Cate Blanchett on Falling in Love in ‘Carol’: There’s Universality, Gay or Straight

At Monday’s night New York premiere of the Weinstein Company’s drama “Carol,” Cate Blanchett took her time to advocate that a love story between two women set in the 1950s is not meant to be a lesbian love story but, simply, a love story.

“To me, the film is about the power of falling in love. Whether it’s a woman falling for another women or a heterosexual couple falling in love, any great love story has roadblocks and impediments, but our film shows that it’s about the dangerous, volcanic feelings that you experience when you fall in love,” Blanchett told Variety on the red carpet prior to the screening at the Museum of Modern Art. “When you fall in love, you’re out of control and there’s some fear and panic and your heart beats faster. That doesn’t change if you are gay or heterosexual. There’s universality to that. It happens to all of us. It happened to me when I met my husband.”

Dressed in a stylish mustard-colored Lanvin frock, Blanchett stepped out to join director Todd Haynes and castmates Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Cory Michael Smith to toast the film’s nearly 15-year journey to the big screen. Based on the 1952 novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith, “Carol” is about a glamorous 1950s New Jersey housewife (Blanchett), who falls for a young New York department store clerk (Mara) in the midst of a bitter divorce and begins a romance — jeopardizing her motherhood.

“What I loved about the movie was that nobody seemed to be undone about their gayness,” said Paulson, who plays Blanchett’s friend and confidante. “It was really more about how to figure out how they were going to live with the truth about themselves. It was more to do with what it means to truly and intimately love someone and what the cost of it can be in a particular time where there are societal pressures. It’s a beautiful but sad story.”

For Mara, working with Blanchett was a highlight. It wasn’t too challenging to portray a woman who is captivated by the Oscar-winning star.

“Playing a character who is in awe of her didn’t require any acting,” said Mara. “That’s how I felt about Cate in real life. I’ve always been enamored with her. Everything she does is brilliant. She’s also quick and witty and funny.”

The film’s 35-day shoot required the two actresses to get to know each other quickly and intimately for an explicit sex scene. “It wasn’t awkward at all. I felt comfortable and safe,” said Mara. “It was like shooting any other really intense scene.”

Blanchett agreed with Mara and stressed the love scene was crucial to the film’s storyline.

“The consummation of their relationship was very important and it was done in a way that was not gratuitous,” explained Blanchett. “It was very erotic, tender and beautiful. That is very true to the relationship the two women had. It’s very easy to forget that the love that these two women are experiencing was considered to be criminal and they risked everything to be with each other.”

After the screening, cast members (sans Blanchett) joined screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, producers Christine Vachon and Elizabeth Karlsen, composer Carter Burwell, editor Affonso Goncalves and production designer Judy Becker at the film’s lavish after-party at the famed Four Seasons Restaurant pool room where overflowing platters of steak, ravioli and roast leg of lamb was served. Harvey Weinstein and his wife Georgina Chapman stopped by the bash and greeted Haynes with a celebratory hug and praised the director for his hard work. The studio executive also met with Mara shared a brief conversation. Meanwhile, director John Waters and his long time pal Patty Hearst mingled with guests while enjoying the ambiance. “Girls” costars Andrew Rannells and Zosia Mamet came out to support Lacy, who plays Lena Dunham’s new boyfriend in the upcoming season. Other guests included Alan Cumming and “Orange is the New Black’s” Lea DeLaria.

“Carol” opens in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 20. It expands to additional cities through Christmas.

(Pictured: Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson and Cate Blanchett at the New York premiere of “Carol” presented by Chanel and the Weinstein Co.)

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