Woody Allen’s latest picture is unlike anything he’s done before. Instead of the average rom-com, Blue Jasmine gives us a glimpse into the life of New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett). Her life gets ripped apart as she goes through a divorce with wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), her only life raft is her adoptive sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).
Jasmine struggles with her fragile mental state, consuming cocktails and anti-depressants. However, when a wealthy diplomat (Peter Sarsgaard) enters the picture, Jasmine’s life seems to brighten up. That is, until her past is revealed and she becomes an instrument in her own downfall.
At a recent press junket, Blanchett, Sarsgaard and Andrew Dice Clay (who plays the role of Augie) talked about their roles, New York socialites, working with Woody Allen and more. Keep reading to find out what they had to say!
Q: In general, how do you approach a role, specifically for this project?
Cate Blanchett: I don’t have a particular process. I think the material, the director, the other actors reveal what you need to do. Woody [Allen] was very much about it being alive. The material is so dense. We talked a lot about back-story and how that could inform the subtext. But it was fascinating to play different aspects of Jasmine, because with different people, she was an entirely different person.
Peter Sarsgaard: I had no idea what was going on. I don’t regret my small part, which is completely isolated from the rest of the story. I thought Cate’s [Blanchett’s] character had gone insane, and my job was to help her.
Q: What was your research process into New York socialites who have fallen from grace?
CB: Woody [Allen] didn’t specifically base it on anyone, but there are many stories like these. And Woody’s characters are so beautifully drawn in the writing. That’s where the majority of directing happens.
Q: What about playing someone who is suffering from mental illness? Did you do any research on that?
CB: Yes, obviously I’m not so method that I went and took Xanax every night. It’s amazing the things you find on YouTube. It was important for me to chart through when she’d taken a Xanax, how many she’d taken and if she had mixed it with alcohol, what the physical and mental effects would be.
Q: What was your reaction to hearing Woody Allen wanted to meet you?
PS: I had met him once before, so I knew what the meeting was going to be like, a little bit like an X-ray. He was incredibly affable and he said, “So we’re doing this film this summer, and there’s a part we think you might be right for, are you doing anything?” and I said, “I’m having a baby” because my wife was very pregnant at the time, and he said, “Are you doing anything else?” He said it wasn’t going to take much time, so the pages were sent to my house. As I read, I knew I was going to do this. I’ve always wanted to be in a Woody Allen film.
Q: Looking at all the female characters Woody’s films have revolved around, I was expecting Jasmine to emerge victoriously and turn her life around. When you saw where you were by the end of the script, did that surprise you?
CB: Yes, I found the whole story surprising and then, not surprising at all, considering what’s happening to people, psychologically and financially these days. I was in New York the other day, and I saw a well-heeled woman babbling to herself; it’s probably something that Woody sees a lot living in the city.
Q: Did you relate to each other’s character or your own?
Andrew Dice Clay: I did in a lot of ways, and I love Woody’s writing because he sets my character as a really bad guy, and by the end of the movie you realize this is a good guy who got destroyed by Jasmine and her husband. And what was great about Cate’s [Blanchett’s] character is that you see people like that all the time, babbling to themselves, and you think: how does that happen?
Q: What specifically drove you to the role? And what kind of character direction did you receive from Woody [Allen]?
CB: I’m sure we’re all the same. When you get a call from Woody, you take it. And you’ve already said “yes” before you know what it is, and of course his films are no less than fascinating. I’d given up hope of ever working with him; I just thought he wasn’t interested. The minute I read the script, it was fantastic and impeccably structured. It’s absurd and tragic, often simultaneously. I had heard that he was monosyllabic, at best, when it came to the directions he gave actors. But I found when I asked questions, he responded [as] if the questions were interesting and if they weren’t, he’d have me off and go back to his Blackberry. But he was great and forthcoming.
Blue Jasmine releases in theaters on Friday, July 26 in New York and Los Angeles.
New York theater locations include: Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, Angelika Film Center 6, BAM Harvey Theater - Brooklyn and Cinemas 1, 2, 3.
Los Angeles theater locations include: The Landmark and Arclight Hollywood.
For ticketing information, click here.
Visit the Blue Jasmine official Facebook page here.
Visit the Blue Jasmine official website here.