Cate Blanchett on Vogue China May 2024 Issue

Every month is Cate Blanchett Month but May is special since that is her birth month. This year it is even more special — production of her new film BLACK BAG starts, RUMOURS will premiere at Cannes Film Festival, and Vogue China has her on the cover of their “Fashion & Beauty” May 2024 issue.

Below is Google translated from Mandarin to English.

Cate Blanchett: Road to Nowhere

Written by Georgia Graham

The cover of the May issue of VOGUE Fashion & Beauty welcomes Cate Blanchett, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress back in 1999 and has been nominated eight times and won twice in her two decades of service; she has not only brought classics such as “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, but also has become a hot topic among movie fans with topical new works such as “TÁR” and “Mrs. America”; and other topical new works that fans have come to love; she’s also working on a more diverse body of work as a producer, using her influence as a fashion icon to communicate the importance of sustainability. When we look at legacy and innovation in this issue, she’s the perfect person to talk to about a filmmaker who has left a legacy and is still moving forward. She says, “The minute any industry is hermetically sealed and homogenous, it’s basically creatively dead”.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Cate Blanchett in person twice. The first time was in 2013, when she played a crazy maid in the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) stage play “The Maids”. The play by Jean Genet, opposite her was the veteran French actor, Isabelle Huppert. The second time we met was at last year’s Glastonbury Music Festival, where she appeared at the Sparks band’s live performance, wearing a bright yellow suit and scarlet headphones, and contributed a very expressive dance. The two encounters gave me a glimpse into the rich and diverse career of this two-time Oscar winner: not only is she one of the world’s best actors, she is also a producer, fashion icon, climate activist, and a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

Cate currently lives in the British countryside, a lush part of the UK where she lives with her husband, writer-director Andrew Upton, and their four children. I ask her what we’d do together if we were to meet in person, instead of via Zoom. What’s a typically ‘Cate Blanchett’ activity? “Everyone teases me at home, because I think the phrase that we’re going to have etched on my gravestone is: ‘Let’s put our boots on and go for a little walk.'” She jokes. “The kids always say, ‘there’s no such thing as a ‘little walk’ – we always end up going on a hike!”

Cate told me that when she was a child, she grew up in a quiet suburb of Melbourne. Her father died when she was 10 years old, leaving her mother to raise three children alone (Cate has a brother and a sister). So, “you had to entertain yourself. We would play ‘coin walk,’ which is flipping a coin, heads meant go left, tails meant go right, and just go around and around in different natural areas nearby. Exploring. Sometimes when I’m walking too far away from home, I have to find a phone booth and call my mother to pick me up.”

Cate loves to laugh, and I am always surprised by her self-deprecating expressions and the occasional dirty joke. For example, when I asked her if she was still looking for everyone’s approval, she replied that denying that fact was “like saying, I never pee in the shower.” But when I asked her if she had any nostalgia for the past years, as an actor who has been in movies for many years and has countless works, she answered this question about nostalgia seriously.

“As we all know, the ‘good old days’ don’t exist,” she noted, “and it’s really an excuse to bring back the good old days in order to bring back white people who are arrogant and like to resort to violence at every turn, and who have taken a lot of very nasty actions.” The movie industry has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality. For example, of the 1,600 most popular movies released between 2007 and 2022, only 6 percent were directed by women.

In a bold attempt to change this, Cate recently made a bold attempt. She teamed up with Dr. Stacy L. Smith from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank at the University of Southern California, and Coco Francini, a partner in the production company Dirty Films under her and her husband Upton’s name, to jointly launch a program called “Proof of Concept Accelerator” a program dedicated to improving society’s perception of women and marginalized groups. The program provides $50,000 to up to eight filmmakers to produce a “proof-of-concept” feature film or television show, and will also provide a mentorship program to help these filmmakers get started in the industry.

Cate explained this: “The minute any industry is hermetically sealed and homogenous, it’s basically creatively dead,” Nonetheless, she’s anticipating some pushback. “These things get politicised very quickly, and some people see it as an act of aggression. I don’t know when inclusivity ever became an act of aggression, but it can make some people defensive, rather than looking for the incredible opportunity in it.”

Cate is a straightforward person who doesn’t shy away from the hard questions. In fact, she likes this kind of communication. In 2022, she played a talented but arrogant conductor in the movie “TÁR”, which received mixed reviews from the audience: some people liked the intimidating and otherworldly temperament of this character; On the other hand, many people were angry at the way the film dealt with issues such as “cancel culture” and “woke” politics.

