A Knight’s Tale’ seems to get more popular with every passing year; it’s the strangest thing.”

Read Blunt and Gosling’s full Vanity Fair Italy interview here. The duo’s new film, “The Fall Guy,” opens in U.S. theaters on May 3 from Universal Pictures.

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