Cate Blanchett debuted her latest acting role in “The New Boy” at the Cannes Film Festival this week, but the Oscar-winner wouldn’t mind staying behind the camera a bit more.
“I’m always trying to get out of acting,” Blanchett said. “I’ve been trying to stop acting my entire professional life.”
Speaking at her Kering Women in Motion talk at Cannes, in conversation with her producing partner, Coco Francini, Blanchett said that her recent producing work behind the camera “feels an extension, for me, of my work as an actor.”
“I remember an Australian film director saying to me really early on in my career that I had to stop taking small roles,” Blanchett recalled. “And I said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘That was the most interesting role.’ I didn’t want to play the lead. I want that one.”
“It’s about the conversation,” she continued. “And sometimes that conversation involves me being in front of the lens, and sometimes it’s back behind being a little bit too bossy sometimes from behind. The facilitation is equally as creative… I’m as interested in the development process as I am in the process of shooting it, and then I’m really interested in the post process right through to distribution and marketing.”
Blanchett and Francini are partners at Dirty Films, the production company that was formed by Blanchett and her husband, producer Andrew Upton. “The New Boy” is one of three films that Dirty Films will debut this year, along with “Shayda,” which won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival, and Apple TV’s “Fingernails” from director Christos Nikou. Dirty Films was behind the FX series “Mrs. America,” which is where Blanchett and Francini first met and began their producing partnership.
On “Mrs. America,” Blanchett and Francini hired mostly female directors and crew members. On that set, they decided their mandate moving forward for all of their projects would be, “You must interview a woman and you must interview a person of color.”
Blanchett and Francini are proud to run a company that showcases women, international filmmakers and diverse voices. For Blanchett, she recalls a time in her career — not to long ago — when she would look around and be the only woman on set. With her work as a producer, she is hoping to change that.
“We’ve both had experiences where we walked on set and done the headcount and you wonder why you sort of slightly feel alienated and annoyed somedays,” Blanchett said. “I realize that I’m the only woman in the cast…there at 62 men, and yep, I’m the only woman. This ratio is bad…it’s really disproportionate. And it means you’re always laughing at the same jokes. I do have a really good sense of humor, but it’s like, let’s change it up.”
“I look forward to the day where we don’t even need to have interviews about women in cinema,” Blanchett added.
Francini said that even with progress for women in the entertainment business, it’s still “undoubtedly” harder for a woman to get a film financed. “We’re not there yet,” she said. “We make films for an audience. We’d love for our industry to look like our audience, and we’re not there yet, but I think we are making progress.”
“It’s hard to get paid as an actress,” Blanchett chimed in.
“I think transparency is really important. We always talk about money like we shouldn’t be talking about money. But why don’t we talk about money?” Blanchett continued. “We’re open about all the other aspects of the process…I think the more transparent all that stuff, the more you can work out how the money is flowing and where it needs to flow and where it’s not flowing yet.”
Blanchett said she gets asked often about directing, but she’s not quite there yet.
“I do get asked a lot. But for me, there are so many things I find enjoyable in the process of making a film and so many directors I want to work with as an actor and producer,” she said when asked if she wants to direct.
“It takes a long time,” Blanchett added. “There’s a project that we’re very keen on that we’re discussing, so hopefully that will come to fruition, but it’s about making the time…I also have four children and a garden. I don’t want the plants to die.”
Watch Blanchett and Francini’s full Kering Women in Motion in the video below.