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Cate is returning this year for the fourth season of Documentary Now! which is set to premiere this fall.
Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett — who previously starred in Documentary Now!‘s Season 3 outing, “Waiting for the Artist” — is ready for an encore, in one of the half-dozen episodes premiering this fall on IFC and AMC+.
Co-created by Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Rhys Thomas, and hosted by Dame Helen Mirren, Documentary Now “lovingly” pays homage to the world of documentaries.
“Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport,” starring Blanchett and Harriet Walter (Killing Eve), takes its cue from fashion documentaries 3 Salons at the Seaside and The September Issue as it offers “a fly-on-the-wall portrait of a hair salon owner (Walter) and her staff (Blanchett), in the small coastal village of Bagglyport as they prepare their yearly stylebook.” Armisen co-stars as George the Postman.
Cate has signed up to do another TV series which will be directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The cast of Don’t Look Up, where Cate plays Brie Evantee, has been nominated for Best Ensemble at Hollywood Critics Association. Nightmare Alley had it’s world premiere at Alice Tully Hall in New York last night. Unfortunately, Cate is not able to attend the red carpet premiere but she popped in for the Q&A after the screening. You can see the videos and photos plus the reviews and reactions on the movie below. Enjoy!
Special thanks to Cate Blanchett fans on CBF Chat for the links!
Cate Blanchett & Kevin Kline To Star In Alfonso Cuarón Thriller Series ‘Disclaimer’ For Apple
Alfonso Cuarón is adapting Renee Knight’s novel Disclaimer as a series for Apple TV+ with Cate Blanchett and Kevin Kline starring.
The project marks the first series from the Roma filmmaker since he signed an overall deal with the streamer in 2019. It also marks a series debut for Sophie’s Choice and A Fish Called Wanda star Kline.
Cuarón to write, direct and executive produce all episodes of the series, marking the first time that he has written and directed all episodes of an original series. Blanchett also exec produces.
Blanchett plays Catherine Ravenscroft, a successful and respected television documentary journalist whose work has been built on revealing the concealed transgressions of long-respected institutions. When an intriguing novel written by a widower, played by Kline, appears on her bedside table, she is horrified to realize she is a key character in a story that she had hoped was long buried in the past. A story that reveals her darkest secret. A secret she thought was hers alone.
Disclaimer is produced by Cuarón’s Esperanto Filmoj and Anonymous Content. Academy Award-winner Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) and Academy Award nominee Bruno Delbonnel (The Tragedy of Macbeth) will serve as directors of photography on the project. Cuarón serves as executive producer alongside Esperanto Filmoj’s Gabriela Rodriguez and Anonymous Content’s David Levine, Dawn Olmstead and the late Steve Golin. Renee Knight serves as co-executive producer.
Nightmare Alley Post Screening Q&A, Reviews and Reactions
Guillermo Del Toro’s Carnival Noir Is Stylish As Hell, With A Standout Cate Blanchett Performance
As good as the first half of “Nightmare Alley” may be, it really comes to life when Lilith shows up, played by Cate Blanchett. Blanchett was born to be a femme fatale in a film noir, and del Toro knows it. Dan Laustsen lights her in a consistently alluring way — there are multiple shots where the top half of her head, including her eyes, are bathed in shadows, and those shadows follow her around as if she had control over them. And from that darkness, those eyes sparkle with menace. Blanchett, with her deliberate way of speaking and the seductive way she breathes cigarette smoke, is simultaneously hot as hell and icy cold, and everything she does here is dynamite. She’s pretty poison in an ornate bottle.
As sumptuous as all of this is, “Nightmare Alley” does suffer from problems of pacing. Blanchett’s introduction to the film is so fierce that when the film starts focusing on anyone other than her, the story starts to feel like it’s dragging. Stan’s con game with Ezra goes on a little too long (although it’s worth noting it goes on even longer in the book), and del Toro and Morgan’s script fails to make this section of the story particularly interesting. At least not at first. However, “Nightmare Alley” does manage to eventually right itself, heading into a climax bursting with brutal violence and shocking twists. More than that, it’s all building up towards an ending that burns its way into your very soul. Without giving anything away, let me just tell you the final shot of this movie is an all-timer, and even if the film as a whole doesn’t work for you, I’m confident you’ll walk out of the theater haunted by those last moments.
Bradley Cooper disappears as Nightmare Alley’s lead, but Cate Blanchett is the true stunner
Commanding the role in its various phases, Bradley Cooper’s character is pushed in some ways we’ve seen before in Nightmare Alley, but it’s delivered with the actor aligning the ferocity we’ve seen him exhibit previously along with key doses of restraint. And yet, when it comes to the true stone cold stunning talent of this poisonous drama, you need not look further than Cate Blanchett’s Dr. Lilith Ritter.
