Here are some interviews (conducted before SAG-AFTRA strike) with Cate Blanchett and magazine scans from Elle Italia and Amica as part of the launch of the new Giorgio Armani perfume, Sì Eau de Parfum Intense. The magazines are available in newsstands in Italy.
Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy will be screening at San Sebastian International Film Festival on 29 September. Cate is also featured in Hermann Vaske’ documentary, “Can Creativity Save the World?” It can be watched on Arte for those living in Europe. See the trailer below.
After captivating audiences across multiple film festivals, THE NEW BOY and FINGERNAILS are heading to @sansebastianfes
FINGERNAILS – 23 September
THE NEW BOY – 29 September pic.twitter.com/BEQI2Q3qJv
— Dirty Films (@dirtyfilms) August 25, 2023
Can Creativity Save the World?
The documentary by Hermann Vaske will be part of exhibitions in different cities. More info here.
2023 marks the launch of “Can Creativity Save the World?”, the third part of his creative saga. In the film Hermann is questioning whether the extraordinary power of imagination and creativity can address the existential threat we’re facing as a planet and a species. The answers came from some unusual people – people universally considered to be among the world’s greatest creative minds. Our hope is that these visionaries can show us how to identify our own creativity – how to free it up and how to apply that creativity to a needy world.
“Can Creativity Save the World” features actors such as Cate Blanchett, Isabella Rossellini, Golshifteh Farahani and Willem Dafoe; and musicians such as Björk, Campino and David Bowie. artists such as Marina Abramovic, Shirin Neshat and; activists like Pussy Riot and Luisa Neubauer and the best chess player of all time Garry Kasparov.
Cate Blanchett on femininity, fragrance and challenging the culture of ageing
Cate Blanchett can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in dialogue with Mr. Armani – face-to-face or remotely – about femininity. More specifically, the two are aligned in their belief that it isn’t monolithic. “I have always embraced this idea that it’s a dance with these many dualities within us, and we don’t need to prioritise one,” she tells me. With this in mind, “certainty and confusion can coexist,” she notes; “being in your 50s and feeling like a 16-year-old can coexist – and that’s not a madness, that’s what femininity is”. Frankly, “it is volcanic, and it’s quiet, simultaneously”.
This philosophy extends to the renowned actress and producer’s perception of beauty. Despite our culture’s visual literacy, beauty – of course – is a feeling. “I think often we have a very narrow field of focus when we talk about beauty, but I find beauty in unexpected places. And through collaborations of various kinds over the years, my lens has widened – and I’m really grateful for that,” she tells me. While she feels beauty can be an aspiration, it’s far from one of chasing perfection, she adds. “Self-consciousness is the enemy of beauty,” she reasons: “the more one focuses on trying to attain it, it’s like a mirage”.
This, in some part, explains her passion for perfume. “What I love about fragrance is that it has nothing to do with the so-called outward expression of beauty,” she says. Blanchett has been an ambassador for Giorgio Armani’s Sì since it launched a decade ago – and is currently representing its new impactful iteration, Sì Eau de Parfum Intense. “With fragrance you can create an atmosphere; it’s very emotionally, subconsciously charged,” she says. Naturally, it’s a tool for her craft. “Anything that can help inhabit a character or atmosphere on set I will do,” she says. “Finding a scent for a character allows you to operate on a much more subconscious level.” Though, off-duty, she utilises fragrance to encourage anticipation, “which is where desire sits,” she explains. “I want to feel hungry and excited and desirous going into the day and ready to embrace the unexpected, which the world is full of. And I think fragrance is a great way of having agency or shaping that sense of anticipation and excitement.”
Embracing the unexpected is “something that takes a lot of courage,” she admits, “and I’m really cognisant of that”. Blanchett’s new Si? campaign (in which she leads a series of powerful women, symbolic of the multifaceted nature of the fragrance as much as femininity) embodies how saying ‘Si?’ – ‘yes’ – can create possibilities. I wonder what she’s thankful to have embraced. “Saying yes to being with my partner, who I’ve been with for 26 years! Trusting that instinct and weathering the good times and the tricky times as it continues to evolve – it has presented me with so many opportunities that I’m grateful for, not least of which my four kids.” On a professional level, “it’s always been the projects that I was most terrified of because I think if you turn that fear into excitement some incredible opportunities come – so I’m grateful for finding the courage to say yes to those moments when I’m terrified”.
Reflecting on her “internal and external evolution” at age 54, we touch on how beauty culture has shifted. “You get asked less and less how it feels ageing,” she says. “I often got asked that once I was over the age of 30 – as a woman, actress, someone in the public eye.” She continues, “your emotional and intellectual life evolves as much as your physical appearance, I think”. Increasingly, she focuses on health “and that notion of ‘wellness’,” though she jokes of not knowing what the word means. Today’s mental health agenda, “and the toll that not being mentally and spiritually healthy can take on you physically,” is so interlinked with beauty, she notes. “I’m grateful for the fact that we’re talking more holistically about the notion of beauty. I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when there was a very acute pressure on women and their ‘use by’ date from a beauty point of view. And I’m appreciative to all the women who have come before me who have completely challenged that conversation and knocked it off the agenda.”
