Posted on
Mar 8, 2016

Promotional interview for ‘Truth’

This one is from Singapore!

The truth about Cate Blanchett

The Australian actress gives her take on politics and the upcoming US elections, but keeps her private life to herself

Cate Blanchett, a marching wind of navy-but-almost black in a deceptively comfortable-looking pantsuit, glides into a suite at London’s Corinthia Hotel, meaning business.

“Right… nnngh. What are we talking about today?” she asks, eyes aflash with a steady, open gaze; hair smoothed neatly in a blonde bob around a strong-boned face.

The subject of discussion, it turns out, is social realism, philosophy and Ibsen. A Norwegian journalist has cut into the game quickly via a question about her theatrical work.

“These plays are classics because they are always ripe for reinvention and re-examination,” the actress says, referring to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy Of The People as an example.

“I’ve seen a lot of different productions in England, in Australia, in Germany, so it clearly crosses a lot of cultures – that somebody who’s inside the system, someone who sees the system as broken, compromised and corrupt and trying to expose that corruption and ultimately being destroyed.”

Blanchett, 46, could go on to debate the frayed morals of society and all the individual intractable stakes in it, and how the stage is a useful refraction of the incorrigibility of the world. But she is here to talk instead about her involvement in James Vanderbilt’s Truth, about the rise and fall of American TV news programme 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes.

In 2005, the TV executive was systematically and politically persecuted over her alleged exposure of former president George W. Bush’s draft dodging via undocumented falsified military records in the 1970s.

Masterfully segueing into the topic that brought the press team into the room in the first place, Blanchett says: “Truth – it’s about a very particular pocket of American history but I think it has a universality that Ibsen does.”

But she also adds that it is not a biopic about Dan Rather, the journalist caught in the controversy, or Mapes.

“In some way that All The President’s Men is not about (former president Richard) Nixon, this film is not about George W. Bush or the Republicans either. It’s more about the unhealthy crucible of corporate America, its media and its politicians.

“And I think that’s an interesting question… it raises a series of interesting questions for not only the American public but for the Western media generally, about the global media.”

Slowly but surely, the Australian actress is provoking thoughts on the upcoming elections in the United States and, by extension, political reporting around the world.

“It’s an interesting question to have in your mind when you’re going to the polls. Because the horse races have begun.

“There’s very little content, very little ideology, it’s all about personality. It happens in the US and in Australia, I’m sure it happens everywhere. It feels like the media is running the election, rather than the ideas driving the election.”

Fast-talking and quick-thinking, she slides easily between topics in conversation, casually holding onto her reign as queen of court among four journalists at this interview. She has been a 16th-century monarch incarnate twice in her breakout film role Queen Elizabeth I in 1998 (Elizabeth) and again in 2007 (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).

When Hollywood first descended upon her with a slew of opportunities after Elizabeth, she was already a successful stage actress. Her star rose through the ranks with successful appearances in the film world. Roles ranged from gutsy crime reporter Veronica Guerin (Veronica Guerin, 2003) to the ethereal Galadriel in the Lord Of The Rings series, to a cross- dressing Bob Dylan in I’m Not There (2007) and campy evil baddies in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008) and Cinderella (2015). She was also nominated for a best actress Oscar in Todd Haynes’ acclaimed Carol (2015), where she plays an older woman romancing a young photographer (Rooney Mara) in 1950s New York.

And yet she insists that she still has “never really worked in Hollywood” and never bought into the media circus. “I personally don’t like knowing anything about the actors I see on screen because I find it gets into the way of immersing myself into the story,” she says.

Unafraid to comment on fellow Australian Rupert Murdoch, she muses further: “I don’t think a monopoly of media ownership is healthy for any country. And certainly this is centralisation of media ownership in Australia. A democracy can function only when it has a truly free and diverse press.

“Particularly now – we digest captions and that’s enough,” she adds. “It’s very hard to get news these days because it’s so mixed up with the memes. There’s an erosion of investigative journalism and the space in televised media. With the twittersphere, the advent of the blogosphere… it’s very difficult to separate opinion news from factual news. But we need diversity to find out what’s going on.”

Does she still believe in journalism? “I mean… here we all are,” she says with a shrug, looking at all the reporters in the room with irony, flashing a tired smirk.

“I end up speaking to the media much more than I like. I consume news. I’m interested in what’s going on in the world.

“But I don’t have Facebook or a Twitter account, I’m not on Instagram. I’ve got four children, I run a theatre company in Australia, I’m lucky enough to do the work that interests me. It’s a high-class problem,” adds Blanchett, who is married to long-time husband Andrew Upton, fellow director of her Sydney Theatre Company, where she has been “primarily happily working for the last eight years, with the occasional foray into film”.

Indeed. She will thump your head with irresistible elan and beautiful words over the degenerating politics of the world, or her support of green causes, or her feminist response to media fetishisation of actresses’ bodies in the name of fashion. But she will give you zilch on her private life and thoughts.

