If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life — that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment — that would be the perfect state.
As quoted in Vanity Fair, Vol. 62, (1999)
Thank you of course to Miss Hepburn. The longevity of her career I think is inspiring to everyone. But most importantly and on behalf of everyone I know in The Aviator, thank you to Martin Scorsese. I hope my son will marry your daughter.
As random and as subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year of extraordinary, yet again, extraordinary performances by women ... And perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.
After winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Blue Jasmine, (2 March 2014)
Well, I'm a product of the Australian film industry which by its very nature is independent, sometimes for better sometimes for worse. I suppose the collaborative nature of being independent is what feels natural to me, and when people talk about working in Hollywood I don't quite know what that means. Being part of the Indiana Jones franchise and The Lord of the Rings, that felt more like a departure for me. But in the end, I think the whole notion of the independent spirit is not just about the way a film is financed but about the creative thinking behind it, and sometimes that can exist in the mainstream; those sensibilities can cross over and audiences are interested in, not a homogenous way of storytelling but a diverse way of receiving a narrative.
Backstage press room, after winning the Independent Spirit Award for her performance in I'm Not There, in response to the question: "As an actress, do you prefer Independents over the mainstream?"
I think marriage is all about timing. Getting married is insanity; I mean, it's a risk – who knows if you're going to be together forever? But you both say, 'We're going to take this chance, in the same spirit.
What interested me was how much of a departure this was in that you have three interesting, across the generations, female characters, literally riding alongside the male characters. Also the emotional and psychological depth of the characters was, for me, a lot richer than I've seen in a western. But never once did it sacrifice the thrill of the chase. So it was a journey into the unknown for me.
It’s been an enormous challenge and enormously gratifying. Andrew and I wanted to travel less and the opportunity of living and working in Sydney was irresistible, especially when it came to being able to give our children roots. I also felt drawn to the stimulating kind of environment that the theatre offers in a way that is completely different from film. To direct a company has its own challenges, and there’s nothing like the terror and thrill that comes from performing live in front of an audience. So it’s been a marvellous experience for both of us.
I've done a lot of talking over the past six years. My husband and I have been running the Sydney Theatre Company and it's been magic – my kids have been able to see so many of those transient moments between acting and real life behind the scenes. But now that I've given it up I'm looking forward to being a bit quieter. I'm very conscious of that. There have been times when I've heard myself in the past and thought: "Aw, just shut up."
Of course one worries about getting older - we're all fearful of death, let's not kid ourselves. I'm simply not panicking as my laugh lines grow deeper. Who wants a face with no history, no sense of humor?
It's not just women in film, 18-year-old girls feel pressure to do preventative injecting. I see someone's face, someone's body who'd had children and I think they're the song lines of your experience, and why would you want to eradicate that? I look at people sort of entombing themselves and all you see is little pin holes of terror... and you think, just live your life, death is not going to be any easier just because your face can't move.
I remember when I came out of drama school I’d seen a lot of actors, brilliant actors who didn’t work very often. And when you’re starting out, there’s more rejection than there is acceptance, and I said to myself, “I’ll give it five years. I don’t think I have a strong enough mettle to deal with the rejections."
For me, the roles are the secondary part of the whole process to me strangely. It's about who you're being directed by and who the other actors are. Whenever I read a script, I think, 'wow, that's a great story,' and invariably I want to play one of the other characters, and the process of working out how to play the character you're offered is to work out why you aren't playing the other characters in a way. Maybe that's why I play roles of various different sizes. The challenge is not necessarily always the lead role, but in this case [Blue Jasmine] it was all those things combined.
She has this incredible ability to transform herself. Sometimes you're not sure it's her on screen. It's always fascinating; this capacity of being a totally different person, and yet being yourself. She's very inventive; working with her, I can tell right away she's very free.
[She] elevated most of our performances. She’s exquisite. She’s a great friend. She can read a scene like few actors can. I find her to be grace incarnate. I liked that she was playing a dancer. It fit her because of who she is, because of her undeniable elegance.
As an actor, you either work off your own personality, and that’s what you’re peddling, or, like Cate, you draw out from the source material all the many dark, mysterious, and conflicting elements of the character that are going to make it engaging and trilling for the audience.
When we came to work, I realized of course that Cate has a fierce intelligence, an unbelievable integrity. Her powers of concentration are phenomenal. Above all, she has a great sense of humour which I think is the most important thing to have and she is a phenomenal family person. The fact that she is working on something with an incredible intensity and at the same time can completely switch off and become a member of an incredibly close family with her children and her husband. When I saw her playing Elizabeth, it was one of those rare moments that I forgot I was watching an actress and I believed I was watching a real person who had actually lived and existed in history. I think Cate is the most extraordinary actress and I’m thrilled we did this movie together.
I wanted to do the part because Cate was playing Sheba. And she knows, because I've said it out loud in front of a lot of people. My admiration for her is absolutely unbounded. And we had a lot of laughs, which is always good.
I saw Cate in Streetcar Named Desire on Wednesday night. Liv Ullman directed it. I will say right here that it was perhaps the greatest stage performance I have ever seen ... She showed us the unraveling of a fragile woman right before our eyes and did it with not a false moment ... What I so love about both Cate and Andrew [Upton] is they haven’t an ounce of pretense, divahood– just brilliant, hardworking, regular people with a growing family.
That performance was as naked, as raw and extraordinary and astonishing and surprising and scary as anything I've ever seen, and it didn't have anything to do with what clothes she took off, you know what I mean? She took the layers of a person and just peeled them away. I thought I'd seen that play, I thought I knew all the lines by heart, because I've seen it so many times, but I'd never seen the play until I saw that performance.
[Cosmetic surgery] is idiocy, unless it is to remove a disfigurement. A small breast doesn't have to become big. I prefer to look at a natural woman. A woman should be courageous to become older, not be desperate to look younger than her age. With time, a woman's body is better. As a woman goes to work, has babies, she is strong. She has character. Look at Cate Blanchett.
[Working with Blanchett again] was one of my motivations for getting involved [with Carol]. I had such an amazing time with her on I'm Not There, and watching that particular performance emerge was an extraordinary experience for me. I think it was for her, too. I was just blown away by what she did and who she is as a person; that's always coupled with my esteem for her. And that just continued to be fleshed out in every possible way on this ... She has incredible knowledge and instincts.
We only met at a party [during the making of The Lord of the Rings], we weren't on screen together. Well, we were on screen together but we didn't meet. Here [on The Hobbit], we had a whole week, or maybe two. That was a thrill because she's a great screen actor and a very congenial person, for me. She's based in theater. That's her main job at the moment, running a theater. So there wasn't a moment that we didn't have stuff to talk about.
At the moment, I’m obsessed with Cate Blanchett. I would love to act with her. We are costars in How to Train Your Dragon, but we don’t ever get to work together, which is so sad. I would be anything with her onscreen. I would do anything. If she’s reading this, she should know I will do whatever to act with her. She’s so alive and present in every single moment, and not for one second do you feel like she’s acting; you just feel like she’s living the character and being in the moment. The acting is undetectable, and that is so exhilarating, and I feel like it would be so intoxicating to be an actor around her.
Certainly some actors I’m just amazed by the amount of work that they do, and I think, “My God.” I feel quite humbled … Cate Blanchett. She was in Los Angeles and we were doing a round table and I was just amazed. I just looked her up again on Google to see what she’s done. And she runs a family, she runs a theater, she’s done all these incredible films around the world, she just never stops and she’s so attractive and she’s so present. She’s like superwoman.