Cate Blanchett on Desert Island Discs, & Armani Beauty Holiday Campaign Ad
Posted on
Nov 27, 2022

Cate Blanchett on Desert Island Discs, & Armani Beauty Holiday Campaign Ad

Happy Sunday, everyone!

A reminder that Cate Blanchett will be on BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs on December 11th. She will be talking about her upbringing in Melbourne and her rise to fame.

A huge thank you to Cate Blanchett China for the promotional photos for the Armani Beauty holiday campaign. We have another version of the holiday campaign ad which you can watch below, and backstage videos from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Cate Blanchett on Desert Island Discs

Armani Beauty Holiday – Photoshoot (2022)
Armani Beauty Holiday – Promotionals (2022)

Source: BBC

New Cate Blanchett interviews & TÁR preview in London on New Year’s Eve
Posted on
Nov 23, 2022

New Cate Blanchett interviews & TÁR preview in London on New Year’s Eve

Ciao, Blanchett fans!

Cate Blanchett has been nominated for Best Lead Performance at the Independent Spirit Awards. TÁR received a total of 7 nominations. Another interview with Cate and Nina Hoss has been released, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert aired their recent episode where Cate took The Colbert Questionert. There will be preview screenings of TÁR at Picturehouse cinemas in London on New Year’s Eve, you can book tickets here. The movie will be released in the UK on January 13th 2023.

We have added the scans from Financial Times: How to Spend It on our gallery. The January 2023 issue of Empire UK magazine is out now. Cate and Todd Field were interviewed by Olly Richards, and photographed by Mary McCartney during the recording of TÁR’s concept album.

Financial Times: How to Spend It – November 19th 2022

Empire Magazine Interview

Here are some parts of the interview with Cate by Olly Richards.

If you’re ever having a nice chat with Cate Blanchett and want to stop it dead in its tracks, ask her about acting.

It’s like throwing a bucket of water over her. “I couldn’t be less interested in talking about it,” she says, slowly folding her arms as if this might deflect the question. She would rather talk about anything else. She’d like to talk about her garden (her onions are doing well). She’d like to talk about how amazing it is that we’re standing about 15 metres from where The Beatles recorded (we’re in Abbey Road Studios, which we’ll explain later). Just please, oh God, not acting. Unfortunately, we’re going to make her talk about it because, you may have noticed, she’s really very good at it. And in her new film she’s about the best at it she’s ever been.

The list of great Cate Blanchett performances is not short. It’s pretty much a list of all Cate Blanchett’s performances. After 1997’s Oscar and Lucinda she was talked of as a talent to watch. The next year she played Elizabeth I and showed she was a talent you couldn’t tear your eyes from. So it’s been ever since, The Aviator, Notes on A Scandal, Blue Jasmine, Carol. You might find some duff films on her CV, but you won’t find a duff performance.

TÁR, though, sees Blanchett operating on a different level. She’s ripping through layers of a complicated, troubled woman in a way that leaves you wrung out just spectating. It’s like watching Whitney Houston sing or Gene Kelly dance. You know they’re made of approximately all the same bits as you, but it’s impossible to fathom how they’ve been able to put them to much more remarkable use. At 53, Blanchett is doing the most astonishing work of her career.

The reason we’re at Abbey Road is because Field and Blanchett are, in a very meta move, making a concept album inspired by Tár’s planned Mahler album. Blanchett is readying to conduct the Dresden Philharmonic (the orchestra in the film), who will arrive tomorrow. Their chairs are set up, expectantly awaiting orchestral bottoms. “It’s all in the breath,” says Blanchett, waving her hand gently in the air. “If you stop breathing, you break the communication with the orchestra, You stop thinking when you stop breathing.”

She will talk about conducting for as long as you like. She spent months studying it — the right hand keeps tempo; the left instructs the orchestra — as well as learning to play the piano so well that she could interpret Bach piece in multiple ways. She likes to talk about the brilliant people who taught her things, but resist any talk of her own skills. We try to take her back to the first note of her performance. As it turns out, becoming Lydia Tár began as all Blanchett’s favorite roles do: with absolute terror and confusion.

Back in 2012, Field was writing a political thriller with Joan Didion. It fell through but not before he’d spoken to Blanchett about playing the lead. She lurked at the edges of his mind for years, until in 2020 he began writing TÁR. The character kept assuming a familiar face. “I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell the studio. They thought I was writing this about a man. I thought, ‘How do I want to tell this story?’ And I thought it had to be a woman… it’s Cate.”

