Moment of truth

Moment of truth

Peter Rusher talks to Cate Blanchett about family, playing a newsroom producer under fire and being a Hollywood icon

Are you ever surprised that you’re able to find so many great roles?
Every time I make another movie, it feels like a surprise. When I got out of drama school, I had no idea whether I would get to make movies or even find regular work. I gave myself five years to make it and here I am, still in the game! Even when I moved back to Australia to run my theatre company, it was a risk, and many people advised me against it. So it’s a constant surprise and immensely gratifying that I keep having these opportunities.

You’ve just adopted a little girl in addition to your three boys. Is it harder to adapt your schedule to your family life these days?
No, I have my husband Andrew, who’s so great at taking charge when I’m working on a film and I’ve been taking my youngest with me on my promotional trips. I try to work on projects that are shot as close as possible to home, so I can be with my children and support them during exam times and so on. Our family is used to me working, so it’s not really disruptive.

Is it hard to turn down a great role?
It’s not a huge bother to me if I feel that I don’t want to commit to a project that takes place very far from home or happens to come along at the wrong time. I try to do my best and not put myself through a lot of anxiety when it comes to my work.

I love acting, and I love having the opportunity to explore new characters, but no one is indispensable and there’s always some- one else who is ready to take up a role if I can’t do it. I am not worried about that. There’s usually something good that’s going
to turn up sooner or later.

Your latest film, newsroom drama Truth, is based on producer Mary Mapes’ memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power about the CBS 60 Minutes report investigating George W Bush’s military service and the turn of events that cost anchor Dan Rather and Mapes their careers. What are your thoughts on the issue of news reporting and journalistic integrity?
I grew up believing what I read, and now I think we find it hard to believe that everything we read is true. I think the film is interesting because it helps to raise the question of the role of the journalist.

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You play Mary and Robert Redford plays Dan. What was it like working with him?
I thought it would be a great experience and working with Bob turned out to be the best ever! It was like a dream. He is such a charming man. He’s very curious and concerned about the world, and very analytical in the way he looks at things. He’s also very natural and at ease in the way he gets in front of the camera and does his job. It’s kind of disarming.

How did you view the central issue at stake in the whole scandal?
The most important point is that the story itself got lost amid all the controversy over some of the documents that were used to support the report. The biggest mistake that Mary and Dan made was in underestimating how dangerous the story was and how the conservative elements in the media would try to wage such a vicious campaign against them as soon as they had something to latch on to.

How did you approach playing Mary?
I felt a deep responsibility to her because she is alive and well, and she was treated very unfairly at the time. Her political views were used to undermine her. People at the network started running for cover simply to protect and distance themselves from her, due to the immense corporate pressure to retract the story because of the toxic political climate.

What was the relationship between Mary and Dan like?
It was one of intense loyalty and mutual admiration. They believed very strongly in the work they did.

The internet is very important when it comes to news. Do you use it or social media very much?
Social networks can be very useful on some occasions, but I like to compare it to graffiti. You might see one or two things that are interesting, but most of the stuff that’s out there isn’t very useful. That’s why I stay away from Twitter and Facebook. And I’m not interested in reading about myself on the internet, it’s so boring. What really interests me is other people, and events and things that matter in the world.

How do you feel about being a glamorous movie star?
I have a great way of dealing with all of that – I try to avoid looking in the mirror. In our house in Australia, the only mirror we had was in the bathroom! When you see me on the red carpet, my look is the result of a whole team of people who have spent the day on my hair, make-up, and outfit. It’s a wonderful illusion.

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You’ve lived in Sydney and New York. Are there any other places you would consider moving to?
I’d like to live in Iceland. Firstly, because I believe in fairy tales, and secondly, because I love the lava fields. But I would have to consult my family first!

 Text: Peter Rusher/The Interview People; Photography: Gallo/GettyImages
June/July 2016

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