Thor: Ragnarok: Meet Cate Blanchett's Hela, the franchise's first female villain
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Cate Blanchett doesn’t really feel like she needs to explain her character Hela in Thor: Ragnarok — she’s the Goddess of Death. Quips the actress, “I think that’s where you put the period in the sentence, right? She arrives with a lot of baggage. She’s a little bit cross.”
Hela is more than “a little bit cross” as she is freed from her prison early in Ragnarok and causes all sorts of chaos befitting her name. “She’s been locked away for millennia, getting more and more cross, and then, with a mistake, she get unleashed and she ain’t getting back in that box,” says Blanchett.
Hela may be a monster, but Blanchett is a delight and clearly had a blast tapping into her dark side. EW talked to the two time Oscar-winner about playing Thor’s first female villain and making weapons out of her body.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you want to be part of this?
CATE BLANCHETT: Well let’s face it: as a woman, these opportunities have not in the past come up very frequently and I think there’s a revolution happening from within Marvel. I’ve seen so many of the Marvel franchises, particularly being the mother of four. They tend to be the only type of film particularly having young boys. But for me as an actor, this is separate is my desire to work with [director] Taika Waititi.
How did he sell you on this?
Well I had seen his vampire movie [What We Do in the Shadows] and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I was trying to get my head around the collision of his sensibility as a director and what had previously existed in the Thor franchise and I thought that’s going to be interesting to say the least and I thought it could produce an interesting combustible connection because tonally his work is so different from what previously existed. Obviously they wanted to do something fresh and different, which is always exciting.
What was it like working with Taika? What does he bring to this?
He’s sort of part sumo wrestler, part showgirl, part father you always wanted to have. He’s so nimble. I keep saying the word irreverent. He takes the work seriously but he doesn’t take himself seriously. So there’s music on set the whole time. There was hilarity but he knew every single time when to focus.
You’re Thor’s first female villain. Was that part of the appeal?
Can you believe it? Can you believe we’re having this conversation and it’s 2017 and we’re talking about the first female villain? It’s ridiculous. There’s so much untapped potential villainy in women. It’s really exciting. I think finally it’s beginning to be acknowledged that women and men want to see a diverse array of characters, and that’s race, gender across the sexual spectrum.
Did you go back and read the comics and look at old versions of Hela?
Oh yes. I mean, you gotta know the history of the character. And there are so many iterations of the origin story. For any of these characters, there’s never one origin story. But yes, it was really interesting to go back. Most of the time she was masked. So that’s what I really talked to the Marvel team and Taika about was when we would chose to have her masked and when she wouldn’t be masked.
And that headdress is more than just an accessory right?
Yeah. She’s able to manifest weapons. Her headdress can be weapons. She can manifest weapons out of different parts of her body. I won’t tell you which — I’ll leave that hanging.
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Hela comes in and sort of takes control of Asgard away from Loki, right?
Well, Asgard is so good. I mean one only need to have a mildly unpleasant thought and you’re considered evil. Everyone is too perfect. Why not mess it all up? It’s easy to play bad but, like when I was in Cinderella, like what makes the stepmother evil is interesting. So, it was trying to in the screen time I had to tease that stuff and to give her a journey really. So hopefully we’re given her a journey, like how you understand why Loki is as screwed up as he is. Hopefully, there’s that satisfaction in watching Hela.
Do you have fight scenes?
There’s a bit of wire work. I worked with the legend Zoe Bell (Grindhouse). I did as much as was humanly possible for a middle-aged mother of four [laughs]. I learned so much. All sorts of capoeira stuff. All the stunts and the fights were really interestingly choreographed. But I did train, ostensibly, so I wouldn’t injure myself.