Cate Blanchett: ‘I’ve never had a sexual relationship with a woman’

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cannes uncovered: day 5The award-winning actress had to also set the record straight about her own past, claiming she wasn’t fully quoted in a recent interview with Variety about her ‘many’ relationships with women. Two years ago, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Abdellatif Kechiche’s explicit love story about the affair between two young French women, won the Palme d’Or.Hollywood star Cate Blanchett — in Cannes for the premiere of her latest movie about a lesbian romance — on Sunday scotched media speculation that she had a real-life gay past.

When a film is as anticipated as Carol was at this year’s Cannes Film Festival—it’s probably the most talked-about competition entry, among American journalists and critics anyway—it’s strange to finally encounter the actual thing, to sit in the dark and watch what has long been a mystery finally reveal its dimensions.The Hollywood Reporter’s fifth daily issued features an interview with Todd Haynes about Carol, his drama starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and the latest news, features and reviews from the festival.Seventeen years after his first Cannes competition entry, the glamrock movie Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes is back in the Palme d’Or hunt with Carol, set to premiere May 17.

Blanchett made clear at the press conference for the film at Cannes Film Festival on Sunday that she hadn’t actually had sexual relations with any ladies. The 46-year-old Australian actress said speculation about possible gay episodes had sprung from an interview she had given to the US cinema industry magazine Variety.

Haynes project is based on the 1952 autobiographical novel The Price of Salt, by crime writer Patricia Highsmith. “Even before it became a story about lesbian love — which was, of course, criminal, as de�nied by the world at that time — it was just about love itself as something criminal,” says Haynes. It has met with a consensus of praise from critics in Cannes, with five star reviews across the board and talk of multiple Oscar nominations next year.

It’s the only book Patricia Highsmith, who was extremely prolific, wrote outside of the crime milieu, yet it is locked into the same singular point of view as almost all of her criminal subjects. Justin Chang in Variety said: ‘As searing as Blanchett was in her Oscar-winning turn in Blue Jasmine, she arguably achieves something even deeper here by acting in a much quieter, more underplayed register.’ The Telegraph film critic, Tim Robey, is just as euphoric in his praise of the actress as well as the film.

Then the answer is no.’ But that obviously didn’t make it.” To laughter from the crowd, Blanchett continued: “But in 2015, the point should be: who cares? Call me old fashioned but I thought one’s job as an actor was not to present one’s boring, small, microscopic universe but to make a psychological connection to another character’s experiences. Though Therese is the more passive player in the relationship, Mara gives her a graceful self-possession, a quiet confidence, that holds the film’s focus. Yesterday we spotted this rather odd piece of street art which seems to be taking aim at jury heads the Coen brothers although if you can figure out exactly what it all means, do let us know: Well, we hate to say “we told you so” but we totally told you so. But I certainly have no interest in putting my own thoughts and opinions out there.” Blanchett said she admired the restraint exhibited by the characters in the film, who speak about the sex lives only sparingly. “[Carol’s] sexuality is a private affair.

Given the pedigree it might not be a total surprise to have predicted that Carol would be the runaway awards contender of the fest but still, it’s pleasing to see just how much everyone loves Todd Haynes’s latest. My amazing costume designer, Sandy Powell, and I were talking about the dearth of what she calls “frock films” — films about women, particularly period films that let Sandy do what she does so well. We’re living in a deeply conservative time.” The actor confirmed that her research had involved consuming countless lesbian novels written in the middle of the last century, of which Carol appeared to be “the only one with a happy ending”. “They were outsider novels. Peter Bradshaw gave it five stars and called it “creamily sensuous” while here’s what others had to say: Many are predicting that Carol will not only triumph at Cannes (a best actress award for Blanchett, possibly even shared with Mara, is a strong possibility) but also at next year’s Oscars. Its screenwriter, Phyllis Nagy, has spent 14 years attempting to get it made; that she finally had, she said, amounted to “a huge political statement.” In the time since Highsmith wrote the novel, “nothing has changed and everything has changed.

As I walked out of the theater and into a lovely French twilight, I found myself appreciative of the film’s formal graces, which are myriad, but didn’t quite feel like I’d been grabbed, that Carol had shaken something loose the way I had hoped it would. Blanchett also addressed the recent story where she was quoted as saying she’d had “many” same-sex relationships by saying that she’s never actually slept with women.

But I’ve now had some time to think about it (the film premieres at Cannes tonight, but screened for press yesterday), and the more I do that, Carol’s restraint or reserve seems to actually be in service of a pretty big point. Tonight’s big premiere will help increase the already deafening buzz and we’ll be speaking personally to Haynes and the cast over the next few days, mainly to worship at their feet. We do not we politicise the material by just allowing people to live their lives honestly. [Gay people] are expected to make it an issue front and centre in our lives.

Obviously “coming out” means something different now than it did in 1953, but given its setting, the film can be seen as a hushed but adamant appreciation of all the people who, in defiance of their times, chose to live true lives, accepting the potential consequences as the cost of, quite simply, freedom. Yesterday, Catherine Shoard attended a forum on gender equality where a variety of names, from politics and film, discussed institutional sexism in Hollywood.

