We’ve been away but we’re back and here are the news on Cate this past month.
Stateless on Netflix
Stateless was released on Netflix on July 8. You can now binge-watch all 6 episodes.
You can check the trailer below:
Cate Blanchett co-created and co-stars in Stateless — a powerful and timely series about four strangers whose lives collide at an immigration detention center in the middle of the Australian desert. pic.twitter.com/w39frU616W
— Netflix (@netflix) June 24, 2020
Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie: “Stateless deals with painful stuff”
After winning three Golden Globes and becoming one of the world’s biggest movie stars, Aussie actress Cate Blanchett is the latest performer to gravitate towards the small screen, appearing in not one but two limited TV series in 2020.
Her first role was playing conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in the limited series Mrs. America, and next up she’ll appear as a cult leader in the Australian Netflix series Stateless. The six-part series was also co-created and co-produced by Blanchett, along with her high school and drama school friend, Elise McCredie. Loosely inspired by the real-life story of Cornelia Rau – a German-Australian woman who was unlawfully detained for ten months at an Australian refugee camp by mistake – the story also follows a woman escaping from a cult, a refugee fleeing from persecution with his family, a father trapped in a dead-end job, and a bureaucrat on the verge of a national scandal. Their lives intersect in an isolated immigration detention center and other cast members include Dominic West (The Affair), Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad). The series had a festival premiere in Berlin in February, where Blanchett and McCredie sat down to talk about their provocative new show.
Is Stateless based on the story of Cornelia Rau?
Cate Blanchett: Stateless is not based on anyone’s particular story. When Liz and I met back in 2014, we were very much interested in exploring immigration detention stories, as I had just started working with UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). So we started delving into what was going on in the offshore processing of refugees because when we were growing up in Australia, our country as a brand was welcoming and multicultural; but in our young adulthood, we’d watched that brand shift. So we wanted to reverse engineer that and go back to the time before immigration detention centers were taken offshore, and see how we got from that period to 2014.
Elise McCredie: We were very interested in investigating the period post 9/11 when a lot of boats were coming to Australia filled with asylum seekers, and learning about what the government chose to do with the boats. While researching many of the stories that came from around that time, we did read about the German-Australian woman who was mistakenly put into detention, and many other stories that also came through, but we didn’t have a clear idea of the structure of the show at that time. Once we had started to research properly, we settled on the four main characters in the show, whose stories were all inspired by real people, and whose stories were inspired by real-life events.
Do you think people outside Australia will be shocked to see that Australia, too, struggles with human rights issues regarding refugees?
CB: Part of the desire to create a drama around this particular issue, and everything that hangs off it, comes from the fact that it’s been cloaked in silence for years. I feel that in not talking about it, and not dealing with it, and not trying to honor ourselves as signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we get separated from our humanity. I think we create a schism, not only within our communities, but within ourselves, and then we get estranged from our own identity. So, we wanted to scaffold a conversation around these issues and tell the story, not just from a detainee perspective, but from the perspective of the policymakers and the guard as well as that of an Afghani refugee. I hope people will say it’s not a judgmental series. It’s a provocative and painful series, but it’s something we all need to look at.
EM: As storytellers, we didn’t want to say, “This is the right or the wrong position.” We wanted to present the world from multiple perspectives, and say, “We don’t have the answers, but we’re showing you that this is how it was.”
CB: I felt like that period of history was already being forgotten: or, worse, it’s also being valorized. As someone who lives and works in various parts of the world, it’s devastating to me to hear the same immigration rhetoric that I’ve heard in my own country being employed around the building of a wall now too.
EM: We lure you in with the fishing line of Dominic West and Cate Blanchett dancing and singing, with all that color and movement in the opening episode, but by the third or fourth episode you are dealing with heavy, painful stuff about immigration. We’re conscious of having to get an audience to watch it in the first place, and then we’re hoping they will choose to keep watching rather than stop when Cate stops singing!
Cate Blanchett talks Netflix’s ‘Stateless,’ casting criticism
Cate Blanchett in “Stateless” is the stuff memes are made of.
In the first episode of the Netflix miniseries (streaming Wednesday), the two-time Oscar winner is deliciously unsettling as a charismatic teacher named Pat, who runs a self-help cult out of a dance studio. Pat’s sinister streak is juxtaposed with cheery scenes of her teaching dance classes in Easter egg-colored tracksuits, and performing a hammy cover of “Let’s Get Away From It All” in a sparkling ballgown.
