The Girl On The Train: Five Things To Know About The Big Screen Adaptation

emily blunt girl on the train

by Katie Rosseinsky |
Published on

One of the most buzzed about books of last year has just become one of the most talked about films of this year. Paula Hawkins' The Girl On The Train, the gripping commuter thriller that you've seen everyone reading on their journey into work, has been adapted for the big screen. In the, ahem, driver's seats are director Tate Taylor (the man responsible for The Help) and Emily Blunt as Rachel, the alcohol-fuddled 'girl' of the title - think Gone Girl with a dash of Desperate Housewives melodrama and plenty of straight vodka, and you're halfway there.

As the fastest-selling adult novel of all time gets the Hollywood treatment, we bring you five talking points. Think of this as your TGOTT cheat sheet...

The story has been transplanted from London to New York

the girl on the train
Rachel (Emily Blunt) arrives at Grand Central Station

The Girl On The Train may have been inspired by author Paula Hawkins’ early morning train ride into London, but its big screen adaptation has taken things stateside. The action is transported from the back-to-back semis of a sleepy Home Counties commuter town to a leafy, photogenic New York suburb, with lead character Rachel making the journey into New York’s Grand Central Station (which you’ll recognise from the opening sequence of Gossip Girl) each day. It’s a decision that’s made devotees of the novel baulk, but (whisper it) we don’t think the film is the worse for it. In fact, blame our propensity to binge-watch Desperate Housewives, but it’s arguably easier to see the icily pristine super-homes of the fictional Ardsley-on-Hudson as a fitting backdrop for the psychodrama that unfolds.

Other than that, it's a pretty faithful adaptation

The film even sticks with Hawkins' multiple narrators, handing the narrating voiceover to each of the central trio of female characters at different points (though the lion's share of story-telling duties go to Emily Blunt's scene-stealing - but booze-fuddled and unreliable - Rachel). Do Rachel's train gins make an appearance? No - sadly for our American cousins, G&Ts in tins just aren't a thing in the States, meaning that Rachel is forced to decant increasing amounts of straight vodka into a sippy sports cup.

Emily Blunt underwent a make-under to play Rachel

emily blunt girl on the train
Emily Blunt as Rachel in The Girl On The Train

On paper, Rachel is described as a haggard, overweight alcoholic whose life is spiralling out of control. None of these descriptors apply to the very beautiful and very successful Emily Blunt, meaning that in the time-honoured Hollywood tradition (see Nicole Kidman in The Hours and Charlize Theron in Monster), a serious make-under was required. The actress revealed to that she used contact lenses to give her eyes the bloodshot glassiness of a drunk, explaining 'there were different levels, like pink was a bit buzzed, and then raging drunk was a really red eye [...] People look scary when they’re really drunk — there’s something in their eyes that is so crazy.' Her make-up artist also threw in some fake rosacea, imperfections and bags. Ah, imagine having to add imperfections to your face with make-up...

Justin Theroux wasn't always going to play Rachel's ex

justin theroux girl on the train
Justin Theroux as Tom In The Girl On The Train

Producers always had Emily Blunt in mind for the lead role but, as is want to happen in Hollywood, The Girl On The Train went through a number of casting iterations to find its supporting characters. Captain America star Chris Evans was initially attached to the project as manipulative ex-husband Tom, but had to pull out due to a scheduling clash – causing Justin Theroux to step up to the role. Jared Leto was also slated to play Scott (one half of the photogenic couple that Rachel watches from the train), but he too had to leave the role – presumably he was too busy creeping out his Suicide Squad cast mates or something – leaving it open for Luke Evans.

Haley Bennett could be this year's breakout star

haley bennett the girl on the train
©Getty Images

Nope, that wasn't Jennifer Lawrence you spotted in the film's trailer - it's 28-year-old Haley Bennett, who certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to the Hunger Games actress. As well as playing the beautiful but troubled Megan in TGOTT, Haley can currently be seen in the star-studded re-boot of cowboy classic The Magnificent Seven, alongside the likes of Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington, and will feature in Warren Beatty's upcoming Rules Don't Apply. It's a triple whammy that's got people talking - and not just for the fact that she's a total J. Law doppelganger. A talented singer, you might also have seen her in noughties Hugh Grant vehicle Music and Lyrics.

The Girl On The Train is in cinemas now

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