Blanchett and Cooper’s pairing is one of the cinematic joys of 2021, as right from their first moments together on screen it’s absolutely what you would have expected and hoped for. The audience is going to obviously go into this movie with ideas in regard’s to Lilith’s motivations in Nightmare Alley, but whether those notions are fulfilled or not is incidental, as Blanchett’s pitch perfect performance supersedes such matters and culminates as a beautiful knockout.
Nightmare Alley Is Another Strong Oscar Contender for Guillermo del Toro
Nightmare Alley screened simultaneously across the country on Wednesday evening, a huge event to rev up its campaign. (A virtual Q&A with the cast followed the main premiere.) The movie itself lands as a rock-solid, potentially across-the-board player, bolstered by impeccable craft below the line and a superb ensemble in top form. It’s a darker movie than Shape of Water, though, and one that feels relatively conventional by modern standards, with a classic kind of antihero wading through a murky, suspensefully engineered tale of ambition and deceit. It’s hard to see this one stirring enough passion to go all the way.
Adapted from William Lindsay Gresham’s 1946 novel—which was previously made into a 1947 film—Nightmare Alley tells its story in two halves. The first is set at a traveling carnival, where we meet Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper), a loner fleeing a hazy and fiery past. He develops a talent for trickery and manipulation under the guidance of carnie couple Zeena (Toni Collette) and Pete (David Strathairn), who jointly run a psychic show. He refines his act with love interest Molly (Rooney Mara), before the back half of the film finds him in an arrangement with mercurial psychiatrist Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), which culminates in a plot against the wealthy tycoon Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins).
The narrative moves smartly and efficiently, with del Toro’s knack for artful entertainment on full display; the brutal, sharp ending neatly ties its two parts together. Based purely on the movie’s particular merits, as a strong commercial play with high craft-category potential—a combination not shared by many contenders this season—it’s easy to see Nightmare Alley pulling in one of the larger overall nomination hauls, with above-the-line recognition most likely in best picture and director. (The adapted screenplay, which del Toro penned with his wife, the critic Kim Morgan, is also in play.)
As to whether it can establish itself as an overall front-runner, the film is lacking in emotional pull—a central quality of recent winners, including The Shape of Water—which will be a significant obstacle. And while the cast is terrific, there’s no obvious acting nominee. Cooper’s work gets stronger and deeper as it goes, culminating in a pitch-perfect closer, but it’s quieter for much of the run time, a hindrance in a best-actor field dominated by capital-b Big performances. Running in supporting, Blanchett similarly holds her cards close until a corker of a final scene for her character; on the male supporting side, both Strathairn and Jenkins are superbly affecting whenever onscreen—it’s just that there may not be enough of them. At this stage it feels equally wrong to say no Nightmare actor will be nominated and that any of them will. Blanchett, who is particularly fantastic, likely stands the best chance.
Nightmare Alley arrives at an interesting point for del Toro, a filmmaker known for top-tier supernatural works and who was more admired than decorated until recently. He’s also a true student of noir who’d been attracted to this title for a long time. He finally got his chance to make Nightmare Alley, and put his stamp on the material with flair. Now that he’s an Academy darling, how far can that take him?
Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett in Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Nightmare Alley’
The first half of Nightmare Alley, Guillermo del Toro’s blood-dark jewel of an American saga, is set within the itinerant subculture of carnies, at the tail end of the Great Depression. “Folks here, they don’t make no never mind who you are or what you done,” Willem Dafoe’s carnival barker assures a newbie, Stanton Carlisle. That’s good news for Stan, who’s played by Bradley Cooper with an inscrutable chill, and who has drifted into the carnival after a long bus ride from some things he’d rather forget.
Shifting gears after the Cold War romantic fantasy The Shape of Water, del Toro burrows deep into the margins, both low and high, with his new film. His adaptation, with co-writer Kim Morgan, of William Lindsay Gresham’s novel Nightmare Alley is a more expansive version than the first film iteration of the book, a 1947 black-and-white feature that’s one of the most distinctive noirs ever made. Tyrone Power spearheaded that project, determined to leave behind the light adventure fare he was identified with and delve into more complex territory, and he delivered his finest screen performance. But audiences weren’t ready to see their silver-screen swashbuckler in antiheroic mode, an obstacle that Cooper, who has played his share of tarnished types, won’t face.
