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

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

Ciao, Blanchett fans!

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

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


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

Empire Magazine Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Monday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cate Blanchett on Eurythmics

Telluride Film Festival Conversation

Click image to watch the conversation

Governors Awards

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

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


TÁR interview

Upcoming appearances

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

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

Source: Variety

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

UNCHR Video Campaign; and TÁR interviews

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

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

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

UNHCR Campaign

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

You can donate here.

TÁR Interviews

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

TÁR Music Video, & Magazine Features

Happy Friday, Blanchett fans!

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

Mortar Music Video

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

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

Magazine Features

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

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

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

#EndStatelessness Campaign; & The Making of TÁR

Good day!

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

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

UNHCR #EndStatelessness Campaign

Pinocchio Trailer

TÁR: Anatomy of a Contender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read the full article on the scans below.

Cate Blanchett Gotham Awards Nomination; & International Piano Magazine Interview
Posted on
Oct 26, 2022

Cate Blanchett Gotham Awards Nomination; & International Piano Magazine Interview

Great day, everyone!

Cate Blanchett has been nominated for Outstanding Leading Performance for her role as Lydia Tár at 2022 2022 Gotham Awards. TÁR has been nominated in an total of five categories: Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay for Todd Field, and Best Supporting Performance for both Nina Hoss and Noémie Merlant. The movie will have wide release in the US this Friday.

The latest issue of International Piano magazine is out now and you can read the interview with Cate.

Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport airs on IFC tonight and is now available to stream on AMC+.

International Piano Magazine

Documentary Now!

 

 

TÁR interviews and gallery update
Posted on
Oct 20, 2022

TÁR interviews and gallery update

Good day, Blanchett fans!

TÁR expands to 100 theatres in the US this Friday, October 21st, so please go see the movie in a theatre near your area. Cate Blanchett will be attending the Australian premiere at Adelaide Film Festival this Friday too. An almost hour interview with Zane Lowe has been released. We have updated the gallery with magazine scans, HQs from interviews, and additional photos from TÁR photo session with Todd Field from New York promo.

The Zane Lowe Interview

The interview is available to watch on Youtube but you can also listen to it on Apple Music.

Click this image for more

Australian actor Cate Blanchett sits down with Zane Lowe to reflect on her experience embodying renowned composer Lydia Tár in the film TÁR. Though she is not a musician in her real life, Cate Blanchett molds herself to fit into the role of one of the greatest living composer-conductors for the film. Cate explains how she experienced major imposter syndrome while acting as the first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra. She and Zane also discuss more broadly the impact of music and humanity’s relationship with sound.

The Zane Lowe Interview

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The New York Times Magazine Culture Issue – October 16th 2022

Yahoo Entertainment
Happy Sad Confused
60th New York Film Festival TÁR Q&A
60th New York Film Festival TÁR Press Conference
TÁR Photo Session

Cate Blanchett covers NYT Magazine Culture Issue and TÁR Interviews
Posted on
Oct 14, 2022

Cate Blanchett covers NYT Magazine Culture Issue and TÁR Interviews

Happy Friday, everyone!

Cate Blanchett covers the Culture Issue of The New York Times Magazine, she talks about TÁR and her other upcoming projects. More interviews has been released these past days, and an exclusive clip from the movie was released by Focus Features. TÁR expands to 30 more theatres today in the US so go see the movie in cinemas near you. You can check the international release dates below.

You can watch the video of when Cate presented the Visionary Award to Giorgio Armani at Sustainable Fashion Awards in Milan few weeks ago.

Click image to be directed to the album

Cate Blanchett is accustomed to looking the camera dead on. Hers is the kind of face that inspires directors to tight framing — gleaming, as if smoothed from marble, and yet somehow pliant, changeful. But on the occasions she has sat for an artist, she has noticed a curious pattern: “They paint me looking away,” she told the podcaster Sam Fragoso in February. “When that happens once, you go, oh. When it happens twice, when it happens three times, you think, why am I looking away?” Blanchett saw in this gesture a “not wanting to be captured” and a shade of the self-protectiveness she had to overcome as a young actor. “You have to allow yourself to be seen, and some people have the gift of being comfortable with that really early on. I was not,” she said. “I still struggle with it.”

Maybe for that reason, the breathtaking vulnerability of which Blanchett is capable on film retains a subtle inscrutability. Even in moments of raw emotional exposure, something of the person onscreen remains out of reach — some depth that is sensed rather than seen. “I don’t know how to describe it,” Sarah Paulson, who has worked with Blanchett three times, told me on a call. “She’s almost like mercury rolling on a table, you know? It’s entirely elusive, and yet right there in front of you. And constantly moving and shape-shifting and … and something one would covet. You want to touch that mercury.” “You just want to watch her face almost in repose and feel something elemental coming through that almost translucence,” says Todd Haynes, who directed her in “I’m Not There” and “Carol.” Anthony Minghella, who directed her in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” once described her as “the Bach of acting.”

At 53, Blanchett has enjoyed just about every professional, artistic and material success a stage and film actress could hope for. She has won nearly every award there is: two Academy Awards, three BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, the Volpi Cup twice at the Venice Film Festival, an honorary César Award, the Chaplin Award. The best directors in the world want to work with her, or want to tell you how life-changing it was to work with her. She has done Broadway and the West End. Alongside her husband of 25 years, the writer-director Andrew Upton, she has run the Sydney Theater Company in her home country, Australia. She’s a face of Armani Beauty. She’s a good-will ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency. She has also retained the freedom to do weirder, smaller indie projects, like the short film “Red,” by the artist Del Kathryn Barton, in which she plays a female redback spider orgasming and then killing her mate, as female redback spiders do.

But Blanchett doesn’t watch her own work if she can avoid it. She dislikes talking about whether a role incorporates any part of herself. She is, she insists, the least entertaining subject, at least to herself. “I’m not interested in any way in a one-to-one direct comparison, or having a moment of personal catharsis in public,” she told me. “Like, ‘Oh the role meant this to me,’ or, ‘I channeled my own inner’ — no.” She looked briefly nauseated. “None of that stuff.”

Unlike many actors of her stature, she has stubbornly confounded efforts to typecast her. Think of her Bob Dylan rendition, papery and emaciated, folded like a grasshopper, shoulders up, mouth closing slowly over itself to wet the bottom lip, cigarette dangling, hand trembling. Or her newly coronated Queen Elizabeth I, ramrod straight with that horse-girl hair and that royal-girl temper. Or her Phyllis Schlafly, serpentine and tweedy, slightly sour about the mouth. She has played women and men; gossamer brides and suited lesbians; the elven sorceress and the wicked stepmother; the 19th-century rancher and the Cold War-era Russian intelligence agent. In “Coffee and Cigarettes,” she did a scene opposite herself. After a series of family films and blockbusters (“Ocean’s 8,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “The House With a Clock in Its Walls”), she went to London to do a Martin Crimp play about sadomasochism, domination and gender that was so explicit that an older woman in the audience reportedly fainted.

More than anything else, her oeuvre gives the sense of an artist insisting on a person’s right to change, from role to role and from moment to moment. One near-universal principle of acting training is that the performer know, above all, what her character wants. When I asked Blanchett what she wanted at this moment in her life and career, she resisted the question, finding it constraining. In 2010, she did a production of “Uncle Vanya” with the Hungarian director Tamás Ascher, who told her that it was all right not to know what a character wants. “He said that Chekhovian women are like the weather. They change. They’re constantly changing and shifting and moving through things. And that’s why they’re so dynamic and so exciting. And so I thought: I don’t have to answer that question. Because by answering that question, I’m pinning it down, pinning. Trying to pin the character down and say: That’s who she is. That’s what she’s after. Because we’re not like that.”

In her latest film, “Tár,” written and directed by Todd Field, Blanchett plays Lydia Tár, a virtuosic conductor at the peak of her career and at the precipice of a downfall. It’s as intimate and sustained a character study as Blanchett has ever taken on: “Tár” is more than two and a half hours long, and she is onscreen for nearly every frame. The character is a kind of culmination of her interest in the mutability of the individual: Tár is a person with an obscured personal history, a consummate performer whose finely tuned sense of where power lies in any room makes her adept at shifting her own aspect to suit. One senses an instability at her center: Her core self — if there is such a thing — isn’t truly known to anyone, not even her. Frame by frame, “Tár” gives Blanchett as much change, as much weather to move through, as she has ever had.

The first time we hear Tár speak in the film, she is before an audience at the New Yorker Festival, “in conversation” with Adam Gopnik, who plays himself. It’s present day in a world meant to resemble reality in every way: Tár and Gopnik mention the pandemic, and the movie later refers to James Levine, the real-life former conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, who was fired after accusations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Tár, in contrast to Levine, is at the height of her career, a cultural luminary of the type The New Yorker might court. She is the conductor of one of the most acclaimed orchestras in the world and a maestro who has fashioned herself after the historic greats and intends to be counted among them. Her suits are bespoke. Her hair is wild on the podium.

Tár reveres Gustav Mahler and has made a project of recording all his symphonies. The film tracks her preparations to record his Symphony No.5, as well as Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, a career pinnacle. But as the plot spools out, it becomes clear that the recording will never happen. Having forged her image in the pattern of the Great Men, she has also cultivated other now-familiar traits of that type: ruthlessness in the pursuit of glory; a taste for female underlings; an irritation with the rising generation’s desire to revise the canon; a willingness to manipulate the resources of an institution to shield oneself; a perhaps-unwise sense of infallibility.

