Blanchett reveals naked truth

Cate and Carol co-star Rooney Mara on why nudity holds no fears.

by Richard Mowe

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Cannes
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Cannes Photo: Richard Mowe
With her usual down-to-earth attitude Cate Blanchett - who stars with Rooney Mara in the lesbian love story Carol by Todd Haynes - brushed aside questions about nudity and the difficulties of the central intimate love scene with her co-star.

Flanked by Mara, Haynes, producer Christine Vachon and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy she told her media encounter at the Cannes Film Festival today (Sunday) that after having given birth four times she was “quite used to strangers looking at me through that sort of experience”.

She added: “It was no more awkward than it would have been in the same situation with a man, but it was a really important part of the film and in the structure of the story. Todd told us exactly how it was going to be shot and we just got on with it.”

As for Rooney Mara she was equally non-plussed. “I am nude quite often, you know, and so it was no big deal for me either.”

Todd Haynes confirmed that its explicitness had not been an issue and he did not envisage any censorship issues even in the States.

Cate Blanchett in Cannes for Carol:
Cate Blanchett in Cannes for Carol: "My own personal life should be of no interest to anyone else.” Photo: Richard Mowe
Blanchett admitted that the part of her craft she appreciates most is the research. “Patricia Highsmith’s novel was very personal and it was the first lesbian love story that had a happy ending. Carol was not a card carrying member of any sexual persuasion.

“I was asked by one interviewer if I had had any relationships with women. I said, 'Yes many times' but when I was asked about sexual relationships, I said 'No' - but that last bit never seems to have made it in to print. My view is that in 2015 who cares? My aim through acting is to expand your sense of the world and to make an empathetic connection to another character. My own personal life should be of no interest to anyone else.”

With the more than 70 countries around the world where homosexuality is still illegal Blanchett said it remained an issue. “Sexuality is a private affair but people talk about it constantly. We are in deeply conservative times and it is foolish to think otherwise.”

Todd Haynes in Cannes: David Lean’s Brief Encounter was a point of reference.
Todd Haynes in Cannes: David Lean’s Brief Encounter was a point of reference. Photo: Richard Mowe
Asked if she might turn to directing at some point Blanchett indicated that having worked with the likes of Haynes, Martin Scorsese and David Fincher she would have to be very sure of her motivation. “I have directed on stage but the way I approach acting is to look at the whole project in any case which is the way a director does it. If the right thing came along with the right people then who knows because it is such a collaborative effort. But with four children and a husband who runs a theatre company I do not have a lot of spare time.”

Haynes cited David Lean’s Brief Encounter as a point of reference. “People who know that film might recognise a structural homage to it. We also watched A Place In The Sun with cinematographer Ed Lachman because of its amazing visual language.”

Blanchett continually goes back to her stage roots to help serve her screen performances. “When you know about the large spaces of theatre then you are better able to enact those intimate moments in front of the camera. The fortunate thing about stage work is that night after night you can repair the damage. By the end of the run the production has grown. With film sometimes I get to the end of the shoot and finally am able to say ‘Shit, so that is what it was about.’ I am always apprehensive to see myself on screen because by that time there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

Carol has its red carpet premiere at the Cannes Film Festival tonight (Sunday).

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