His performance takes a while to fully grab hold, no doubt as intended, and when it does, it’s riveting, at once alluring and repellent, holding the center of a superb cast. Not just a quick study but a coolly aggressive one, Stanton rises through the ranks of the low-rent carnival shows, with their lurid come-ons (mind-blowing creatures!) and soul-salving enticements (mind-reading psychics!). But whatever the carnies’ ruses and sleights of hand, it isn’t until Stanton becomes a star in the big city, where he meets an impossibly glamorous psychologist who’s named Lilith Ritter and played by a smooth-as-satin Cate Blanchett, that the real grifting begins.
The story opens in 1939, when the wounds of the Great War are still festering and another conflagration is on the horizon. One of Stan’s first lessons in the carnival involves the geek, whom he confronts in the House of Damnations. For a quarter, customers can witness sheer human debasement: The hopeless alcoholic who’s been lured into the job, and driven to madness, dutifully bites the head off a live chicken. (The original film’s offscreen treatment of these gruesome acts is more powerful than the graphic depiction del Toro provides.)
The barker Clem Hoatley (Willem Dafoe), who has assembled a collection of pickled fetuses, most of them human, that he calls the Unborn Wonders of Nature, shows Stan the carnival ropes. Mind-reader Zeena (Toni Collette) shows Stan a very personal welcome, while her dipsomaniac husband, Pete (David Strathairn), warns about the dangers of believing your own lies — words of wisdom that Stan ignores. He’s focused instead on the book containing the elaborate verbal code Zeena and Pete developed for a mentalist act they no longer perform. His ambition is ignited by his attraction to Molly (Rooney Mara), who is as low-key and sincere as her high-voltage act — she’s a human conductor of electricity — is flamboyant. In a quietly wrenching throwaway line, Molly, who has been under the protective eye of Bruno (Ron Perlman), declares her virginity to Stan, but with a devastating asterisk.
Stan will find his ticket out of the carnival circuit, and with Molly he’ll create a mind-reading act, performed for the upper crust in an elegant Buffalo nightclub. If the first half of the film does a bit too much explaining about the world of the carnies, the second, set in 1941, bursts into ultra-stylized noir (and art deco splendor). Blanchett’s Lilith enters the drama as a velvet-sheathed challenger to Stan’s act, her lips blood-red and gleaming, her double entendres dusky-voiced and occasionally on the razor’s edge of camp.
Cooper’s performance hits a deeper vein as Stan recognizes a kindred spirit. “You run a racket, same as me,” he tells Lilith. In no time they’re putting her confidential knowledge of the emotional lives of Buffalo’s elite to use in pricey private consultations for the likes of a judge’s wife (Mary Steenburgen) who’s mourning her soldier son. Stan knows he’s hit the jackpot when industrialist Ezra Grindle (an almost unrecognizable Richard Jenkins, in a compelling change of pace from his usually sympathetic roles) seeks his services. Grindle is a man so wealthy and hypocritical that he believes he can buy his redemption, and ultimately represents everything that Stan hates.
The fluent camerawork by Dan Laustsen and the designs of Tamara Deverell and Luis Sequeira create two vivid worlds, beginning with the dust and smoke of the carnival midway, with its theatrical outfits and the lights of the Ferris wheel against a middle-of-nowhere night sky. The film’s vision of snowy Buffalo, with its imposing brick edifices, is a refreshingly unfamiliar movie setting, and one that del Toro uses eloquently to convey a sense of municipal power and wealth — and of a world closing in on Stanton Carlisle precisely when he believes he has it in the palm of his hand. The interiors Deverell and her team created for this portion of the film are exquisite, notably the lush jade tones of Stan and Molly’s hotel suite and the jaw-dropping geometry of Lilith’s office, with its burnished wood paneling, a room inspired by the Weil-Worgelt Study.
Sequeira’s costumes range from the threadbare to the outré to the elegant, and by the time we find Stan in bespoke suits and smoking jackets, he has forsaken the carny code, with its sense of family and personal integrity. In Mara’s lovely and understated performance, we know that Molly doesn’t lose sight of these values.
Part of the power of Gresham’s story, and of del Toro’s film (and Edmund Goulding’s in 1947), is the recognition that shtick and showbiz trickery don’t preclude real spiritual connection. Zeena’s tarot card readings, for one, tap into Stan’s fate with an uncanny clarity (and Collette’s strong, self-knowing performance deepens that clarity). Back on the midway, Stan showed an impressive talent for reading people, but in the big city he’s been blinded by the light of his own success — not to mention the glare from Lilith’s mirthless smile.