Field’s choice of orchestral conducting as Tár’s vocation was canny. There is something almost supernatural about an orchestral conductor’s job: They command sound. Their hands can make a theater thunder or shimmer. This is the kind of power that Tár seems to relish. “Time is the thing,” Tár tells Gopnik. “You cannot start without me. I start the clock.” Her hands hover in the air, as if she’s before an orchestra. “Sometimes my second hand stops, which means that time stops.” Her brilliance is evident, her charisma absolute. The film is a close portrait of the way these qualities, which have brought Tár to the top of her world, also make her a kind of monster.

Blanchett was fascinated by the character of Tár as a study of an artist whose pursuit of transcendence and power is both successful and ugly. “How much is permissible when you’re striving for excellence?” she asked. What can a person in Tár’s situation get away with? What should be accepted as the price of her talent? Dishonesty? Sexual indiscretion? Abuse of subordinates? Unpopular opinions? Blanchett was interested, too, in the threshold the character navigates: Tár “is about to go through a massive transition. She’s about to turn 50. She’s found a way to escape herself and to become larger than herself, and better, and bigger than herself in the making of music. But now it’s like that connection has been broken.”

“Tár” isn’t Blanchett’s first time inhabiting an unpleasant person — nor an artist, nor a character who complicates our understanding of femininity and performance. In recent years, she has done a string of roles that play with masculinity (the Bob Dylan homage; Lou in “Ocean’s 8”; the male characters in “Manifesto”) or highlight the fact that femininity can be both a weapon and a liability. Her Phyllis Schlafly is loathsome but almost sympathetic, an anti-feminist whose political career of fighting to keep women in the home is driven by her own need for professional power. Her title role in “Carol” is the totemic midcentury housewife in furs, gleaming curls under a crescent hat, ideal except for her habit of getting involved with other women — her ongoing refusal to be as “perfect” a woman as she looks.

Still, “Tár” is a thorny project even by Blanchett’s standards, one that wanders into conversations that tend to run hot: the whiteness and colonialism of classical music; the possibility of free consent between a mentor and a mentee, or teacher and student; whether an artist’s work can be separated from her conduct; whether one can be a great artist without being greatly destructive or extractive as well.

To prepare, which Blanchett did mostly on nights and weekends because she was shooting other projects during the day, she learned to play the piano, to speak German, to do her own stunt driving. She became versed in the history of orchestral music and the personal styles and biographies of the famous conductors of the past century. Most improbable, she learned to conduct an orchestra, a physical task for which most people train for years. (In terms of its complexity, conducting is comparable to dancing and doing calculus at the same time.) “She showed up on set, and she had memorized the entire script as if it were a play,” Field told me. “I’ve never heard of that. I’ve never spoken to anyone that’s ever heard of that. It’s like learning ‘Hamlet.’ It’s almost impossible to describe.”

The performance that results is assured, mercurial and physical. Something about the way Blanchett’s body occupies the frame feels familiar but hard to place, and then you recognize that posture with which the white male heads of institutions move through the spaces where they work: genial, totally at ease, dangerous. But there are cracks in the self-assurance, seen in the horror with which she reacts to the clicking of a pen, or the breath she needs to take before she touches the piano key. “Tár” can be a difficult viewing experience, especially for those resistant to extended consideration of the psychology and humanity of a person who is brilliant but also a predator. (News coverage and real life afford plenty of opportunities for that exercise.) But Blanchett infuses a recognizable character type with so much unpredictability and self-estrangement that the movie takes on the volatile feeling of a thriller. She is both the shadow and the person running from it.

The home that Blanchett grew up in was silent a lot of the time. Her father died suddenly when she was 10, and after that, her mother had to work long hours. Blanchett has clear memories of her mother putting on a record so they could dance together, but “there was a lot of stuff that was difficult to unpack,” she said. “And it was hard to talk about. So we didn’t. We tried to, you know. It was no one’s fault, but it was often quite quiet.” This didn’t suit Blanchett, who was intrepid and energetic by nature. She would enact elaborate fantasies, usually at the provocation of her sister, like asking strangers for help finding a lost dog she never had. As a teenager, she went through a punk phase and shaved her head. She left the University of Melbourne for a year, traveling by herself through Europe and part of North Africa.

Later, Blanchett went to Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art. One attraction of theater was its joyful noise. Rehearsal rooms were full of the best kinds of mess, a clamor of people “talking about things and ideas, you know, and having arguments, and people were crying in the corner, and then people laughing hysterically. But we’re all talking about it until it all blew over and we came back together. And then we’d have another big conversation.” This remains her bliss — the honesty and mess of rehearsal, its perfect impoliteness.

This came to mind when I drove out to Blanchett’s home, an expansive Victorian manor in the English countryside. The Saturday I arrived, there was a cheerful chaos: Blanchett greeted me in a sweater with food spilled on it, apologizing that they were running behind because it was a two-birthday-party weekend (she has four children) and they had run out to buy presents. One teenage son was wandering around the kitchen in his pajamas complaining jovially about an absence of good snacks, while Upton threw together a lunch of bacon-wrapped sausages and fried rice “to keep the children at bay.” I was tasked with making a salad, while Blanchett searched the refrigerator looking for cheeses to put on a board. “I’m literally chucking things into bowls,” she said, amused. “I wish we could put on some kind of fancy spread, which we’d pretend we’d cooked ourselves.”

Upton made a noise as if to say, “Whatever,” and Blanchett shrugged. “Next time. You can say we did,” she said, grinning at me. Then she pointed at her son’s pajamas and added, “Along with the fact that he’s wearing a suit.” Her mother, June, popped into the kitchen to see about lunch. There was a lot of merry cross talk.

We sat down to eat on a covered veranda just through double doors from the kitchen, passing the sausages and salad back and forth. In regular conversation, Blanchett was voluble, but when I asked a question that sounded as if I were interviewing her, she deflected attention onto Upton or the children, one of whom was doing a series of impressive gymnastics maneuvers on the lawn. After lunch, we wandered into her living room, and she sat on the floor, assisting with a complex coloring project. We veered from talking about rewilding efforts in local ecosystems to last fall’s threatened Hollywood crew strike to swimming, which she loves.

“Are you a water sign?” I asked, half-seriously.

“NO!” she said, her eyes going wide. “I had my chart done years ago. I am Taurus, Taurus, Taurus. I am a triple Taurus. Isn’t that … ,” she paused for dramatic effect, “depressing?” She burst out laughing. “Can you imagine Andrew’s — it’s not my fault, darling!”

He laughed. “I like Taurus, Taurus — ”

“What’s wrong with Taurus, Taurus, Taurus?” I wanted to know.

Upton guessed: “Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn?” The zodiac sign Taurus is associated with the bull — grounded, hard-working and occasionally ornery.

“Some would say,” Blanchett replied winsomely.

I joked that this would explain why every single person I had yet interviewed about Blanchett made a point of telling me that she was the hardest-working person they’d met.

“Yes, well, I can add my voice to that chorus,” Upton said.

Blanchett looked suddenly distraught. “That is not — that is — ”

“No, no,” Upton began to reassure her. “Hard-working in a good way.”

“I mean — do you — Spike Milligan had on his grave, ‘I told you I was ill’ — what am I going to have on mine? ‘The hardest-working person’?” She had begun to laugh, face-planting into the rug. “That’s so depressing! ‘She worked so hard.’”

I pointed out that this wasn’t the only thing people had praised her for, which was true. Blanchett is said to be funny, easy and warm on sets. Noémie Merlant, who plays Tár’s assistant, talked about how Blanchett would dance between takes and make the orchestra laugh, even though it was a grueling, nerve-racking shooting day for her most of all. There are similar stories about her clowning to rally spirits on the set of “Mrs. America.” “There is a kind of weightlessness about her when she’s working,” Sarah Paulson told me. “It’s an incongruity when you measure it against her power as a performer. I don’t ever experience her gripping the work or the character or the task at hand very tightly. It feels like she’s holding it loosely.”

Still, her work ethic is legend. Nearly everyone ever interviewed about working with her mentions her preparedness, her focus, her rigor. “She is nonstop,” says Nina Hoss, who plays Tár’s wife, the concert master of the philharmonic. “Preparing. For everything. Thinking about the parts, making her choices there, really practicing, practicing, practicing, concerning the conducting and the piano pieces.”

Blanchett keeps an intimidating schedule. This summer, in addition to postproduction and publicity, she was also spending her days commuting two hours each way from her home to London to shoot a television project with Alfonso Cuarón. After wrapping that project, she would do the festivals tour for “Tár” and fly to Australia to shoot a movie she’s co-producing, “The New Boy,” about an Indigenous orphan who becomes the ward of a “renegade nun,” whom she would play. And she’s developing a series of other projects, including a stage adaptation of the Lucy Ellmann novel “Ducks, Newburyport” with the director Katie Mitchell. (“Ducks, Newburyport” is a monumental undertaking: a thousand-page stream-of-consciousness novel about motherhood, domestic labor, climate change and mortality. “Cate is just up for the impossible,” Mitchell told me.) And there’s a second episode of the comedy series “Documentary Now!” And she has a climate-change podcast with Audible that’s rolling into a second season. And —

“How do you — rest?” I asked, hesitating. “Do you rest?”

She looked at me wearily. “No, I haven’t. And sorry for being … vague. I haven’t been sleeping.” Her kids were on summer holiday; she was preoccupied with the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade; generally the world seemed to be “tilting off its axis.” She rubbed her forehead lightly. “When do I sleep? No.” She laughed. The next day, she would have a day off, and she had organized a trip to a site where environmentalists were working on restoring the Scottish ground bee’s habitat. I thought again of what Paulson said about mercury, which is bizarrely hard to recover once it’s spilled. Not only does mercury appear to elude touch, slipping right off a surface without leaving a trace; it’s nearly impossible to get it to stop moving.

