New interview with Cate Blanchett and the all-Australian cast bringing “The Present” to Broadway. Enjoy!
via NBC NEW YORK
New interview with Cate Blanchett and the all-Australian cast bringing “The Present” to Broadway. Enjoy!
via NBC NEW YORK
Hello everyone! Save the date for the next tv appearance of Cate Blanchett.
She will visit The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on January 23 to promote The Present, currently on Broadway.
Cate Blanchett is making her Broadway debut in “The Present,” an adaptation, directed by John Crowley, of an early Chekhov play. For her, the production — now in previews for a Jan. 8 opening — brings to mind recent political upheavals, ranging from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump.
“You can’t present anything at the moment without thinking of the state the world is in,” she says in a rehearsal room in New York City. “We’re in a real state of” — Blanchett stops and thinks — “I was going to say ‘transition,’ but I think it’s more of a realization of what we’ve lost. We’ve lost the state of passivity, perhaps, that we’ve all been in, no matter what side of the political spectrum you are.”
When actors and creatives reunited in New York for a production first mounted in 2015 by the Sydney Theater Company, they discovered that “The Present” had taken on a notable resonance with, well, the present. The playwright Andrew Upton, Blanchett’s husband and the former artistic director of STC, has lifted the late 19th-century events of Chekhov’s early, ungainly play “Platonov” and set them in 1990s Russia, as the oligarchs rose to power at the end of the Soviet era.
“Hearing it all again, a year and a half after we first did it, you notice the feeling of powerlessness of the people in the face of the government,” Upton says. “There’s a kind of free-for-all going on that feels oddly familiar. That, and the disparity between the rich and the poor, is a very strong element inside the world of this play, and it’s speaking quite loudly at the moment.”
Although the production marks Blanchett’s first time on Broadway, the actress has always made time for the stage. With Upton, she was co-artistic director of the STC from 2008 to 2012, and some of her performances there were transferred to New York, including “Uncle Vanya” in 2012 and “The Maids,” opposite Isabelle Huppert, in 2014.
In “The Present,” she portrays the landowner Anna Petrovna, one of the women in love with disillusioned schoolmaster Mikhail Platonov, played by Richard Roxburgh. The two actors have worked together multiple times onstage, including in the New York “Vanya.”
“Because they’ve known each other and worked together on and off over the years,the depth of that relationship is available to them effortlessly,” says Crowley, a Broadway veteran who also directed the Oscar-nominated film “Brooklyn.” “They work very differently as actors. Rox is like an anchor in a scene, whereas Cate is like a clown one second, then a tragedian a second later.” He adds, “The energy and the tone is very different from the work we’ve come to know of her from film, which is more poised and still.”
“The Present” will run during the first months of the presidency of Donald Trump — a man Blanchett once said she’d play “in a heartbeat.” Does she still feel the same way?
“I don’t necessarily think it’s about playing Donald Trump or [the Australian politician] Pauline Hanson or whoever it is,” she says. “I think it’s more about doing work that looks at how we’ve ended up where we’ve ended up.”
John Crowley, director of The Present, shares his experience with The Observer. You can read some passages about Cate Blanchett below. Enjoy!
From the cast’s perspective, The Present might also mean the Broadway debuts that all 13 Australian actors are making on Crowley’s watch. This is his second time around with the play. “We did it in Sydney last August for a regular seven-week run. This time around, we had a week’s re-rehearsal and a week’s tech. Re-rehearsing this show with the exact same cast is a challenge because, of course, what worked originally could have gotten calcified from repetition over a seven-week run.”
Compared to the kind of classics Blanchett usually travels in, her husband’s rewrite of Chekhov is almost an untested new play and, thus, a surprising choice with which to charge Broadway. “I don’t know if Cate chose to make her Broadway debut with it or if it was a happy coincidence of events,” says Crowley. “We’d talked about doing something together for years, and when it came together, they invited producer Stuart Thompson to see it. He was keen to bring something from the Sydney Theater Company over and had tried to do it a few times, but the timing was never right.”