Stan is an unlikable character, and one who’s offered no redemption in this telling, whose ending is truer to the source material than the Tyrone Power movie was (it was saddled with an obviously tacked-on note of hope, imposed by the studio). If we ever root for Stan, it’s only in moments when he’s set against Lilith’s ice-queen evil. Cooper never plays for audience sympathy, making the film’s final moments all the more raw and powerful.
The screenplay can at times be too literal, but Nathan Johnson’s score never fails, creating a potent fusion of the majestic and the uneasy, and encapsulating the dueling impulses in del Toro’s vision. With a semi-playful nod to the 1945 film Detour and more than a few rain-drenched streets, Nightmare Alley pays tribute to noir. But it’s also its own dark snow globe, luminous and finely faceted, and one of del Toro’s most fluent features.
“Right next to him[Bradley Cooper] is two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett, shepherding grace and a hypnotic trance that has the viewer hanging on every single word she releases. With another impressive turn in Adam McKay “Don’t Look Up,” she’s another contender in what is easily our strongest field of supporting actress contenders in the last 30 years.” — Clayton Davis (Variety)
This is what it looks like when you interview the entire cast of #NightmareAlley in New York and Cate Blanchett has to do it from home in London at 4am. A total pleasure to spend a little time with this phenomenal group. pic.twitter.com/kKIaMZBFuV
Appropriate that Cate Blanchett looms over this crowd because she looms large in NIGHTMARE ALLEY itself, treating the film’s eye popping production design like it was all custom made for her femme fatale to slink on. She’ll slink on couches, on desks, on walls, on B Coop, on air
Cate and Bradley Cooper are electric in Nightmare Alley. There is one seen that is old school Hollywood magic. GDT has crafted an impressive moral tale that often soars. The pacing hinders it at times and boy is it dark. But CATE.
NIGHTMARE ALLEY is delightfully evil. Bradley Cooper is no Tyrone Power, but he holds his own and pulls it off. But Cate Blanchett… oh boy she steals this thing and never gives it back. @RealGDT knocks this noir out of the park. Loved it.
“Every character has a scar,” said El Toro of Nightmare Alley, premiering tonight. Rooney Mara had a baby between when the film shut down and started up again. Mara calls Cate Blanchett a “frozen faced bitch” in this gorgeously wrought, bleak ultra-noir starring Bradley Cooper. pic.twitter.com/DurmM635jo
Guillermo del Toro’s #NightmareAlley is haunting & seductive in the way it draws you into its story about a man lost in his own long con. Steadily unsettling & wildly gripping by the end – the scenes between Bradley Cooper & Cate Blanchett are fantastic. Deliciously old fashioned pic.twitter.com/pcyYSGZX3U
Blanchett was *made* for the film noir era. She would have been everyone’s go-to femme fatale. I guess she’s done one before, THE GOOD GERMAN, but that was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen (not her fault). But it’s so cool to see her in a very good one!
Hello, Blanchetters! We’ve got some news and videos on Cate! Enjoy!
Cate Blanchett and IWC CMO Talk Sustainability
After IWC Schaffhausen released its second sustainability report, we can see its evident leading role in sustainable luxury watchmaking. Actor and producer Cate Blanchett joined Franziska Gsell, IWC CMO, for a virtual video conference about sustainability, where they discussed the brand’s management of its environmental and social impact.
For those who didn’t know, Cate Blanchett has been an IWC brand ambassador since 2006. The two-time Academy Award winner said, “When Franziska and I first met in 2015, we quickly discovered our mutual interest in sustainability topics. It is more important than ever for brands to review their environmental footprint and take concrete steps towards sustainability. The notion of transparency is key because clients want to know how a luxury product is manufactured.”
“Cate and I often speak about sustainability, and it’s truly a topic that is close to both of our hearts. It was a great honor to connect with her virtually, and I appreciate her shining a light on the efforts that we are undertaking on our journey to become a fully sustainable luxury company,” said Franziska Gsell.
Cate Blanchett And Her Dirty Films Team Board As Exec Producers Of Venice Premiere Pic ‘Apples’
Cate Blanchett and her team at Dirty Films are coming on board as executive producers on the Christos Nikou-directed Apples, the film which opened Venice Orizzonti section to strong reviews and was also a selection of Telluride and TIFF and is a potential for the Greece’s choice for Best International Feature Film.