He was terrified about actually asking, but sent her the script, which he never does before meeting an actor. When Blanchett received it, she was just as frightened. She had no idea what she was expected to do with this woman.

“It was mind-blowing,” says Blanchett. “Because I didn’t know what it was. That, for me, is the most exciting and dangerous way to start a project. Often when you read something you can admire it, but if you know exactly what it is, then you should hand it over to someone else, because it’s already made in your head. I had no idea how to approach this.”

Blanchett never really stops preparing. She has an iPad full of bits of characters; pages of notes, links and clips that make sense only to her but might one day become a fragment of a character’s life. They might not have been assigned to a particular character when she saves them. “You never know where the key to a character lies,” she says. “Sometimes its in a conversation, in a piece of music you listen to, or a gesture someone did.” She laughs as she remembers one of the references for TÁR.

That iPad is a place for new characters to gestate, but also a sort of crypt for the ones who never made it. She can’t bring herself to delete them. She recently found a file she’d made for Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, which she was going to make with Luca Guadagnino. “I thought, ‘I should delete this, because it’s not going to happen now.” But I was reading it on a train and I thought, ‘There are interesting thoughts. Who knows what they’re going to become?'”

Blanchett loves to have her own ideas confronted. “To be in agreement all the time, to be in a room where everyone thinks the same way or speaks the same way, I’ll run a mile. I think that’s what’s wrong with democracy at the moment. We’ve lost that robust townhall debate.” She brings it all back neatly to music and conducting. “You can only hear harmony if you’ve heard discord,” she says. “You’ve got to tune the instrument.”

Blanchett has been tuning her instrument for over 25 years now. In the quarter of a century since her first movie, Paradise Road, she’s racked up 60 film acting credits, not including short films or television. That’s a lot. Tom Cruise only has 47 and he’s been going 16 years longer. Julia Roberts has 52. Famously prolific Nicole Kidman has 68, with a 14-year head start. Blanchett gasps when we tell her the number. “Terrible!” Well, it definitely isn’t terrible, but it does suggest someone who needs to work. “I do find it hard to say no,” she says. “Some things I should have said no to.” She never really lets herself stop working and isn’t sure what she’d do if she did. “I need to develop some hobbies,” she says. “But I suppose work is my hobby. Or it’s a compulsion.”

“I reserve the right to walk away,” she says with mock imperiousness. “Everyone has a different relationship with work, but I do need to be seduced back into it.” So it’s not that she has a compulsion to work for the sake of work, but that she keeps getting seduced. And she likes to be seduced rather than the seducer. She still has a big list of directors she wants to work with — Ari Aster, Jane Campion, Park Chan-wook, Kelly Reichardt — but she hasn’t let them know. “I’m quite shy,” she says. The only one she’s not shy with is Scorsese, who directed her in The Aviator. “Every time I see him I say, ‘Come on. I’m not getting any younger. When are you going to make a film with a fucking woman at the centre?'” She says it so fiercely, you have to assume Scorsese is somewhere writing in a panic right now.

You can read the full interview on the scans below and you can purchase the magazine here.

Cate Blanchett’s Desert Palm Achievement; on Eurythmics, Governor Awards photos, TÁR interview & upcoming appearances
Posted on
Nov 21, 2022

Cate Blanchett’s Desert Palm Achievement; on Eurythmics, Governor Awards photos, TÁR interview & upcoming appearances

Happy Monday!

Cate Blanchett will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Actress at Palm Springs International Film Festival. She is also nominated for Best Actress at Sunset Circle Awards.

Cate appeared on a reel that was shown at the induction ceremony of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, she spoke about Eurythmic.

Telluride Film Festival has released the conversation with Cate during her tribute last September 2022. We have added photos from the Governors Awards and there is a new interview with Cate and Nina Hoss. TÁR is still playing in some theatres in the US and is now available to stream in both US and Canada.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will air a part of Cate’s interview from last October this week, and Cate will also be on BBC’s Radio 4 programme next month.

Cate Blanchett to Receive Desert Palm Achievement Award for ‘Tár’ at Palm Springs International Film Awards

Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett will add another accolade to her extensive list of accomplishments at the Palm Springs International Film Awards, where she is set to receive the Desert Palm achievement award for an actress for her lead performance in “Tár.”