Blanchett often says she wants things to simplify, to slow down. She sometimes talks about vanishing — quitting acting, disappearing from the public eye. Maybe she’ll learn to make cheese. Maybe she’ll get more serious about keeping bees. She already has beekeeper veils in her attic. (They were a gift from Richard Linklater.) Blanchett told me that as you age, you lose the ability to escape yourself. “You calcify,” she said, not looking thrilled. For an actor, especially one who tries to disappear herself into roles, this can be a liability.

On the other hand, age and confrontation with the self can bring true mastery. She described seeing Mikhail Baryshnikov dance late in his career. She recalled that he wore black pants and a black turtleneck so that his face and hands caught the light, seeming to float. “You were watching the articulation with his hands, and the movement of the dance through his face, and still you felt he had leapt 17 feet into the air.” Her face lit up, and her eyes closed. Her hands moved near her face. “All within a finger’s gesture. But he didn’t arrive at that at the age of 17. It took a lifetime of dance to be able to wear that turtleneck and express it in a fingertip.”

She thought for a moment. “You know,” she said, “I think it’s that the quest keeps going. It’s just the expression of it changes.”

Between our first and second encounters, I received two notes from Blanchett through her publicist. The first was a photo of two dozen or so white plastic rods sticking out of a patch of dirt in a meadow. It was the monitoring site of the Scottish ground bee.

The second arrived a few days before we were scheduled to talk in August. It was a snatch of the poem “In the Coastal Town,” by Kirmen Uribe, that was published last year in The Paris Review. She had found it relevant to “Tár” and wanted to make sure I saw it before we spoke.

The mild summer night.
Music from the bar.
I want to flee into my insides.
I feel the merciful drug
moving into my veins.
Going, going,
because that snake knows
my darkest corners best.
It’s the one thing
that embraces me from inside.
At last I’m calm.

I have to admit I wasn’t completely sure what to make of this. I read it a few times and tracked down the whole poem, which on its face is about teenage masculinity and addiction in Spain.

Blanchett logged on to our call from her home office. It was 10 p.m. there, and she had recently returned from a long day of shooting the Alfonso Cuarón project in London. She warned me that her 7-year-old was under the desk, somewhat put out that her mother had to interrupt the night with a work call. “If you hear a rustling,” Blanchett said, “it’s not a rat or a hamster. It’s her.”

When I asked about the poem, her face went blank. After a pause, she said: “Oh, that’s right, I sent you — what did I send you? Hang on.” She seemed to rack her brain. I read her the name of the poet and the title of the poem, but she still couldn’t remember it. “At the time, it must have expressed everything. And now I can’t even remember it. Isn’t that telling?”

I offered to read it back to her. She listened carefully and then nodded solemnly. “Yeah. That does express Tár. Well-found.” I burst out laughing. She grinned. “Good job, me!”

I opened my mouth to ask what resonated with her in this poem, and she sighed and cut me off. “Can we not just let that speak for itself? Do I have to talk about it? This is the problem I have. It’s the eternal problem where you make a deep, instinctual connection with something — and that doesn’t mean it bypasses your intellect — but then you move through it, you put it out there, not for your own enjoyment but for an audience, and then we go through this process where somehow the person that it’s moved through has to make sense of it.”

She might have preferred to be a dancer, to have performed with choreographers like Pina Bausch and Martha Graham, because with dance, “it’s all there, it’s all expressed and it bypasses language.” Not that Bausch and Graham didn’t speak beautifully about their work, not that dance isn’t a kind of rhythmic language, and not that language isn’t rhythmic, for that matter. Language had syncopation, language could make rhythmic sense, the Greeks knew that, and of course there are people who can use language to describe what artists do, she said — certainly Uta Hagen and Michael Chekhov could describe what actors do. “But I … cannot. And maybe it’s also — maybe I don’t want to. Maybe that’s why I sent it to you. I thought: That’ll do. Then I won’t have to talk about it.”

This was an obstacle we ran into a few times in our conversations: her desire not to put language to what happens when she’s acting, or to dissect what she has done after the fact. She insists that she has no process — she just arrives to the stage or the camera with exhaustive research behind her and trusts that something will happen. This seems less like dodging or false modesty than like a desire to protect a way of working that she herself understands to be delicate. Her admiration for Martha Graham is telling here: She believed that the artist is a vehicle as much as an architect, and that the process whereby art is delivered from the universe through the artist is steeped in mystery. Trying to hold tightly to the thing — much less explain it to others — can destroy it.

Lately, Blanchett told me, she had been feeling “a massive urge to be quiet.” She was concerned that anything she might say about herself or about “Tár” would muddle the audience reaction to the film, which felt like a transformative experience for her. “Something moved through us all collectively. And I don’t know what that is, and I don’t want to tell an audience what it is, but I know it’s something.” She promised me she wasn’t trying to obfuscate.

“I feel like it’s a genuine quest that I’m on, which I don’t fully understand myself. But there’s something that I connect with on a deep level with the character Lydia. Not that I’m at all like her.” The look of anxiety and near-nausea returned. “But she seems to be at the end of a cycle. She’s completing this lifelong quest or ambition to match the classical greats, to match Mahler, to leave a legacy. You know, to prove to those bullies in primary school that she is someone and that she can break through those ceilings and realize her full potential. And when you get to that point as an artist, as a human being, you have to risk exploding it all and leaving it behind.”

She described the artist as a person climbing a mountain peak in the hope of reaching something at the top — who then realizes, as she nears her goal, that all along she has been chasing a chimera. The real prize is on the next mountain, which may itself simply be illusory, “constructed by what you thought you wanted, or an external sense of what a peak was,” but which nevertheless now demands her energies. “I didn’t even know I was thinking about it, but it, just, all of this stuff came up, you know. It drew a lot of things together for me.” The movie was about many things, she hedged, but this was a strand of what had drawn her to it, some recognition of the path Tár was on. “Just that sense of continual sense of risk.”

At the end of our final conversation, I asked — hoping to give her some relief from talking about the project of performance and the burdens of age — what’s delighting her right now, what ideas or wishes or artworks are keeping her company mentally. Her voice changed. “Gosh. I’m quite — ” she stopped. “Tired.” The tone of her voice shifted so suddenly, twisted to the forlorn so dramatically, that I grew alarmed. But she was just having trouble conjuring an answer to the question. It had been a long day, and now it was 11 o’clock: She was tired. What was on her mind? Learning to surf. The journalism of Anne Applebaum. Growing things in her garden. A slim novel called “Assembly,” by Natasha Brown. She paused. “You know what I’d love to do, too? I’d love to go for a really, really long walk.”

“How long?”

“Not one of those where I’m going to buy a pack of cigarettes and never come back — ” and we were laughing again. “Not that kind of walk.”

The thing about a long walk is it’s an experience of process, of being in the corridor between the place you started and the place you will eventually be. “It’s like that moment of suspension in dance when you don’t know whether the dancer is taking off or about to land,” Blanchett said. She gestured with her body, as if she were going to take wing and hover. “That moment, that intake of breath before the words come out or the music comes out.” She smiled. “I want to be there. I want to be permanently there.”

The New York Times Magazine

Interviews

Academy Conversations: TÁR

You can watch the extended interview here.

IMDB
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

ODDA Magazine

Cate was in conversation with Elizabeth Banks, who is one of the covers of ODDA Magazine’s latest issue.

 

CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards

 

Venice Film Festival

Paris Match No 3827
Harper’s Bazaar UK behind the scene and outtake

Source: NY Times

TÁR Premiere at 60th New York Film Festival and Promotion
Posted on
Oct 9, 2022

TÁR Premiere at 60th New York Film Festival and Promotion

Hi, folks! Cate Blanchett fans certainly got the best this past week.

This is going to be a long post. We have compiled interviews and other TÁR related news. The movie is now out in select theatres and will have wide release on October 28th in the US.

Cate, Todd Field, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, and Hildur Guðnadóttir were all present at the 60th New York Film Festival. There was a press conference earlier in the day, then the premiere which was followed by a Q&A moderated by Film at Lincoln Center’s director of programming, Dennis Lim.

Cate was also a guest at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last Thursday. Throughout first week of October she has attended Q&As in New York and Los Angeles after screenings for TÁR.

Like we always remind, beware of spoilers.

Day 1 – SAG Screening (NY) and Press Junket

Press Junket and SAG Screening – Outside

Day 2 – GMA Guesting and NYFF Premiere

Good Morning America
GMA – Outside

NYFF Press Conference

NYFF Press Conference
NYFF Press Conference – Outside

NYFF Premiere

NYFF Highlights

NYFF Premiere
NYFF Premiere Q&A

Day 3 – BAFTA and NYFF Screening

BAFTA Q&A

NYFF Screening

On the second screening of TÁR at New York Film Festival, Cate with Nina Hoss and Todd Field introduced the movie to the audience.

Day 4 – Museum of Moving Image Screening

The post screening discussion was moderated by Laurie Anderson.

Day 5 – The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Academy Screening

Cate was already in Los Angeles for another leg of TÁR press tour when her episode with The Late Show with Stephen Colbert aired. It was taped on October 4th.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Candids

There has been a screening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures for members of the recording academy, the Q&A was moderated by Jonathan Franzen.

TÁR Screening at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures – Candids
TÁR Screening at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Day 6 – SAG, BAFTA, and AMC Special Screening

On Friday, Cate attended three different post screening Q&As — SAG LA screening was moderated by Jenelle Riley, AMC special screening moderated by David Canfield, BAFTA LA screening moderated by Jazz Tangcay.