“I don’t talk about it. Don’t publish photos of myself on holiday. My work is my work and my private life is my private life. It’s expanded exponentially in the last 15 years. The landscape was quite different when I first started.”

What movie magazines and the Internet will tell you is that she is the middle child of a Texan-born naval petty officer and a teacher, and raised in a Melbourne suburb. Dropping out of university to travel around the world – and thereby accidentally making her first movie appearance as an extra in a party scene on an Egyptian film set, she eventually went to drama school and dove onto the stage.

She is lined up for no fewer than five other film openings over the next two years, including the Terrence Malick project Weightless.

Still, her life off-stage is not only the silver screen: She is eager to let you know she spends valuable time “producing the work of others”.

“An actor’s job is to be slightly out of balance. If everything is neat and siloed and tied up in little bows, it becomes a little dull. You need a little bit of chaos. I guess you need to be hyper-organised if you’re going to have chaos.”

via Straits Times

Recent interviews
Posted on
Mar 6, 2016

Recent interviews

Hello everyone! Another interview from the SK-II #changedestiny event in LA, introduced by an quick meeting behind the scenes of the last Academy Awards (click on the image below to open the video)

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And a new press junket interview from the Japanese promotion of Carol

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An interview from France via Closer Mag


Malgré le succès, la magnifique actrice australienne arrive à tout concilier : carrière, mari, enfants… A l’occasion de la sortie du film “Carol”, qui raconte l’histoire d’amour entre une bourgeoise et une jeune employée d’un magasin, Cate Blanchett se confie à “Closer”.

Pourquoi avez-vous souhaité tourner un film sur le thème d’une femme tombant amoureuse d’une autre femme ?

Cate Blanchett : J’ai accepté ce film sans penser au sexe des deux personnages et en pensant encore moins au thème qui, de nos jours encore, peut être controversé. J’ai simplement trouvé intéressante l’histoire de ces deux êtres humains qui se rapprochent alors que tout les sépare : la différence d’âge, la catégorie sociale… Ce n’est pas réellement une histoire d’amour entre deux femmes, mais plutôt une histoire de désir et d’attirance entre deux personnes qui éprouvent de l’admiration l’une pour l’autre.

Avez-vous l’impression que les mentalités ont évolué sur l’homosexualité ?

Oui, heureusement. Mais ce n’est pas suffisant. Il y a encore beaucoup de tabous concernant l’homosexualité, sans parler de l’injustice et de l’hypocrisie ambiantes. Enormément de travail reste à faire. Si j’ai fait ce film, c’est aussi pour montrer à quel point il était difficile d’être différent dans les années 1950. Etre persécuté, arrêté par la police juste parce qu’on est attiré par une personne du même sexe, c’est une aberration sans nom !

Hormis l’injustice et l’hypocrisie, qu’est-ce qui vous irrite le plus dans la vie ?

Je suis effarée par le manque de responsabilité de nombreuses personnes face à la protection de notre environnement. Quand on est mère de famille, c’est tout de même un devoir de se battre contre la pollution et d’aider nos enfants à vivre dans un environnement plus sain et moins pollué ! J’ai la chance d’avoir un mari également très impliqué dans la protection de notre planète.

Quelles actions entreprenez-vous ensemble ?

Avec mon époux, nous avons rejoint l’organisation créée par Al Gore, Climate Reality Project, qui nous aide à mieux comprendre les changements climatiques. Maintenant que je suis impliquée et investie, je me sens plus utile. J’ai au moins l’impression d’œuvrer, même modestement, pour vivre dans un environnement plus propre.

Vous semblez toujours très complice avec votre mari…

Je me sens extrêmement chanceuse d’avoir rencontré l’âme sœur. Je suis d’autant plus heureuse que j’ai croisé mon mari au bon moment. Nous avons une belle relation et nous essayons de respecter les envies et les intérêts de l’un et de l’autre.

Quel est le secret de la longévité de votre relation ?

Je crois que c’est parce que nous sommes très complémentaires. Il n’y a aucune rivalité. Ce qui fait la force de notre couple, c’est le respect mutuel et surtout la tendresse. Mon mari me fait tout le temps rire ! Et c’est d’ailleurs pour ça que je tombe encore régulièrement amoureuse de lui !

Parlez-nous de la récente adoption d’Edith, 10 mois…

Nous n’avons pas pris cette décision sur un coup de tête. Depuis le début de notre histoire, nous avons toujours évoqué la possibilité d’adopter un jour. Et puis, nous avons eu des enfants [Ignatius, 7 ans, Roman, 11 ans, et Dashiell, 14 ans, NDLR]. Le temps a passé, et nous étions enfin prêts à entamer une procédure d’adoption. Mener à terme ce projet, qui s’est révélé compliqué et délicat, était important pour nous. J’ai, par ailleurs, un profond respect pour l’association Adopt Change, fondée par Deborra-Lee Furness [l’épouse de l’acteur Hugh Jackman, NDLR]. Elle permet de garder le lien entre les mères, les parents adoptifs et surtout les enfants, dans le respect de chacun.