“Cate Blanchett is truly one of the best actresses of this generation, whose performances are always extraordinary no matter the role,” said Harold Matzner, chairman of the film festival. “There is no one better suited for this role.”

Blanchett was previously recognized with the Desert Palm achievement award in 2016 for the Todd Haynes’ period drama “Carol.”

The awards ceremony will commence Jan. 5, 2023 at the Palm Springs Convention Center, but the film festival will continue through Jan. 16.

Cate Blanchett on Eurythmics

Telluride Film Festival Conversation

Click image to watch the conversation

Governors Awards

Cate Blanchett at the Governors Awards re-wore the Alexander McQueen dress she first wore at the Venice Film Festival in 2020. She accessorized the look with Louis Vuitton jewelry, and as for make-up, Mary Greenwell, used Armani Beauty products.

Cate’s glam team: Mary Greenwell (make-up), Robert Vetica (hair), Elizabeth Stewart (styling).

TÁR interview

Upcoming appearances

The Late Show will air “The Colbert Questionert” segment with Cate on November 22nd, 11:35pm ET.

Desert Island Discs, will broadcast an interview with Cate on December 11th, 11:15am GMT, on BBC Radio 4.

Source: Variety

Cate Blanchett interviews and magazine covers
Posted on
Nov 18, 2022

Cate Blanchett interviews and magazine covers


Cate Blanchett is featured on the cover of Financial Times’ How to Spend It weekly magazine. It will available on UK newsstands this Saturday and Sunday. The latest issue of Pianist Magazine where Cate is on the cover too is out now.

Beware of spoilers!

The revelations of Cate Blanchett

For her next role, Cate Blanchett is… “Oh God,” cries the Australian actress, “I look like a vampire! I look like I’m about to play the organ!” She is sitting late one night in the study of her home in the English countryside, and it’s true, the mood is gothic with a touch of eco-spiritual, with two small owl totems looming behind her. The surroundings are very dark, and more to the point, she is wearing black, pointed, thick-rimmed glasses that make the actress, one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, look like she’s auditioning for a highbrow reboot of Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. Luckily, she’s smiling.

Blanchett will star in two films this season, one of which has already placed her as a leading contender in the annual awards-season circuit. Tár is a virtuoso piece written and directed by Todd Field that showcases the actress as Lydia Tár, a complicated music conductor who, approaching 50 and preparing a seminal performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, is also careening towards a gigantic personal reckoning. It really is a showcase: Blanchett is in every single scene. “Look,” she admits, “it was one of the most extraordinarily intense and revelatory experiences I have ever had.”

You can read the full interview on Financial Times.

Pianist Magazine

The December 2022 and January 2023 issue of Piano Magazine is out now. You can purchase a copy here.

Cate Blanchett casts a spell over any role she takes, whether on stage or screen, indie of blockbuster. She has played a 16th-century monarch (Elizabeth), an ageless princess (Lord of the Rings), a predatory Nazi collaborator (The Good German), Katharine Hepburn (The Aviator), a British schoolteacher who has an affair with a teenage student (Notes on a Scandal), even a version of Bob Dylan, complete with big hair and sideburns (I’m Not There). In each case, she is fully them, and fully herself before our eyes.

After such a breathtaking gallery of characters, perhaps the backstage conflict, onstage triumphs, sublime highs and soul-searching lows of the music world are not so impossible a leap for Blanchett to take in her latest film, TÁR.

It comes as a no surprise to learn that Blanchett has assumed the character of Lydia Tár by dint of meticulous preparation. She has learnt how to give a convincing upbeat in font of a hundred musicians. She has also brushed up her childhood German and piano studies in order to show Tár behind the scenes, doing the hard yards of private study which make every conductor’s life an essentially lonely one.

Blanchett meet two days after a private screening of Tárm in company with the film’s writer, producer, and director, Todd Field.

From early on, Field had his lead role fixed in the mind’s eye. ‘I wrote the script for Cate,’ he says. ‘I’ve never written for an actor, ever. And I guess I painted myself into a deadly corner, because if she had said no, I’ have been in a sticky situation,’ he laughs. ‘Tár is a very particular character, and I knew that it had to be Cate. So I was lucky: this is one of the most creative experiences I’ve had.’ Blanchett jumps in: ‘Likewise — I feel lucky too! I’d never read such a script… it was speaking a language that I did not speak, so there was a lot of research to do.’

