Playing the Wicked Stepmother brings delight to this talented actress
Cate Blanchett is most often recognized for her role as Galadriel, the stunning and elegant elven queen in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. But her role in Cinderella may bring a different sort of recognition with children, as she takes on the role of the wicked stepmother, Lady Tremaine.
Yahoo! was able to spend time with Cate to talk about the main antagonist in the modernization of the fairy tale classic.
It looks like you’re having a lot of fun in the movie. What do you enjoy about being the baddie?
There was a buoyancy to it — the experience of being on set and also the jaunt of the narrative… The message of the film [revolves around]her courage: Be kind, be generous, be open-hearted, be resilient. So to get to not do that, and to be in every measure the opposite, is really fun.
How do you look at Lady Tremaine? Do you think she’s purely wicked, or is it more complicated than that?
She’s a survivor, I think. She exists in a world where women don’t have financial independence, where the way to survive is through marriage. She’s had two husbands die on her. She hasn’t had it easy. She’s got two rather unfortunate daughters. And she knows the only forward is for them to marry. So when her husband dies again it’s like, ‘Oh bloody hell.’ And every day she has to look upon this girl who has this natural grace and dignity.
Do you think Tremaine ruined it for stepmothers everywhere?
Look, they’ve always had a bad rap, in all these fairytales with wicked stepmothers. But fairytales are really interested in transformation. And there’s something about the archetypical mother who is meant to be nurturing and kind and good, and the inverse side, the flip side.
I used to have one of these dolls that had Red Riding Hood’s beautiful little happy face [on it], and then you flipped her up and she became The Wolf. So it’s a little bit like that. It’s every child’s nightmare that the mother who nurtures them is one day going to turn around and reject them. And so the stepmother has had a bad rap for thousands of years.
What’s your personal relationship with Cinderella? It seems like you’ve brought your own touch to the role, but did you take any cues from the animated classic?
I watched everything from Disney growing up. The Wonderful World of Disney was the thing I looked forward to every Sunday at 6 o’clock. So I’ve seen it hundreds of times. But I was never really drawn to the story of Cinderella. I found the stepsisters hilarious as a child. But I didn’t identify with Cinderella at all. Because in that version, as great as it is, she’s a bit of a doormat. I didn’t in any way understand why she put up with it, except the door was locked. She was saved because she was beautiful.
Whereas, in this version, I think that you really get a sense of the spirit of the girl, and you understand why she puts up with it, because of her mother’s legacy, and her refusal for her spirit to be broken. And that’s a really courageous thing for any child who’s been bullied. So I didn’t really consciously reference [the original]at all. I didn’t have that gray stripe in my hair. I went in a completely different direction.
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Meet the Stars of Cinderella in this video interview as they talk about the modernization of the classic fairy tale: