A beautiful interview with Cate about Cinderella, her role as the wicked stepmother, her familiy, the moving to New Work and her work. 🙂
A big thank to Nelly for finiding the interview 🙂
EN Interview 2 – Cate Blanchett is a woman whose talent is as formidable as her personality. Her eyes alone reveal a laser focus on the world around her and she radiates a charismatic sense of command. Above all, she loves being part of great stories and working with the top people in her profession. That explains how she came to play the wicked stepmother in Cinderella, the sensational new screen adaptation of the classic fairy tale also known to several generations as a Disney animated feature. This
new take on Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh, adds many new layers to the legendary story and gives Blanchett yet one more opportunity to dazzle the screen. For her, Lady Tremaine (aka Cinderella’s evil stepmother), represented another milestone in her career.
“She’s is a brilliant archetype,” Blanchett says of the wicked stepmother.”She’s a very complex woman who is arrogant, egotistical, frivolous, contradictory and vindictive. Every actor wants to play someone like that! (Laughs) I wanted to try and make sense of who she is and why she has become so wicked and it was such a joy to be part of this beautiful fairy tale world that Ken (Branagh) created.”
The film also marks a screen breakthrough for actress Lily James as Cinderella. Her scenes opposite Blanchett lend the film much of its weight, supported by a stellar cast that Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Prince Charming, Helena Bonham-Carter as the Fairy Godmother, and Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke. Audiences will also thrill to the spectacular costumes and sets (courtesy of Sandy Powell and Dante Ferretti, respectively) which made Blanchett feel like she “was part of an MGM Technicolor production from the glory days of cinema.”
Cate Blanchett has long been recognised as one of the world’s greatest actresses. Her Oscar-winning performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine ranks as merely one of many outstanding moments in a career that includes Elizabeth, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Aviator, and her work in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.
The 45-year-old Australian actress also displayed a pricklish sense of humour when she engaged in some off-colour banter with Jonathan Hyla during a recent TV interview for Oz TV’s The Project. Anxious to avoid formulaic press junket questions, Hyla tried to engage Blanchett in witty repartee only to wind up being seriously upstaged. After Hyla suggested that a case of beer might win her over, Cate indicated that she hasn’t drunk beer since her teenage days and that he should try “Black Cow Vodka… if you want the sex to be good.” When he finally asked how, as Lady Tremayne, she was “able to get that cat to do what you wanted to on a leash?” “That’s your question?,” Blanchett deadpanned as those standing off camera started laughing. “That’s your f**king question,” she said in what was likely mock outrage rather than real indignation as was originally reported by some media.
Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for best actress for her performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine last year. She and Andrew Upton, 49, her writer/director husband of the past 17 years, make their home in Sydney, Australia together with their three boys, Dashiell, Roman and Ignatius, and a newly adopted baby daughter, reportedly named Vivienne. It has been rumoured that Blanchett and Upton
are planning on moving the family to New York this Autumn.
Q: Cate, when playing a character like Lady Tremaine do you worry about turning her into a lip-smacking villain?
BLANCHETT: I tried to push the character as far as I could go without making her outrageous. She’s a classic villain, of course, but I wasn’t afraid to make her unlikeable. Life has treated her badly and she hates the kind of woman she has become and that makes her all the more jealous and unbearable towards Cinderella who is everything she was and wanted to be like. Her self-esteem is so low that Cinderella provokes an unbearable level of resentment and cruelty within (Lady Tremaine) that she unleashes towards her.
Ken (Branagh) was a bit terrified when he first saw how I wanted to play the part and that’s when I knew I had found the right approach! (Laughs)
Q: There’s a 40s style presence to your wicked stepmother?
BLANCHETT: Perhaps unconsciously I modelled her after some of the great female stars of that era,
Bette Davis, Joan Crawford. With Crawford, there was this very distinctive presence to her – the way she dressed, the way she did her hair, the way she was lit. Hollywood truly celebrated women in her day where female characters were central to so many great films. In the forties and fifties it was very common to see strong and intelligent roles for women and there was often an intensity and danger to those female characters. I tried to build on that in a general way without specifically referencing any one in particular. But of course your work is going to reflect the influence of those actors you’ve admired.
Q: Is Cinderella an important story for young women?
BLANCHETT: After reading different versions of the fairytale, it was always a wonder to me that Cinderella could withstand all the abuse. Even though she’s practically enslaved by her stepmother and subjected to terrible, withering abuse, Cinderella finds it within herself to rebel and revolt against that treatment even if she needs to do it with a smile.