‘The music world is so insular and so hierarchical,’ continues Blanchett. ‘I knew I had to get to a point where you didn’t need to be from, or live inside, the classical music world in order to know what the character was talking about. It’s like if you watch a film about rocket scientist, it has to be about something else. That was just the language she spoke. It’s masterful in that it’s so specific yet so universal.’ Evidently well advised, Blanchett studied masterclasses given by the Russian conducting guru Ilya Musin, looked at films of Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, Emmanuelle Haïm, and Bernard Haitink in performance, and took practical lessons with the conducting coach, Natalie Murray Beale.

Playing a pianist — and the piano

When it comes to the piano, lessons from Blanchett’s Melbourne childhood were buried somewhere in the muscle memory, but they needed digging up. Again her role model was a shrewdly chosen one: ‘When I started thinking about the demeanour or the deportment of what the character might be, I watched a lot of interviews with Imogen Cooper. There’s no parallel between her and the character at all, or what the character says or does. It was more about her intelligence and the way that she could talk about what it is that she does – the years of work and practice that she did.’

Blanchett was filming in Budapest as she was beginning to prepare for Tár. ‘I was worried because I knew I had to play these bits and pieces, and I thought, “I have to get some lessons”. I was lucky to find Emese Virág, who teaches at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. She would come to see me once a week.’

At one point in the film, Tär sits down to play Bach’s familiar C major Prelude. She plays it romantically at first, then more analytically in the style of Glenn Gould, and carries on a conversation, as any practised musician might. Blanchett reflects on the challenge: ‘Emese taught me how to play the piece, but I also had to understand how to play Bach – the kind of freedom that the rules give you. I had to treat playing the piano like dialogue, like a language.’

‘Emese would play,” Blanchett continues, ‘and then I’d ask, “How would you play it as if you were trying to play it like this person or that person?” She was amazing. She’d probably be horrified if she heard me!’ It is, all the same, quite a feat. ‘It was scary but it was also fun,’ says Blanchett. ‘I love an impossible challenge. And you know if you fail at it, then you fail at it. But you have to give it a go.’

Field’s camera shows Blanchett’s face rather than her fingers during the scene, but he insists that she is playing every note. “We had a long talk about this. I didn’t focus on her hands for a reason.’ He explains: ‘You master something, and you want someone to see it, right? But what if you were Leonard Bernstein? Would I show his hands? No. With films of Bernstein, his Harvard lectures and so on, you see his facial expressions. You don’t have to prove that he can conduct. I wanted the same for this character.’

Has her work on the film made Blanchett more fascinated with the piano? ‘Oh, I have always been,’ she replies. ‘People who are astonishing musicians and who can do magic make me want to scream with joy. It’s like when you ride a horse, you have a symbiotic relationship with the horse. By watching Emese play, I glimpsed that you become one with that instrument. It’s magic.’

You can read the full article on the scans below.

UNCHR Video Campaign; and TÁR interviews
Posted on
Nov 14, 2022

UNCHR Video Campaign; and TÁR interviews

Hi, everyone! Hope we will all have a good week ahead.

UNHCR Spain released another video campaign with UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Cate Blanchett, to encourage people to donate to help the people of Ukraine for the coming winter.

There are also a few interviews from Sydney screening of TÁR and listen to an extended interview from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

UNHCR Campaign

The tragic war in #Ukraine continues to destroy lives. And now winter is coming, threatening sub-zero temperatures. Cate Blanchett explains how UNHCR is helping millions of families displaced by violence who have to survive this harsh winter.

You can donate here.

TÁR Interviews

Interviews from the Sydney Screening of TÁR and additional photos
Posted on
Nov 13, 2022

Interviews from the Sydney Screening of TÁR and additional photos

Good day, Blanchett fans!

We have gathered interviews and added photos from the special screening of TÁR in Sydney. There are two screenings in the afternoon where Cate introduced the movie then participated in a Q&A. She also interviewed conductor, Simone Young, after a screening of the documentary, Knowing the Score.

Standing ovation for Cate Blanchett at packed TÁR preview

There was no doubt who a thousand movie-goers turned up to see on a sultry Sunday afternoon.

