Cate Blanchett 'started with the music' to create Tár

After scooping a fourth Golden Globe for her portrayal of a troubled conductor in Tár, Cate Blanchett has revealed the secret behind her performance: music. She plays a musical superstar whose carefully controlled life starts to unravel when secrets emerge about her past. In this exclusive interview with Yahoo UK, she talked about how she got to the heart of such a complicated character. Tár is in UK cinemas now

Video transcript

FREDA COOPER: How did you get to the heart of somebody as complex as Lydia though? I mean, did Todd have any advice for you on that?

CATE BLANCHETT: Todd didn't have any advice. Our conversations began very practically because, obviously, when I'm playing a maestro conductor who's also a pianist who's in the middle of trying to complete a major commission, a composition, and, you know, she's running a major cultural institution. Meanwhile, she's turning 50, so she's in the middle of a career and midlife crisis.

So there's a lot going to play, and you find out, and I don't want to give the film away. But there's so much of her past that she has tried to rewrite and eradicate, I think, to great personal cost.

So she's volcanic in a sense, but then she appears very still and in control, incredibly successful and in command on the surface. So there was so much to play with. But in the end, like Nina, I think I just started with the practical. I started with the piano. I started with the conducting, and we started with the music.

NINA HOSS: We had a lot to do.

CATE BLANCHETT: Yeah, we had a lot to do. And we had the Dresdner Philharmonie, who are amazing musicians and incredibly generous. So we had really good teachers.

FREDA COOPER: What was it about the film and about the character that meant it had to be her, it couldn't be anybody else?

TODD FIELD: I had met Kate years before, but I don't normally write for an actor. Of course, she didn't know I was writing it for her, and, had she said no, I probably wouldn't have made it.

FREDA COOPER: Nina, I know you've got a sort of musical background. Did that help with learning the violin? Presumably you had to learn it.

NINA HOSS: I mean, I do play the piano, so I can read music sheets and all of that, so that helped. And I've been working before with a wonderful teacher, [? Marie ?] [? Koga, ?] who is a brilliant violinist in her own right. And, while working on doing the homework, I learned so much about Sharon. You know, I learned so much about the orchestra, how it's set up, what my function is as a concertmaster

FREDA COOPER: It's not often that a studio will just come to you and say, write whatever you want.

TODD FIELD: Yeah, it was an incredible situation. That's never happened to me. I wrote it without there being any cinemas open on the planet. The whole world was locked down. I never thought this thing would see the light of day. I really didn't.