“I was channeling Rosemary Clooney,” Blanchett says of the premiere’s lavish production number. “Pat was an incredibly fun and depressing character to play. I got to sing, I got to dance,” and through taking a supporting role, “help the series get made in any way I possibly could.”
The choice to start “Stateless” with some light-hearted camp is entirely deliberate. The six-episode drama, which Blanchett co-created with Elise McCredie and Tony Ayres, is primarily set in an immigration detention center and follows a white Australian woman named Sofie (Yvonne Strahovski of “The Handmaid’s Tale”) who is mistakenly detained Down Under after fleeing a cult.
“We use Sofie’s story to give the audience a touchpoint into the series,” Ayres says. “There’s mystery, there’s intrigue, and there’s Cate Blanchett singing a song. What better way to get an audience to watch our show than through that? Hopefully, the idea is that we will then get an audience to invest in the other characters in the other parts of the story, which are in many ways refugee stories.”
Some TV critics have questioned the choice to make a show about refugees where three of the four main characters are white, particularly with renewed conversations about representation in media happening this summer, following national anti-racism protests. (Aside from Strahovski, Jai Courtney and Asher Keddie play a guard and bureaucrat, respectively.)
Blanchett acknowledges the criticism, but encourages viewers to watch “Stateless” all the way through. She points to Ameer’s daughter, Mina (Soraya Heidari), as “the beating heart of the story.”
“We’re in no way saying this is the only way to tell this story,” Blanchett says. “I look forward to many more refugee stories being told on television, film or documentary. It is very much about trying to capture a wide audience, because often the reality is that you start talking about refugees and asylum seekers and the global displacement crisis … and (people) turn off because it’s too huge. So we wanted to create a sense of, ‘It could be me, it could be you,’ and so often, that is the white experience. But then you get inside the series, and there’s a multi-various array of characters.”
Blanchett, 51, has worked and traveled overseas as a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2016, and says she hopes to capture the “profound resilience” of refugees in “Stateless.”
The show comes on the heels of another esteemed TV project for the Australian actress, who also executive produced the FX miniseries “Mrs. America” earlier this year. Blanchett portrays the real-life Phyllis Schlafly, an outspoken anti-feminist and conservative activist who opposed the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s.
“Mrs. America” ends (spoiler!) with a long take of Phyllis dolefully peeling apples at her kitchen table, after being passed over for a position in Ronald Reagan’s cabinet and her husband asks for dinner.
“It’s a bit of an homage to ‘Jeanne Dielman,’ ” a landmark 1975 feminist film, Blanchett says. “Fortunately, I’m an expert apple peeler and make a mean apple cobbler.”
Cate Blanchett, Jai Courtney and Yvonne Strahovski of ‘Stateless’ talk immigration and coping with the lockdown
Los Angeles — Cate Blanchett is keeping cool and collected.
As creator-producer of the new hard-hitting TV drama that aims at her country’s own immigration system, Cate remains focused and confident as she details why she ventured on a very important and controversial topic.
“Stateless” is inspired by the true and tragic story of Australian/German Cornelia Rau who made headlines in 2004, when she escaped a dangerous cult only to be trapped and unlawfully detained in the notorious Baxter Immigration Detention Centre located in the Australian desert.
The series actually follows four strangers whose lives intertwine: Sofie Werner (Yvonne Strahovski) is an airline hostess escaping a cult, Ameer (Fayssal Bazzi) is an Afghan refugee fleeing persecution. Cam Sandford (Jai Courtney) is a young Australian father who wants to get out of a dead-end job and Claire Kowitz (Asher Keddie), a bureaucrat caught in a national scandal.
We recently went on a virtual call with Cate, Jai and Yvonne who all shared with us their experiences in doing the series and the heartbreaking stories they heard from the refugees and detainees themselves.
Can you please tell us how you got involved in this project?
All the characters are composites and they’re inspired by people that we met. Elise McCredie, my dear friend and another co-creative, did a tireless amount of research.
And there were some stories that we’d heard and accounts that we’d read, experiences of the guards and bureaucrats and detainees and refugee applicants. But we’re talking about working together and it was a little bit like the elephant in the room. We were both, I think like many Australians at the time, bewildered as to why offshore processing was shrouded in secrecy and it felt that these might have…subjugation of people’s basic human rights offshore on our watch was not part of the national conversation.
And so we wanted to raise an awareness of the global displacement crisis and I think drama’s a great place to do that in a nonpolitical way, but also just to bring it back into the national conversation in Australia.