The problem has always been carving out enough stage time from Blanchett’s tightly packed film schedule, which now numbers 65 screen credits since 1993.
Liveness, which spell check still stubbornly refuses to accept as a word, is the main word that Crowley uses for what Blanchett brings to the stage and any co-star in her immediate vicinity. “The way we rehearsed it is to try and create the feeling among the ensemble of being alive to every moment,” he explains. “Cate just flies with this.”
When Crowley first started working with her in Sydney, he was surprised at her playfulness. “Some actors—especially actors who do film—have to focus on where they want to get the moment right. Cate wants to open that moment up and know what the parameters are. There will be times when something will go against the story, so you have a conversation and say, ‘If you do that, then that’s going to read as blah blah blah,’ and she’ll instantly rethink it or nix it. The emphasis and the degree of liveness are what she’s after—whether it’s rehearsing or performing on stage.
“Cate likes stress-testing moments in the play to see what they’re made of and how they’ll break. If she goes too far with it, she’ll pull back on it. She’s not somebody who likes to sit around, discussing things endlessly. She’s happier working on the floor, figuring out with another actor what the moment is about. Some actors really do have a more academic approach. Not Cate. She’s fantastically bright, but it’s allied to an instinct for playful acrobatics. You just need to give her enough rope to play with in scenes rather than too tight a space. She’ll rupture—with Richard Roxburgh, in particular, because he has very different energy as an actor. There’s more of a stillness there, and he in lots of ways is the anchor to her higher-acrobatic instincts.”
Blanchett and Roxburgh practically qualify as The Lunts of Australia, having acted together for 21 years, starting out as Ophelia and Hamlet. After years of stage-teaming, their kinetic sensuality hasn’t diminished. They can still fling sparks.
“When they go out in those big emotional scenes every night,” says Crowley, “there may be subtle variations on differences and emphases, but they wind up in the same place emotionally. That’s because they are comfortable with each other. I’ve never seen one of them make a choice in a moment than the other one felt, ‘Oh, God! That’s hard for me!’ They almost egg each other on, making each other better as actors.”
Hollywood superstar Cate Blanchett is set to make her Broadway debut. NY1 theater correspondent Frank DiLella filed the following preview.
Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett is finally making her Broadway bow. The actress is currently in previews in “The Present,” an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first play “Platonov.”
DiLella: What does Broadway mean to you?
“I think it’s got a very particular and eclectic audience,” Blanchett said. “I was really interested to see that Simon McBurney’s ‘Encounter’ is sitting alongside sort of ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Kinky Boots.’ I’m excited to be performing, all of us to be performing for that sort of eclectic mix of people.”
The play is set at a birthday party for Blanchett’s character of Anna.
“And so she brings everyone from her past together to see what’s worth salvaging,” the star said.
“The Present” has been adapted from the original Chekhov source material by Blanchett’s husband Andrew Upton.
“I got very attracted to, it’s really only one of the strands in the narrative, which is this beautiful dynamic between three men and a woman,” Upton said.
“The Present” comes to New York after a run at The Sydney Theatre Company back in 2015. The Broadway production features the entire Australian cast including Richard Roxburgh.
“It’s a play about a woman having a birthday and inviting all of her great friends around to share this experience, and of course it all goes terribly wrong. To do that with a company of players that you’ve worked with for so many years across so many permutations of experience is very special,” said Roxburgh.
And you can catch “The Present” starring Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh now in previews at The Barrymore Theatre. Opening night is set for Sunday, January 8.
New interview and photoshoot for the New York Times. A printed version of this article will available on December 25. Enjoy!
When Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh fall for each other, it rarely ends well. Dynasties crumple. Lives smash. Murder can follow. Or suicide. Sometimes both.
But these Australian actors, who have performed opposite each other for more than 20 years, seemed in rude health at a recent weekday brunch. On a break from rehearsals for “The Present,” an adaptation of an early Anton Chekhov play now in previews at the Barrymore Theater, they nestled in a corner booth at the Russian Samovar and listened to a waiter describe infused vodkas. “You cannot leave this place without trying many,” the waiter demanded.
