Cate Blanchett in ‘Cinderella’

It’s time for another delicious villian from Cate Blanchett. The Wicked Stepmother in ‘Cinderella,’ the 2015 live action Disney remake, directed by Kenneth Branagh. For this conversation Murtada Elfadl welcomes writer and podcaster Manish Mathur, host of It Pod To You and Queer and Now podcasts.

Click to listen:

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What is the film about?

From Wikipedia: After her father unexpectedly dies, young Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters, who reduce her to scullery maid. Despite her circumstances, she refuses to despair. An invitation to a palace ball gives Ella hope that she might reunite with the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she met in the woods, but her stepmother prevents her from going. Help arrives in the form of a kindly beggar woman who has a magic touch for ordinary things.

Who does Cate play?

The Wicked Stepmother, Lady Tremaine.

How is Cate introduced?

 9 minutes in – Lucifer the cat on a leach, “how charming how perfectly charming.”

What year did it come out?

2015 / it was her follow up to Blue Jasmine. Premiered at the berlin film festival

Box Office: Domestic = $9.1MM Int’l = $1.8MM

Critical Response: Metacritic : 67  RT: 83

Topics discussed:

  • Cate gives psychological depth to a usually cartoonish villain – but also hits the high comic notes.
  • Cate talked of being having thought of Joan Crawford and that’s certainly apparent in the hair / costumes and performance 
  • “Have courage and be kind.” It’s hard to play good and kind, but Lily James manages it “they treat me as well as they are able.”
  • The script is fun in dramatizing the story beats we all know, e.g. Cinders being banished to the attic comes as a sweet suggestion to give her bigger room to the step sisters. Or how she meets the prince.
  • The film has a romantic sweep and the visuals look. 
  • Manish’s favorite Cate co-star is Sarah Paulson IRL. Fun conversation about their freindship.
  • The Berlinale premiere and this cute moment:
Cate Blanchett fixing Lily James’ dress at the Cinderella premiere at the Berlinale in February 2015

What reviews said of film / Cate:

“As so often with Disney films, this one is owned by its villain. Cate Blanchett, jaw-dropping in an Easter Parade’s worth of amazing costumes (that 2016 Oscar should just be wrapped up and mailed to Sandy Powell now), is the ace up the film’s fitted satin sleeve. Striking catlike poses and oozing poison when required, she is also given a little humanity, including a surprisingly dorky, vulgar laugh that suggests just how studied and artificial her elegance is. One scene in which she tells her life story like she’s the heroine of a “once upon a time” tale, does in two minutes what “Maleficent” couldn’t do in two hours: it helps us understand her character’s brokenness without declawing her one bit.” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist.

Enter Cate Blanchett in a delirious swirl of candy-colored evil. As Ella’s wicked stepmother, Blanchett is nasty perfection from her blood red lips to her baroque Sandy Powell-designed gowns. She’s like a cross between Coco Chanel and Norma Desmond, and she smartly plays her harpiedom to the back row of the theater. The fizzy cocktail combination of Blanchett’s cartoonish hauteur and Branagh’s visual razzle-dazzle and confectionary sets (courtesy of the legendary Dante Ferretti) manages to take a tale as wheezy as Cinderella and make it feel almost magical again.”Chris Nashawaty, EW.

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