It was a passion project obviously. You use the word refugee or asylum seeker and those words have become incredibly politicized and so it took a long time for us to find partners who were brave enough to see beyond that political rhetoric and the polarizing nature of it and to look at the human drama, which of course is where “Stateless” lives and breathes.
So we kept hoping that it would become irrelevant but unfortunately, sadly, it’s become incredibly pressing. And so yeah, very timely I think, particularly when everybody is locked inside and I think to some degree it’s hopefully an empathetic connection to the refugee experience. Refugees have been displaced for scores of years and live with deep uncertainty as we’re all living through right now.
What was the reaction of the government when they found out about your project?
Well as we’re currently seeing, often governments don’t reflect the majority view of civilians on the street. And I don’t necessarily know what the government reaction has been, but I know what the audience reaction has been and I think a lot of people thought that, perhaps the refugee experience would be seen through a particular lens, a judgmental lens, and we’ve gone to great pains to make sure that we’re looking at the broken system that we’re all laboring under, not just in Australia but around the world, from all angles.
We’re trying to find a poignant connection and so in the end I hope that’s what the governments are seeing. Because it’s not a political drama even though of course the fact that 80 million around the world who’ve been forced to leave their homes due to violence and persecution, governments should absolutely be dealing with that.
One in 97 people in the world are now displaced, a large percent of humanity, it requires urgent political action. But we’ve tried to, rather than deal with the overwhelming nature of those figures. We’ve tried to look at the power of one so we followed one central refugee family, the life of a guard, the life of a bureaucrat, the refugee advocate, a German Australian woman, as a point of intersection as perhaps for a more middle class audience who may feel estranged from the refugee experience. Hopefully the audience will connect with the humanity and how we’re all involved in this change and this problem.
Then maybe it will allow the government to no longer think of closing borders to the world’s most vulnerable population.
The last time we spoke to you in April, you were making foil unicorns with your daughter during the lockdown. When the world opens up, what are the things you are looking forward to doing again?
I’m looking forward to the world not being cello-taped together in a pale resemblance of its dysfunctional previous iteration. I’m looking forward to emerging into a new world that is sane and inclusive and rational and forward-thinking. There’s a lot of challenges I think that face us all and a lot of voices that need to be continually heard and listened to and folded into the societies that we need to re-forge and remake. I don’t want to step out and step backwards, that’s for sure.
Cate Blanchett and Dominic West on refugee drama ‘Stateless’
Immigration is one of the most divisive topics in the world – guaranteed to blow up a quiet pub chat or turn a taxi trip sour. Everyone’s got an opinion, and regardless of where you stand, refugees need our help. Currently, an estimated 70 million people have been displaced globally and many of them are defined legally as ‘stateless’, which means they’re without any citizenship whatsoever.
Cate Blanchett began working with the UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), as a goodwill ambassador for stateless people back in 2014. The actor, known for roles in Oscar-winning films like Carol, Blue Jasmine and The Lord Of The Rings, has now co-created a new six-part Netflix drama based on her experiences in the field. It’s called Stateless, and represents a rare foray into television.
Stateless details Australia’s on-shore detention programme at the turn of the millennium. In it, four fictional characters with wildly different stories end up at the same immigration centre in the dustbowl of southern Australia. Among their number is Sofie (Yvonne Strahovski – The Handmaid’s Tale, Dexter), a flight attendant who flees a suburban cult led by the wild-eyed Pat Masters (Blanchett) and her glitzy, enigmatic partner Gordon (Dominic West – The Wire, Brassic).
Broadcast on ABC in Australia back in March, Stateless is only now getting a global release via Netflix. We sat down with Blanchett and her co-star Dominic West to find out what the world’s been missing.
What is the one thing every ‘stateless’ person has told you?
Cate Blanchett: “They have all said that they feel invisible and in limbo. They have no access to basic human rights. And it can happen from something as simple as losing your passport or your identity papers. Without the ability to prove your identity your children can’t get an education, you can’t access basic medical care, you can’t get married — all basic human rights that we take for granted.”
Dominic West: “I haven’t experienced being stateless politically but what’s so striking is how close we all are to this. I’ve been homeless for a night in London without money. It was astonishing how quickly you become invisible and how quickly you become reviled and how quickly you realise all you’ve got to appeal to anyone is a common humanity. And that’s just not having money, never mind being a refugee or escaping a regime.”
What do people get wrong about ‘stateless’ people?
