Category: Awards & Nominations

Cate Blanchett podcast interviews; & conversation with Bradley Cooper

Friday, Jan 21, 2022
Cate Blanchett podcast interviews; & conversation with Bradley Cooper

Happy Friday, blanchetters!

We continue to get awesome interviews with Cate as part of promotion for Nightmare Alley. Searchlight Pictures released new interview with Cate and Bradley Cooper. She also talked about Don’t Look Up and her upcoming projects. Sirius XM uploaded another short video which was part of the podcast interview with them. Listen to the podcast interviews below. Beware of spoilers, especially at the second half of the conversation with Bradley Cooper!

Cate Blanchett on playing a murderous psychoanalyst in Nightmare Alley

‘It’s about unlocking the human monster’: The actor discusses her role in Guillermo del Toro’s new film noir, which takes us into the bizarre world of carnivals

Guillermo del Toro is known for his grotesque creations. In Pan’s Labyrinth, the Mexican director dreamed up a child-eating demon with eyes in its palms; in Cronos, a vampire licks blood off a public bathroom’s floor. For his 11th feature, Nightmare Alley, his first without fantastical elements, del Toro deploys the noir genre to showcase a new type of monster: Cate Blanchett as a psychoanalyst with a murderous edge.

Mixing fraud with Freud, Lilith Ritter (Blanchett) upends the 1940s-set thriller on its painterly head. For the first hour, Stan (Bradley Cooper) toils at a carnival before fleeing with a romantic partner, Molly (Rooney Mara). He then moonlights as a mentalist, faking an ability to read wealthy minds – except Lilith can out-scheme a schemer. In 1999, Blanchett depicted a naïve socialite who’s duped in The Talented Mr Ripley; two decades later, Lilith may as well be renamed The Talented Ms Ritter.

“Guillermo, more than any other director, is fascinated by monsters,” Blanchett, 52, tells me over the phone from London in mid-January. “But in this one, it’s about unlocking the human monster. There’s a dark, monstrous creature inside Bradley that he’s in absolute denial of. My character encourages him to face that monster. It’s a dance of death. She knows that one of them’s going to be destroyed by it.”

Del Toro is the second director to adapt William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel for the screen. In the book, Gresham wrote that Lilith bears “the smile of a well-fed kitten” and laughs with “the bark of a fox”; in del Toro’s screenplay, which he penned with Kim Morgan, Lilith is “an icy woman of indeterminate age”. Helen Walker’s interpretation in the 1947 movie is more of a fake friend – a nightmare ally, if you will.

“Hopefully Lilith is an enigma,” Blanchett says. “Someone who’s completely unknowable. Anyone who’s been in psychoanalysis is desperately trying to unlock the recesses of their therapist’s mind. It’s a magnetic pull, because they seem to be like the Sphinx – they hold the answer to all the riddles they ask you. But in the end, they hold a mirror up to yourself.”

In a jagged, microphone-rigged office decorated like an image from a captcha test, Lilith welcomes Stan into her lair. As she treats numerous upper-class patients, Lilith provides Stan with their deepest, most sordid secrets, enabling him to continue his con; often these exchanges unfold in whispers, both leaning in for a kiss but settling for a flirtatious, breathy conversation that, coincidentally, propels the story along. At circuses, a geek – a performer who bites live chickens – is typically an alcoholic in need of booze; here, the psychoanalyst drip-feeds Stan with sex and romance, knowing he’ll do anything if the affection suddenly evaporates.

Then again, Lilith feeds off Stan, too, because everyone in Nightmare Alley self-medicates. It could be opium, it could be love. “Or maybe it’s acting!” Blanchett interjects. “The set was incredibly claustrophobic. I didn’t leave that office for four weeks. It’s like I was in the Amber Room, buried three storeys underground. Apart from the Copacabana, you never see her outside, whereas Stanley’s out in the world. He’s an instrument. A blunt instrument, unfortunately. She’s hoping he’s a Stradivarius, but it turns out he’s just an Okie with straight teeth.”

Blanchett is both a modern A-lister – her recent credits include a Leo DiCaprio-seducing TV host in Don’t Look Up, and the CGI-contorting Hela in Thor: Ragnarok – and a performer suited to period pieces. Comfortable as a young Bob Dylan in I’m Not There and Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, Blanchett inhabits Lilith as a classical femme fatale of the black-and-white era. “But normally the motivations of a femme fatale are in service of the plot, whereas I felt with Lilith there’s a higher purpose to it. Stan believes his lies, and my character is trying to unlock the truth in all its terrifying hideousness.”

Because I welcomed Blanchett “into my office” at the start of the phone call, the interview is littered with references as to how I’m the Lilith Ritter of our chat – until I describe Lilith’s voice as seductive and motherly. “Ooh, seductive and motherly,” she says. “Does that say more about you or me? Who’s on the couch now! Well, I think the room’s a psychic space as much as a physical office. It was important to have a voice that felt like it was inside Stan’s head, because he’s in such denial about who he is, what’s motivating him, and his ineptitude.” She also sought to create a hybrid between how people speak now and in the forties. “Hopefully the voice is timeless.”