Allez-vous être une mère différente maintenant que vous avez une fille ?

Non, je ne pense pas l’éduquer différemment de mes garçons. Mais je peux vous dire que c’est extraordinaire de regarder mes fils s’occuper de leur petite sœur. Je suis comblée, heureuse et fière d’avoir une famille aussi unie.

Est-il vrai que vous souhaitez adopter d’autres enfants ?

Je crois que nous avons clos ce chapitre.

Comment faites-vous pour gérer aussi bien votre carrière et votre vie familiale ?

J’essaie de lister mes priorités et, surtout, de prendre du temps pour moi. Mon refuge, c’est la méditation et les activités physiques. C’est important de s’occuper des autres, mais c’est aussi primordial de prendre soin de soi !

Cette interview a été publiée dans le Closer n°553


1. A 15 ans, elle s’est rasé la tête. Un changement de look qui a failli lui coûter son job dans une maison de retraite.

2. Elle aurait aimé être architecte, bien qu’elle admette que “cela aurait tout de même été un désastre”.

3. L’actrice adore faire la liste de choses à faire, et les barrer une fois faites.

4. Pas très sexy ! Elle a gardé les sous-vêtements que sa mère lui confectionnait au lycée. “Je ne sais pas quoi acheter quand je me rends dans un rayon lingerie.”

5. Son mari l’a demandée en mariage un mois seulement après leur premier rendez-vous.

And a new interview to promote Truth via The Belfast Telegraph

Several years ago, I worked with a New York-based TV producer, a friend of Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer Cate Blanchett plays in Truth. I asked her if, rather than barrelling back and forth in search of stories, she wouldn’t prefer the cosy milieu of celebrity interviews. She looked at me with horror. “Not a chance,” she said. “That would be so controlled, run by PR people and studios, you’d never get the truth.”

As I watch Cate Blanchett get escorted into a hotel room for another round of junket interviews, I can’t help wondering what the fearless Mary Mapes would have said if they could see her being carefully doled out in one-question portions: the minimum access for the maximum promo.

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” Cate agrees. “Maybe if you were going to write a 10-page feature on me we’d be talking for more than a few minutes, but then who’d read that? There is a complex set of questions that this film raises and you might like to write about those, or you might like to write about, you know, how many wrinkles Robert Redford has.”

This was in reference to an earlier query by a Spanish journalist, who, to the horror of all present, asked Cate: “Do you not think Robert Redford is a bit old to play Dan Rather?”

If Hollywood’s publicity machine has no idea how to deal with journalists and their preposterous questions, Hollywood itself certainly loves to portray them on screen. Two of the biggest films of the year so far have lionised hackery: Spotlight, which deals with the Boston Globe’s investigation into clerical child abuse, and Truth, Cate’s second outing as a journalist (the first, of course, was Veronica Guerin).

It depicts the CBS News investigation that claimed to show that George W Bush received preferential treatment in being allowed to enlist in the Texas Air National Guard, thus avoiding Vietnam.

Despite Cate’s typically excellent performance and good reviews, it has been overshadowed somewhat. Spotlight easily eclipsed it as journalism movie of the year at the box office and at the Oscars, where it won the Best Picture award. Blanchett had been nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Carol.

Her role in Truth is interesting because of the parallels between Mapes’s story and Cate’s life. Much of the action in the film centres around the veracity of military service records in Texas. Cate’s father, Robert, was a US Navy officer from Texas, who later moved to Australia, where he worked as an advertising executive and met Cate’s mother June.

In Truth we are shown how the journalist’s fractious relationship with her father colours her future career motivations – he never let her ask questions, so she ends up doing just that professionally.

Growing up in Australia, Cate had to deal with the loss of her father, who died from a heart attack. Her mother was left to raise three children alone.

“If you read Mary’s memoir, her relationship with her father is a part of her upbringing. Any event in childhood has an enormous impact on who you are. I don’t sit around referencing [her own father’s death] in my life as the singular moment of grief, but I think it gave me a well-honed sense of empathy because of seeing my mother and what she went through.”

In her teens she went travelling and ended up in Cairo, where she took a bit part in a movie in exchange for five Egyptian pounds. A passion wasn’t quite born, exactly, but back in Australia she enrolled at drama school and decided to develop her talents. While still a student she won a reputation for herself as a formidable stage actress, until her film breakthrough, the titular role in Elizabeth, won her a Bafta and she was on her way.

Since then, she has hardly put a foot wrong, mixing arthouse work with multiplex behemoths. She won her first Oscar for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, and her second for her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.

