Emily Blunt in Talks to Join Dwayne Johnson in Benny Safdie’s MMA Drama ‘The Smashing Machine’

Emily Blunt is in talks to join Benny Safdie’s solo directorial debut “The Smashing Machine,” an A24 feature film starring Dwayne Johnson as MMA and UFC champion Mark Kerr, Variety has confirmed. The film will begin production this summer.

Blunt is in talks to play Dawn Staples, Kerr’s wife. Per the studio, “While trying to set up a new life together, Dawn struggles to find her place within Mark’s chaotic and contradictory world.”

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The project would reunite Blunt with both Safdie, with whom she starred in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” and Johnson, her co-star from Disney’s 2021 film “Jungle Cruise.”

The film’s logline reads, “‘The Smashing Machine’ is a drama based on the story of Mark Kerr, the legendary MMA fighter from the no-holds-barred era of the UFC at the peak of his career. He struggles with addiction, winning, love and friendship in the year 2000.”

Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions will produce alongside Safdie’s Out for the Count banner, Eli Bush and David Koplan.

Blunt’s potential involvement in the film doesn’t come entirely as a surprise. In fact, the Oscar nominee is actually a key reason the movie is being made, Johnson told Variety in January.

Johnson and Safdie first connected on the project in 2019, but fell out of touch and put the film on hold due to the pandemic. Years later, on a phone call with Blunt, Johnson opened up to her about his desire to reconnect with the project and play Kerr. After watching the 2002 documentary “The Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr,” Blunt encouraged Johnson: “You must make this movie.”

When Blunt and Safdie spoke on the set of “Oppenheimer,” Johnson’s name came up, prompting Safdie to reconnect with the “Black Adam” actor and continue pursuing “The Smashing Machine.”

Describing his attraction to the project, Johnson told Variety, “Benny wants to create, and continues to push the envelope when it comes to stories that are raw and real, characters that are authentic and at times uncomfortable and arresting. I’m at a point in my career where I want to push myself in ways that I’ve not pushed myself in the past. I’m at a point in my career where I want to make films that matter, that explore a humanity and explore struggle [and] pain.”

Kerr, an American former wrestler and MMA icon, was a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion and World Vale Tudo Championship tournament winner. Over the course of his career, he won over two dozen MMA titles.

Blunt is currently nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Kitty in “Oppenheimer.” She is represented by CAA, The Artists Partnership, David Weber of Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.

The InSneider first reported that Blunt was in talks to join the movie.

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