After acclaim around the world, starting with winning best actress at the Venice Film Festival, Cate Blanchett was the star at two previews of Todd Field’s film Tar in Sydney.

On screen for virtually all the drama’s more than two-and-a-half hours, Blanchett gives a darkly riveting performance that seems assured of landing her a seventh Oscar nomination.

She proved so popular that the Cremorne Orpheum sold out a first session in an hour and, cinema events manager Rachell Baker said, a second was added that sold out in 20 minutes.

On an afternoon that had earlier seemed more suited to a lightning conductor than an orchestral one, Blanchett received a standing ovation as she arrived on stage for a Q&A session.

She said the offer to star in Tar came out of the blue a decade after meeting and forming a connection with Field, the American director best known for Little Children and In The Bedroom.

“I knew that I’d love to be in a creative dialogue with him in some way,” she said. “So I’d sort of already said yes before I’d read it.”

Blanchett said it was a film about power and the cost of striving for excellence in a changing world.

“It’s a really important thing to grapple with: how can we strive for excellence with the same degree of rigour and demand that excellence takes but do it respectfully?,” she said. “We’re grappling with this, with one another, in the workplace. This could just as easily have taken place in an architecture firm or she could have been the CEO of a major banking corporation.”

To prepare for the role, Blanchett studied the history of orchestral music and famous conductors and learnt a range of new skills – conducting, playing piano and speaking German. But not, as has been reported, stunt driving.

“I don’t say I’m very good at many things but I’m a very good driver,” she said to laughter. “Although my daughter does sit in the back seat going ‘hoooooo’.”

Blanchett said filming the conducting scenes at the start of the shoot in Germany was a gift: “I realised what the character had to lose because it is magnificent standing in the centre of that sound.”

TÁR: The power of Cate Blanchett’s passion, and vice versa

Cate Blanchett is no stranger to the theatre of passion and power – nor to the world of classical music – but in her portrayal of world-­renowned conductor, Lydia Tar, the two-time academy award winner is breaking new ground.

Blanchett, whose performance in Tar has already sparked feverish talk of a third Oscar win, was in Sydney on Sunday promoting her latest film about a lesbian composer and conductor who becomes the first woman to lead the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

While Australians will have to wait until January 2023, Blanchett told an audience at a special screening at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace that the film was uncomfortable and would give no easy answers. “(It) is a meditation on power. It says no one’s innocent, no one’s entirely guilty and absolutes are nonsense … It’s very difficult to find spaces where you can have nuanced discussions about the big questions that we need to ask ourselves.”

Blanchett, also executive producer of the film, said despite her character being a difficult, deeply flawed and complex personality, it was still possible to love the art even if you do not love the artist.

“One of the great joys in life is being part of something that one doesn’t in the least bit understand,” she told the audience. “I think a great joy for me as an actor is grappling with characters, who say and do and experience things you don’t understand … to try and place yourself literally — as the cliche goes — in their shoes.”

Critics have praised Blanchett’s portrayal of Tar as one of her most compelling performances, comparing it to her 2013 Oscar-winning performance in Blue Jasmine.

“I feel so blessed to have worked alongside … the Dresden Philharmonie (during the filming) which was a life-changing experience to stand up on the podium in front of all those musicians.”

Source: The Age, The Australian

Cate Blanchett attends special screening of TÁR in Sydney
Posted on
Nov 13, 2022

Cate Blanchett attends special screening of TÁR in Sydney

Hi, everyone!

Cate Blanchett is in Sydney today for the special screening of TÁR co-presented by Sydney Film Festival. Check out the site for more updates later.

Cate Blanchett hits Sydney for preview of Oscar-tipped film Tár

Cate Blanchett made a rare appearance on home soil on Sunday, to introduce a sold-out preview screening of the movie Tár at Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace in Cremorne.

Critics have already dubbed the three-hour-long drama one of the year’s best films and Blanchett’s most impressive performances, although Aussies will have to wait three months longer than US audiences to actually see it.

“I personally haven’t processed the experience of making this film and I couldn’t possibly tell what it’s ‘about’. Nor would I want to,” Blanchett told the Sydney audience.

“It’s a film that has a conductor at its centre, but it’s not about the classical music world. You don’t need to know any terminology at all, just allow it to wash over you. Don’t try and make sense of it, I didn’t. Still can’t,” she joked.