Cate says she has focused on the acting process rather than the commercial outcomes. “When too many people who run creative organisations are interested in money rather than content, you have them believing things like, ‘we can’t cast this person because they don’t have enough Instagram followers’. When I was starting out there was a sense that if an actress wore a certain dress she’d be more likely to win a role.”

In her twenties, she met the Australian playwright Andrew Upton. He proposed within weeks of meeting her. They now have three sons, along with baby Edith, whom they adopted last year. Motherhood has not slowed her career. It was reported last year that, collectively, her films have made nearly a billion dollars. She is still the only foreign actress ever to do a believable Irish accent, playing Veronica Guerin, the former crime correspondent with the Sunday Independent, who was murdered in 1996.

“I didn’t think about Veronica, to be honest, when playing Mary, they’re quite different characters,” she tells me. “They had quite different relationships with the organisations they were working for, but they were both outsiders. I had the impression Veronica operated much more as a lone wolf, whereas Mary is a collaborator. They were both women operating within a man’s world and they shared a distaste for hypocrisy.”

And as we get ready to wrap up she tells me her latest subject believed it was possible for ‘real’ journalists to do celebrity interviews too – as long as they were done the right way.

“She also said she enjoyed interviewing George Clooney. But I think she had a long-held belief that journalism is about providing a service.”

Hear, hear.

Posted on
Feb 8, 2016

New interviews and images for Truth and Carol

Truth it’s been released in DVD the past week: to celebrate the event Movies on Demand released a new press junket interview, while a new behind the scenes images came in an interview with Mary Mapes.

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And there is a new interview from the Japanese promotion of Carol, and a new still.

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Cate Blanchett On Her Embarrassment Of Riches With ‘Carol’ & ‘Truth’ [Updated]
Posted on
Dec 4, 2015

Cate Blanchett On Her Embarrassment Of Riches With ‘Carol’ & ‘Truth’ [Updated]

Cate Blanchett spoke with Awardsline (Deadline) about her new movies. Plus: a new photoshoot!

After winning the Best Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine less than two years ago, Cate Blanchett got busy. She had been spending much of her time doing theater projects in her native Australia or appearing in smaller parts in such blockbusters as The Hobbit trilogy and How To Train Your Dragon 2. But this year has been a virtual Blanchett-fest, starting in March with her role as the stepmother in Disney’s Cinderella, and continuing this fall with leading roles in the 1950s lesbian romance Carol, and as 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes in Truth. Both latter roles have won wide praise and yet present a quandary for Oscar voters. They are both leads—and Academy rules state that only one acting performance can be nominated in the same category, which means the votes for both roles could split. But this is a good problem to have, especially for someone who already has two Oscars on her mantle—the first won 10 years ago for her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. It’s been a great decade for today’s Great Cate.

What a year you’re having between Cinderella and Carol and now Truth

Yes, it’s funny. Truth we made really quickly; it was like a freight train. I madeCinderella two or three years ago, and Carol I made at the beginning of last year. So it’s sort of everything coming out at once.

Do you like that?

It’s a little confusing. You hope that one film doesn’t end up getting lost because both Carol and Truth, I think, are really interesting stories by two very interesting filmmakers.

I saw Truth in Toronto, where it was well-received. I got to meet Dan Rather. 

Isn’t he something? Both he and Mary (Mapes) are cut from the same cloth in the sense that they have this searing intelligence, this fiery sense of fighting injustice and a hatred of hypocrisy, and they’re also deeply emotional people. It’s a really interesting combination. I mean, no wonder they gravitated towards each other.

It must have been interesting to work with Robert Redford. This is the first time that you worked with him, right?

Yeah, but hopefully it’s not the last. He’s extraordinary. We would have these situations on set where they’d be setting up for the shot and he’d just start talking to me, and I’d have this terrible sense of déjà vu, thinking, “We had this conversation before.” And then it’d suddenly dawn on me that he was running lines. We seemed to be talking about things around the scene, and then the lines would just be drip-fed in.

What got you involved in Truth?

I had (the script) for a little while. My life is very full with the amount of children that we have and my husband running a theater company. Often by the time I get into bed at night and read a script it’s like taking a sleeping pill. I just fall asleep. It has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with my age. But when I read this, I just ate it alive because you step on this conveyor belt, and you almost lose your balance because it goes so quickly. I knew about the story but I did not know about the fallout.

What kind of research did you do? Did you go to 60 Minutes or to a newsroom?

I didn’t. I’ve been in newsrooms and I’ve been sort of hauled over the coals in my own small way, so I know personally what that feels like but in a much smaller, lesser degree than Mary experienced. So I felt like that was something I understood.

And then Carol coming out a month later. You and Rooney Mara are so great together.

She and I gravitate to similar filmmakers. She’s had such a great creative relationship with David Fincher and Steven Soderbergh and Todd (Haynes,Carol director), and she just worked with Joe Wright. So I felt like we were very sympatico creatively.

That was an interesting period in our history, the early ’50s.