Blanchett, Andrew Upton, and Coco Francini of Dirty Films are now exec producers of the pandemic-set film, which is now playing all the festivals. While most of those festivals were virtual, Venice was the exception and Blanchett discovered the film while she presided over the jury of the Golden Lion section, and took time to see the film in the Orizzonti section. She formed a new creative collaboration with the film and Nikou, who made his debut as director after working as AD for filmmakers including Richard Linklater and Yorgot Lanthimos.
“Apples is an unforgettable, prescient cinematic experience,” said Blanchett, Upton, and Francini. “Christos Nikou’s film is a unique and beautiful fable about memory and loss which resonates deeply with the unrecognisable terrain in which we currently find ourselves. We are invigorated to be in creative dialogue with Christos and to help share his warmth, humour and his fascinating world view.”
In a film with a most timely presence, Apples takes place amidst an unpredictable, sweeping pandemic that causes people to develop sudden amnesia. A man finds himself enrolled in a recovery program designed to help him build a new life. His treatment: performing daily tasks prescribed by his doctors on cassette tape, and capturing these new memories with a Polaroid camera.
Said Nikou: “I don’t know how selective our memory is, but this is a moment that will remain unforgettable! I am so thrilled to welcome in to our Apples‘ team the amazingly talented producers and tastemakers Cate Blanchett, Andrew Upton, and Coco Francini.”
They join Nikos Smpiliris as exec producers. Pic is produced by Iraklis Mavroidis, Angelo Venetis, Aris Dagios, Mariusz W?odarski, and Nikou. Associate producers are Virginie Devesa, Jerome Duboz, and Antoine Simkine, and Co-producers are Ales Pavlin, Andrej Stritof, Stefanos Ganos, and Stavros Raptis. The film was written by Nikou and Stavros Raptis, shot by Bartosz Swiniarski, and stars Aris Servetalis (Alps) in the lead role.
Dirty Films’s credits include Truth, Carol, Little Fish and The Turning, and Stateless and Mrs. America on the small screen. AlphaViolet is handling international sales, and CAA Media Finance is representing U.S.
The list of people joining the Duke of Cambridge on The Earthshot PrizeCouncil has been unveiled.
On Thursday, Prince William announced the launch of the environmental prize, which aims to incentivise change and help to repair the planet over the next 10 years. It is hoped that the money will provide at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest environmental problems by 2030.
William will be joined by a host of high-profile leaders from the environmental, philanthropic, business, sporting and entertainment worlds to form The Earthshot Prize Council.
The organisation states that each member is committed to championing positive action in the environmental space.
The list of influential figures includes natural historian David Attenborough, actor and humanitarian Cate Blanchett, singer Shakira, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, professional footballer Dani Alves and basketball player Yao Ming.
Other names highlighted on the list are former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, environmental activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi, philanthropist Jack Ma, economist Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former astronaut Naoko Yamazaki.
In the coming months, additional members of The Earthshot Prize Council will be announced as the global coalition supporting the Prize expands.
To mark the launch of the prize, a short film has been released which shows William and Sir David at Kensington Palace, speaking about their passion for the environment and the critical role that The Earthshot Prize can play in repairing the planet.
The film also features each of the 11 other announced members of The Earthshot Prize Council, who explain their motivations for becoming involved in The Earthshot Prize and the differing environmental challenges faced globally.
Speaking about The Earthshot Prize, Blanchett said she feels “extremely honoured” to have been selected for the council.
“I feel humbled and invigorated to be amongst such extraordinary activists, experts and leaders in the environmental sector,” she said.
“All around the world, science and community-based initiatives are leading to ground-breaking inventions and solutions which, if provided with the platform and resources to be implemented on a larger scale, could have a significant and positive impact on the environment and global economy.”
Gregory Crewdson and Cate Blanchett in Conversation about his latest work An Eclipse of Moths
Great news! We have a new Cate film (Pinocchio) to look forward to, which will be directed by Guillermo Del Toro. There’s also new UNHCR video released for World Humanitarian Day last August 19. On Mrs. America related news, the cast and creators conducted a virtual Q&A. Check the news and videos below.
Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pinocchio’ Adds Cate Blanchett, Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton
Guillermo del Toro has cast Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, David Bradley and Finn Wolfhard in “Pinocchio,” his upcoming stop-motion animated musical feature for Netflix.
Newcomer Gregory Mann will star as Pinocchio, with McGregor as Cricket and Bradley as Geppetto. Other cast members include Christoph Waltz, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson and Burn Gorman.
“After years of pursuing this dream project, I found my perfect partner in Netflix. We have spent a long time curating a remarkable cast and crew and have been blessed by continuous support from Netflix to quietly and carefully soldier on, barely missing a beat. We all love and practice animation with great passion and believe it to be the ideal medium to retell this classic story in a completely new way,” del Toro said on Wednesday.
