It may or may not surprise you to learn that Mary Poppins Returns star Emily Blunt once had a stuttering speech impediment until she was about 14 years old. She revealed her experience during her hosting stint at the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS)'s 2022 Freeing Voices Changing Lives Gala on July 11. In her gala speech, she explained that, "Once you are a stutterer, you will always be a stutterer."
Speaking with People, the A Quiet Place star talked about the importance of raising awareness for the "disability people don't know much about.”
"People don't talk about [it] enough if it hasn't got enough exposure, and millions of people around the world struggle with it." Telling the outlet that acting was one of the first coping mechanisms in her life to alleviate the stutter, she tempered it with, "I wouldn't say that's why I've ventured into acting. But it was just a bit shocking the first time I was able to speak, you know, doing a silly voice or an accent pretending to be someone else."
Back in 2020, she told the same outlet that her speech impediment ran in the family, with her grandfather, uncle, and cousin all afflicted with it, while he noticed its first appearance in her life around the age of six or seven. Today, she reminds people that "it's biological and it's often hereditary and it's not your fault."
An AIS board member, Blunt has been attending the foundation's fundraising galas for years, often acting as the Mistress of Ceremonies.
In a 2019 gala interview, Blunt summarized the heart of her work with AIS, saying, "In this environment that we're in right now where we're working valiantly against that — I think we need to raise awareness that stutterers out there need a great deal of support, and there are a lot of us."
She’s not wrong, in fact there are many other celebrities who have opened up about their experiences with a stutter. The AIS honoured Ed Sheerhan in 2015, who revealed that his stutter was due to a medical procedure as a child, but that rapping along to Eminem’s albums helped him navigate his speech impediment.
Even POTUS Joe Biden struggled with a stutter. During a CNN town hall in 2020, he revealed that he still to this day can sometimes stutter if he’s tired. Perhaps one of the most famous voices of all time, the man behind Darth Vader, James Earl Jones, has been very open about his childhood stammer.
"I didn't want to talk,” he told NPR. “Bad enough that I just gave up. I couldn't introduce myself to people who visited the house, and it was too painful." He added, "I don't say I was 'cured.’ I just work with it."
In her video interview with People, Emily Blunt said her stammer reappeared with a force when she was pregnant with her two children, Hazel and Violet, that she shares with husband, John Krasinski.