LOS ANGELES, California (AFP) – She might be one of the finest actresses of her generation but Cate Blanchett believed she might never have the chance to work with Woody Allen.
So when the Oscar-winning Australian star was presented with the chance to become the latest in Allen’s long line of iconic leading ladies, Blanchett did not hesitate for a second.
“We’re all the same, when you get Woody’s call, you take it and you’ve already said yes before you know what it is. You just hope it’s a good one,” Blanchett recalled.
“I had given up hope of ever working with him, I thought he wasn’t interested.”
Any possible uncertainty about the quality of the remarkably prolific Allen’s latest effort, “Blue Jasmine”, evaporated immediately however.
The film, which stars Blanchett as a wealthy New York socialite desperately struggling to adjust to new circumstances after her husband (Alec Baldwin) is mired in a financial scandal, has been talked about as one of Allen’s best in years.
Blanchett’s towering performance has already seen her installed as early front-runner to add a best actress Academy Award to the Oscar she picked up for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s 2004 Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator”.
No one has started 2013 Oscar talk quite like Cate Blanchett’s unanimously acclaimed performance in Blue Jasmine,” was the verdict of respected Hollywood industry blog Deadline.com.
Blanchett, who would join the likes of Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino and Penelope Cruz as actresses who Allen has helped to win an Oscar, said she was mesmerized by “Blue Jasmine” immediately.
“The minute I read the script it was fantastic,” Blanchett recalled at a press conference in Beverly Hills.
“It’s impeccably structured, it’s absurd and tragic, often simultaneously.”
But for all the Oscar buzz, the opportunity of working with Allen — in what is his 43rd film — was reward in itself, according to Blanchett.
“I feel privileged to be playing the title role in a Woody Allen film,” she says. “He’s influenced the popular culture in ways that we can’t even know.”
Allen — who once confided in an interview that “My heart is in it more when I’m writing for women” — has delivered another superb female character study in “Blue Jasmine” according to Blanchett.
“If you think about all of those extraordinary female creations he’s drawn with such wonderful actresses, he’s fascinated and loves women — their exuberance, their intelligence, their fears, their phobias,” Blanchett said.
Blanchett’s own character, a woman set adrift from her privileged moorings, is a case in point.
“I think he (Allen) despised and revered Jasmine and I think he was fascinated by her,” Blanchett says.
Blanchett, no stranger to working with A-list directors such as Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and David Fincher, admits she wasn’t sure what to expect on set with the 77-year-old auteur.
“I had heard that he was monosyllabic, at best, in relation to the directions he gives to actors but I found that if I asked him questions he thought were interesting, he responded,” Blanchett said.
“If he didn’t, he would just wave me off and would go back to his Blackberry.”
With America emerging from the wreckage of one of the most brutal recessions in the country’s history, Blanchett says her character in the film is very much a product of her times.
“I think it’s happening all over America and all over the world, when people’s sense of self is being bound up in (A) a relationship and (B) a financial status, the social circle,” she explains.
“When all of that is ripped away, you have, often at mid-life, to look at yourself and say ‘Who the hell am I?’.”
“And if you don’t have financial security, a support structure, then madness can pretty quickly set in.”
Photo Credit: AFP/Jason Merritt