“We have to do this,” Mr. Roxburgh said.
“We have to try this,” Ms. Blanchett concurred.
“Out of respect for Chekhov,” Mr. Roxburgh said.
Tipsy or sober, they do have a helpless reverence for Chekhov and a shared history with his plays. They played Nina and Trigorin in “The Seagull” in 1997 (dead child, wrecked life). They reunited as Yelena and Vanya for “Uncle Vanya” in 2010 (attempted murder, attempted suicide). Ben Brantley described this three-hour Sydney Theater Company production as “among the happiest of my theatergoing life.”
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They’re reuniting for “The Present,” a hectic and sometimes wrenching comedy directed by John Crowley (“Brooklyn,” “The Pillowman”). When it had its premiere in Sydney, The Daily Telegraph called it “blisteringly brilliant.”
Adapted by Andrew Upton, Ms. Blanchett’s husband, it is a bold and boldly comic rendering of Chekhov’s first full-length play, never performed in his lifetime and discovered in a safe deposit box in 1920, 16 years after his death. In its original form, the manuscript is an untitled, fragmented, 300-page muddle of a melodrama, most often called “Platonov.”
Mr. Upton has updated the action to 1990s Russia. “That shift out of communism, through perestroika and glasnost, and into the rise of the oligarchs — it’s such a lost opportunity,” he said by telephone. “For the world, but really for the Russians.”
She first saw him in a Dennis Potter play. He first saw her in a drama-school performance, playing Shakespeare’s Rosalind “with phenomenal poise and wit,” he said. Ms. Blanchett recalled their work on “Hamlet” fondly until, as she said, “you deliberately dislocated your knee so that you wouldn’t have to work with me anymore.”
“That’s sort of an outlandish version of events,” Mr. Roxburgh said. He still remembers the way she said, “My lord, I have remembrances of yours/That I have longed long to redeliver.”
Those remembrances, under Neil Armfield’s direction, included a monkey finger puppet, but for Mr. Roxburgh, that moment was “was deeply wounding and profound,” he said tenderly. “Every night.”
Are they the same actors they were then? Yes and no. Ms. Blanchett has never settled on any particular approach, though she did note that, “As a parent I’ve become a lot more economical.”
“That’s a great word,” Mr. Roxburgh said. “I don’t tie myself up in such knots anymore about trying to get something that is unattainable or ——”
“Perfect,” Ms. Blanchett said.
Both of them are busy with children and competing projects. Ms. Blanchett has three sons and a toddler daughter. Mr. Roxburgh has two sons and a daughter due in March. He has been occupied with his Australian television series, “Rake,” in which he plays an ethically challenged lawyer whose dissipation rivals Mikhail’s. (In Season 3, Ms. Blanchett had a cheeky cameo as his lesbian alter ego.)
She has several films on the go and is appearing at the Park Avenue Armory in the video installation “Manifesto,” in which she plays 12 characters declaiming on art and life. This is in stark contrast to Anna, who is given to wearied statements like: “I’m so bored. Bored and disappointed.”
But neither of them had any compunction about returning to Chekhov, first at the Sydney Theater Company and now again on Broadway through March 19. They spoke warmly about the richness of his characters and his writerly compassion for their follies and absurdities “They’re as slippery as we are as human beings.” Ms. Blanchett said. “They’re full of secrets and self-delusion.” Mr. Roxburgh agreed, though he cautioned that he had seen Chekhov plays that made him want “to put my eyes out.”
Both of them were excited to encounter a fresh version of a Chekhov play and Ms. Blanchett was struck by some of its contemporary resonances. The characters, she said, inhabit a political world in which “they’ve been lied to, they know they’ve been lied to, the people who are telling the lies know that they know, but everyone is pretending that the truth is being told.”