What’s interesting about the film that Todd’s made, and also about Patricia Highsmith’s novel, is that in the end it’s about falling in love. And it’s as much about the age gap between the women as it is about the outsider nature of their love. And so he’s made a beautiful film about falling in love and heartbreak and maturity.

How long do you have to make a film like this?

There were times when we barely had time to do one take. Todd is like no other director I’ve ever worked with. He’s a master making a student film, in the sense that he has that sort of danger and hunger that a student filmmaker has but this incredible finesse and expertise and facility and insight that an auteur has. And the intersection of those two atmospheres is really unique.

Actors are the only artists who can’t be nominated twice for an Oscar in the same category. You’re a member of the actor’s branch of the Academy and you have two great performances this year. 

I’m not a lobbyist, so I don’t get tied up in those machinations. Perhaps that stuff matters more to producers than it does to me. To simply be in that dialogue is more than enough, and, I mean, it seems a bit hubristic to be having this conversation. The first port of call is that the films find an audience. So that’s the bit that I feel a responsibility towards. The rest is outside.

A behind-the-scenes it’s been online for a couple of months

If you have the scans or find more photos, don’t be shy and leave a comment!


Scans and uncut photo!

The Guardian Weekend: Interview and photos
Posted on
Nov 8, 2015

The Guardian Weekend: Interview and photos

The Guardian published online the interview and the photos from The Weekend insert.

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I am half an hour early for the interview but the discreet hotel library has already been taken. A woman (blond, gangly, faintly familiar) is sitting on the floor, demolishing a plate of tenderstem broccoli. Pink-framed specs perch on the bridge of her nose. Her bare feet are tucked beneath the low coffee table. The woman looks up sheepishly when I slide open the door. She only crept in for a scavenge, she says. She can’t offer me broccoli because it is not hers to give. “Also,” she adds, “I’ve gone and eaten it all.”

The movie camera misleads. It can add voltage and glamour and a whole foot in height. And good actors transform, it’s the nature of the job. On screen, Blanchett has been an imperious Elizabeth I, a formidable Katharine Hepburn, a combustible “blue” Jasmine. In her latest film, Carol, she looms like a valkyrie over co-star Rooney Mara. I have been watching her for years and thought I knew just what to expect: some imposing snow queen, with wide geometric features and a hard feline stare. It is only now, gawping at the loose-limbed, studious-looking thief on the floor, that I realise I got it wrong. Blur your eyes and she might pass for Blanchett’s softer, sweeter, younger sister.

“Yes,” she says. “It’s me. Hello.” Then she plucks off her glasses like Clark Kent in a phone booth.

Blanchett is fresh off a night flight from New York, accompanied by Edith, her 10-month-old daughter, who didn’t sleep a wink the whole way. She’s hungry and knackered. She turned 46 last May, and jokes that she doesn’t spring back like she used to. “And actress years are like dog years. So that makes me about 120.” Not so long ago she feared that her film career might be done. If anything, it appears to be picking up speed.

Blanchett is in London to attend two movie premieres. In the first, Truth, she stars as Mary Mapes, the CBS journalist who found herself targeted by the Bush administration during the fraught run-up to the 2004 election. In the second, the extraordinary Carol, she plays the sculpted 50s housewife who sets out to seduce a Manhattan shopgirl. She’s great in both, although Carol has the edge for me, in that it contains more depth, more nuance, more giddying extremes of cold and heat. This quiet storm of a film is adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel so nakedly autobiographical that the author felt she could publish it only pseudonymously. It is gracefully directed by Todd Haynes, who made his name at the vanguard of the New Queer Cinema movement and seems drawn to tales of transgression and tragedy (Far From Heaven, Safe). Blanchett reckons nobody else could have made it.

The pair last collaborated on the 2007 film I’m Not There, a fractured, skittish Bob Dylan biopic in which six actors were cast as the mercurial singer. Blanchett cropped up as androgynous Bob, decked out in black, a cigarette on the go, whereas tragic Carol Aird, the eponymous heroine of the new film, could hardly be more feminine. She’s an explosion of platinum hair and crimson nail polish, a dry martini parked beside one fur-coated elbow. Virginal Therese (Rooney Mara) is knocked for six and falls in love – and Carol appears to love her back. Except that this is Eisenhower-era America and Carol is married, so the pair’s only hope seems to be a life on the run. The lovers’ equivalent of Brokeback Mountain turns out to be a cheap motel in Waterloo, Iowa; the Christmas snow heaped up outside and a suspicious salesman in the room next door.

I plop myself on an armchair but this perch feels all wrong. I’m looming over Blanchett just as she did over Mara. If she can lounge on the rug, I guess I can as well. It’s informal; it’s convivial. We might be hanging out at some student party.

“À la Japonais,” Blanchett says with a grin. “I always prefer sitting on the floor.”