CB: “I get very concerned when I hear people talk about migrants and immigrants when in actual fact what they are either talking about are stateless people, refugees or asylum seekers. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights every human being has the right to seek asylum, so you can’t call a refugee an immigrant. Or illegal.”
How does Britain compare to Australia when talking about refugees?
CB: “I noticed it in the lead-up to Brexit and the misinformation that was used in getting that one across the line: you frighten people with inflammatory language. We have the power of speech, and language is incredibly specific. Refugees will be called ‘migrants’, because the fear [that is induced] is that they are coming to take our jobs. Language is the first point of disconnection, and I think it’s really important that we use the right words for these things.”
Are there any personal stories that have stuck with you?
CB: “I remember a Rohingya [a stateless ethnic group from Myanmar] woman I met in Bangladesh with a young child she had given birth to whilst fleeing through a forest. She hid for six months, foraging and trying to feed her child. I was completely transported to when I gave birth to my first child. The idea of not being able to support and feed that child whilst being attacked and fearing, not only for my own life but, for my child’s life… Half of the world’s displaced are children and seeing children in detention is an indescribably heart-breaking thing. Not being able to educate your children and the ongoing trauma that they experience; it makes me so grateful for the things that we take for granted.”
Cate, Stateless joins your humanitarian work with your acting career – would you like to do more projects like that?
CB: “Definitely. If you find yourself with a platform, you can either use it for self-aggrandisement – which I do occasionally (laughs) – or for positive ends, hopefully. It has been life-changing for me and my family to be involved with UNHCR. You can’t un-see things and my role as a goodwill ambassador is to bring back those stories and to humanise the people; give dignity to those terribly vulnerable people around the world who have become faceless numbers.”
How has working with refugees changed your life?
CB: “My husband and I don’t quarantine what we do from our children. We talk about it around the dinner table. Our 11-year-old came with us when we went to Jordan on a mission. We watched him play soccer with the boys in Azraq Camp [a refugee camp built for survivors of the Syrian Civil War]. There was one boy who was the same age and he wouldn’t get up to play. Our son said, ‘Ah, he doesn’t want to play.’ I said, ‘No, darling, he got shot. He’s still got shrapnel in his foot from when he was crossing from Syria to Jordan. He can’t walk properly so he can’t play with you.’ You could just see him thinking, ‘this is so outside of my experience.’
“And you could see that as he climbed into a jeep to leave he realised those children were staying there indefinitely. Whether he remembers it consciously or not, you get altered by those exchanges, I think.”
What do you hope audiences will take away from Stateless?
DW: “The importance of this, I suppose, is ultimately to remind us of our common humanity. These aren’t people who should just be chucked in the bin. I’m about to do something on [US military prison] Guantanamo Bay, which is another instance of a government finding a convenient dustbin for people who are difficult, and I think that is very much what this is about. You can’t do that to people.”
CB: “The series is not worthy, it is not educative. That was never our intention. It is human and, hopefully, affecting. We are hoping that will drive a more engaged conversation rather than a fear-based conversation.”
It took almost six years for Cate Blanchett to get Stateless made.
Cate — along with co-stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie, and Fayssal Bazzi — explains why this is a story that needed to be told. pic.twitter.com/E0eVfEqfxx
— Netflix (@netflix) July 8, 2020
Mrs. America news
Ecstatic news for Mrs. America, Cate has received her first nomination for the series as an actress and executive producer from the Television Critics Association (TCA) Awards.
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA:
Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America
Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable
Regina King, Watchmen
Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True
Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul
Jeremy Strong, Succession
Merrit Wever, Unbelievable
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIE OR MINISERIES:
Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
Mrs. America (FX on Hulu)
Normal People (Hulu)
The Plot Against America (HBO)
PROGRAM OF THE YEAR:
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Mrs. America (FX on Hulu)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
Mrs. America premiered on BBC Two also on July 8. You can also stream it on BBC iPlayer.
Meet the women who opposed the women's liberation movement in 1970s America…
— BBC Two (@BBCTwo) July 8, 2020
The Awardist: Cate Blanchett talks Mrs. America and rewatching The Sopranos in quarantine
As the coronavirus pandemic continues around the world, many people isolating at home are returning to favorite shows and movies looking for comfort and even newfound understanding in a strange time. On the latest episode of EW’s The Awardist podcast, Cate Blanchett revealed that she’s been using this time to rewatch The Sopranos with her family.