SAG LA Screening

AMC Special Screening

BAFTA LA Screening

Day 7 – Academy Screening

Last day of US promo tour, Cate, Nina, Sophie, with production designer – Marco Bittner Rosser, costume designer – Bina Daigeler, and editor – Monika Willi attended The Academy screening. Cate and Nina are wearing matching attire, the blazer is from the 1993 collection of Moschino.

Interviews

Twitter Movies

ET Canada – NYFF

ET Canada

Yahoo Entertainment
WHYY – PBS

How Cate Blanchett got the role of a lifetime in ‘TÁR’

“‘Tár’ takes on the devastating spectacle of ‘cancellation,'” reads The Atlantic’s review of her new film, while The Telegraph calls it the “the first cancel-culture thriller.” Written and directed by Todd Field (“In the Bedroom”), the chilling drama traces the gradual downfall of a world-famous classical music conductor named Lydia Tár (Blanchett) amid sexual misconduct allegations. But the movie can’t be boiled down to a single hot-button issue, the actress says.

“This has been the hardest film for me to reduce to some digestible sound bite,” Blanchett says, sipping tea in a Midtown hotel suite with co-star Nina Hoss. “It’s an examination of the corruptive nature of power in all its forms, but it’s also about so many other things,” both psychological and existential.

“You sound wanky talking about that, but it’s rare to see a film that has genuinely big questions. And it respects the audience enough to ask them.”

Despite the movie’s timely premise, Lydia is a fictional character who “I’d been thinking about for quite a while,” Field says. He wrote the character specifically for Blanchett, after meeting the actress years ago and discussing the possibility of collaborating.

“That meeting left an impression I couldn’t shake, as if someone had permanently scalded me with a branding iron,” Field recalls. “A true genius. So, who better to play a genius?”

Blanchett, 53, says she had never read anything like “Tár” before. She was compelled by its themes of legacy and the “tragic nature” of time, as Lydia faces turning 50 and wonders what’s left – if anything – for her to still accomplish.

“I had a seismic response to it that I still don’t quite understand,” Blanchett says. “It spoke to a lot of things I had been thinking about for a long time: not only in relation to power structures, but also for me personally, the creative process. When you get to a certain point in your career and you’ve done a few things – some of them have worked, some of them haven’t – at what point do you risk throwing it all away? Is that the bravest thing you could possibly do?”

She was also drawn to how the movie “doesn’t allow the audience to sit in easy judgment of the characters.” Lydia brutally castigates students whose tastes she deems too “woke.” She has no qualms about promoting a pretty young cellist (Sophie Kauer) over a more experienced one, or hacking her assistant’s (Noémie Merlant) laptop in an effort to erase incriminating emails.

“It’s very rare that women get portrayed like that,” Hoss says. “If female characters are powerful, or they’re slightly more complicated than normal, you usually get an explanation why that happened: a certain motivation or a trauma from childhood. That does not necessarily happen if you’re male.”

The character’s prickly demeanor hasn’t tempered critics’ enthusiasm for the film, which has 98% positive reviews on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Blanchett is widely expected to earn her eighth Oscar nomination for her towering turn, after two wins, for best actress (2013’s “Blue Jasmine”) and best supporting actress (2004’s “The Aviator”).

Last month, Blanchett received the Volpi Cup for best actress at Venice Film Festival for “Tár.” Her 7-year-old daughter, Edith, and mother, June, were both on hand to watch her accept the prize.

“It was really nice for my mom to be there,” Blanchett says. “(The Volpi Cup) is such an honor, of course, but everyone seems to talk about performances as if they exist without an ensemble. People go and see ‘Hamlet,’ but they don’t really feel the play unless there’s an incredible Gertrude.”

“That’s very kind,” Hoss says. “But take the compliment. Take the compliment!”

Together, Blanchett and Hoss embarked on a “crash course in absolutely everything to do with classical music.”

The German actress (“Phoenix”) trained in violin, while Blanchett learned how to conduct and play piano. She also learned German, although Hoss insists that she didn’t give her co-star any pointers on her native language.

“I didn’t need to,” Hoss says, glancing at Blanchett with a grin. “She was perfect.”

Full article on USA Today

Cate Blanchett and Todd Field grapple with power, process in ‘TÁR’

Cate Blanchett has heard the line before. “I wrote this part for you” is a director-actor pickup line, she said. It is not usually to be believed.

But what she didn’t know when Todd Field sent her his script for “Tár,” a modern-day parable about an extraordinary conductor and composer at the height of her career whose status begins to crumble amid misconduct allegations, was that he wouldn’t have done it without her. The production company and distributor Focus Features didn’t know this either. And he was dragging his feet a bit in sending it off to Blanchett. Not only would it be his first film in over 15 years, but it was the first wholly original screenplay he’d written since 1995. It was, he said, a scary moment.

Blanchett laughs about it now. Of course she was going to say yes. She was rapt by Field, the actor, writer and director who she’d met years earlier about a project he was working on with Joan Didion that never came to be, and by the complex story of “Tár” and the challenge of it. In the process of preparing for “Tár,” she’d learn to play piano, to speak German and conduct an orchestra, all of which she does really does in the film.

“I am still processing the experience, not only because it spoke to a lot of things that I had been thinking about, but I feel so expanded by having been in Todd’s orbit,” Blanchett said in an interview with Field earlier this week. “It was a very, very fluid, dangerous, alive process making the film.”

“Tár,” which is currently playing in limited release and expands nationwide on Oct. 28, was born out of a desire to scratch at questions about power that Field had thinking about for the past few years — the abuses of power, the structures of power and why those pyramids exist in the first place. And what better place to set that than the world of classical music?

The film lets us into Lydia’s rarefied, first-class world and invites us to meet and ponder those around her, from her partner Sharon (Nina Hoss), the lead violinist in the orchestra, to her assistant Francesca (Noémie Merlant) and wonder about their own complicities.

“I really hope that people are not put off by thinking this is an elitist film or an elitist topic. You don’t at all have to be a connoisseur. It’s about so many other things,” Hoss said. “It makes you think, hopefully, about who are the people supporting people in power positions to do certain things and do you sometimes do that because you actually profit from it. It’s also about being creative: Does leading such an institution as this big orchestra hinder you in doing what you actually want to do?”

Merlant, in her first English-language role, is still asking herself questions about Francesca, who wants to be a conductor like Tár but is at the moment is mainly fetching coffee, booking flights, managing schedules and other administrative tasks under the guise of mentorship. And she has to consider her role in the Tár machine as the allegations intensify.

“She would do anything for her, up to a certain point,” Merlant said. “That I found very interesting.”

The egos stayed in front of the camera, though. Behind the scenes of “Tár,” she said, Field and Blanchett fostered an atmosphere of respect and openness.

“Sometimes we have this sensation that in order to create an amazing piece of art, you have to struggle,” Merlant. “But it is possible to do great things in a nice environment.”

The production took pains to make the world of “Tár” to feel authentic, not like a “toy town” version of the classical music world. They enlisted the help of the Dresden Philharmonic, casting some of its members in speaking roles like Dorothea Plans Casal and Fabian Dirr, and looking to Concertmaster Wolfgang Hentrich for his expertise. Hildur Guðnadóttir, the Oscar-winning Icelandic composer, crafted the score. Hoss played the violin too. That Blanchett would conduct, Field said, was just a given.

“I didn’t even have to ask her,” Field said. “If I said, okay, this is about somebody that builds a skyscraper, I knew that she was going to build the skyscraper with no question that she would become Howard Roark.”

Still, it was a tense moment the first time Blanchett took the podium at the Dresden Hall to conduct a rehearsal scene. Then, Field said, someone “clammed.” Everyone laughed and the ice was broken.

It was a powerful moment when it came together, though. Hoss, who was sitting in the orchestra when Blanchett raised her arm for the first time and everyone started playing together, said that “all of us were on the verge of tears.” Merlant too would often sit and watch her co-star in awe.

They cast a first-time actor in the key role of Olga, a talented Russian cellist who Tár takes an interest in. Sophie Kauer, who is currently studying classical cello performance at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, beat out hundreds of cellists for the part.

“The first time I met Cate it was actually a conducting rehearsal, so I had to play for her,” Kauer said. “That was just mildly terrifying. But, you know, you got to do what you got to do. I think the thing about musicians is we’re very workman like we just always get the job done.”

This summer, Blanchett, Guðnadóttir, Kauer, and Field even met up again at Abbey Road Studios to record a Tár concept album that will be available to the public.

But Field’s biggest hope is that “Tár” is a film that audiences seek out in theaters. It was made as an aural and visual experience for the big screen.

“It’s not something to sit at home and watch,” Field said.

The reception for “Tár” has been roundly rapturous since its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where Blanchett was awarded the top acting prize — which could be the first of many for the already decorated actor. But Field bristles at the mention of awards.

“Sincerely that’s not why the two of us made this film. We want people to go in and we want them to come out and hopefully be talking to each other in a lively manner in the parking lot on the way to their cars or to the subway or wherever they’re off to, you know?” Field said. “It’s a film that begs a conversation.”

Full article on AP News

TÁR Photo Session
 

Cate’s glam team during US press tour:

Make-up by Mary Greenwell
Hair by Robert Vetica
Styling by Elizabeth Stewart

Sources: USA Today, AP

Magazine Scans and Interviews (TÁR)
Posted on
Oct 6, 2022

Magazine Scans and Interviews (TÁR)

Hi, everyone!

We have compiled the interviews that Cate Blanchett did the past few days as part of promo tour for TÁR. We also found the recorded Q&A from Screen Actors Guild (SAG) screening that happened last Sunday. There are also magazine scans from Harper’s Bazaar UK where Cate is the cover for the November 2022 issue, and Gramophone where she wrote a piece and shared her musical passion. Cate, with Todd Field, also visited the Criterion Closet the other day.

