Monday 18 December 2017

Cate Blanchett: 'I'm not a lesbian, but who cares?'

Last week, Cate Blanchett said she'd had many relationships with women... But none of them were sexual, she clarified as her new Carol film screened at Cannes

Actress Cate Blanchett attends a press conference for the film Carol, at the 68th international film festival, Cannes. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Actress Cate Blanchett attends a press conference for the film Carol, at the 68th international film festival, Cannes. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

Hannah Furness

She caused something of a stir last week after appearing to admit to a string of relationships with women.

Now Cate Blanchett, the Oscar-winning actress, has insisted no one should be remotely interested in her sexuality, as she laments the modern obsession with gay people having to constantly talk about their private lives.

Blanchett, who stars as divorcing mother who falls in love with another woman in Todd Haynes's new film, Carol, said: "In 2015, the point should be: who cares?"

Appearing at the Cannes Film Festival, where Carol has screened to rave reviews, the actress clarified that she had not had sexual encounters with women in the past, after telling a magazine she had had "many" relationships with people of her own sex.

She said the world is still "deeply conservative", and added that she had found it interesting to play a character who kept her preferences a "private affair", in contrast to the modern day.

Now, Blanchett said, gay people are too often compelled to "constantly" talk about their sexuality, which dominates all aspects of their lives and personality.

The new film will see her in one intimate scene with her co-star Rooney Mara, as the tale of their forbidden love affair unfolds.

When asked whether she had been comfortable in the scene and with her own nudity, she said: "Certainly since giving birth. A lot of strangers see you naked in that experience."

Blanchett also sought to explain an interview she gave to Variety magazine last week, in which she was reported as saying she had had been in relationships with women "many times".

"From memory, the conversation ran: 'Have you had relationships with women? I said 'Yes, many times, but if you mean have I had sexual relationships with women, the answer is no'," she said.

"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 own boring, small, microscopic universe but to raise and expand your sense of the universe, to make a psychological and empathic connection to another character's experience so you can play them. So you can present another world to an audience.

"My life is of no interest to anyone else. Or maybe it is, I don't know. But I'm certainly not interested in putting my thoughts and opinions up there.

When asked about the contrast between homosexuality in the Fifties and today, the actress said: "There are 70 countries around the world where homosexuality is still illegal so it still seems to be an issue. I think the interesting thing about this, and certainly playing a character like Carol, is that sexuality is a private affair.

"I think what often happens these days, if you are homosexual, you have to talk about it constantly; it has to be the only thing you put before your work and any other aspect of your personality.

"We are living in deeply conservative times. If you think otherwise, you're very foolish."

Appearing at a press conference ahead of the premiere tonight, Blanchett said she had not suffered any undue nerves about her love scene.

"No more so than if it was a love scene with a man," she said. "I have such respect and admiration for Rooney [Mara] and it was quite hilarious actually in a way. It's always great when it's not titillating. It was a really, really important scene in the structure of the film and the telling of the story. It was a scene like any other scene. Yes, there was a bit of apprehension going in but not because it was between two women in any way."

Despite her confidence, Blanchett is not relishing the opportunity to watch herself on the big screen, in front of the international film industry in Cannes. Speaking of the perils of making a film, she said: "I always get to the last day of shooting and go 's--t', that's what it was about. So moments like this, in a festival like Cannes, it's very nerve-wracking. It's like a nightmare. You're in the audience on opening night watching yourself and there's nothing you can do about it."

The Telegraph awarded Carol five stars, calling it "an exceptionally beautiful film, with a career-best performance from Cate Blanchett".

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