“I had watched The Sopranos and thought I had totally imbibed it. But I’ve gone back again with my kids and we’re watching it as a family,” Blanchett said. “They’ve got school commitments and I’ve got publicity commitments and also going into the garden, we’ve got four pigs, there’s a lot to be getting on with, but we cannot progress with the next episode of The Sopranos unless we’re all together. Not only is it a seminal piece of television, but the performances, the storytelling adventures, watching it again I feel like i’m only beginning to understand it.”
Blanchett has four children, only two fewer than conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, whom she recently portrayed on the FX/Hulu series Mrs. America. Asked about similarities she saw with Schlafly as a fellow working mom, Blanchett noted that their differences were even more important.
“She’s a very contradictory and polarizing figure. You’re right, I’m a mother of four and I’ve been married for a long time. Whenever you play a character, you do look for points of intersection. But I’m also interested in those points of divergence,” Blanchett said. “The difference between art and politics is that in art, you don’t sit in judgment. The difference between Gorky and [Anton] Chekhov is that very space. Politics is a place of judgment and ideology, and art is a place where you ask questions, you sit in the gray areas and the nuance. I’m very proud of being part of a series that takes a very deep dive into the different perspectives that took place in the ’70s.”
Listen to the full conversation below, along with thoughts from EW’s Kristen Baldwin and Sarah Rodman about potential Emmy nominations.
Cate Blanchett: My next role? A Trump-loving anti-feminist
There is a woman who is somewhat forgotten in America and little known in Britain, but, goes a thesis, is the key to where we are in this riven moment in 2020. Phyllis Schlafly was a Catholic anti-feminist firebrand from St Louis, Missouri, who began her series of barnstorming speeches in the 1970s by thanking her huband for his permission to speak: “I like to say that because it irritates the women’s libbers more than anything.”
Schlafly’s style — angry, combative, uncompromising and at times surprisingly playful — was effective in tying Republicans into a close marriage with the religious right. No prizes for guessing who took notice; the day after she died in 2016 her book making the case for Donald Trump was published. Trump, on the presidential campaign trail at the time, paid tribute when speaking at her funeral: “A movement has lost its hero.”
Who to play this polarising, mysterious woman? No one could do it better than Cate Blanchett, the star of Mrs America, the new mini-series about Schlafly and her mighty legacy. For while Blanchett, at 51, is undoubtedly one of the most talented actors of her generation, in none of her 70-odd films does she play the girl next door. She is Katharine Hepburn — and won an Oscar for it in The Aviator — never Audrey. Sure, she plays an elf in the Lord of the Rings films, but it is the regal Galadriel, “the mightiest elf”.
Directors even realised that they had to ignore matters of sex and cast her as Bob Dylan to find the necessary quantities of forbidding aloofness. She has joked about playing the US president — “I would play Donald Trump in a heartbeat. The comb-over? I’m there” — but the casting would be terrible; the inscrutable Melania or Barack Obama would be better. And, of course, no other actress has been Oscar-nominated twice for playing the same role in two films nearly a decade apart. Queen Elizabeth I is the part of Blanchett’s life; the solitary mask of power, the brittle hauteur of the undemocratic leader. Great writers may have a splinter of ice in their hearts, but there is ice in the eyes of this great actress. In short, for an Australian in the entertainment industry, she is the least Australian and least “luvvie” you could expect to meet.
The snag: a life’s work in unknowability makes it hard to get to know her. The director Anthony Minghella once said: “Though I have worked with her, I barely know her. I would be hard pressed to say more than three things about her with any confidence.” Blanchett suffers media appearances like a Special Operations Executive expert at resistance to interrogation (a part she played in Charlotte Gray). She grew up in Melbourne, the middle of three children. Her father, Bob, was a former naval officer from Texas; he died when she was ten, from a heart attack in a cinema. He was a figure of mystique for her. She once said that she fantasised for a while that he had not died. “I somehow thought the CIA had taken him; that one day he would just turn up,” she said, although she later retracted that thought.
It has become commonly known that this economics undergraduate got her first taste for acting when appearing in a boxing movie in Cairo, while travelling there. “Nooo,” she groaned when someone asked her about it. “But say that if you want. Print the legend of the boxing movie.” In a press conference to publicise Carol, in which she plays a lesbian, she said she had had “many” past relationships with women, which the world took as a revelation of bisexuality. She later said that this was misconstrued and that none of those relationships were sexual. You can imagine the response when one journalist found out she had a tattoo in an intimate place and asked her if she would identify what it depicted; never has the word “no” carried more froideur.