Series 2 of Climate of Change with Cate Blanchett and Danny Kennedy has just been released today. You can click on the link below to listen.

Photos and videos from the NYFF premiere and other appearances will be added on the site in a couple of days so stayed tune for more updates.

Beware of spoilers!

Cate Blanchett and Todd Field at the Criterion closet

Climate of Change with Cate Blanchett and Danny Kennedy

Cate Blanchett celebrates our natural world

Wearing a shimmering brocade gown and platform heels, a glacially imposing Cate Blanchett carefully picks her way onto the Bazaar cover set, which is taking place in a cavernous studio in north London. Behind her on a screen, a line drawing of a lunar underwing moth, projected to vast size, springs into sudden life. Blanchett shuts her eyes and undulates on the spot, her body seeming to morph into the moth’s, her arms swaying with the slow beat of its wings, their markings embellishing her dazzling dress. For a moment, superstar and artwork become one, captured in the snap of the shutter, as the insect itself might once have been caught and trapped under glass.

“You know, it took me a long time to feel comfortable being captured in a still image, but there was a kinetic quality to what we were doing that I loved,” Blanchett says.

That moment in the studio is the culmination of a project to create a special shoot for Bazaar’s 10th Art Issue, bringing together the actress and the artist Es Devlin, whose magical set designs, fusing sculpture and light, have animated fashion shows, theatrical performances, and concert tours for stars such as Adele and Beyonce?. “I think Es’s understanding of space is extraordinary,” says Blanchett admiringly. “The inside of her mind is so animating – you feel so alive in her presence, and the way she can turn a line of intellectual inquiry into something incredibly beautiful…”

The pair have more in common than a profound understanding of staging and how to make a visual impact. They are both passionate about environmental issues, hence their mutual keenness to collaborate; Devlin will show at COP27 this year, and her latest piece, Come Home Again, commissioned by Cartier and unveiled outside Tate Modern in September, celebrated London’s 243 most endangered species – birds, insects, animals, fish, plants and fungi. Each creature has been carefully drawn by hand, then enlarged, illuminated and mounted within a scaled-down, bisected replica of St Paul’s Cathedral. Every evening for 10 days, a different choir performed a version of evensong inside the artwork, their voices mingling with those of the birds and insects depicted.

“The first step towards these species remaining with us is for us to care about them,” Devlin tells me. “I sometimes spent 18 hours a day drawing them. It’s about paying attention, just observing, and being engaged in quite an intense way with these non-human Londoners.” She has brought a selection of her exquisite line drawings to our shoot, which a team of assistants are pinning up on the walls; there is also a huge model of a human hand, out of which birds and insects are springing (it’s a nod to the scene in Luis Bun?uel and Salvador Dali?’s surreal film Un Chien Andalou in which ants emerge from a human palm, but is celebratory rather than nightmarish, Devlin explains.) “These creatures need to have not only a place in conservation plans, but a place in our imagination.”

This is a sentiment with which Blanchett would doubtless agree. Last year, she starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up, the Netflix climate-change satire, and she recently launched her own podcast, A Climate of Change, with her friend Danny Kennedy, an environmental expert. Among the impressive roster of guests who have so far joined her are Prince William, the Prince of Wales, talking about his Earthshot Prize, and Don’t Look Up’s director, Adam McKay. Blanchett also recruited Kennedy to transform the eco-credentials of the Sydney Theatre Company when she and her husband Andrew Upton, the playwright, took over as joint artistic directors in 2008, installing solar panels and rainwater-collection tanks and ensuring that all of the sets were as green as possible.

“Often, the language around climate change is about sacrifice,” she says. “But when you go out to the theatre – or to a movie, or an art gallery – and you have an extraordinary time, and you laugh, and you cry, and you’re entertained, and you eat wonderful food, and then you think: ‘Oh my goodness, my carbon footprint was pretty close to neutral,’ that’s beautiful. If you grapple with these things creatively, you can have beautiful but practical solutions that actually benefit us all. It’s not a sacrifice – it’s an opportunity.”

It’s complicated to find time to speak to her after the photo-shoot, due to her punishing travelling schedule. At 53, Blanchett is more in demand than ever. She has numerous varied projects in the pipeline, from the sublime (Todd Field’s psychodrama Ta?r, in which she turns in a breathtaking performance as a renowned conductor) to the ridiculous (playing an inept Lancashire hairdresser in a mockumentary called Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport, in which she’s unrecognisable beneath a wig and false teeth). There’s also Borderlands, a sci-fi action film; Disclaimer, a thriller television series; and she’s shortly heading back to Australia to play a ‘renegade nun’ in The New Boy.

We finally manage to schedule a Zoom call at 7am, two weeks after the shoot. Blanchett dials in from a hotel suite in Venice, where she’s been attending the Film Festival. The night before, she had been partying at the Ta?r premie?re in black-velvet Schiaparelli trimmed with flowers; now, having overslept, she’s halfway through packing to fly to Telluride, in Colorado.

So, she’s heavy-eyed behind her big tortoiseshell specs, and throughout the conversation, her computer beeps constantly with incoming WhatsApp messages from the school mums, interspersed with alerts that Blanchett has set herself. “This is what my life is like,” she says, laughing at what she calls her ‘early-onset dementia’. “I set alarms all the time. It’s the only way I can remember to do things.” It is a brief but eye-opening glimpse into the intensity of her schedule, and it makes me feel rather sorry for her.

She wouldn’t have it any other way, however. “When I was young, I thought acting was something you did for fun,” she says, recalling how she and her sister would play dressing-up games as children. “Maybe I still think that? It wasn’t about building a career; it was doing these random things.”

“Being an actor has staved off the inevitable decision about what I have to do with my life, because I’ve empathetically stepped into various different experiences, whether they’re fantastical or based in the real world,” she says. “I think I’m probably quite shy, and I find that the best way to get to know people is through making things together. It’s a way of having very active, visceral, engaging conversations with people. It keeps me social.”

Blanchett may possibly be socially timid, but she is professionally courageous – hence the dizzying variety of the projects she’s undertaking. “If I pick up a script, and I can imagine myself [acting] it, I should put it down and let someone else do it,” she says. “Because I think the process of making it and, therefore, ultimately, probably, the experience of watching it will be thin. It’s much more exciting to be outside of your comfort zone.”

There is no doubt that her latest role pushes all her boundaries. Blanchett plays Lydia Ta?r, a gay, internationally renowned conductor of a German orchestra who gets caught up in a #MeToo scandal. The challenging film tackles the thorny issues of cancel culture, social-media manipulation and identity politics, while leaving the viewer free to make their own judgement on the justice (or otherwise) of Ta?r’s eventual fate. The script was written specially for Blanchett by Field, the acclaimed director of In the Bedroom and Little Children, and marks his return to the big screen after 15 years.

“I don’t think I’ve had as visceral a first read of a script since I read Oleanna and threw it across the room,” says Blanchett, who took the lead in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of David Mamet’s distinctly Marmite play in 1993. “When I read Ta?r, I had a similar response – what is this? I had no idea how to approach it. I said to Todd, ‘This is slightly overwhelming!’ And he said, ‘Well, you can only eat an elephant one spoonful at a time…'”

Ta?r’s downfall is precipitated in part when she clashes publicly with a student who refuses to perform Bach because of the composer’s treatment of his family. I suspect Blanchett would take Ta?r’s side in this particular argument, having herself faced questions about her decision to work with Woody Allen on Blue Jasmine (in which she turned in another scintillating performance).

“People often talk about left and right, up and down, right and wrong, good and bad. I don’t think in those terms,” she says. “Art exists in the grey area. I don’t know the answer to this question, but it’s a conversation that we must have, as artists, as humans, as a society. How do you remain in a robust and brutal relationship with the thing that you are making? You have to have a powerful inner critic, and sometimes that can come out. I have been spoken to in ways that now I could probably go to HR and complain about, but those conversations that were had with me early on in my career made me a better actor. It’s important we speak honestly with one another.”

She always looks for the flaws first, she says, when thinking herself into a character. “There’s an exercise you do at drama school, where you write down everything a character says about themselves; and then you write down what every other character says about them. Somewhere between those often contrapuntal, contradictory things lies some version of the truth. One of the phrases I just cannot say is ‘my truth’,” she goes on, suddenly outraged. “I mean, the truth is the truth, isn’t it? I think language is so important. ‘My perspective’ is one thing, but ‘my truth’? I don’t know what that is!”

Among her greatest challenges was being at ease conducting Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with a full orchestra, to whom she had to speak fluent German. As well as watching footage of Herbert von Karajan, Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel and other great baton-wielders, she spoke to Simone Young, the chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. “What women wear on the podium, how they stand – before you lift a finger, it’s a political act, and you have to spend 70 per cent of your energy pushing that aside, simply so you can be a musician,” she says. “The focus you need is twice what a male conductor needs, even now. So my friend said, just plant yourself there. I had to pull on my power pants, put myself on the podium, claim the right to rehearse, and not worry what they thought of me.”

Dauntingly, the Dresden Philharmonic’s programme schedule meant she had to conduct them on her first days of filming. (She had previously agreed with Field that she could ease herself in gently for the first week.) “I said to myself, maybe there’s a gift in that. It meant that I went completely inside Ta?r’s physicality, and what she was born to do, and I did that first, so I knew what was at stake and what she was going to lose.”