The film, first announced in 2018, will be set during the rise of fascism in Mussolini’s Italy during the 1930s. It tells a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations.
The film is directed by del Toro and Mark Gustafson from a script by del Toro and Patrick McHale. The song lyrics are by del Toro and Katz, with music by Alexandre Desplat, who will also write the score. Gris Grimly created the original design for the Pinocchio character.
“Pinocchio” is produced by del Toro, The Jim Henson Company’s Lisa Henson, ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley and Corey Campodonico, and Exile Entertainment’s Gary Ungar. It’s co-produced by Blanca Lista of The Jim Henson Company and Gris Grimly. Principal photography began last fall at ShadowMachine’s Portland studio, and production has continued uninterrupted during the pandemic.
Set during the rise of Fascism in Mussolini’s Italy, PINOCCHIO — a musical directed by del Toro and Mark Gustafson (FANTASTIC MR. FOX) with a score by Alexandre Desplat — is a story of love and disobedience as Pinocchio struggles to live up to his father’s expectations.
Female ambition takes center stage with Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba and ‘Mrs. America’
The FX limited series “Mrs. America” tells the riveting story of the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment, but it is also a rich study of female power in its many complex permutations.
On one side of the drama is conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), whose ferocious professional drive and political power are at odds with the traditional values she espouses. On the other are second-wave feminist leaders including presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), whose White House aspirations made her a target of vicious criticism and even death threats.
“What really excited me about doing this show was putting forth a whole spectrum of women who are unapologetically ambitious,” says creator Dahvi Waller, “women who are not saying, ‘But I’m also a good mother!’ They’re just unapologetically seeking agency and political power — I wanted young women to see that. I really feel like that’s what’s missing from television: those kind of women.”
Waller was joined in a video call by three other women who contributed to “Mrs. America” in key ways: Blanchett, Aduba and Brenda Feigen, the pioneering feminist lawyer who was played in the series by Ari Graynor.
Blanchett, who was also an executive producer, wasn’t deterred by the thought of playing Schlafly, who remains an influential, deeply polarizing figure in American politics four years after her death and serves as the drama’s antihero. “It’s not my job to like or dislike a character. Nor do I think that women need to be nice to be interesting or watchable,” she says. Instead, the Oscar winner was excited to be part of a project that asked, as she puts it, “What is so scary about the notion of equality?”
“Even though this is set back in the 1970s, it was ‘Groundhog Day’ all throughout the making of the series,” she continues, citing fetal heartbeat bills restricting abortion passed in several states last year. “You hope in a way that it’s a museum piece that you’re making, … but this conversation is happening right now. That’s my takeaway from it: how little the discourse has changed.”
Indeed, the women gathered virtually the very afternoon that presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, following weeks of feverish and often sexist debates about who was right for the job. By joining the ticket, Harris achieved a historic milestone for Black and South Asian women that was arguably made possible by Chisholm’s 1972 campaign.
“Mrs. America” resonated the way it has because it came out amid multiple crises, Aduba says, “when America is being forced to face itself and to clear its air. And, of course, in the midst of this we are having the announcement of a vice presidential candidate who is a woman. There’s going to be yet another moment where America is going to be asked to confront itself.”
The episode “Shirley” shows the painful lack of support Chisholm received from white feminists and Black male politicians during her primary run, in which she was beaten by the more “electable” George McGovern. Nearly 50 years later, what Chisholm believed was possible — a woman president — has yet to come to fruition.
Characters such as Chisholm and Bella Abzug, played by Margo Martindale, “were all women with aspirations,” Aduba says. “And it just begs the question, for me: Had they not had that limitation of being an ambitious woman, having that label slapped on them, who could these women have been?”
“I have felt it as a Black woman — that there is an amount of ambition that is carved out for you and there’s a way in which you’re meant to express it, and if you say it any other way, you are looked at as angry — that angry Black woman trope is a real thing — or expecting too much too soon. But to borrow from AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], do it anyway.”
Waller channeled her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry into “Mrs. America.” Dialogue from the episode “Jill,” about Republican feminist Jill Ruckelshaus (Elizabeth Banks), was inspired by a vexing conversation she’d had with a male showrunner who seemed baffled by Waller’s belief that women should make up half the writers in the room (she was the only woman on that particular staff).
