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Ross King: Why Cate Blanchett can’t wait to gather in the dark again with movie fans

© Maria Laura Antonelli/AGF/ShutteCate Blanchett.
Cate Blanchett.

I once took a wrong turn in Glasgow and walked down a street I could only describe as “Nightmare Alley”.

Well, things have changed for the better in my home town, but let’s just say it looked like something created by visionary Oscar-winning director, Guillermo del Toro.

If only Cate Blanchett had been there – she brightens up everything!

Del Toro is releasing a new film called Nightmare Alley which could be in line for some awards at this year’s Oscars, and joining Bradley Cooper in the movie is the absolutely wonderful Cate Blanchett.

Along with Meryl Streep I think if Blanchett is in a movie then I’m there; she could elevate a public information film about separating paper and plastic into a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned.

She plays Lilith in the movie, which is about a man called Stan (Cooper) who joins a weird and wonderful carnival. With the help of mysterious psychiatrist Lilith he tries to pull off the biggest con ever. It’s one of those movies you should see on the big screen, reckons Aussie star Cate.

“The one thing I missed, and we’re not out of the woods yet, in the epicentre of the pandemic, was gathering in the dark with strangers,” she said. “Because it adds to the experience when there are other people you don’t know reacting to what’s happening and you’re all joined in that experience.

“Guillermo is a singular filmmaking creature, there’s no one like him. But to see something that is unabashedly cinematic is something. You could feel it as we were making it.”

It’s safe to say the cast of colourful characters in Nightmare Alley makes even the Irn-Bru Carnival at the SEC every year look a wee bit tame.

And Cate is both alluring and sinister as Lilith, which is a role she relished.

“Guillermo talked a lot about the notion of a femme fatale and how he wasn’t making a film noir and there won’t be venetian blinds, we wouldn’t be playing with those tropes,” she added.

“But I think what he wanted from us was a more animalistic and truly ugly rendition to break through those tropes. But he still wanted to keep the ambiguity, mystery, mystique, the unknowability of a femme fatale.”

Blanchett also starred in the hit Netflix satire Don’t Look Up, which is about the relationship which has developed over the past couple of years with politicians, the media and the truth.

Nightmare Alley, Blanchett said, has that in common with Don’t Look Up; there’s something a bit deeper going on.

“I think that’s a global problem, our relationship with the truth,” she said. “Something the film deals with is when the liar starts to believe the lie.

“It’s that old Soviet thing, we’ve relegated it to the Soviet era but we’re absolutely living through it.

“As dark and as dangerous as Lilith is, she’s a seeker of the truth and she’s trying to draw it out.”