In a series of retreats from the glare of being one of Hollywood’s highest-paid, most garlanded actors, Blanchett spent ten years living in Brighton, then a five-year stint as joint-artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company with her husband of 23 years, the Australian playwright Andrew Upton. Shortly after adopting a baby girl in 2015, a dream she has said they had since the birth of their first child, the couple moved back to a house in the East Sussex countryside to bring up the baby and their three older sons.
This is well known, but when I start the three-way phone call with Blanchett and Stacey Sher, the executive producer on Mrs America, my first chatty question is: where is everyone calling from? Sher says, “My home in Los Angeles,” and Blanchett says, “The UK.” I ask roughly where in the UK and she repeats, after a pause that is far longer than the time lag on our international line, “The UK.”
This series was finished in lockdown — Blanchett says she was “sitting inside my closet to finish off the sound” — and Blanchett is doing the publicity for it while homeschooling her children, the eldest of whom is 18, among their pigs and chickens. Schlafly was also an early champion of phonics and has inspired Blanchett to do some phonics-based reading with her five-year-old girl, but as she said on an American news show, “a teacher I ain’t”. For Sher, who worked on the prescient pandemic film Contagion, this period has “felt like my dreams on that set turned into reality”.
Mrs America, though, is a passion project for Blanchett, precisely because of her political antipathy to Schlafly. She had spotted Schlafly, then a frail 92, being brought on at the tail-end of Trump’s campaign events and given standing ovations, then had seen Trump eulogising his guru at her funeral. She thought, “Who is this woman?”
In the early 1970s the American government was on the brink of ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the US constitution, explicitly giving men and women equal status, with wide bipartisan support across nearly all states. With her campaigning Schlafly pretty much derailed it single-handedly. In demeanour and hairdo she was a figure as queenly as Margaret Thatcher and just as polarising, although in her anti-change politics not similar at all.
“It felt,” Blanchett says, “like with every passing week [of filming], issues that even two years ago would have been seen as tangential to the concerns of women and men today were profoundly and increasingly relevant.”
Except, I say, it feels like the culture wars of the 1970s are back; Betty Friedan et al didn’t have to reckon with a “pussy-grabber” in the White House. “I think there have always been pussy-grabbers in the White House,” Blanchett says. “They perhaps weren’t rewarded for that.”
Blanchett is drawn to elegant villainesses, literally playing the wicked stepmother (in Cinderella). Yet as Sher says, the way out of polarisation is not to demonise, “and a corollary of that is it doesn’t serve us to only canonise people that we agree with”.
Blanchett takes on this theme. “We’re so used to our algorithm delivering us the news that makes us feel better or speaks to our points of view.” To “unlock Phyllis and what motivated her” felt like a vital act of understanding.
“It’s very easy to say she was a crackpot,” Blanchett says. “But look at the way people are responding differently to the virus. I’m an American citizen, but I don’t live there, so I’m one step removed from it, but there is a profound thread in America of the rights of the individual, rather than who they are as a society. Phyllis was an individualist who prized hierarchy over change.”
Blanchett’s mother was unwittingly affected by Schlafly, thousands of miles away in Australia. After the death of her husband, June Blanchett gave up her job as a teacher and became a property developer to support three children through private school. Blanchett has said she developed an “enormously empathetic” connection with the sacrifices and strength of her mother. “Yet,” as Blanchett told the Sydney Morning Herald, her mother “didn’t really identify as a feminist because . . . Phyllis Schlafly was very adept at suggesting that if you were a feminist you were anti-family.” Blanchett’s mother was nervous about her revisiting this on screen.
“I mean,” Blanchett says to me, “we’re living through that backlash right now, another sort of backlash. I was very interested in my mother’s response to my being part of this series, trying to look at the women’s movement and the equal and opposite traditionalist movement. It was trepidation because I feel that there are battle scars.”
Yet she says, “There are battle scars for men too.” The success of feminism depends almost as much on men’s attitudes as women’s — “Those in power have to share.”
Interesting point, I say. Would your fathers have supported women’s rights? Sher says that “there was no one who was more proud of my accomplishments” than her late father. Blanchett, after a long pause, says, “I hope so. He died when I was ten so I can’t give you an answer.” What about your husbands, do they identify as feminists? “One hundred per cent,” Sher says. I direct the question at Blanchett. There is an even longer pause. “I think we lost her,” Sher says of our crackly phone line, but then Blanchett talks. “Well, yeah, I’m just wondering what you’re seeking.”
I change tack. What will success look like for the next generation in terms of relations between the sexes? Sher says: “I have a 16-year-old daughter and I have an 18-year-old son. I guess maybe not having to answer that question any more?”