Blanchett stars as Lydia Tár, the groundbreaking conductor of a major German orchestra at the height of her career. Over the ensuing weeks her life begins to unravel, in what critics have called a standout #MeToo movie, and the best film on cancel culture yet.

She also called working with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra “a life changing experience.”

“Something Todd said to me, which I still think about, it’s a meditation on power in a lot of ways,” Blanchett, 53, continued.

“He said that no one’s innocent. No one’s entirely guilty, and absolutes are nonsense unless it is a sporting event. So Australia, it’s not the footy.”

“It’s very difficult to find spaces where you can have nuanced discussions about the big questions that we need to ask ourselves as a species,” she said.

“And this film, without wanting to be grand about it, asks a few of them.”

Source: The Daily Telegraph

TÁR Music Video, & Magazine Features
Posted on
Nov 11, 2022

TÁR Music Video, & Magazine Features

Happy Friday, Blanchett fans!

Deutsche Grammophon released the abstract music video on one of the tracks, Mortar by Hildur Guðnadóttir, from TÁR’s soundtrack. Cate also covers the December 2022/January 2023 issue of the Pianist Magazine with a new interview. She and Todd Field are also featured on the latest issue of Coup De Main.

Mortar Music Video

Deutsche Grammophon’s groundbreaking concept album for Todd Field’s critically acclaimed new film TÁR captures the process of music-making that lies at the heart of the film. The soundtrack features a series of stunning new works by Hildur Guðnadóttir. Representing the psychological aspect of the story, and the protagonist’s troubled state of mind, Guðnadóttir’s score has an unsettling, almost unearthly feel. Its purpose, says the composer, “is to be otherworldly and to be this kind of invisible thing that seeps into your unconscious”. One of the tracks that helps build this disquieting atmosphere is “Mortar”, featuring the composer herself on cello. Todd Field has made a standalone video for the piece in which Guðnadóttir and the cast of TÁR all appear, their distorted images again mirroring Lydia Tár’s disintegrating world.

“The idea was born from conversations with Cate Blanchett,” explains the director. “This piece of film was conceived as an in-between place for the main character to fall into herself. A place where the natural laws of her waking state do not apply. The shooting process involved all cast members, and was photographed at the end of each day during principal photography in Berlin and South East Asia in 2021. In September 2022 Hildur and I met again in Berlin where she stepped back into this place and bound herself to the other players.”

Magazine Features

Cate covers the new issue of Pianist Magazine which will be out on November 18th. She talks to editor, Erica Worth about TÁR. You can order here.

Cate with Todd Field are featured on the latest issue of Coup De Main DIY magazine where they talk about TÁR. You can order here.

#EndStatelessness Campaign; & The Making of TÁR
Posted on
Nov 9, 2022

#EndStatelessness Campaign; & The Making of TÁR

Good day!

UNHCR has released a new video campaign with UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Cate Blanchett, to highlight the need to support the stateless refugees and end statelessness.

Netflix has released the full trailer for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. The Hollywood Reporter has published an article with interviews from the cast and crew of TÁR. You can check the scans below. There is also a new clip released, UK release of TÁR is moved a week earlier to January 13th.

UNHCR #EndStatelessness Campaign

Pinocchio Trailer

TÁR: Anatomy of a Contender

It was the heart of winter when Tár writer-director Todd Field and editor Monika Willi unexpectedly took up residency at a 15th century Scottish nunnery outside Edinburgh. They had intended to meet up in London, but another COVID-19 lockdown in early January 2022 waylaid their plans. As it turned out, the nunnery and the silence were a perfect environment to foster the filmmaker’s storytelling tempo and sense of discipline. Amid long walks watching the seasons slowly change, he and Willi got to work, spending nearly four months stringing together the melody of his first film in 16 years.

Tár stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, a fictional world renowned conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic who is brought down for exploiting power to pursue relationships with younger protegées, including a woman who commits suicide. The maestro is in denial regarding the influence of social media in the age of cancel culture; contributing to her undoing is a searing, impolitic exchange she has with a BIPOC Juilliard student that goes viral. While Field and Blanchett consider the film something of a fairy tale in that no top-tier orchestra today is led by a female conductor, Tár nevertheless upends the prevailing narrative in making a powerful woman a potential predator.