Because of the pandemic, the orchestra hadn’t rehearsed major works together for 18 months, instead performing socially distanced chamber pieces. Consequently, when Blanchett gave the downbeat, the musicians came in all over the place. “It was a blessing,” she says, with a chuckle. “We all laughed.” (Messing up early on is a trick she learned while understudying the Australian stage actress Kerry Walker, who told her: “On the first day of rehearsal, I fuck up so badly. Then they’ll think, ‘Oh my God, she doesn’t know what she’s doing,’ and they start to direct me.”) Frankly, however, Blanchett rarely, if ever, missteps; her performance in Ta?r has already landed her the Venice Film Festival’s Best Actress award and she’s now hotly tipped for another Oscar.

When I catch up with her for a final time, she’s back at home in the English countryside and looking considerably more relaxed, her reddish-gold hair swept up in a messy knot, shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Her family and domestic life must be a welcome antidote to the intensity of her career. She and Upton have four children, ranging in age from 20-year-old Dashiell, who’s studying film at university in the US, to Edith, still at primary school. “They enjoy a sense of anonymity here, which I’m grateful for,” she says.

I was once lucky enough to be invited to lunch with her there, and found the house large but not intimidatingly grand, the children forthcoming and friendly, and the atmosphere rather Larkin-esque, with home-made cakes on the kitchen table and pigs and bees in the rambling garden.

During lockdown, the Uptons bought a mini electric jeep to amuse the children; when I ask how Blanchett relaxes, she laughs about driving it around the garden with the dogs in the back. The previous afternoon – “I’m going to sound like Felicity Kendal,” she warns – she had donned a linen apron and wandered up to her greenhouse to decant honey, pick apples and cut sunflowers, and was almost late for the school run as a result. “I completely lost track of time,” she says. “It’s a humbling experience, trying and failing to grow things! But then, when you get seven strawberries, suddenly everyone’s so excited, and you’re like, who wants half a strawberry?” She pushes her hair back from her forehead and grins at me, touchingly enthusiastic. I reflect that it is this ability to wholeheartedly inhabit every role she takes on – whether that’s screen icon, earth mother, complex fictional character or even a moth in a work of art – that makes Blanchett by far the most compelling actress of our age.

Harper’s Bazaar UK Photoshoot
Harper’s Bazaar UK Photoshoot – Screencaptures

TÁR Interviews and Q&A

You can listen to the WNYC Radio interview with Cate and Todd Field:

Cate Blanchett Calls Playing an Orchestra Conductor in Tár “the Most Transformative Moment of My Life”

Fresh off of winning the best-actress prize at the Venice Film Festival last month for playing a fictional world-renowned conductor and composer in the psychological drama Tár, Cate Blanchett says her latest movie felt the most “urgent” to make in her storied career. The film, written and directed by Todd Field, explores contemporary themes that have made headlines in recent years, including the #MeToo scandal, the abuse of power, and cancel culture.

“There are a lot of explosive things that come up in this film and societal hot-topic issues that made this cinematic endeavor feel urgent and undeniable to make,” Blanchett said at the film’s New York Film Festival premiere screening Monday night. “Todd Field’s screenplay raises monumental, dangerous questions that the world is dealing with as of this moment. The film can be quite uncomfortable. It can be politicized and disseminated, and some may even feel disgusted by the characters, but at its core this is a nuanced, intimate, human story of a woman that synthesizes many things. It can be said it’s an examination of power, but for me, I want audiences to make their own interpretations and inspire lively debate.”

Blanchett stars as Lydia Tár, the first woman conductor at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic, the major German orchestra that is considered to be the world’s greatest. Her great talent on the orchestra podium and her keen musical scoring have earned her EGOT status, among other accolades, and made her a master class guest lecturer at Juilliard, with a memoir on the way. She is at the pinnacle of her career and wields great cultural power. She begins to crack when the family of a female former student accuses her of sexual misconduct, threatening to derail her career and success.

Like Lydia Tár, Blanchett, a two-time Oscar winner, is at the height of a long and distinguished career. As with Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, The Aviator, and more, she’s once again earning rave reviews and strong awards buzz for her performance in Tár, which hits theaters on October 7. When asked how she handles fame, Blanchett admitted that “it’s not easy” being in the spotlight.

“It’s taken me a long time to deal with fame. I come from the theater. I never expected to have a film career,” said Blanchett. “It’s uncomfortable to be looked at. It really is. But it’s such a privilege and a pleasure to have had all the opportunities I’ve had in my career.”

To portray a highly lauded orchestra conductor, Blanchett studied the technique of holding and moving the baton, which is called stick technique, by collaborating with the Dresdner Philharmonie, a German symphony orchestra based in Dresden. She acted as the lead conductor by rehearsing Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, the same piece her character grapples with in the film, alongside the orchestra. The Australian star admitted the experience was a daunting task.

“To beat with one hand and shape the sound with the other hand was difficult. It’s such a mix of different skills and emotions,” said Blanchett. “But I must say it was the most transformative moment of my life. There’s this intense feeling of an electric charge, giving the downbeat and hearing this big sound coming back at you. It’s something that I’ve never experienced before. In that space, standing at the podium, you really do feel like you’re the king or queen of the world.”

Cate Blanchett Says ‘TAR’ Is “About The Corruptive Nature Of Power”

“I think the film is also about many things, but it is a medication on the corruptive nature of power,” Blanchett says. “I think, in the same way that the mobile phone influenced the way narrative unfolded, we haven’t even processed the ramifications of the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and the pandemic. We are altered by these things, positively and negatively. Already, the #MeToo movement is talked about in pejorative, negative terms, as much as had a profoundly positive effect in awakening people’s consciences. But we’re changed by it. And so, any film that is alive now will have reverberations with those things that have happened to us as a species. This film is no different. But it’s not about that. You know what I mean? But of course, it’s a texture and influences the atmosphere in the film.”

Over the course of our conversation, Blanchett discusses her inspiration for Lydia, how she learned to conduct a major orchestra, whether her mother is a fan of her character in this particular film, and, much, much more.

The Playlist: Thank you so much for taking the time. I know it’s been a long day for you of doing press, so I do appreciate this.

Cate Blanchett: No, no, no. I can’t tell you. It’s been such a pleasure to sort of begin to talk about the film. Any film that I’ve ever been involved in to somehow define. It’s so elusive and about so many things, so yeah. It’s been actually really helpful to try to understand the beast.

TP: The film tells us so much about Lydia, but in many others ways, it doesn’t tell us a lot about her, at least parts of her life. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who are reading those before they saw the film, but we obviously learn things about her that we might not have initially suspected.

CB: Yes.

TP: Were there things that Todd told you about her backstory specifically or did he sort of just give you the script and let you fill in the blanks yourself?

CB: Well, like when you read any great screenplay, it asks so many questions, and so much of the information is there, not necessarily readily accessible on the first read. But as you begin to mine the script, a lot of that material is there. And so, Todd didn’t tell me much. Initially, our conversations were intensely practical, because before I could get to even first base with playing the role, there was so much groundwork that I had to do in order to be able to play the scenes, in order to even approach who she was, just technical stuff, in terms of languages, and I don’t just mean German. The musical language and reigniting my ability to read a score and revisiting piano, and then, of course, the art of conducting, which I had to put my toe in that very deep and complicated water. So, it was very practical at first.

And then once we got closer to time, I started asking a lot of questions. This is where he’s such a great director is he was more interested in me finding my own way to it. He didn’t want to give me a ready easy answer. And in my time with any great acting teacher that I’ve worked with or any great sort of public intellectual or academic, they always ask you a question which provokes another question within you. So he would throw ideas into the mix as we were shooting, things that didn’t necessarily end up in the final edit of the film, but made the back story for Lydia so alive. And I think, I hope, for an audience, that’s what makes her such a rich character. So he was really judicious about what he said. He was sort of waiting for me to unearth those jewels if you know what I mean.

TP: Absolutely.

It was one of the most intense and kind of landscape-changing, groundbreaking, whatever the description is, collaborations that I’ve ever had. It was so dynamic and alive.

TP: I caught a recent interview you conducted where you thought that the idea of learning how an actor learns how to conduct or whatever is sort of boring, and you were wondering why people would be so curious.

CB: No, no, no. I didn’t mean that at all.

TP: Oh.

CB: I don’t want the audience to see my homework. You know what I mean? You want them to be transported and to believe absolutely that this person is one of the world’s greatest conductors. So I had to do that homework, but I don’t want the audience to be taken out of the movie thinking about that stuff. Do you know what I mean? That’s what I mean. I don’t want to break the spell of anything that Todd has created by over-describing the process.

TP: Which I totally respect and understand. It actually goes to my question. You have these scenes where you are conducting symphonies and rehearsals and it starts and it stops as any rehearsal would. And I know that you worked with conductor Natalie Murray Beale, but what was the mechanism to make that work on set? Clearly, you did not want even a casual classical music fan would go, “Oh, that would never happen like that.”

CB: Exactly. It’s not a film about conducting. You have to know that conducting is as natural and essential to Lydia Tar as breathing is. I was fortunate. I was working in Budapest and I was taught piano by an incredible concert pianist, and I learned a lot about the process of conducting from her. And Ilya Musin, who’s one of the great conducting teachers, it’s amazing what you can find in YouTube, particularly during a pandemic when you couldn’t meet face to face. I watched his master classes over and over and over again to understand the concept of what the right hand did and the left hand did. The woman who was teaching me German teaches German to opera singers, Francisco Roth, and so she was really across the musical language and the relationship of the conductor to the orchestra. And so, I had all these amazing people, various different points of insight, and also then, for me, having gone to a lot of classes of music concert myself and having heard the music, I then watched every single conductor I could get my hands on from different generations, from different cultures in different sized orchestras, their different way in to see. I realized very quickly that their form of communication was entirely idiosyncratic, and then there are textures in the film which aren’t, as I said, in there.