Both liked the play’s wildness. When Mr. Roxburgh read it, “I was so gobsmacked by the anarchy in the thing,” he said. Ms. Blanchett added that Mr. Upton “hasn’t kept the formal mess of the original manuscript, but he’s kept the emotional mess.”
If they were going to make a mess, they wanted to make it with each other, playing, as Mr. Roxburgh explained, “two people who are absolutely kindred, who know one another so intimately, but who can’t do anything with it.”
This sense of kindred spirits applies to the actors, too, as many of their colleagues insist. “They’re both prepared to look like idiots,” Mr. Upton said. “They’re very witty, and they’re very prepared to be foolish. They’re not frightened of a mistake.”
Mr. Crowley, the director, said: “What I’m always surprised by is how practical they are. But sitting around discussing scenes and the meaning of a moment, nothing interests them less. They really are hands on.”
Mr. Crowley also described their differences. Mr. Roxburgh is “almost like Cate’s anchor,” he said, a steadying force that lets her surrender to her instinct for clowning. And Ms. Blanchett is a goad to Mr. Roxburgh, a double-darer, who keeps things interesting. There are moments when they act together, Mr. Crowley said, “when I can see a smile crack across his face, when I can see his delight.”
You could glimpse that even in the middle of a draining technical rehearsal. Running a party scene, Mr. Roxburgh sat at one end of the table, his body stilled in melancholic repose, watching with obvious pleasure as Ms. Blanchett stomped and cackled and practiced the ways she might fire a shotgun she shouldered. You could glimpse something else, too, the electrochemical charge that crackles when they’re together.
A few hours later, as they sat in the theater a few seats apart, talking with Mr. Crowley on a break, I wondered if they’d ever fallen in love, before spouses and film deals lured them elsewhere.
“No, we never did,” Mr. Roxburgh said.
Mr. Crowley was glad they’d never been personally involved. “I can’t imagine you guys untangling the emotional mess of this play if there was any real baggage there — it would be too complicated,” he said.
Ms. Blanchett agreed. Then she turned her eyes to Mr. Roxburgh with all the love and trust and teasing care that two decades of collaboration bring. “Platonov says to Anna, ‘You are me.’ Well, when I look at you, I think, ‘That’s the actor I want to be.’”
Mr. Roxburgh, a man rarely at a loss for words, was struck dumb.
“I think she means that in a good way,” Mr. Crowley said.
Finally, Mr. Roxburgh collected himself. “It feels like I’ve had a whole sort of emotional life with you,” he said. “So many ups and downs and fights and longings across time. This parallel-universe marriage.”
Good afternoon! The first cover of 2017, for IN New York, the cover shot it’s from this photoshoot for Variety.
And three older magazines:
Hello everyone! Another promotional interview for Sì Night Light, this time Cate speaks with Vogue Italy about the fragrance, UNHCR and women.
Hello everyone, brand new cover and photoshoot for Cate. She talks with United’s Rhapsody Magazine on The Present, theatre, her Broadway debut, Thor and her sons. Photos by Michele Aboud.
The Evening Standard interviewed Cate Blanchett about her love for London. Enjoy!
A work in progress. At the moment it’s somewhere between New York, where I’m doing an Ocean’s film, Sydney, where my husband is currently directing a play, and just outside London in the country.
Last play you saw?
We took our boys to see The Play That Goes Wrong in the West End and absolutely loved it. They peed their pants. Before that it was One Man, Two Guvnors, which was more elevated emotionally and psychologically for them.
Most romantic thing someone’s done for you?
Taken me out for lunch and then taken me out for dinner. On the same day.
Labour and Wait in Shoreditch. I love that it stocks utilitarian objects for everything from the garden to camping trips. I also love Daunt Books and Mint interiors in Kensington. Lina, the owner, has the most extraordinary eye and does interesting collaborations with artists and designers.
Best thing a London cabbie has said to you?
A cabbie once asked me what fragrance I was wearing, because it was his girlfriend’s birthday. And I was so touched that I gave him the bottle. It was actually a very exclusive Armani Privé scent, and I didn’t have another one, but I had to give it to him because I thought he would never find it.
