Cate Blanchett Shares Career Advice at MoMA Film Benefit: ‘If You’re Going to Fail, Fail Gloriously’

Cate Blanchett Ralph Fiennes MoMA Film
Andrew H. Walker/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

Cate Blanchett was honored at New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s 8th annual Film Benefit on Tuesday for her prolific contribution to cinema. While accepting the accolade, the two-time Oscar winning actress addressed the recent attacks in Paris.

“All my efforts and endeavors do feel insignificant given what’s going on in the world at the moment — the horrific events in Europe and the Middle East,” Blanchett told the crowd that included her “Aviator” director Martin Scorsese, “Blue Jasmine” costar Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, Rooney Mara and Diane Kruger. “And the thousands of refugees who travel across the borders, and their plight, their peril has become even more only precarious and difficult.”

She added, “But, this is going to sound like a massive justification, perhaps it is in the face of what’s going on in the world, sometimes you’re presented with the opportunity of working on projects that perhaps might last and perhaps have something interesting and important to say, and last year was definitely one of those years for me.”

Blanchett was speaking about “Truth,” in which she plays CBS producer Mary Mapes, whose career ended abruptly following her report about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service and her role as a woman involved in a 1950s lesbian romance in Todd Haynes’s “Carol.” Ralph Fiennes — Blanchett’s costar in 1997’s “Oscar and Lucinda” — agreed that her work this year alone is unparalleled to any other performance.

“You’re a great artist, Cate. Only a few are able to expand their gift of acting into a sublime interpretation of humanness that reaches our souls and presses our heart and you have this gift, dear Cate,” said Fiennes from the stage. “It’s a wonder to see it and a gift for us too.”

In a videotaped message, Woody Allen, who famously skips awards ceremonies, joked, “Mercifully, I had a prior engagement,” but praised his “Blue Jasmine” leading lady for her acting. The filmmaker commented that before he directed Blanchett, “Everyone told me, ‘Hire Cate Blanchett and she’ll make you look like a genius!'”

On the red carpet, Blanchett spoke to Variety about the key ingredient to her successful two-decade career. She said her approach to acting changed after receiving advice from her drama teacher at the Sydney National Institute of Dramatic Art.

“My teacher said to me, ‘If you’re going to fail, fail gloriously,'” said Blanchett. “I’ve never forgotten it. You learn a lot from your mistakes. You have to take risks and make mistakes. It’s terrifying, but it’s the only way you will learn and improve.”

Cate Blanchett at the MoMA Film Benefit presented by Chanel
Andrew H. Walker/Variety/Rex Shutterstock
Julian Rosefeldt, Ralph Fiennes, Cate Blanchett and Todd Haynes at the MoMA Film Benefit presented by Chanel.
Andrew H. Walker/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

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