'The Girl On The Train' Has One Major Change From The Book But Author Paula Hawkins Approves
When it was first announced that Emily Blunt would be starring in the film adaptation of The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins' bestselling 2015 novel, reactions were mixed. Although no one doubted that Blunt, a highly talented actor, would give an impressive performance as protagonist Rachel, some fans took issue with the fact that the star doesn't share much of a resemblance with the character — or any at all. In the novel, Rachel is described as frumpy and not put together, a woman whose outward appearance is meant to be a reflection of her flawed, messy mental state. Blunt doesn't exactly fit that picture, but speaking with Bustle, Hawkins explains why this particular Girl on the Train change from the book is perfectly alright.
"It’s not that it’s so much what she actually looks like, but how she feels, and how she thinks that others perceive her. That’s the important thing," the author says. "And I think what Emily does so well in her performance is that she carries around all that shame and self-loathing in almost a physical way, and you can see it in her sense of what she dislikes about herself."
And besides, Hawkins adds with a laugh, "Obviously they’ve done something to make her look less attractive than she would be normally."
It's true that Blunt's depiction in the film is a far cry from the actor's usual red carpet glamour, but as Hawkins says, her physical appearance ends up being less revealing of her character's complexity than her actual performance. Rachel's look is simply a manifestation of the internal struggles she faces (her alcoholism, her obsession with her ex, her constant, painful self-loathing), not an essential piece of the character in and of itself. It's understandable that book fans would be frustrated by any significant change made by the movie, but to focus on the difference in Rachel's appearance is to ignore the complexity of the character that shines through regardless, as written by Hawkins and as portrayed by Blunt.
Blunt is simply marvelous in The Girl on the Train, and her casting "thrilled" Hawkins — as did the announcement of her book's adaptation itself. The Girl on the Train went through a whirlwind production, with its film rights picked up a year before Hawkins' novel even his shelves; director Tate Taylor was chosen to helm the movie in May 2015, and the actual filming only ceased in January of this year. "It’s obviously very exciting, and also quite daunting," Hawkins says of the process, adding that, "as [the movie's release] got closer and closer, I got more nervous about it."
"The closer it gets, the more you think, 'oh god,'" she continues. "But then I saw it, and I do think the performances are so good, and it’s so dark, which is what I wanted. They really stayed true to the way those characters were drawn and their psychological motivations, and the messiness of their lives is all there."
Blunt's casting aside, it does seem that the film version of The Girl on the Train did keep close to its source material. Yet for a bit during filming, the possibility of a new addition to the story did come up — in the form of a cameo by Hawkins. Sadly, the author's blink-and-you-miss-it role as a passenger on a train (natch) didn't end up being used in the movie's final version. But that's perfectly fine by Hawkins — "I’m really not that heartbroken about it," she says with a big laugh. Even with her acting debut being cut short, the author clearly gives The Girl on the Train her total seal of approval.
Image: Universal Pictures