I imagine that she was the child of deaf parents, so how does sign language influence the way she conducted and her relationship to sound? She has an acute sensitivity to sound. But it wasn’t until I did all that homework, it wasn’t until I stood up in front of the Dresdner Philharmonie who were profoundly generous with … Even with the entire cast and crew. When you raise your hand, you get the downbeat, and the sound starts, and you find your own way with them. So, they had to act. It was outside their comfort zone, and I had to conduct them, which was also outside of my comfort zone. And so, somewhere, like any conductor in any orchestra, somewhere between us, the music happened. And of course, there was a lot of groundwork that needed to be done in terms of selecting [the music]. Todd had written these rehearsal scenes, but then Natalie and I went through them all and said, “Well, what about this piece? This piece with 19 bars would be great and there’s a dynamic counterpart to the previous six bars that we’ve done in rehearsal.” So then, we suggested those pieces to Todd and he edited them, and then I just listened to them on repeat, on repeat, on repeat. And of course, listened to all symphonies to see how this one differed or echoed, and read a lot about Mahler, because trying to delve into the process that great conductors do, which is to give a context and a take on the music.

TP: Thematically the film is tackling a number of subjects, but it really touches on the recent trends of the #MeToo movement and cancel culture. Did your own opinions on those topics influence your portrayal of Lydia, or is it more Todd’s voice in that regard?

CB: It’s many things. There’s a line in the script where it says right at the beginning that, “Lydia Tar is many things,” and that she’s had a varied career. I think the film is about also many things, but it is a meditation on the corruptive nature of power. I think, in the same way, that the mobile phone influenced the way narrative unfolded, we haven’t even processed the ramifications of the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, and the pandemic. We are altered by these things, positively and negatively. Already, the #MeToo movement is talked about in pejorative, negative terms, as much as had a profoundly positive effect in awakening people’s consciences. But we’re changed by it. And so, any film that is alive now will have reverberations with those things that have happened to us as a species. This film is no different. But it’s not about that. You know what I mean? But of course, it’s a texture and influences the atmosphere in the film.

TP: Many actors will say that no matter what your character does or has done, you have to believe in them or at least try to understand what they’re thinking so that you can play them. Did you inherently think that Lydia was a good person, or do you feel like everything she has done has been for her own benefit?

CB: I don’t think about things in terms of good and bad. My mother had said to her friend, because my mom has seen the film, she warned her friend, “You won’t like her.” But I think it’s more accurate to say that you may not want to like her because Lydia does things that we could all possibly do ourselves when no one is watching, and she’s very charismatic. The personalities of conductors often cement their reputations. She’s also enigmatic. She’s also human. And so, it wasn’t about me thinking she was good or bad, but I did understand her. The “liking” her or thinking she was good never came into it for me because I find that quite a general way to look at someone or a situation. I like this. I hate that. I understand the sacrifices and the compromises that she had to make to get where she got, and also I understood how brutal and how disciplined she had had to be with herself, and also often with other people because when she felt that they were holding back because of fear.

I think that the tragic thing is that once she’s got into a position of power, once anyone gets close to power, just how seductive it is and how difficult it is not to be changed by it, and how desperately one can want to hold on to it. Peter Brooks says this fantastic thing, that, “You’ve got to hold on tightly and let go lightly.” But that’s really difficult. Look at all of our politicians. Once they’re in power, they spend most of their time trying to hold on to it as a flame, and we’re moths, and it takes an inordinate inner strength and an incredible spirit to let go of power. So, I think I was trying to understand that situation.

TP: Does it bother you if people ask you if you based Lydia on anyone you know?

CB: No. No. No one person in particular. I looked at the tortured nature of Carlos Kleiber. One of my favorite conductors is Bernard Haitink. I’m absolutely inspired every single day by Nathalie Stutzmann, who’s been a contralto who’s now moved over into conducting through being a singer, and she’s about to take over in Atlanta, which is really exciting. There’s an incredible, very rough, raw documentary about Antonia Brico. I thought about [Herbert] von Karajan and [Claudio] Abbado, all of these people, [Valery] Gergiev, how politically compromised he has become to get how massive his career is and his conducting style.

So, it was sort of all of those, all many of those people, and then also I thought about the CEOs of major banking corporations and massive architects who don’t necessarily make the work anymore, but are across the construction of buildings, and how, in my own experience, I think running a major cultural institution, how you can get isolated from the artists that you’re working with because you have a corporate responsibility as much as you have a creative artistic responsibility. So there were a lot of things that were coming into play with me, but it wasn’t based on any one person in particular.

TP: When you saw the final film, what did you come away with the most? What was your reaction to how it all came together?

CB: I didn’t see dailies at all. It was fast and furious. I was so kind of inside the experience with Todd and with Nina and everybody. I saw it with my husband, thank goodness. I fell into the film, which I think is a testament to Todd’s filmmaking. I just thought there were some things that we shot that are no longer in there, but they’re sort of homeopathically in there. If that makes sense.

TP: It does.

CB: And the first time I read the script, I found the end quite tragic, but I was so uplifted by the end. I thought, “I really want people to see this,” and I wanted them to see it in the cinema. I was bowled over by the sound as well, and the silence. One of my favorite parts of the “Mahler’s Five,” for instance, is the silence at the end of the scherzo before the adagietto begins. I feel Todd’s use of silence was really powerful when in a film about music. So, there were so many parts of it that I felt like I wanted to go back and watch it again. He’s such an extraordinary filmmaker. I feel so, so deeply lucky to have worked with him.

Full article on The Playlist

Cate Blanchett on Learning How to Play Piano and Conduct for ‘Tár,’ How Movie Depicts the ‘Corrupting Nature of Power’

On the red carpet at the North American premiere of “Tár,” Blanchett spoke with Variety about the parallels between Lydia Tár’s ferocious musical ambitions and her own illustrious acting career.

“Any parallels between my experience and her experience will just be there,” Blanchett said. “I had the experience of running a major cultural institution. Lydia is an artist, too. She’s a musician running, as the film describes, one of the greatest orchestras in the world. With that comes a lot of corporate responsibility, which can have an impact on your relationship to what it is that you do as an artist.”

Blanchett, a two-time Oscar winner for her roles in 2005’s “The Aviator” and 2014’s “Blue Jasmine,” said that she “understood that dynamic” despite not being a musician herself.

“All of the musical terms, the relationship to the score, the ability to conduct and play on the piano — all that stuff I had to learn,” Blanchett said. “Her experience is quite different, but you don’t have to be an artist to understand the corrupting nature of power.”

During a Q&A discussion that followed the “Tár” screening in Alice Tully Hall, Fields revealed that he wrote the entire script with Blanchett in mind — long before she agreed to sign on for the film. The second person to join the project was composer Hildur Guonadóttir, who previously won an Academy Award for her work on “Joker.”

Cate Blanchett and Todd Field on Method Acting, #MeToo, and the Movie Theater Crisis

“TÁR” has a lot going on. Director Todd Field’s first feature since 2006’s “Little Children” is an immersive acting showcase for Cate Blanchett, who plays the revered Lydia Tár as if her life depended on it. As the composer overseeing a symphony in Berlin when a scandal derails her career, Blanchett inhabits the character in every scene with stunning precision. Unlike Field’s previous work, the movie is a slow-burn immersion into Lydia’s world that often verges on documentary when it isn’t an unsettling psychological thriller or a pitch-black comedy of errors.

Beyond all that, “TÁR” is a treatise on modern times. Lydia’s experiences with social media and repercussions for her actions register as an angry response to the age of accountability. Yet even as the movie premiered to raves Venice and Telluride, Field and Blanchett have been careful about how much they have addressed these issues in limited press for the movie.

The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

IndieWire: This movie is saying a lot about the world we live in today. It must be hard to discuss in interviews.

Cate Blanchett: There’s so much to talk about.

Todd Field: There’s a lot to talk about.

CB: Yet it’s one of the hardest movies I’ve ever had to talk about, because it’s so hard to define. It’s about so much.

So much about “TÁR” is built around Cate’s performance. Todd, how much did your initial script change as a result of her involvement?

TF: I sent Cate the script and I’d written the script for her. I didn’t really have to any language to give her. It just started a very immediate, rich conversation between the two of us in September 2020 and we’re still having it.

CB: The character came out of those rich conversations. When I read it, I was so daunted by the ask of it — not just what was necessary to play the character, but also the depth of questioning in the screenplay and my relationship to it, which kept shifting depending on which scene we were shooting or which relationship we were focused on that day.

When the cast started to come together, Nina Hoss elevated it yet again. Then Hildur Guðnadóttir got involved to do the music, and I thought it doesn’t get much better than this. My job was not just to rise to the occasion of the screenplay but the quality of the people I was working alongside.

Did you bring Lydia Tár home with you?

CB: Well, the pandemic was still on and my kids were not as free to come and go. It was really very lonely in a strange way, and running a major cultural institution is a very lonely experience. That was life imitating art. There was much to do in terms of the conversations that Todd and I were having. As we got on, we would occasionally have the odd dinner. In a film that is asking big metaphysical and existential questions, it was a very practical experience. The night before he’d be prepping and talking about what needed to be done the next day. Yet when we were working with the Dresden orchestra, I woke up with my hand in the air, moving sound.

TF: We even tried to bring that into the film. There was a certain point where we had her do that.

CB: Work dreams. We’ve all had those.

Where do you fall on Method acting? Did you try to stay in character between scenes?

CB: There were some parts of the character’s situations or intensity of the focus that I didn’t quite drop in between setups. I don’t know if it’s from spending years and years onstage, but I have the ability to be objective and subjective simultaneously. You have to know where the camera is: OK, I’ve got to rotate more than three quarters because otherwise you’re not going to see into my eye and that’s really important.