Blanchett laughs. “Yeah.” Then continues. She is worried about her little girl growing up and being vulnerable in the world because she is a woman. “I’ve got three boys and a girl and there is something that I do worry profoundly about. When there’s a growing fear about so much economic uncertainty, the people who always get to bear the brunt are women. The increasing domestic violence I find incredibly worrying.
“I hope my daughter does not worry about walking out at night or what she wears, you know, basic questions. I’m really saddened that I’m even thinking these thoughts in 2020. I’m sure women who were part of the women’s movements in the 1970s would have thought that we would have evolved to the point where we didn’t have to have that growing level of concern.”
Then it’s the end of our short time together and Blanchett gets demob happy, suddenly very friendly and apologetic about the quality of the line. Her last point lingers in my head. Her best roles are about armour and its weight. She is a powerful woman who so often plays powerful women, but still can never be armoured enough to protect those she loves.
Here are some behind the scene videos with interviews from Mrs. America official twitter account:
— Mrs. America (@MrsAm_FXonHulu) July 8, 2020
— Mrs. America (@MrsAm_FXonHulu) July 15, 2020
The Emmys Roundtable Drama
Weeks before the Black Lives Matter protests broke out around the globe in the wake of the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, inclusivity, the feeling of “otherness” and the struggle for an essential humanity were already on the minds of the eight actors gathered via video conference for The Envelope’s annual Drama Roundtable conversation.
The Stars Aligned For ‘Mrs. America’ Team To Take On History – Contenders TV
In the biggest panel of all 44 shows in Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event, all seven key female stars of FX’s Mrs. America gathered in different locations to talk about the limited series, which centers on the fight for the ERA as well as the women’s liberation movement centering on those who fought hard to make a change — and one woman in particular who rallied her own troops to defeat that movement.
Her name was Phyllis Schlafly, and she is played by Cate Blanchett in her first major TV project; she also serves as an executive producer of the nine-part show. The two-time Oscar winner joined the panel from London to tell why the series was important to her.
“For me I’m reeling like a lot of us from the 2016 election and trying to reverse engineer how women could vote for the man who currently sits in the White House,” she said. As for the ERA fight in the 1970s, ‘It was a period of history I thought I knew about but I had no idea who Phyllis was and had no idea how polarizing she was and how she put a lot of things in the Republican Party platform that we know now.”
“Apart from playing someone who felt so far away from me, I was trying to understand what was so terrifying about the issue of equality. I felt that it was a timely and prescient thing to delve into.” she said.
On the other hand, Cate is expanding Dirty Films in the United States.
Cate Blanchett Signs First-Look Production Deal With New Republic
Cate Blachett has signed a first-look feature film production deal for her Dirty Films production company with New Republic Pictures, headed by Brian Oliver and Bradley Fischer.
Blanchett and Fischer previously worked together on “The House With a Clock in its Walls” and “Truth.”
Dirty Films, founded by Blanchett and Andrew Upton, recently executive produced the miniseries “Mrs. America” for FX on Hulu. In the show, Blanchett starred as the late conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. The company also co-created and executive produced the limited series “Stateless,” set at an immigration detention center in the Australian desert, which will launch globally on Netflix in July.
Los Angeles-based producer Coco Francini, who executive produced “Mrs. America,” has joined Dirty Films as a partner. Francini was an associate producer of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” and a co-producer on Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was There.” She’s held executive posts at Activision Blizzard Studios and Stacey Sher’s Shiny Penny.
Blanchett closed a deal recently to star in director Eli Roth’s movie adaptation of the video game “Borderlands” at Lionsgate. She will also star in James Gray’s upcoming “Armageddon Time” and Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up.” Blanchett won Academy Awards for her performances in “The Aviator” and “Blue Jasmine,” and was nominated for “Elizabeth,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “Notes on a Scandal” and “I’m Not There.”
“I’ve known Cate and Andrew for almost 10 years now and have had the great privilege of working with Cate on two films,” Fischer said. “While it is well-settled that she is among the greatest screen and stage actresses of our time, Cate also happens to have a fierce entrepreneurial vision and instinct for finding, developing, packaging and producing the kind of poignant and transportive film events that are at the heart of what Brian and I are building at New Republic.”
Oliver received a Best Picture Academy Award nomination in 2011 for “Black Swan” and formed New Republic in 2017. The company backed “1917” and “Rocketman” last year. CAA negotiated the deal on behalf of Dirty Films.