In 2019, Stanley Kubrick’s assistant, Leon Vitali, revealed that Blanchett did uncredited voice work on Eyes Wide Shut. When Tom Cruise attends the orgy, the masked woman played by Abigail Good was overdubbed by Blanchett. “That happened after the fact,” she recalls. “I wasn’t allowed to see the film. It’s always a strange thing, when you’re asked to voice somebody else.”

So were Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who both recommended Blanchett, searching for someone vocally seductive (the character is nude) and motherly (she also rescues Cruise)? “They didn’t use the word ‘motherly’.” So just seductive? “Yeah. I mean, if you look at the sequence, it’s very strange and dreamlike and otherworldly – and a psychic space. Maybe that’s what they were after.”

In Britain, BAFTA longlisted Blanchett for Don’t Look Up; in America, SAG nominated her for Nightmare Alley. When I ask if there’s a cultural divide, she opts to skip the question and instead emphasise that Nightmare Alley is intended for the big screen. “It’s cinematic,” she continues. “There’s nothing like sitting with strangers in the dark, watching things. A master like Guillermo, having big, big, epic thoughts, in all of this glorious visual wonderment? It’s delicious.” Do people in the UK have a moral duty to see it in theatres? “A moral duty? Uh… OK, I’ll let you say that. That’s a good one.”

However, Blanchett describes Nightmare Alley, and its deconstruction of the American Dream, as a topical film, even if it’s set in the forties. “But it couldn’t be further from agitprop. It’s set in a circus and a world that feels familiar but strange. It provides us with a space, in an entertaining way, to reflect on what’s going on, without having it banged over our heads.”

So if it gets remade in 50 years’ time when the planet is underwater, will it still resonate? “Guillermo might be right for that remake – he’s good with underwater creatures. Look, you can’t view anything at the moment without reflecting on what we’re going through as a species. But this had been brewing for Guillermo and Kim for quite a long time. He’s really obsessed with how monstrous we’ve become when we start to believe our own lies. And that feels like an incredibly resonant theme to explore.”

The Pat Kenny Show

5 Minutes On – Cate Blanchett – “how we’ve lost the meaning of truth”

The Australian’s latest role as a psychoanalyst in Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Nightmare Alley’ has already secured her a nomination at next month’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. The film is a neo-noir psychological thriller set in the 1940s about a conman, played by Bradley Cooper, who starts believing his own lie. Cate Blanchett thinks it’s a theme that will resonate in today’s world, in which she says the truth has been politicised – and the confusion between fact and fiction has created a challenging environment for us all. For 5 Minutes On, she’s been talking to our entertainment correspondent, Colin Paterson, about the film, the future of cinema – and how during lockdown the only way she could engage her seven-year-old in home schooling was to dress up as her teacher and impersonate her voice.

 

BBC

Cate Blanchett on Her Double Oscar Buzz, Skipping ‘Ricardos’ and New Pedro Almodóvar Movie

Cate Blanchett delivers two outstanding performances that are both in the awards conversation this year: “Don’t Look Up” and “Nightmare Alley.” The star shepherds grace and a hypnotic trance that has the viewer hanging on every single word she releases.

With another impressive turn in Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up,” Blanchett is a contender in what is easily our strongest field of supporting actress contenders in the last 30 years. Blanchett was shortlisted at BAFTA for “Don’t Look Up,” and also picked up a SAG Award nod for Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley.”

Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast recently spoke with Blanchett about her double dip in the awards arena this season, and having to turn down the role of Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos,” which ultimately went to Nicole Kidman. Plus, the Australian actor talks about her next project with Pedro Almodóvar and why she thinks it’s important to get back to movie theaters.

In what was reported exclusively on Variety, Blanchett will next work with Almodóvar on “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” his first English-language feature, which she will star in and also produce.

She also discusses her other upcoming movies like “TÁR” from Todd Field, “Pinocchio” from Guillermo del Toro and “Borderlands” from Eli Roth. Another possible project in the works is Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis,” which she’s been rumored to be circling alongside other stars such as Oscar Isaac and Zendaya. Isaac was said to be in discussions to play Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s “Being the Ricardos” around the time that Blanchett was being eyed to play Lucille Ball.

“It became the movie it needed to be,” she says of what ultimately transpired with “Ricardos.” “Those things happen in the right way, at the right time. In the best possible way, you don’t always envisage the same thing; and then it goes on to become a different entity.” As for the possibility of working with Coppola she says, “When Francis calls, you just have to say yes. Because you’re on the epic, life-changing adventure ride. You’re on that roller coaster. I’m ready for that.”

“Don’t Look Up” is distributed by Netflix and is now streaming on the platform. “Nightmare Alley” is distributed by Searchlight Pictures and is now playing in theaters.

 — Variety

Sirius XM

 

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