At the same time, you have to allow this thing to flow through you. Todd always has the camera in the right position. So when he was setting up, I saw the position of the camera as a proscenium: If I stand stage-right, it’s going to mean something profoundly different than if I’m center-stage left. You were very generous about letting us know what the frame was so we know how best to use it.

I don’t know if you find this, Todd, but for me, it’s not so much that you take the character home each night. It’s more about you focus on when you’re walking on the street at night during the odd day off we had. I would hear things differently. I’d come into a room and notice the curtain as opposed to the bathroom. Your focus shifts.

TF: The whole world starts talking at you based on the thing you’re working on.

CB: Which is a privilege, because you are seeing the world from a different point of view.

And that point of view deals with a very sensitive subject in this movie — essentially cancel culture. The character is put on public trial due to reports about her behavior. How much did you see this story as a microcosm of larger issues?

TF: The classical music world is a rich and interesting one for me, but in terms of the story, it’s a backdrop. It could’ve been any kind of pyramid scheme, any kind of power structure. It could’ve been a multinational corporation or an architectural firm. Pick your poison. In all our conversations, we talked about this examination of power — how we look at power and how we decide the way we look at it.

CB: And who benefits from it.

TF: If you really want to talk about power and the long reach of history — the abuse and complicity of power, how it corrupts, all these clichés we’ve grown up with — you have to reckon with the idea that there is no black or white. To find the truth of something requires a little more rigor.

There’s a scene where Lydia is a guest lecturer at Juilliard, where she takes a young student to task for resisting Beethoven and Mozart because they were white men with questionable personal lives. Was this based on something real?

TF: I have friends that teach and that’s one of the inspirations behind the scene. There’s another bigger idea behind it, which is what you would tell your younger self. The student is representative of who Lydia Tár was coming out of Harvard at 24, wanting to push the boundaries, wanting to do experimental music, wanting to bust up the establishment, but she’s gotten past that. She’s at another point in her life. It’s like she’s saying, “Yes, there’s this, but it’s not mutually exclusive.”

It doesn’t go very well for her.

TF: In terms of talking about power in a more thorough way, what’s potentially troubling is when conversation is extinguished and we don’t have the ability to walk in one another’s shoes. I don’t need to be a cobbler to understand whether my shoes fit or not. We all have the ability to try to see someone else’s point. My older son wanted to go study rhetoric at Berkeley. It’s one of the oldest schools in America where you can do that. The idea of debate as a healthy part of social discourse is so fundamental to Western civilization and the idea that it would be extinguished or somehow neutered is frightening.

Cate, when did you start to be more cautious about how you discussed ideas in public?

CB: I’ve always been cautious about interfacing with the media. I’ve always been very private. There are not a lot places where you can have nuanced debate about complicated issues. We haven’t even processed what’s called “The Black Lives Matter #MeToo Moment.” What do you mean? It’s not over. We’re still living through this.

A huge part of that process is rage. If it’s channeled correctly — if heard and understood and listened to — rage is a really, really important transitional tool and is totally understandable. I feel like we’re in a moment of profound transition, which is terrifying for some people. But we’re used to the churn of change because we’re making things.

How do you feel about the way people, as well as storytelling, can be judged through a moral framework?

CB: I think there are certain behaviors that are intolerable. But when it comes to things like banning books, you have to understand the context under which these books were written, even if they may not be your taste. You may find them offensive, but let’s talk about why. I’m much more interested in igniting the conversation with people who think differently than shutting the conversation down.

TF: It’s the times we live in. This is not a social treatise on this moment we’re having. It’s an interesting conversation to have. That scene in the classroom is just the reality of what we live in. The important part of this scene for that character is having a conversation with herself that she’s not successful at having.

CB: She’s been trying to sweep it under the rug. We’ve been talking about origin stories a lot – the connections that conductors have to their mentors is incredibly important in cementing their unassailable right to play their music. But a lot of Lydia’s origin story is invented. So what does that mean? Does she not have a true connection to her origin story or does this one allow her access to a space that unleashes her talent?

When you first started getting attention for your roles…

CB: Did I make shit up? [laughs]

Or feel like you were being judged in ways that were beyond your control.

CB: It sounds a bit like a copout to say that it was a different landscape, but it was that. I came to making films very late. In dog years, my career was almost over as an actress. My first role was when I was 25. I didn’t expect it to continue. I thought I had five years. I thought at 35 that they put you out to pasture as an actress. That’s certainly changed. That’s because women are at the helm more. They’re not the exception anymore. There are a lot of female-driven narratives. I hate that term. I think there are a lot of good women making good shit that’s being seen. They’ve always made it.

TF: If you look at the birth of Hollywood, the great filmmakers that are long-forgotten are female, as were the great screenwriters and editors. There was a shift in Hollywood after the pre-Code days where it became much more patriarchal. But the origins of Hollywood and narrative filmmaking really began with women.

CB: But it was also international. I think one of the world’s greatest filmmakers was Larisa Shepitko. She only made a handful of films, but my god, I can’t unsee the movies that she’s made.

Since you bring it up, does this mean you plan to work with more women directors?

CB: It’s so random what we end up doing. A lot of it has to do with family and time and who approaches you and when you’re available. It was immaterial to me what gender Todd was. It was just the conversation.

Todd, it’s been 16 years since you made your last movie. How much has the industry changed since then?

CB: You used to do interviews on phonograph, didn’t you?

TF: Direct to disc. [laughs] I mean, nothing has changed about making a movie. I think the world for cinema-goers has changed drastically in a way that I probably needn’t add to. Other people have said it at least as well or better than I could and have been attacked or inflamed for it. But let’s put it this way. I went out to tech theaters in New York today and it was really depressing. Super depressing.

Because of the projection quality?

TF: No. At the beginning of the pandemic a lot of us put in what we could to try to support independent repertory houses, the arthouses in America. We knew that since their margins were so close anyway that there was a good chance they’d close up and die. Should that happen, we’re all in real trouble.

We’re very lucky we have a place like the New York Film Festival 60 years and going or a place like the San Francisco Film Festival that’s the oldest film festival in America, but most people can’t get to those things. What about having a single-screen house you can go to? They’re disappearing. So now you’re showing a film somewhere with paper-thin walls where you’ve got a different kind of movie bleeding over into your house, with seats that you can’t really sit in, screens that aren’t maintained, and an infrastructure that has no love at all. You’re a long way from New Yorker Films or something like that.

CB: But go and see this movie in the cinema! [laughs]

TF: I may be sitting here shilling for this movie, but this is something that absolutely has to be addressed: the fact that there is not a standard. It’s one thing to rail on about the death of film and how we have to keep the photochemical process alive, but that’s just a line item that’s not going to happen anymore. I can tell you that from shooting advertising.

Because it’s too expensive?

TF: It’s not. We used to make $100,000 Roger Corman movies and the line item budget that was expected was that we were shooting on film, we’re doing dual mag, we were in the bar afterwards with the crew, we’re watching that together as a group, we’re getting off on that and shooting the next day. It was an accepted part of doing business. It’s just that it’s not accepted anymore. That’s why film died. It wasn’t supported. By the same token, we have a dying arthouse community.

CB: It’s unsupported.

TF: It’s a broken infrastructure to actually go and see cinema. I’m not just talking about end-of-year cinema. I’m talking about world cinema. I’m talking about being able to see things with a collective community and walking out and feeling different. I remember reading this book about Kie?lowski where he said he resented that people always said theater is a different kind of collective experience but not film. He said that’s bullshit. You come in and you feel that energy in the room. The only difference is the performers. If you want people to go to the cinema, to have an immersive experience and sit together with other people, you had better give them the opportunity to do that properly.

Cate, you often serve as a producer on your projects through your Dirty Films banner. I was sorry to hear that you won’t be making an adaptation of “A Manual for Cleaning Women” with Pedro Almodóvar.

CB: Well, look, it’ll happen in some other form. I adore Pedro and totally respect him. He’s got to work in the language he feels like he can thrive best in. Maybe we’ll make something better. It just won’t be that.

How does your awareness of the fragile ecosystem for getting films made and released impact the work you do as a producer?

CB: My husband and I produced many, many shows a year when we were running the Sydney Theatre Company. Working on films is just an extension of that. It’s just a different medium. But you have to be really careful. Some films can still live and breathe on equal measure on a small screen and some can’t. You have to be really careful who you partner with from the get-go. That’s the idea of the creative producer: someone who has grown up on-set, who understands how a script is developed, and how a movie is made. But they also have a financial sense and ability to understand where to place that movie and distribute it. That role is a dying art, and it’s why a lot of actors and directors are stepping into it.

They’re invested in the success on a creative level.

CB: They know they have to care for the thing from soup to nuts. A lot of times, things are just thrust out, and it’s immaterial to the producer what screen it’s placed on or what the rollout is. When you’ve been in the industry for a while, you’ve seen the ups and downs, not necessarily because of the quality but simply how projects have been handled. I’m quite passionate about being involved in that. I do care about what I make. Sometimes it doesn’t work. No one tries to make a bad movie, but if it’s good, you want to know that it has a fighting chance of finding an audience.

Post SAG Screening Q&A

Cate with Todd Field, Nina Hoss, and Sophie Kauer attended the Screen Actors Guild screening Q&A last Sunday. It was moderated by Adam Gopnik.

Magazine Scans

Gramophone Magazine Awards 2022

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Harper’s Bazaar UK November 2022

Source: Harper’s Bazaar UK, WNYC, Vanity Fair, Variety, Indiewire