Tár has major Oscar ambitions and is widely expected to earn Blanchett her fifth nomination for best actress, as well as land a spot in the best picture race and other top categories. The Focus Features film has done relatively well for an art house pic, grossing nearly $4 million to date since its early October release, but is having a tough time striking a chord with mainstream audiences.

Field is a maestro in his own right, at least metaphorically. He studied music in college before setting his sights on the movie business (and his acting credits include Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, in which he played a jazz pianist). Field’s directorial debut, the 2001 drama In the Bedroom, scored five Oscar nominations, including for best picture. The only other film he’s directed until now was the acclaimed Little Children, which played in theaters in 2006. Several high-profile projects came his way in the intervening years, including the possibility of directing a political thriller written by Joan Didion, but they fell apart. Nor did he have interest in directing a studio tentpole based on superheroes or other IP.

Then, when the pandemic struck, Focus told him he could write anything he wished. “I sat down and started writing. It was a sprint, to be honest with you. It came together in about 12 weeks,” he says. “The studio gave me no notes and let me do exactly what I wanted. I have no excuses. If anybody has any problems with the film, then they can point their finger at me. It’s the most creatively free I’ve ever felt.”

Focus executives weren’t the only ones who were blown away by the script. “I inhaled it,” says Blanchett. “I had never read anything like it. Psychologically, it was totally uncompromising. It was a rhythmic challenge, and it dives into a world that I knew precious little about.”

In total, the Tár shoot was 65 days, with Field and some of his team going to Asia, for crucial third-act scenes, after wrapping in Berlin. Next came the editing process amid the stillness at the nunnery, where Willi says much of the challenge had to do with soundwork. Field wanted the sound, and score, to be as subtle as the camerawork.

Blanchett didn’t initially know that Field wrote Tár with her in mind, and her alone (they first met a decade ago, to discuss the Didion project). The actress, who was in Budapest shooting Eli Roth’s sci-fi action-comedy Borderlands when she received Field’s script, immediately said yes.

The director says he has long wanted to explore the structure of power. “If the story was about a white male, you’d know how to feel in five seconds,” he says. “But it was important to try to figure out another way to examine power itself. It seemed like there was perhaps a more nuanced way to look at the behavior as opposed to the mask.”

Blanchett says much the same thing. “We understand white male corruption. If you had a man in that role, it would have been a story about that, whereas Tár is so much more,” Blanchett says. “I do think that’s why I found it so challenging. I felt it was all up in the air and we weren’t trying to pin it down. We were just trying to have the conversation. I hope audiences can go into it to experience the film, not thinking about the politics of it. The gift for me was that there were also many physical things that I had to prepare for — the piano, the conducting, the reading of the score, the musical reference points.”

She continues: “It’s interesting that the character has been called a predator by various people. I think it’s reductive. That’s not what Tár is about. That is why I’ve been so reticent to talk about the film, because I feel it operates on so many levels.”

Blanchett didn’t want to talk about the film in relation to some of the high-profile men she’s worked with who have since been canceled, including Woody Allen (she won her first best actress Oscar for Allen’s Blue Jasmine).

Field says he could have set the story in any industry but chose the classical music world: “A concert band itself is shaped in a pyramid shape, and the fulcrum, the tip of that shape, is the conductor.”

Blanchett started prepping for the role in the early fall of 2020. She took German lessons and picked up the piano again (she’d played as a child). Because of the pandemic, she couldn’t see a real symphony in action, so she watched video after video of different conductors without the sound on. “Thank goodness for YouTube,” says Blanchett. She also worked with Natalie Murray Beale, a conductor whom she knew, and found a concert pianist in Budapest to help with her lessons.

Field is exacting but compassionate. He didn’t want Willi to have to travel to the United States — Field lives on the East Coast — and be so far from her family in Germany, so he arranged for them to work at the nunnery when London fell through. He would walk in the morning, while Willi would run. They’d talk about the goals for their day, and then would take a long walk together before resuming work. “We saw lambing season and livestock being born. Then we would cut seven days a week,” Field says. “It was very rigorous.”

Blanchett understands that rigor all too well. “Certainly, Todd threw down the gauntlet. When we were shooting, I felt like I was going into battle every day, in a positive way,” she says.

“It was much bigger than me or the sum of any of its parts. It was like climbing a mountain that I couldn’t see the top of. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alive.”

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