Sony Pictures Classics releases Blue Jasmine nationwide on July 26th, 2013.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Cate, how did you find out that Woody Allen wanted you for this movie, and how did you approach it?
Cate Blachett: I got a call from my agent saying that Woody had a script he’d like me to read and so we spoke — he and I spoke — for about 25 minutes. He said, “Can I send it to you?” I said, “I’d love to read it.” He said, “Well, call me when you’ve finished.” I read it straight away. It’s a script you do read straight away, and it was brilliant. He’s a brilliant dramatist, apart from being a unique filmmaker. We spoke for another 45 seconds, and we agreed to do the film together, and then I saw him at the camera tests in San Francisco. I don’t know what you guys think but so much of Woody’s direction is in the script itself. He says he likes to get out of the way.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What sort of research did you do on your character in Blue Jasmine? Whom or what did you draw inspiration from to better grasp the character of Jasmine?
LL: It's a very contemporary, apt fable for the moment. That’s a thing of Woody’s. He’s only catering to the zeitgeist — who hasn’t followed the [Bernie] Madoff affair and the epic nature of that catastrophe, but also catastrophes like it? There’s thousands of them, thousands of stories. But also, there’s a strong line in American drama of women who walk the border between fantasy and reality. Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” But, in the end, those are reference points to be drawn upon, which I certainly did, but Woody has such a particular rhythm and take on the universe, that in the end, you’re in a Woody Allen film. He’s created some of the most iconic characters on screen. In the end, you just have to play that. And he cast it so weirdly! His casts are always so interesting. In the end, you’ve got to bounce off the other actors.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Peter, how did your role come to you?
Peter Sarsgaard: Strangely, there was this guy that I knew that I was researching for a role that had gone missing in the woods and had died. And I came back the next day, from looking for him, got this call that said that Woody Allen wants to meet you today or tomorrow. It was an urgent feeling. So I went down, and I talked to him for about 45 seconds. He asked me what I was doing over the summer. And I said I was having a baby, and he said, ‘Would you like to do a movie?” And I said, “Sure.” I didn’t even know what it was. And he sent me my parts. I read them. Then he sent me a formal letter, and I saw him first day on set. For me, it was like there was so much that I was seeing. This woman seemed like she had so much going on. I was seeing someone who looked like they were really on the edge, yet at the same time I’m playing somebody who’s interested in her for some reasons that are not totally deep.So in a lot of ways, the lack of information made me play the character in a certain way. I had to play someone who was not interested in reality, because the reality was that this woman looked like she needed medical help some of the time. If there is my character's need to have a partner, a person stand next to me on a red carpet, a kind of first lady, she seemed perfect for that, is strong enough, then it all gets kind of justified. So you end up playing your character, or at least I did, in a kind of reverse order. Things start adding up. You go, “I have to deal with that, and I can’t see that, or I have to see that, and put it over here.” It starts defining who you are. I think that Woody picks up on something that’s in you that you can’t change when he casts you. And he knows that’s going to automatically be there. I have no idea what it was with me. I just felt lucky to be a part of it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did The Perks of Being a Wallflower? affect your career so far?
LL: It opened up a lot of doors for me to work with filmmakers that I appreciate. It's been a nice stepping stone and got Darren Aronofsky's attention to cast me as Noah's son in the upcoming Noah. That was a dream because I'm a big fan of Darren Aronofsky.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Andrew and Cate, what are character’s definition of class, since that is a point of contention between the two of them in Blue Jasmine?
Andrew Dice Clay: I didn’t like Cate’s character too much because I hate the rich. I hate ‘em on film and I hate ‘em in reality. I lived for a long time in Beverly Hills, and I’m from Brooklyn, and when you talk to people with old money, it’s like you’re an insect to them. So the way she played her character was so perfect, I just hated her as that character. She’s great. I actually couldn’t believe I was working with any them, but she played it just perfect. I had a neighbor just like her in Beverly Hills. I had such hatred for this woman that when I had to dialogue with Cate, that’s all I could think about. That’s how those people are. Anybody, what they call “new money,” they have no respect for those people that come from blue collar, that work their ass off. And Louis C.K. also comes from that kind of family, where you break your ass off and try to accomplish in life. And when you come from certain families that maybe things were just handed down to you, like Coca-Cola, you don’t have to work too hard, and you look at anybody who didn’t come from that kind of class like garbage. That’s how it got into my head.
CB: That’s interesting. Jasmine obviously fought your character. I think the interesting thing about the level of delusion and fantasy that exists with Ginger as well as Jasmine is that they were adopted into a pretty lower middle-class family. Jeanette changed her named to Jasmine, and there began the fiction. She set about creating a fantasy world and inhabiting that idea of the princess.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Cate, where in the spectrum of pessimism versus optimism do you find yourselves? And if Blue Jasmine were recast with actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, who would you imagine as Jasmine?
CB: So who could have done it better? Many could have done it better. I was going to say I was optimistic but now I’m probably pessimistic.
LL: I just want to say one thing about optimism and pessimism – it’s interesting, I was having a conversation with my kids about it – you know, they say that pessimists see the glass as half empty and the optimists see the glass as half full, and my kids and I figured out that there’s a third kind of person, and I don’t know what you call them, but it’s somebody who sees that the glass is always full because it’s half filled with water and half full with nothing. That’s the third kind of person.