The broccoli all eaten, she pours us some iced water, every inch the efficient, confident host, though she still has her guard gently raised. She explains that she was drawn to Carol (the film) because of its thick shadows and secrets, its air of pungent melancholia. And she was drawn to Carol (the character) because she is flawed and fragile; it’s as if she comes alive only in the wings. “It’s not just their gender that’s keeping Carol and Therese apart,” she explains. “It’s the class difference. It’s their age gap. But, yes, her sexuality has effectively made her a criminal and Carol knows the cost of acting impulsively. She has to plot each liaison as if she’s plotting a crime.”

Carol is set in the bad old 1950s. But I wonder whether there remains a taboo in depicting same-sex relationships in mainstream US cinema.

Blanchett shrugs. “Well, the fact that we’re talking about it means there are still barriers. It’s like the situation with women in film – or, frankly, women in every industry – not being paid the same as men. You have to keep it on the agenda. You have to keep it politicised. But I’m not very interested in agitprop cinema. That’s the realm of the documentary. That’s where investigative journalism belongs. The problem is that when you represent a character in a same-sex relationship, it’s like you have to represent them all. You become a spokesperson, which really isn’t the point. When the time comes that we have a diversity of same-sex couples in film, then the problem is solved, I don’t have to stand for everyone.”

Her recent experiences at the Cannes film festival provide a case in point. Following Carol’s press showing, Blanchett told a Variety reporter that she had personally had many relationships with women – which was technically true, in that she has friends and family and colleagues. But the resulting story went viral, and eclipsed the movie itself.

“Look,” she says, rolling her eyes at the memory, “I also just played Mary Mapes, who’s a journalist. No one asked me how long I’d been to journalism school. If I played someone who has an affair, I think a reporter would probably think twice before asking, ‘Ooh, how many affairs have you had?’ It would be a slightly delicate area. But there are no holds barred about asking me whether I’ve had relationships with women. And so I facetiously said, ‘Oh yes, I’ve had many relationships with women’ – because frankly, who hasn’t? Of course I said it in inverted commas. But the inverted commas didn’t make the page.”

Perhaps the confusion stems from our garbled interaction with actors, I suggest. We see a face on the screen and assume we know them. Blanchett nods; she understands what I mean. Film can be a weirdly intimate medium. “I used to think it was more profoundly felt in TV, because you’re in someone’s home, performing for them in their living room. But now film comes in just as close. People will probably watch Carol on their mobile phone. I’m probably going to be in someone’s pocket. Which is deeply intimate. I don’t even want to think about that.”

She pauses. Another memory has surfaced. “It was the same for me with Alan Alda in M*A*S*H. My father died when I was young. And Alan Alda looked just like my father. And I would watch it five days a week, just to imbibe him and say hello. So when I eventually met him, my God, he must have thought I was some sort of mad person. I ran up to him as though I was seeing my dad.”

Robert DeWitt Blanchett was a petty officer turned ad man, originally from Texas; his wife a teacher and later property developer. The family (mum, dad, three kids) lived a comfortable existence in the suburbs of Melbourne. When Blanchett was 10, her father left for work one morning, waving her goodbye through the window as he passed. Later that day he suffered a heart attack and was gone. Her grandmother would later move in to help with the crisis and the family endured; they clung to one another. “But yes,” she says lightly. “That was a pretty dark time.”

I’m interested in how she then found an escape into acting. Sources state that she made a low-rent film debut while she was still in her teens, playing a cheerleader in an Egyptian boxing movie called Crabs. Except it transpires that the sources are wrong. Yes, she says, she was living in Egypt on a gap year abroad, because at the time she was planning on becoming a museum curator. “So I was in this fleapit in Cairo, which has probably long since burned down, called the Oxford hotel. They printed passports and money in the foyer. And this random Scottish guy came up and said they were looking for English-speaking extras, and that I’d get paid five Egyptian pounds and a falafel. At the time I didn’t have enough money to pay my room for the week. I went along and there was an Arabic guy with a megaphone, like something out of a silent movie, and it was so hot and so boring that I left.”

So she was never in the boxing movie? “Nooo,” she groans, like a teacher correcting a particularly dense student. “But you can say that I was if you want. Print the legend of the boxing movie.”

Back in Australia, she enrolled at drama school and decided she might as well give acting a shot. I tell her she makes herself sound rather passive and again she corrects me; it was not like that at all. “Acting had become like this terrible addiction. I felt I needed to give it five years and see where it took me.”

Specifically it took her to the Sydney stage, through acclaimed turns in Sophocles’ Electra (while she was still a student) and David Mamet’s Oleanna (shortly after graduation). It carried her to a Bafta award for her breakthrough role in the 1998 film Elizabeth. “I was shocked,” she recalls. “You know, I called my agent after making Elizabeth and said, ‘I think I’ve ended my career before it’s even begun.’ So yeah, I was completely shocked by how that film was received.”