Speaking about his experience of working with Cate, Todd Field, writer and director of TÁR, had this to say, “She’s a brave and fearless artist who wants you to make her feel awe. She is unflinching, powerful and fearless, and all of that is mind-blowing.” Though she bears no resemblance to the tough Lydia Tár in the movie, you can still sense that she consistently approaches her work with an almost voracious appetite. Cate likes to say “yes” to her work, and she’s not afraid to say yes, and coincidentally, she’s also the face of the Giorgio Armani Sì (Italian for “yes”) perfume line. So how does she choose between such a variety of jobs and projects? After a few moments of contemplation, she replies: “I think there has to be something terrifying in there, or unknown, or beyond my ken, in order to make me lean into it,” she muses. It also has to be a good conversation – a word she uses frequently to describe her collaborative nature.

She and her husband are both very good at connecting with people. Blanchett recalls the years she and husband Andrew Upton spent as co-Artistic Directors and CEOs of Sydney Theatre Company from 2008 to 2014 with fondness. “One of the first things Andrew did when we started at the STC was to take the desk out of the office.” she recalls “He said, ‘The office needs to be a place of conversation, and if the head of the company is sitting behind a desk with a computer on it, and the artist is on the other side, it speaks volumes.'”

She describes her time there as “one of the most fulfilling creative periods of my career thus far.” The couple were also responsible for transforming the company’s building into a model of eco-friendly design, including the addition of 1,906 solar panels on the roof and a 100,000-liter rainwater collection system underneath.

Cate’s commitment to practicing sustainability is also reflected in her choice of clothing, as she prefers to wear the same dress for different red carpet appearances and strongly supports the upgrading of recycled and reusable design pieces. For example, the dress she wore to the Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2024 show in Paris was adapted from a 2023 Oscar gown; the Nicolas Ghesquière-designed dress she wore to this year’s BAFTA awards was custom-made from second-hand fabrics.

According to Cate, sustainable living is a good attempt to challenge yourself in creative ways. “What appeals to me most about this approach is the opportunity it provides to think outside the box, like the eco-friendly makeover we did with the Sydney Theatre Company,” she said. For her, the idea of re-wearing and reusing fashion is also an avenue to explore and learn from the past. As she says, “If we refuse to look back, we end up repeating ourselves in an unconscious way.”

Although she was referring to the costumes, this philosophy is also reflected in recent projects she’s been involved in, such as Dirty Films’ Warwick Thornton-directed “The New Boy,” in which she plays a rebellious nun. The film is set during a dark period in Australian history, when the Australian government attempted to isolate Aboriginal children and assimilate them by forcing them to be separated from their parents and culture. Last year, Australia held a Voice referendum against appointing Aboriginal representatives to Parliament, further deepening the divide between Australians. “The New Boy” is a poignant and heartbreaking reminder to the community of the legacy of Australia’s history that continues to plague the country.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to film in southern Australia, Cate returned to Adelaide  – where the Sydney Theatre Company frequently toured. She makes no secret of her desire to return to the theater stage, telling me, “I feel like I need to really stretch in that way, and I haven’t done that in quite some time. My work in film is very much informed by my experience of connecting very viscerally and immediately with an audience on stage.”

When I asked her how she stays in touch with the larger world, she laughed and said, “Riding around on the subway! In the subway, no one pays attention to anyone else, thus it’s the perfect place to make observations about people of all colors.” When it comes to hobbies, she mentions that she has recently fallen in love with cold-water swimming and always carries a lot of books when traveling. She currently carries John Gray’s The New Leviathans, Angela Saini’s The Patriarchs (“It’s a great chronicle”), and Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway’s The Collapse of Western Civilization.

She’s always on the constant lookout for more opportunities for creative exchange. “You just walk around casually, thinking freely about things and ideas, and from time to time thoughts pop into your head, ‘Oh, that might be worth exchanging,’ and then sharing it with other people.” It’s hard to imagine that someone as influential as Cate would like to wander around, but she’s not a fan of the glitz and luxury of Hollywood. “I’m not interested in the internet. I always say ‘I have to work with you in a face-to-face way’ when I call people, and I’m kind of old-school in that regard.”

Beyond that, many of the most productive discussions come from family members. “I often have deep conversations with my children, and they like to challenge me constantly.” Like the “coin walks” of her childhood, Cate still enjoys getting lost: “Every time I go home, I like to deviate from my original route and take a different path. Because I am very curious and often think in my heart: ‘Hey, I wonder what I’ll see on that road.'”

Settling in retrospect, then moving towards innovation and allowing new chapters to be born. Cate Blanchett has never been constrained by what she has achieved and possessed, but has always moved forward with full courage. Her strength to move forward has also brought motivation and inspiration to countless people. We also believe that there will be a long way to go on her unknown path full of splendor.

Behind the scenes of the photoshoot

Source: Vogue China