Lasse Hallström’s charming and witty adaptation of Paul Torday’s bestselling novel, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,’ stars Ewan McGregor as Fred Jones, a fisheries expert and academic who works for the British government. When he’s approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) with a plan to introduce salmon into the waterways of Yemen for the purpose of sport fishing, he laughs off the scheme, claiming it impossible. Harriet acts as the British representative of an amiable and benevolent sheikh (Amr Waked), who fulfils his love of fishing on frequent trips to his estate in the ruggedly gorgeous Scottish highlands.

While Fred ponders the idea, the proposal catches the ear of the British prime minister’s spokesperson, Bridget Maxwell (Kristin Scott Thomas). Desperate to detract attention from some unwanted publicity, Bridget sees Harriet’s idea as the perfect opportunity to promote what will appear to be a heartfelt story of British goodwill in the Middle East. Despite Fred’s protests, he soon finds himself working on a project that seems not only frivolous but absolutely unfeasible in the arid land of Yemen. His scepticism is matched only by the sheikh’s boundless optimism. As the mission begins to succeed, Fred grows closer to Harriet. Despite the many obstacles that stand in the way of their romance, their relationship affords an unexpected and welcome sense of hope for two lonely individuals. ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ is released March 9th in the US, and April 20th in the UK and Ireland. Look out for a more in-depth interview with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt next week.

Your character Dr. Fred Jones, he’s pretty uptight at the start of this story?

Ewan McGregor: Yeah. He gets asked to meet this woman, Harriet, who wants to employ his help to introduce salmon fishing in the deserts of the Yemen. For Alfred it’s a complete nonsense, the idea that these fish that live in cold waters in Scotland, and migrate to and from Iceland, would survive in the desert. So for him it’s a complete waste of his time because he just wants to focus on his paper. But he kind of gets blackmailed by his employer to go, so he goes and he meets Harriet. At first he’s really rude to her (laughs). He doesn’t want anything to do with it, he thinks it’s a big nonsense. But his employer says that he’ll sack him if he doesn’t help, the government are very keen to get involved in this, they want a good news story out of the middle east. That’s also why I liked the script, it comments on our politics, the idea of spin and the idea of people who spin lies to the general public. He’s very passionate about his fisheries science, but yes, he’s completely uptight at the beginning of the story.

Harriet seems a lot more upbeat….

Emily Blunt: Yeah. Harriet works for an investment firm, and the Sheikh is my client, so I’m in charge of going to see Fred and pursued him to embark on this ludicrous scheme – to introduce salmon fishing to the Yemen. Harriet is a very positive, upbeat, bright girl. Also, she sort of lives to work, so I think this whole experience for her is a real awakening.

What was it about this script that appealed to you?

Emily Blunt: I read the first 10 pages and I already knew I wanted to do it. It was instantly charming and fresh, it was like nothing else I’ve read. It’s the weirdest story in the world and it’s the weirdest story to pitch to people when they say, “So, what are you doing next?” (Laughs) I never knew how to sum it up and describe it, and I think that’s what is magical about it. It’s utterly surprising in every way, and I think that’s what is special about it.

What was the experience like working with director Lasse Hallström?

Ewan McGregor: He’s sensitive to the work. He’s got a really good eye and he knows exactly what he wants. He’s an experienced director so there’s a really nice economy to how he shoots. You never feel like you’re overshooting stuff just so he has loads of choices and stuff in the editing room. He knows what he wants. It’s very smooth shooting with him, he’s a lovely man, a good guy. It was a phenomenal script to read, they put together the best crew I’ve worked with, and a brilliant band of actors. The ingredients for this film are really rich – due to Lasse, because the atmosphere on set comes from the top, the director, they set the tone, if you like, for everybody. It was a wonderful experience.

Emily Blunt: It’s without a doubt my favourite job I’ve ever been on. It’s very easy for me to feel that way about this, the camaraderie we all had – I think that probably happens when you shoot on location. But I have to agree, it comes from the top. I think Lasse created a really atmospheric set. But also a really buoyant, joyful place to come to work. We all just ran to work (laughs). It was endlessly fun to do. Lasse is by far my favourite director I’ve worked with because he just really understands what you need to hear and what you might need for the scene. He knows when to leave you alone but he also knows when to give you a note that will take you somewhere else.

I really enjoyed how both of you two worked together and bounced off each other?

Ewan McGregor: Emily is just a fantastic girl and a great great actress. There is a real sense of play in our scenes, which is lovely. I love that the most when you are working with an actor who’s open to just play during the scenes, I really like that. We got on really well and struck a really nice friendship. I think it’s a really nice relationship on film because of that – because we get on so well.

Emily Blunt: We sort of felt like we were separated at birth or something (laughs). I just adore him, great guy.