If you could buy any building in London, which would it be?
Wilton’s Music Hall. You can just feel that many a jolly evening has been had in there. The shape of it is so unusual that I think it’s really inspiring for theatre makers because they start to reinvent their relationship with the audience. It’s magical.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
David Hare once passed on a piece of advice to me that Judi Dench once gave him: ‘F*** ‘em, f*** ‘em, f*** ‘em.’ It has been very useful, in life and in the arts.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m building a pigpen, reading How Did We Get Into This Mess by George Monbiot and working with the BFI on the launch of the IWC Filmmakers Bursary award, which gives young directors their first foot on the funding ladder.
Most memorable meal?
I’m a great fan of the sausage and sauerkraut at Fischer’s in Marylebone (below).
What building would you like to be locked in overnight?
The National Portrait Gallery.
Who is your hero?
Angela Merkel. She has been extraordinary in holding things together and offering patient, long-term solutions to very complicated problems.
Last album you downloaded?
I much prefer buying albums to downloading them — I like to hold them like books — but I did download Nick Cave’s last beautiful album Skeleton Tree. I think he’s an extraordinary person, and it was so full of the stuff of life and death and the pain of being alive.
Recently, Cate Blanchett sat down with InStyle to talk about serving as a goodwill ambassador to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, overcoming high school insecurities, and learning to embrace fear. The interview is part of the I am that girl campaign supported by InStyle magazine . Enjoy the reading! #InnerStyle
Cate Blanchett is featured in the new issue of Grazia Italia magazine. There is one new photo from the new Sì campaign for Giorgio Armani, shot by Tom Munro. Enjoy!
New interview with Cate Blanchett for Marie Claire Italia! Enjoy the reading!
Cate Blanchett spoke to Entertainement Weekly about her new projects including Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Enjoy the interview!
Cate Blanchett has recently had what she describes as a very low-key time in her life. “I took a big chunk of time off to be with my family — we adopted our little girl — and it’s been a lovely, quiet year,” she says. We’re guessing that’s going to change because Blanchett is about to become very, very busy indeed.
She recently arrived in New York City to begin work on Ocean’s Eight (alongside Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina), and from there will go directly into her Broadway debut starring alongside Richard Roxburgh in The Present, directed by John Crowley (Brooklyn). And that’s all before she gets to work on Where’d You Go, Bernadette, adapted from the 2012 best-selling and beloved Maria Semple novel with Richard Linklater directing, or to get her chance to play the great Lucille Ball in an authorized film — produced by Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. — about Lucy and Desi Arnaz. Oh, and somewhere in there, she found time to shoot Thor: Ragnarok. We caught up with the two-time Oscar winner to discuss it all.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You are playing the bad guy in Thor, right?
CATE BLANCHETT: Yes, You get to a certain age and you don’t play the hero anymore. [Laughs] You play villains. Villains and drunks.
Co-star Mark Ruffalo has described your character, Hela, as “the worst of the worst.”
Did he say that? Well, he’s the greenest of the green! I didn’t get to work so much with Mark, unfortunately. But I did get to work with Chris [Hemsworth] and talk about delightful! He’s just absolutely fabulous. The whole thing was just a riot and fantastic fun. Did you see [director] Taika Waititi’s film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople? Or, What We Do in the Shadows? He’s just got such a sure hand. He’s wonderful — I’d eat him for breakfast if I could. He’s absolutely delicious. And he’s irreverent which is great because Marvel, at its best, has its tongue firmly in its cheek.
Chris Hemsworth is actually sort of a giant in person. It’s not just movie magic!
He is a big guy! But, you know, you get on the Avengers/Marvel bandwagon — they’re making so many of these behemoths at once — he doesn’t have any time to sort of get chubby. I do love Chris in these movies — he has that really playful side of him that he gets to truck out.
So you’re now in New York to start work on Ocean’s Eight, which we’re all very excited about.