That’s why Ken believes that kindness and goodness are Cinderella’s brand of superpowers.She cannot understand why certain people can be so evil and she is very loyal to the other servants in the house which was her way of paying respect to her father’s memory. The ultimate message of Cinderella is very noble and positive. The story teaches you that even if others treat you terribly, you should not retain your self-respect and find the strength to behave honourably even if those around you are treacherous and mean-spirited. You should never sink to their level.
Q: You and your family are reportedly going to be leaving Australia once your husband’s contract with the Syndey Theatre Company runs out. Where do think you would be comfortable living?
BLANCHETT: We’re happy wherever we are as long as we’re together. My husband and kids are used to travelling and we can enjoy living in London, in Rome, in New York, or anywhere we might be working. It’s the close feeling you have as a family which is the most important thing in life, not where you happen to reside. But as much as we love Sydney and I wanted our kids to get to know their mother’s Australian culture, it’s always interesting to be exposed to other cultures. (Her husband recently hinted that they would be heading back to live in New York.)
Q: How hard is it for you to take on film roles where you might have to be away for several months at a time?
BLANCHETT: Fortunately, we’re able to bring our children with us pretty much wherever we’re working. I’m very grateful to have a husband who is so generous and willing to help me with the children when I’m working. It’s much easier to manage a career when you know your partner is always there to support you and help you with the logistics.
Q: You said after you left your position at the Sydney Theatre Company that you wanted to relax a bit more with your family?
BLANCHETT: I know, and that hasn’t quite worked out as well as I might have liked. I love being at home and looking after my kids is such a pleasure and it’s very grounding. But it’s hard for me to turn down great parts because you hate waiting for the phone to ring and not knowing when the next project comes along. It’s hard for me not to stay active, and that is probably what keeps me going. I’ll jump at any good role. It’s hard for me to say no.
Q: Do you put pressure on yourself to be the perfect mom?
BLANCHETT: No, because there’s no such thing. I don’t believe in the notion that a woman, much less a man, can have it all. Women have become more independent in terms of wanting to pursue their careers in society and enjoying the same kinds of opportunities as men. I think the entire notion puts too much pressure on men and women, especially in the case of single parents. Life always involves a myriad of compromises and you try to provide the best possible life for your children while pursuing your goals in life. I was more worried after I went back to work after my first child, but then I saw that it wasn’t so hard to organise things after all. You discover that you enjoy being busy and figuring out ways to balance everything.
Children are very adaptable, though. As long as you love them and nurture them and they know that you’re there for them, they’ll be happy even if mom or dad sometimes makes mistakes or doesn’t get everything right. You try to do your best for your kids and make their lives as secure and beautiful as you can.
Q: How has winning the Oscar for Blue Jasmine affected you or your career?
BLANCHETT: Not really. The Oscar is a bonus you get at the end of your journey, because you’re really interested in the work itself and what you get out of that rather than looking for the reward that comes after it. It’s the journey itself that’s going to give you real satisfaction.
Q: What are your thoughts on some of the directors you’ve had a chance to work in some of your most recent films?
BLANCHETT: I’ve been really lucky to have made so many interesting movies with directors like Woody Allen and Terrence Malick and now with Ken Branagh. I enjoyed how Woody could be fairly critical if he didn’t like something you were doing. He will tell you very bluntly what he thinks and I love that. A lot of directors prefer to sweet talk their actors but I’d rather hear it straight because that’s much more helpful to me than if the director is trying not to offend you or hurt your ego.
Also working with George Clooney (on Monuments Men) was great. George is one of coolest, intelligent, most engaging people you could want to know. I’ve rarely had so much pleasure as I had working with him… a real pleasure going to work. Talk about buoyancy on a set; it’s no fuss, you got it done and he’s unbelievably positive and generous and available.
And with Ken, because he’s an actor himself, he has a way of trying to understand everyone’s process and harmonise that during the shooting. He’s able to create this wonderful spirit that makes it a joy to come to the set every day.
Q: What are your plans for the coming year?
BLANCHETT: I’m going to be taking time off so we can resettle somewhere and I have more quiet in my life and then I’ll get back to work, probably! (Laughs) I’m happiest with my husband and kids and even if I never worked again I would still enjoy my life so much. But since I have a hard time staying still for very long, fortunately I don’t have to make that choice! (Laughs)