Bafta winner Cate Blanchett thanks makers of Tar for ‘holding their nerve’

Cate Blanchett called her performance in Tar “very dangerous and career ending” as she accepted the leading actress Bafta.

The Australian actress, 53, plays conductor Lydia Tar, who is a complicated genius who faces accusations in the psychological drama.

She thanked the producers for “holding their nerve” in making the film.

Blanchett told the Baftas ceremony on Sunday she “didn’t prepare anything” for her “extraordinary” win.

She added: “It’s been such an extraordinary year for women, as you’ve seen in those clips, all of my fellow nominees, the conversation with all of you off the screen and on the screen has been nothing short of remarkable and we know that we’re just the tip of the iceberg.

“Every year there’s idiosyncratic, remarkable performances just breaking down the myth that women’s experience is monolithic.

“So thank you to Bafta for recognising all of us, we sit in dialogue with one another.”

Blanchett beat Viola Davis in The Woman King, Danielle Deadwyler in Till, Ana De Armas in Blonde, Emma Thompson in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once to secure the win for Tar.

She also thanked Universal Pictures-based Focus Features “for being such extraordinary partners (as) this was a very dangerous and career ending, potentially, undertaking, and so thanks for holding the nerve”.

Tearfully, she added: “Thank you for everybody… it does take an army but this really does belong in part of my family, thank you so much for letting me go because this… it did take a lot and it took me away from you.

“Thank you to my mum for holding the fort and my four extraordinary children, and another man who I also love deeply but I’m not married to is (writer and director) Todd Field – I would not be standing here without you.

“You (and) every single person on set without saying it, you said check your ego at the door and let’s attempt to make something magnificent, and for that I thank you, it’s changed my life.”

Speaking afterwards in the winners’ room, Blanchett added: “The character couldn’t be further away from my own experience, but perhaps where I deeply connected with her circumstance, she’s more than a character.”

She added that Tar is “coming to the end” of her teaching and artistic cycle “and she’s about to hit 50, I’ve moved beyond 50”.

“I feel like… coming out of the pandemic, there are certain changes, creatively and personally… the only opportunity out of that devastating event is to make changes that you’ve been wanting to make for a long time.”

She added that it was “painful” being apart from husband Andrew Upton and three of her children, as a daughter was with her during filming in Berlin.

43rd London Critics’ Circle Film Awards – London
Cate Blanchett with Todd Field (Ian West/PA)

Although the film has been widely praised for Blanchett’s performance, American conductor Marin Alsop, 66, told the Sunday Times that the character “offended” her as a woman, a conductor and a lesbian.

Alsop added that her main issue was the portrayal of women as leaders, saying: “To have an opportunity to portray a woman in that role and to make her an abuser? For me that was heartbreaking.

“I think all feminists should be bothered by that kind of depiction, because it’s not really about conductors, is it? It’s about women as leaders in our society.”

She also said that “so many superficial aspects of Tar seemed to align with my own personal life”, including being a lesbian married to an orchestral musician and that she does lectures at prestigious music colleges.

Blanchett previously told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she had the “utmost respect” for the “trailblazer of a musician and a conductor”.

The actress added: “It’s a very provocative film and it will elicit a lot of very strong responses for people.”

Responding to Alsop’s criticism that there are “many actual, documented men” that the film could have been based on, and that it felt “anti-woman”, Blanchett added: “She’s entitled to her opinion, absolutely. But it’s a meditation on power and power is genderless.”

Blanchett won leading actress previously for Blue Jasmine in 2016 and actress in a leading role in 1999 for Elizabeth.

She also took home actress in a supporting role for The Aviator in 2005.