Cate Blanchett: “We live in a world where populism rules”

The deep, unique voice of Cate Blanchett (Melbourne, 52 years old), resonates on the other end of the phone: “What if I am Pedro Almodóvar’s new boss? Noooo [carcajada]. We are fellow adventurers, I don’t believe in hierarchical structures”. The actress is promoting The alley of lost souls, by Guillermo del Toro, but on the horizon appears Manual for cleaning women, the 43 stories of Lucia Berlin, who died in 2004, which Almodóvar has chosen in a script. For four years, the Spaniard has been working on the project. But before the doubt of whether it would go ahead or not, in his production company, El Deseo, they did not renew the adaptation rights. To the rescue of the film appeared Blanchett, its possible protagonist, who is passionate about the script, and who therefore bought the rights. Now, his production company, Dirty Films, is leading a work that will feature that script and be directed by Almodóvar and will be filmed in 2023. “We are collaborators, something I look for in my films. I had been wanting to work with Pedro for a long time, to enjoy his passion”, he says.

About her character, she explains: “It’s fascinating how Berlin explored herself from many different perspectives: love, addictions, the creative process… All the women in the stories are, deep down, herself. And that Pedro has grasped, because he knows what the primary mechanisms of relationships between human beings are like. In his films there is heart and at the same time a profound reflection on aesthetics”.

Blanchett finds a quick connection between Almodóvar and del Toro: “Both are deeply humanistic filmmakers. you can see it in parallel mothers, in its final imbrication between History and the deepest human feelings. He loves the people.” And he explains that next week they will meet again: “On Wednesday I will present a screening of his film in London and Pedro and Penélope Cruz will be there. There is no plan that I want more”. It is a pass for members of the Hollywood Academy, since until February 1 they can vote for the Oscar nominations, and it coincides with the premiere, on Friday 28, from parallel mothers in the United Kingdom.

The excuse for the interview, held last Tuesday, it’s your job at The alley of lost souls, in which she plays a psychiatrist, Lilith Ritter, without any qualms about scamming people and who will find in the protagonist —played by Bradley Cooper—, a hardened trickster at local fairs who now acts for rich people, his best possible ally. A fatal Woman manual. “Well, it is that usually in film noir there are. And her wardrobe and her office provide many common elements of these women. But I also think that part of that type of character is made up of their body, and here that beautiful body is provided by Bradley. Guillermo has shunned the traditional image and planted elements of corruption and perdition for all the characters.” Is it a movie without monsters, unlike almost all of Del Toro’s previous films? “Ugh, the no monster thing is indeed moot, because some of the characters are demeaned in ways that you might think they are. The promises of power and money push them into an amorality that is as frightening as the monsters. Those behaviors are also terrifying.”

Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett in ‘The Alley of Lost Souls’

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The production of the alley of lost souls he took off for six months during the lockdown, time Blanchett devoted to gardening. “It was frustrating for all of us, because we had very little left to finish, but at the same time it helped us reflect on what we had filmed.” For the actress, there is no one comparable to the Mexican director. “It’s unique. Not only is he a great lover of film history, as is obvious, but he is also fascinated by acting, production design, photography. He is constantly creating and is an artist who drives those of us who work to be better.” And that is why she will also be with him in his Pinocchio, an animation project that will finally be released in September, produced by Netflix. An hour after this interview, Del Toro himself explained to EL PAÍS: “I know that I always say that the monsters that scare me the most are human beings. But Cate, no. [ríe]. Our relationship has been explosive and joyous. It has been like discovering a friend who was already a friend before I met him. Years ago we developed a television series that was never shot and I was captivated by its humor and depth. Now my challenge is how to write roles for Cate in my future films.”

We live in a world in which populism prevails, in which arguments are not listened to”

Blanchett has launched numerous messages in favor of movie theaters in recent years. When in September 2020 he attended the Venice festival, as president of its jury, He pointed out: “We have to go back to the theaters. We left a monoculture of streaming which has lasted six months. This is the opportunity to re-examine how this technology changes the way of seeing and making cinema”. now explain, after being part of the success of Netflix Don’t look up: “I am passionate about getting involved in fascinating stories that force me to take risks. And in this case, I loved joining the world of Adam McKay, I’ve been in that project for years, before Netflix came on. Adam’s way of telling it in a documentary style is shocking… Because we actually live in a world where populism rules, where arguments are not listened to.” Due to these interests, he jumped from the cinema to the theater and although he has directed on stage, he does not think he will soon do it for the big screen: “I have always been interested, but you need a lot of patience and time. I have a couple of ideas, and at the same time four children. Too much hassle for now.”

On the element that unites both films, don’t look up Y The alley of lost souls, who reflect on what is true or false and the triumph of fake news, notes: “The global level of mistrust and fear is incredible. I am still amazed at the widespread corruption that we have accepted. We should reflect more on it and that is why it is pertinent to make these types of films, to debate about it”. Do those who best manipulate the rest of human beings win? “It infuriates me to see where the world is going because of this constructed fear, created by some.”

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Cate Blanchett: “We live in a world where populism rules”