“He said, ‘What? You’re not going to be happy until 50% of TV writers are women?’ And I said, ‘Yeah!’ And he thew his hands up in the air.” Another scene in which Schlafly is asked to take notes during a meeting with men was also taken out of Waller’s time in the writers room. “You were always the one asked to be writing on the whiteboard. Because, of course, a girl would have the neatest handwriting,” says Blanchett sarcastically. “That’s what you offer a writers room, isn’t it, Dahvi?”
The writers room for “Mrs. America” consisted of seven women and two men. As they were breaking an episode about a congressman sexually harassing his secretaries, Senate hearings were underway for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, making for “a very emotionally charged time in the writers room,” Waller says, recalling how the women once spent three hours sharing their #MeToo experiences in the industry. “We had some of the most uncomfortable and difficult conversations not only about gender, but about race and class and sexuality and the politics around that and how we were gonna represent that in the show. To have that space was really wonderful.”
“Argument is part of a democracy,” adds Blanchett. “You have to have robust discussion. Certainly that’s what I found playing Phyllis. She has a woeful distaste for nuance. You have to go through discord and debate and disagreement to get to nuance.” While the actress resisted judging her character, Blanchett concedes she found it isolating to play someone who brooked little dissent within her ranks — something she felt acutely when she’d watch dailies of ERA proponent actresses engaged in spirited discussions.
“I would feel so lonely,” she says. “It really drove home for me that I much prefer being in conversation rather than monologue.”
‘Mrs. America’ Cast and Creators on Portraying Historical Figures With Accuracy and Empathy
The cast and creators of the FX on Hulu limited series “Mrs. America” sought to bring the ’70s feminist movement and the fight surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment to the screen through exploring the personal motivations of its key players.
After a screening of the series’ third episode, “Shirley,” Variety‘s Kate Aurthur discussed the importance of portraying these figures with accuracy and empathy with executive producer Cate Blanchett, who played Schlafly; creator, showrunner and executive producer Dahvi Waller; producer Tanya Barfield, who wrote the episode; Margo Martindale, who played Abzug; Uzo Aduba, who played Chisholm and Tracey Ullman, who played Friedan. (All of whom have been nominated for Emmys.)
Blanchett said that although Schlafly’s beliefs were the opposite of her own, she felt drawn to the character out of a need to understand where she was coming from.
“I think, like a lot of people, I was reeling from the process and the results of the 2016 election in America, and wanted to understand how we’d got to a point where women seemed to be voting against their own self-interest,” Blanchett said. “I wanted to know what made her tick, and I found that there was a terrifying need to be right, a profound need to make the world in her own image and a fear of change.”
Blanchett also found the subject matter deeply important to today’s political climate.
“I had this profound sense of living in Groundhog Day,” Blanchett said. “Every day we were on set, the words, the phrases, the situations that we found ourselves in as characters, seemed to be just literally mirroring the things that were happening in politics and society in America generally.”
Cate Blanchett and the ‘Mrs. America’ Team on Building a Bridge of Empathy
FX on Hulu’s “Mrs. America” used controversial conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly (a menacingly luminous and Emmy-nominated Cate Blanchett) as a pivot point for the show’s narrative, while building out a dynamite cast of players (including Emmy nominees Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, and Tracey Ullman) each of whom have their own respective episode to shine.
But few shine as brightly as Aduba, whose portrayal of Shirley Chisholm (the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress) is electric, particularly in her standalone episode, “Shirley,” written by Tanya Barfield. In it, Chisholm is committed to her presidential candidacy and disheartened by a feminist movement that cannot comprehend the importance of intersectionality.
Reviled by the left and revered by the right, Schlafly played a huge part behind the scenes in the rise of the Religious Right and actively worked to limit the quest for equal rights in America. Knowing her history set quite a challenge for the now Emmy-nominated Blanchett, but those divergent aspects of Schlafly’s character appealed to the actress.
“I’m not interested in presenting my own political beliefs or making work in my own image, Blanchett, who also served as an executive producer on the series, said. “It’s far more fascinating to inhabit people who think nothing like you, whose frames of reference are nothing like your own. You build a bridge of empathy, in a way, to to their experience.”
“What was revealed in the wake of the 2016 election was just how divided the country was,” she said. “You would speak to people in certain states, from certain socio-economic standing, certain sub-cultural groups, certain genders, and they would feel that the Obama administration had left them behind, had ignored them, that they felt outside of America and that their interests were not being represented. And I thought, ‘Well, how can you possibly say that when you’ve really been in power for several hundred years?’
Blanchett continued, speaking about the real and devastating schism happening in the country, and observing that Schlafly, too, was a grassroots outsider; so much so that it probably cost her the position in President Reagan’s cabinet she so longed for.