Since then, it all looks to have been plain sailing: a canny blend of multiplex blockbusters with classy human dramas; an Oscar for her pitch-perfect impression of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. She points out that she once made a comedy – Bandits, co-starring Bruce Willis – that had the misfortune to open the same week as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and promptly sank without trace. But in scanning her credits, there aren’t many obvious duds. Her career has been positively serene.

“Serene?” She guffaws. “Harmless, that’s what you’re saying. You’ve had an absolutely benign, innocuous career. Congratulations!”

In her mid-20s, she met the Australian playwright Andrew Upton. They bonded over a late-night poker game; he proposed marriage just weeks later. They now have three sons (Dashiell, Roman, Ignatius), along with baby Edith, whom they adopted in March. Blanchett reckons the children keep her honest. “They force you to be economical. To choose your roles wisely and then shrug them off as soon as you’re done.” She says people always ask how she is able to juggle her roles as an actor and parent. “Now, I might be wrong, but I don’t think they put the same question to male actors, do they?”

Her career was still in its infancy when she married Upton. How would he say she has changed in the intervening two decades? “Umm.” She screws up her face. “I think he would say I’ve got better at my job. That I’ve learned to get out of my own way a bit more. I think perhaps he would say I’m a little less socially awkward. I hope so anyway. I used to be very socially awkward. Walk into a room. Not know what to say.”

In 2008 she took the decision to limit her film roles in order to join her husband as co-artistic directors of the Sydney theatre company. She knows the move was a gamble; it risked closing the door at her back. “When I stepped away to run the theatre company, a lot of people said, ‘This is a mistake. You realise you have a certain shelf life and you’re throwing that away.’ But I think it’s made me a better actor. If it hasn’t, I’m a fucking idiot.”

She pauses. “But you do carry that fear with you. When I was getting ready to leave [the company], I did think, ‘Well, I’m in my 40s, I don’t know if I’ve even got a film career to go back to.’ And then Blue Jasmine landed in my lap.”

Her role as Jasmine Francis, the brittle Park Avenue princess fallen on hard times, would go on to win Blanchett a second Oscar. But the experience of shooting it was no bed of roses. She describes Woody Allen’s directing style as one of “benign neglect”, although it doesn’t sound altogether benign to me. “The first day was brutal,” she recalls. “He came up to me and said, ‘This is awful and you’re awful.’ As if he were talking about someone else, some other actress, and that maybe I could go and have a word with her. And then three weeks later it turned out that he didn’t like the costumes, he didn’t like the locations, he didn’t like the scene. He said, ‘You’ve got to help me rescue this movie.’”

The trick, she decided, was to take charge of the situation; to bombard the director with questions. “I realised I had to demand things from him. And sometimes he would look at me just bewildered. But I’m not particularly needy. A lot of times, actors ask questions and what they’re really asking is, ‘Was I good? Did you like me?’ But my questions were all technical. ‘Should I stand here? Should I say it that way?’ And he would answer my questions maybe half of the time.”

What about the other half? “The other half he didn’t hear me.” She laughs. “Or he was pretending not to hear me.”

She sat down to watch the finished film in a funk. She didn’t know what she’d done. She didn’t know how it would turn out. “Oh, it was brutal, I was sweating bricks. Is that right? You don’t sweat bricks.”

Sweating bullets? “That’s it. You shit bricks and sweat bullets. What a great phrase. Sweating bullets.”

So what was the verdict? Did she think it was OK? “Yes,” she says, but as if the question alarms her. “I mean, there are always bits that I wince at. I always have to prepare myself. Seeing yourself on screen is excruciating.”

Blue Jasmine was a gift. Those films don’t come along too often. All the same, she feels that most characters present at least some form of challenge. “Acting can be an anthropological process,” she says. “I don’t want to sound wanky or pompous about it – my son calls it pump-ass – but I think that’s what it is.” She is fascinated by the tension between how people project themselves in public and who they become behind closed doors; their capacity for surprising themselves most of all. Surely there have been occasions when a character has defeated her, when there are simply no hidden depths to explore? How about Galadriel, the distant, dreary elf queen from The Lord Of The Rings? The actor snorts; she’s not about to disown Galadriel. “Pointy ears,” she says. “What’s not to like?”

Even Galadriel’s not perfect, everybody has their flaws. “You know that eastern idea of perfection? The idea that something can be truly perfect only if there’s an imperfection in it. We all have that, it’s what makes us human. And it doesn’t matter if you’re playing Elizabeth I or Bob Dylan or Mary Mapes or Carol. You’ve got to find as many warts as you can.”

Is it important for her to have some affection for the people she plays? “No, I don’t think so. But I think that empathy is a noble cause. I think a point of understanding is probably a good thing. I mean, with some people it’s harder than with others. If I was playing Donald Trump, it might be a tall order.”

