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How Cate Blanchett went bad (while still looking good) as the evil stepmother in 'Cinderella'

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Ellen von Unwerth

Cate Blanchett has a nickname for the green dress her evil stepmother character Lady Tremaine wears to the ball in the Kenneth Brangh-directed live action version of Cinderella, which is released March 13 and costars Lily James, Helena Bonham Carter, and Richard Madden. “I called it ‘the gherkin,'” says the Oscar-winning actress. Not that Blanchett is complaining about the dress, which was the work of legendary costume designer and three-time Oscar winner Sandy Powell. “Sandy was saying, do you think it’s too much, with the gold jewelry?'” recalls the Australian. “And I said, ‘Never!’ It was fantastic.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Lady Tremaine is obviously the film’s villain — but I never felt you were twirling your metaphorical mustache.

CATE BLANCHETT: Maybe they just cut it out. I’ll twirl a mustache any chance I get! [Laughs] More is less, is unfortunately my motto. Look, she’s a survivor. She’s someone who exists in a universe where women don’t have financial independence — it could be 2015, let’s face it. And the way she has found to best survive is to be upwardly mobile and to marry the right people, move in the right circles. When she meets someone who doesn’t operate in that way, it’s beyond her ken. And so she tries to break that person apart. And when she cannot break that person’s spirit, it is utterly enraging and she becomes obsessed by her. And as she gets more and more confused and bewildered I think she becomes increasingly brash and her ugly interior life starts to seep out.

How much input did you have into your character’s clothes?

It was certainly a collaboration, but I think you definitely take direction from Sandy Powell. She’s a genius. If you’re wearing green, you don’t have to act the jealousy because the costumes in a way visually are doing it for you. I was very interested in how the character would be lit, that notion of the film noir heroine — or anti-heroine — coming out of darkness into light, I found that very interesting.

How difficult was it to move around in that ballgown?

Navigating my way around a portaloo was a particular challenge. I didn’t do that very often. 

What was it like clocking in to work and spending the day in that incredible ballroom set?

My jaw hit the floor. I mean, there was no need to suspend disbelief, because it was extraordinary. And then, on the the days we filmed in there, it took three hours to light all those candles. The whole thing was lit by candle light! I was ready to movie in!

Were you happy to stop wearing green at the end of the shoot?

[Laughs] My school uniform was green. So, I quite like green. It looks good on a redhead!

You can read much more about Cinderella in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly

 

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