So, what does her holistic routine look like? “I’m very conscious of what goes into my body – you have to think about what is in the water, literally. I take collagen and probiotics. In Chinese culture, it’s been referred to as a second brain and I think gut health is incredibly important for your skin – and so that’s money well spent.” Throughout her childhood in Australia, Blanchett’s mother was very sun-conscious and so now, to her, “sunscreen is a beauty product”, and she “wouldn’t ever use a moisturiser without sunscreen protection”. When it comes to make-up, she favours formulas that “feed your skin while you wear them”. Her favourite foundation is the iconic Armani Beauty Luminous Silk, “which is fantastic because you don’t need a lot of it,” she says, revealing her dislike of feeling caked in make-up. “And I know how great it is because even in front of HD cameras picking up every pore, you can have a sort of non-make-up look, while covering a few things that you don’t necessarily want to share with the world!”
This less-is-more ethos applies to her consumption of beauty, too. “I think that thoughtless, endless consumption has no beauty in it. And I think that as a brand, as well as an individual, if you don’t embrace sustainability, you face the prospect of being utterly irrelevant.” With the new Sì Eau de Parfum Intense she’s “excited by the fact that, for this fragrance, L’Oreal and Mr. Armani have collaborated with local NGOs” and that the bottle is made to last. Refills, she explains, appeal to her as they help guide consumption. “I think that there’s a thoughtfulness to that and, therefore, a beauty to it.” In her role as global ambassador for Armani Beauty she’s very conscious not to try to inspire onlookers, (“my kids keep telling me, ‘Not everything can be a teaching moment!’”) but if anyone can – and does, both eloquently and effortlessly – it’s she.
Parts of the interviews below are Google translated from Italian to English. Full version on the scans below.
The most powerful word of all is “yes”. What was your most important “yes”?
From a professional and personal point of view I say it was the lucky encounter with my husband (the Australian playwright Andrew Upton whom she married in 1997). After twenty six years of marriage and four children I feel like there are still many adventures to be had together. We are huge supporters of each other, I love talking to him because his point of view and his perspective on things interest me deeply.
Speaking of perfumes, is there one you particularly like?
I think I like the smell of a new born baby a lot, but the thing I love most right now is the smell of a garden after the rain and I say that because the season here in England has been very dry. I am also exhilarated by the smell of the desert in central Australia and, like Giorgio Armani, I find the smell of the ocean irresistible.
What works as an elixir of life? Sex, peace, fun, love…
I think that’s all you just said, there is no single recipe to make us feel good. Women instinctively understand that it can’t just be sex or monastic conduct, stay in the country and never visit a city. Life would become monochromatic, without that duality that makes it interesting and worth living. In short, you need to know how to mix the ingredients and make them work well together, just like in this new perfume with a vanilla note that has brought back many memories. A friend of mine at school always kept a vial of vanilla in her purse that had soaked the leather. The perfume brought me back to that period of my life, with an effect of immediate joy.
Is there a color that intrigues you in nature, but also in make-up?
It’s the black of some cliffs in Cornwall, New Zealand and especially Hawaii. So dark that when the water hits them you get the feeling of the volcano they came from. It is no coincidence that Giorgio Armani loves a volcanic island like Pantelleria so much. I happened to think that it is the perfect connection between the black rock and the white foam of the sea. As far as make-up is concerned, if Mary Greenwell (famous English make-up artist who takes care of the look of the most important stars,) is the one who creates smokey eyes for me, everything is easier. If I tried it myself, the result would probably be to look like a panda.
What have you learned from make-up artists and what do you replicate in everyday life?
Shaping and shading the face using very few high quality products. For example, Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Luminous Silk concealer strategically applied to one point of the face and blended upwards has the power to lift that area. I saw the effect it has during filming, then looking at myself in the camera. It’s incredible how working on certain lines of the face visibly changes its perception. I also learned to use a minimal amount of foundation to make the complexion look as natural as possible.
In 2022 you won the Coppa Volpi in Venice for the role of a conductor in the film Tár. At the last Cannes Film Festival you are in The New Boy as a very special nun. Do you only love exceptional characters? Compare to a “normal” role?
I don’t think I know anyone who’s normal. I don’t know what normality is, in fact I think it’s a 1950s American concept that is really pissing people off. We’re all a little crazy, this is reality, and it’s precisely these quirks that make us who we are. When we try to adapt things to make them accessible, everything becomes less interesting. In the two projects mentioned, the characters were fascinating, but the reason I chose them was that I wanted to be in dialogue with the script, with the story, with the film.
What are you working on now?
I would like to get back on stage, but the truth is that I took a year off. With my husband we have produced many projects, and in fact we have three films coming up, so after such a busy period I am happy not to act for a while. I love staying at home and doing simple things like taking care of the garden or walking the dogs. Last night I went to see some friends playing. Being at peace must be incredibly interesting.
How challenging is it still for a woman to manage her career and family?
It’s a daily balancing act for anyone to balance personal life and work, but perhaps women feel a heavier sense of defeat when things don’t work out well. I think accepting the fact of being wrong can help you do better, but what really matters is honesty with yourself and with other people. And kindness, which is to look at the world, really look at it and see how we can make it better today, like I tell my kids every morning.
Let’s go back to the beginning: do you remember your first meeting with Giorgio Armani?
We met backstage at the first Armani Privé show, but I’ve always been influenced by his style, long before that moment. I remember that day he shook my hands looking at me, I was literally hypnotized by his charisma, by the intensity of his blue eyes. He remained in that position for a long time, squeezing my palms and speaking to me with his eyes. I was shivering.
And how has your relationship become over time?
Armani has been an immense influence in my life, ours is a unique partnership of deep creative understanding, which has evolved over the years. Until the moment in which Mr. Armani simply became Giorgio for me. He is truly an extraordinary icon, who crosses many aspects of the aesthetic world: all the facets of his style make up a single canvas. For me, in particular, it was wonderful when, in 2007, he designed the costumes for a play I directed for the Sydney Theater Company, becoming a patron of the company (his donation at the time has been described as one of the richest in the history of an Australian theater company). Giorgio is an incredible philanthropist, he shares culture, theatre, dance. And then he’s sweet, he’s home (she says these words in Italian).
What do you feel the need to say Yes to today?
Do you mean metaphorically?
No, literally. I’m feeling quite introspective right now. In the last two years I’ve had a lot, I seem to have achieved many results, now I want to read, think and listen, but also to walk and do physical things like swimming. As well as to carry out actions that do not have a deadline or a precise goal. I hope you understand what I mean.
How do you think the concept of beauty has changed today? In your opinion, are the younger generations more insecure about their appearance because of social media?
I think it’s not a question of age. Social media is a place that feeds and cultivates insecurity, competition, quick judgments. They certainly offer great opportunities, many experiences made by women have been shared and made public and interesting movements and communities with positive objectives have formed on these virtual squares. I don’t demonize social media, but it can be a place where a particular type of image can become a priority and I don’t think the expression of female beauty is a monolithic experience, there are many different points of view, regardless of age. You have to be aware of some dangers. Let us remember that privacy is one of the most important parts of being alive, intimacy and personal space must always be protected with care.
You described Australia as a “magnetic, lively country, where one can have wild ideas”. What was it like growing up in a place that describes us as so incredible?
But perhaps you could say the same about Italy (and laughs)!
Seriously, I have always felt a great feeling of freedom there. Then I went to live abroad and when I came back to Australia for a film and spent Christmas there with all my extended family, I realized that even if I never lived there again I was at home. In the Australian desert I feel good, I am deeply at peace. I am not indigenous, but in those places there is something ancient that hooks me, I feel extremely connected and very humble. It’s a landscape that vibrates, I don’t feel these emotions anywhere else in the world.
Talking of big emotions: you are a busy person, if you could start a revolution today, what would you do it for?
For sure it would have to do with respect for the natural world, because we cannot exist without it and my every initiative would be focused around that clock that is rapidly ticking around our ability to exist on this planet. One of the talents I most admire in human beings is humility and this is something we especially need. Above all, politicians, business and industry leaders need it to be able to develop a greater sense of empathy and work for the protection of the environment. The world would still go on without us, but we can’t go on if we don’t take care of it. I would particularly like an energy revolution, but I want to be positive, I feel that this is already happening.
Is acting liberating for you?
Sometimes, it is. But it is also a continuous confrontation, resilience, discipline and a sense of courage come into play. When everything flows well, yes it’s liberating, but it doesn’t always happen.
You an extraordinarily successful woman. Is there a personal failure that made you change or that opened a new vision for you?
It happens to me all the time. I don’t think you learn much from success, the only lessons I learned came from failure. I once had a difficult part in a play produced by the Sydney Theatre, it started with a 25 minute monologue. It was just me on stage, sitting up front, with just my voice. During the first of the evenings of preview, while I was reciting I started to hear “fum fum fum”, it was the noise of the people who slowly came out. There were about a hundred people who got up and walked away, while I said to myself in a loop: “Ok, it’s not working”. Thirty of them went out on the second night, only two on the third night, and then they all stayed there during the premiere. I had to acknowledge what had happened. And it’s very hard to think that people don’t appreciate it, that a hundred spectators leave the theater while you’re the only one acting, but you learn from these things. That, then, became one of my favorite parts ever done in the theater. It’s when you pretend something didn’t happen that you don’t grow.
What are you feeling particularly optimistic about today?
Sometimes I’m depressed about the state of the planet, but in reality I realize how much has been done. Working with Prince William on the climate podcast has been incredibly inspiring, I realized how many people are using creativity and good ideas to address local challenges and fight climate change. On this aspect I am optimistic: we will succeed.
Source: Harper’s Bazaar