“I was interested in trying to find a way to be part of a conversation that built a bridge between what seemed to be polar opposites, whether they were polar opposites from a gender perspective or political perspective,” Blanchett said. “I think drama has the ability to do that. And I think our political discourse, not just in America, but globally, has become so divided that we can’t have nuanced conversations about things as important and as political as equality.”
Click the image below for the full video:
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors and Supporters send a message of solidarity to humanitarian heroes
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
A podcast hosted by Cate was also released along with the series:
Here are a couple of interviews:
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 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
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…
Here are interviews related to Mrs. America with a podcast:
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:
As Emmy is nearing Cate also joined few conversion as a possible Emmy contender. First one was the The Los Angeles Times Emmy Roundtable Drama with 8 other actors from different TV series. Then, Deadline Contenders Television with Mrs. America cast.
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 anessentialhumanity 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.
Ana Lily Amirpour gave a short interview about the short film mentioning Cate:
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:
A new UNHCR #iBelong video was released recently. She’s also going to be a keynote speaker at PWBC 2020 Conference.
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.
Cate Blanchett has officially closed a deal to star in director Eli Roth’s movie adaptation of the video game “Borderlands” at Lionsgate.
Blanchett will portray Lilith, a legendary thief equipped with magical skills. Lionsgate announced the deal on Thursday, a month after Variety first reported the attachment.
The project reunites Blanchett with Roth, who collaborated on “The House With a Clock in Its Walls.”
Blanchett currently stars in “Mrs. America,” which she also executive produces, and will star in James Gray’s upcoming “Armageddon Time” and Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up.” She’s 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.”
Roth said, “I’m so lucky to have the amazing Cate Blanchett starring in ‘Borderlands.’ We had the most incredible collaboration together on ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls,’ and I believe there’s nothing she can’t do. From drama to comedy and now action, Cate makes every scene sing. Working with her is truly a director’s dream come true, and I feel so fortunate that I get to do it again on an even bigger scale. Everyone brings their A-game to work with Cate, and I know together we’re going to create another iconic character in her already storied career.”
“Borderlands,” launched in 2009, is a role-playing first-person shooter game created and developed by Gearbox Software and published by Take-Two Interactive Software’s 2K label. The game is set on the planet of Pandora, which has been abandoned by a mega-corporation prior to the game events. The series has sold more than 57 million units worldwide. The most recent installment, “Borderlands 3,” was released last September.
“Borderlands” will be produced by Avi and Ari Arad, who produce through their Arad Productions banner, and Erik Feig, through Picturestart, who have shepherded the project and overseen development, including the latest draft of the screenplay by Emmy-winning screenwriter Craig Mazin. The film’s executive producers are Randy Pitchford, executive producer of the “Borderlands” video game franchise and founder of Gearbox Entertainment Company, and Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two Interactive.
Blanchett is represented by CAA. Robert Melnik negotiated the deal on behalf of Lionsgate. James Myers and Aaron Edmonds are overseeing the project for Lionsgate. Emmy Yu is overseeing the film for Arad Productions. Lucy Kitada will oversee the movie for Picturestart.
Cate Blanchett is the latest guest on Julia Gillard’s A Podcast of One’s Own.
See more infos on this episode and listen to it below!
Cate Blanchett on women in film
Julia talks to two-time Academy Award winning actor Cate Blanchett about telling women’s stories through film, the importance of diversity in creating compelling and surprising art, and her decision to play staunch anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in new TV series, Mrs. America, which tells the real-life story of the fight to pass the US Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. They also discuss Hollywood post-Me Too and the staggering gender pay gap that continues to exist in the film industry.
Picture, if you will, coming into contact with a predatory cult — and being recruited by cult leaders who look just like Cate Blanchett and Dominic West! That’s only one subplot of this Australian mini-series — whose creators include Blanchett and the producer Tony Ayres (“The Slap”) — about desperate lives intersecting at a bleak detention camp for immigrants. The cast is an Australian all-star team that includes Marta Dusseldorp (“A Place to Call Home”), Asher Keddie (“Offspring”) and, in the central role of the cult victim, Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”). (July 8)
As previously announced, Cate Blanchett is the guest start of The Simpsons season 31 finale airing tonight on Fox. In a episode titled “The Way of the Dog,” the story explores the tragic past of Santa’s Little Helper, after the Simpsons’ dog bites Marge. Cate lends her voice to Elaine, a canine psychologiest.
Here are the first previews!
What: The Way of the Dog – The Simpsons season 31 finale
When: Sunday night, May 17
Where: FOX US
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