I tell her I’d like to see her play Donald Trump and she hoots with laughter. “I would play Donald Trump in a heartbeat,” she cries. “The comb-over? I’m there. Todd Haynes could make a whole new film. Six different incarnations of Trump.”

Her diary is full for her three days in London. She has tickets to see her old friend Nicole Kidman on stage in Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51. She has another friend who is about to open in a production of La Bohème at the ENO. She really wants to see Imelda Staunton in Gypsy; she would quite like to see the Suffragette film, too. Blanchett points out that she and Upton lived in Brighton for nine years, around the turn of the century, which makes any visit to the UK a homecoming of sorts. But when I ask where the family is based at the moment, she turns oddly cagey. It’s as though she thinks I have become rather too comfortable sitting with her on the floor. Well, the boys are all at school in Sydney, she explains, so that probably means that Sydney remains home. But right now the family is drifting, they have no particular ties.

Seemingly apropos of nothing, she recalls a job she took, straight out of drama school, when she worked as a script reader for a casting agent. The job provided her with the ideal vantage point, the perfect training for her fledgling career. She would sit quietly in the corner and watch the actors walk in and walk out. Some of them were dead the moment they pushed open the door. Too tall or too short. Too blond, too brunette. Then there were the others who ran at the audition too hard. Those were the ones who she really felt for. They wanted it so much and could not conceal the desire, and they tripped and stumbled on their own nervous energy. She says, “And at some point I realised: that is the act. It’s not whether you can act or not. It’s whether you can act comfortable and relaxed.”

She gestures down at herself: exhibit A on the floor. “I’m not comfortable,” she says. “I’m not relaxed. It’s all down to acting.”

Posted on
Nov 5, 2015

Interview: Cate Blanchett Says ‘Truth’ is a Story of ‘Media Trauma’

Cate Blanchett is having a banner year, with “Carol,” “Cinderella” and “Truth.” She spoke with Variety about Sony Classics’ “Truth,” which writer-director James Vanderbilt based on Mary Mapes’ account of the 2004 “60 Minutes II” report. The film is less about whether the story was accurate, and more about how the news business was changed by the Internet.

What drew you to the script?

I loved the complexity and the varied perspectives. Jamie (Vanderbilt) has done the most extraordinary job as a writer. And then as a director, he was able to set aside the writing and direct the story. He was quite fearless in trimming some stuff, which many writer-directors are not. He’s done a superlative job. He is relentlessly buoyant and positive –and is searingly intelligent, and I think that comes across in the writing and the filmmaking.

How did you prepare for that big monologue?

I tried not to overprepare. Mary had been sitting on her thoughts and feelings, unable to express them. Everyone else was having a field day opinionating, analyzing, deconstructing, critiquing her as a journalist and producer. But she had been silenced until that moment, in front of the panel at Black Rock. So it all had to come out in one articulate blast. You want it to feel like it’s coming to her for the first time. We did maybe three takes. The film was made on a shoestring, and we had to move very quickly. You can fight against time constraints or you can embrace them. Every TV journalist feels the pressure-cooker of time and deadlines, which Mary certainly felt — the time pressure of making the film was sympatico with that kind of tension.

Had you worked with Robert Redford?

Never. I had the conundrum one has when meeting cultural royalty: What do I call this man? But he’s disarmingly open. The first time we met, we slipped into a relationship that felt like it was already several years old. He instills on a set a great sense of camaraderie and equality for everyone. He also raises the bar, just by his presence. Before a take, while they were setting up a shot, we would be chatting and I had a terrible deja vu. And I realized he was running lines; he’s so natural, so connected to that moment that he’s in, it seemed like a continutation of the conversation. He’s had many, many lives, and he’s influenced culture in many different ways. He’s cognizant of that fact, but it hasn’t made him affected. As an actor and a human being, he was thrilling to be around.

You’ve played real people, like Elizabeth I, Katharine Hepburn, Bob Dylan. Was this different?

Whether it’s Elizabeth or Bob Dylan, you ask the same questions as when you’re playing Mary Mapes: What part of their lives do you bring to bear on this story? So you have to know what this story is, what your function is. “Truth” is not a biopic by any stretch of the imagination. It’s about a very compressed, distilled media trauma. They were in uncharted waters; we were playing people in freefall, discovering things that we take for granted now — The Internet, the rapid-fire 24-hour news, the invisible attacks on the blogosphere, and things happening so quickly. It was only 2004, but feels like four decades ago. The Mary I met is no longer in crisis. The crisis is behind her. The invention comes from the space between getting to know her and the Mary that the story describes. In the end, I had to let it go and just play the freight train that was the story. I find the story and the toxicity of that time to be fascinating, in a horrifying way.

People who haven’t seen the movie seem to think it’s a defense of Mapes and Rather.

I’m not very interested in agitprop. The film is about people dealing with an uncharted field. And it raises questions about democracy, the free press, the relations between lawyers and journalists. And whether people can believe what they read.

via Variety