I’m excited too. It’s going to be its own thing. [Producer] Steven Soderbergh will be all over it but [director] Gary Ross has been behind the scenes for all the previous ones and understands that universe. So this an interesting side step.
There’s not too much known about the plot of this film except that it involves a heist and the Met Gala. You’ve attended that gala in real life.
Yes, I chaired it with Nicolas Ghesquière and François-Henri Pinault in 2007. So I know it from that angle but this is an entirely different thing. It’s like giving a kid a camera on Christmas day and suddenly seeing things from their perspectives. The whole thing, the way it’s put together, it’s really smart and fun.
What can you tell us about your character?
Uh….I’m not sure. [Laughs] I probably shouldn’t go into too much detail but I play a long-time cohort. It feels fun. I must admit, I get excited about who is making it and who is in it, and then I want to be surprised by it.
It’s so great to have this powerhouse ensemble of women onscreen together.
Yes. There’s this really entrenched and lazy thinking that says there’s a certain demographic who watches films a certain way and that narratives have to reveal themselves — men should be at the core and women should be an objectified part of that process. It’s really deeply uncreative. It doesn’t produce anything interesting for men or women. It’s time to stop talking about these films as “female” projects, and just call them good and interesting projects, full stop.
And you basically go straight from filming into your play, The Present, right?
I think I finish on the Saturday and I’m in rehearsal on a Monday. [Laughs] We did this show last year in Sydney and we’re transferring it over here which is great. It’s from an almost broken fragment of a work of Chekhov’s that Andrew Upton [Blanchett’s husband] adapted.
It seems crazy that after all this time on stage, this is your Broadway debut.
We’ve come to New York a few times before — to BAM and Lincoln Center. It’s difficult because we were running the company [From 2008 to 2013, Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton were co-CEOs and artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company] and had children and schools so it wasn’t possible to do a long run. Now that we’ve left the company, it’s a much more achievable. It’s exciting. It’s a whole different audience. And I’m really happy that the entire original cast is coming. And John Crowley is directing! We’ve been trying to work with him ever since we came through the door — he directed Brooklyn, which is so utterly heartbreaking. He’s great.
And then next year you’ll start on Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
Yes! It is such a tricky book to adapt, and there’s this internal detached perspective — the way the narrative folds in on itself. But they’ve done a really great job with it. We’re going to go next year, I think.
And finally, I want to know what’s going on with the Lucy and Desi Arnaz project you are attached to.
Lucie Arnaz has been incredibly, unbelievably generous. We met a few years ago and started talking about this and now Aaron Sorkin is in advanced talks to adapt her mother and father’s story. It’s incredible. I mean, you want to talk about astonishing women who have made a lasting impact? You walk onto a film set and you’ve got the female bathrooms called “Lucy” and the male bathrooms called “Desi.” [Laughs] She was the first female studio head, for goodness sake, and a mother and she broke all the rules and changed comedy and was this incredible actress. And then you’ve got this amazing love story between these two people. He’s Cuban and he’s younger than her.
I don’t think I realized he was younger.
Of course, we won’t be casting anyone younger than me. [Laughs] But really, it’s so great and Lucie Arnaz has been so amazing to give us the authorized version of her story. It’s an incredible act of trust.
I take it that I Love Lucy made it to Australia?
Oh god, yes. I think she was watched around the globe. I’ve watched them all. But of course, it’s one thing to watch as a fan and then it’s another to think about how to delve in. There’s so much there and it’s so rich. But it’s a lot to try and think about inhabiting that genius!
So when do you think you’ll be able to get it going?
As soon as possible! I’ve read a lot of films — and made a few — that have ended up being biopics. In the end, this has to be so much more than that. The directorial vision of it will be absolutely vital. It’s terrifying. But like all good things, it’s equally terrifying and exciting.
We recovered many old articles and interviews with Cate Blanchett from various countries. The latest among them is the interview for Elle Brazil July 2016 to promote Sì Le Parfum. Enjoy!
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