Cate Blanchett Inks First-Look TV Deal at FX
Cate Blanchett is strengthening her ties with FX.
The two-time Oscar winner and star of FX on Hulu’s Mrs. America has signed an exclusive first-look TV deal with FX Productions through her company, Dirty Films. The agreement covers scripted and unscripted programming at FX and potentially other divisions of Walt Disney Television as well.
The deal comes on the heels of Mrs. America earning three Television Critics Award nominations: individual achievement in drama for Blanchett, outstanding movie or miniseries, and program of the year. Blanchett and Dirty Films’ Coco Francini are executive producers of the limited series.
“Cate Blanchett is a legendary talent, and it was little surprise that her first role as an executive producer and star in an American television program — Mrs. America — was such an overwhelming success,” said Gina Balian, president of original programming at FX Entertainment. “Cate, Andrew [Upton, co-founder of Dirty Films] and Coco are equally talented at crafting and producing incredible stories, and we welcome this opportunity to support their future television projects under this overall agreement.”
Said Blanchett, Upton and Francini in a statement: “We are excited to continue working with John [Landgraf], Eric [Schrier], Gina and the entire brilliant team at FX. Through our collaboration on Mrs. America, we’ve experienced firsthand their enthusiasm for robust conversations and their unwavering support for bold and ambitious entertainment.”
Blanchett and Upton founded Dirty Films, and L.A.-based Francini joined as a partner this year. In addition to Mrs. America, the company’s credits include the feature films Truth, Carol, Little Fish and The Turning and the TV series Stateless, which debuted Wednesday on Netflix after airing on Australian TV earlier this year.
Dirty Films joins a roster of creatives at FX that also includes Better Things multihyphenate Pamela Adlon, True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, Counterpart‘s Justin Marks and Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson’s Color Force.
CAA negotiated the deal on behalf of Dirty Films.
During quarantine, Cate was also able to make a mini project by narrating a short film by Ana Lily Amirpour as part of Netflix’s COVID-19 short film series. It was released on June 30, 2020 and here’s the trailer:
HOMEMADE, a collection of short films shot in isolation from around the world, includes films by acclaimed directors Ladj Ly, Pablo Larraín, Rungano Nyoni, Gurinder Chadha, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Kawase, Rachel Morrison, Sebastián Lelio, and more.
On Netflix 30 June. pic.twitter.com/8XvsI0d0tN
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) June 23, 2020
Amirpour credits editor Taylor Levy, another Mona Lisa collaborator, with helping give the short structure. (“We were working together very closely for the last six months, so I think that helped, because we were very much in each other’s frequencies mentally,” she says.) But the finishing touch was the ethereal narration by Cate Blanchett, who recalls her opening voice-over from The Lord of the Rings as she waxes poetic on the pandemic’s physical and psychological impact. The Oscar-winning actress, who’s self-isolating in the U.K., recorded the narration on her iPhone in her closet from a script written by Amirpour.
“I just knew that it was gonna come down to having a narrator who had that force, that gravitas that would make you not just listen, but really take in what you’re hearing,” the filmmaker says, citing Werner Herzog’s voice-over work as an influence. “And I knew I wanted it to be a woman, because something about the piece feels very feminine, and gentle. Almost like you’re being read a children’s book.”
Deciding Blanchett fit the bill, Amirpour got in touch with the actress, who, as it happens, is a fan of her work. Blanchett did two takes, one with more of a “National Geographic tone,” as Amirpour puts it, “and then one where she was a little more playful, like she was reading a children’s story.”
And as cinemas in Australia starts to reopen, Where’d You Go Bernadette is one the movies released on July 16, 2020.
Here’s an unreleased interview conducted last year during the press junket in Toronto:
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) July 14, 2020
Actress and UNHCR Good Will Ambassador Cate Blanchett, in the context of the mid-way point of UNHCR’s #IBelong Campaign to end Statelessness (2014 – 2024), explains the causes and consequences of statelessness. She outlines what barriers a stateless person may experience, even without any displacement, to leading a normal life. She covers legal barriers and discrimination, which are essential causes of statelessness, and stresses that it is a man-made problem that can be solved.
Award-winning actor. Producer. Humanitarian. Mother. Cate Blanchett takes our virtual stage. From supporting the arts to humanitarian and environmental causes see what makes her a true force #ForGood. Welcome #PBWC2020. Register now: https://t.co/pXNSa5i2Xb pic.twitter.com/IRSPwoZ1Pj
— PBWC (@pbwc) July 14, 2020