One could easily say it’s another ’50s movie that deals with homosexuality, but the ’50s in this film are utterly different from 1957, the full-on Eisenhower era that we kind of stamp as the 1950s in our mind and codify through the films of that time, like Douglas Sirk’s amazing movies — which were my main inspiration for Far From Heaven. This 1950s [in Carol] is right on the cusp of the Eisenhower era, but it really speaks to that transitional period between World War II and Eisenhower. The reason that the likes of Brokeback Mountain and Milk had preceded Carol was, he suspected, “because male audiences will not be excluded [by them]. They are the prime audience Hollywood are marketing films for.” The cast and crew expressed the hope that the film might help change policy in the “70 countries round the world in which homosexuality is still illegal”. “It’s important to talk about,” continued Blanchett, while her co-star Rooney Mara, agreed “there’s a long way to go before we’re not talking about it”.

It’s apparent from the moment that Carol Aird, Blanchett’s glamorous suburban sapphist, locks eyes with Therese Belivet, Rooney’s closeted, curious shopgirl, that something is going to happen. The importance of female voices in film “fell off the agenda and we lost a lot of ground”, she said, before expressing her unhappiness at a recent headline declaring 2015 “the year of women”. Of course these women are, as many gay people in mid-century America were, well trained at resisting this pull toward one another, dangerous as it is. But something about Therese, with her pondering eyes and anticipatory stillness—she is waiting for something to happen to her life, and this woman in a fur coat just might be it—proves irresistible to the older, more experienced Carol. One of the hottest sales comes from Judd Apatow, whose next film as director is this summer’s Trainwreck with comedian Amy Schumer, who is producing Bad Moms, set to star his wife Leslie Mann.

You’re kind of watching these people functioning from a neutral perspective and watching the forces of society bear down on their decisions and their choices. As you may well remember from yesterday’s blog, we had our first boos of the festival at the end of Gus van Sant’s pretentious melodrama The Sea of Trees. Therese says she isn’t sure if that’s what Carol is looking for, but Carol assures her that, yes, she wants Therese to ask, offering both permission and encouragement.

It’s a small scene, but it’s still a breathtakingly honest and succinct depiction of an important aspect of how this confusing process often works, one person finding another and in them discovering a world of clarity and possibility. There isn’t much in Carol that shows what Carol and Therese specifically like about each other—quite unlike The Lobster, there isn’t any talk of defining characteristics and compatibility—and, initially, that frustrated me. Brief Encounter, the David Lean/Noel Coward film, people who know that film might recognize a little structural homage to it in the way we restructured Carol.

There is a fundamental, important power in same recognizing same, as much as we try not to say that in these “my sexuality doesn’t define me” times. I even looked at The Sugarland Express because they go on a road trip in that movie, and the natural light was something we wanted to bring to this film — and the sort-of ’70s tendency to give films that flairy, raw, beautiful sense of light. We enjoyed it.” Director van Sant claimed he had read one review which had felt “comprehensive” and referred to the film as “its own animal”.

What challenges did you face in creating a period film about a period not that far removed in time, just sixty years ago, even though attitudes toward homosexuality have changed dramatically since then? As their relationship deepens, through careful, guarded flirtations, Carol’s squabble with her husband becomes a war, he threatening to take sole custody of their daughter, Rindy, and wielding his knowledge of Carol’s past affair with Rindy’s “Aunt” Abby (Sarah Paulson, terrific) as a weapon. You’d assume that since we’re all (supposed) cinephiles here in Cannes, there would be a certain high(ish) standard of behaviour inside the screenings but sadly, it’s even worse than going to a Cineworld.

The best thing about Stallone’s appearance at the festival is that he’s not here to promote The Expendables 16: Expend This! but rather his collection of art, including this piece on Michael Jackson: Things at the market are getting loopier by the day and hoping to still bask in the glory of B-movie breakout Sharknado, Sky Sharks is a rather self-explanatory attempt to mix sharks with the sky. So without having to give an instructional feeling, educating a contemporary audience to those contradictions, we had to assume people would understand some of the freedom these women would have in spending time together. We will also be speaking to the stars of Carol, including Blanchett herself, checking out Louder Than Bombs, a drama with Jesse Eisenberg and Isabelle Huppert and assembling a very special edition of the film show. It is part of a vast history that is getting forgotten quickly as we trumpet forward into gay marriage and gays in the military and a much different cultural attitude toward gay lives.

She’s continually astounding to me — starting as a person, as a really fine human being, a really caring, considerate soul, somebody who whose such considerable kindness to the crew and her fellow actors. You have to help a modern audience understand the unbelievable constraints a mother at this particular time would be facing and balancing against her own needs as a woman. Velvet Goldmine had been a tough shoot, but it was a celebratory film and I wanted everybody who worked on it to have a good time at Cannes — and we did.

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