Emily Blunt Discusses Her Stutter With Howard Stern

Occasionally there’s a celebrity that hits the spotlight and openly discusses their personal history and usually a battle with a stutter. This week, it was the turn of Emily Blunt as she discussed stuttering in an interview with Howard Stern.

You can listen to that interview here.

What I found intriguing when listening was that I really couldn’t tell that she had a stutter. There’s just so much fluency and confidence in her voice that it was mesmerizing. As I listened to the interview, here are a few things that got my ears perked

1) That one in four women stutters

2) That stuttering is hereditary

3) That stuttering resurfaced for Emily when she was heavily pregnant

The first one – stuttering statistics are only numbers. It really doesn’t matter how many women versus men have a stutter. Genetics in that respect have nothing to do with your speech.

The second point raised, the jury’s still out on that one. While there are plenty of references citing this as hereditary, the reality is that it’s only a link. There is no specific gene someone inherits that will eventually affect how he or she speaks.

The third point though – that really grabbed my attention, because as a guy, I have no idea what happens to your diaphragm when you’re pregnant. When Emily mentioned this, it got me thinking about the breathing techniques that can be used to somewhat control a stutter. All it does is control how you speak to a certain extent, but it’s never really going to eradicate it. Just help you control it.

As the interview went on, it turned out Emily’s stutter was present since the age of seven, becoming increasingly problematic by the age of twelve. Her teacher had noticed when she acted, she spoke without the stutter, so that’s clearly been something of an influence on her career. This is apparent in both singing careers and acting careers. As her teacher had mentioned, the stutter wasn’t there when she assumed the role of a character.

What also became apparent, which I had some knowledge about was that there are more actors out there with the exact same speech problem. One name that came up in the conversation was Bruce Willis. Turns out, that’s (perhaps) why he’s a man of few words and you’ll rarely see him surface for interviews. As Emily mentioned, she had asked him to speak at a Gala she does every year, and he declined because he’s anxious that the stutter will surface.

…Which brings me around to the difference between Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis. Bruce still struggles with his speech, whereas Emily is very capable of speaking at interviews without being disrupted by the stutter.

The only issue she seems to have trouble with now is telephone communication. She couldn’t have described the problem any better than she did.

The problem defined as: “Pressure to communicate only with your voice”.

The struggle to speak fluently when using the telephone

The struggle to speak fluently when using the telephone

If you find the phone is hampering your speech, may I suggest you try the mirror technique discussed here.

Another part of that interview made me realise just how fortunate us Brits are here with our NHS and speech therapy for all our kids. As Emily mentioned about the Gala she does annually, it turns out that’s to raise funds for kids for scholarships to access stuttering treatment.

As that interview concluded, one thing that stood out was a comment about avoidance. People that have a stutter and Emily included herself in this – come up with avoidance tactics. Quite the blanket statement, but nonetheless, are you still using avoidance tactics?

There are effective ways to control your stutter without avoiding it. You can find many tips around the blog here, or if you want to discus speech modification in more detail, I welcome you to contact me.