Original-Cin Q&A: Cate Blanchett talks 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette', conflictedness, Richard Linklater and leaf blowers

Oscar winner Cate Blanchett gives yet another powerhouse performance in her latest film, Where’d You Go, Bernadette in theatres this Friday. 

Based on the best-selling novel by Maria Semple, the film stars Blanchett as Bernadette Fox, a woman who seems to have it all -- a beautiful home, a loving husband and a brilliant teenage daughter. However, when Bernadette suddenly disappears, her concerned family sets off on an exciting adventure to solve the mystery of where she might have gone.

Our Bonnie Laufer spoke with Cate Blanchett about the film and what is was that connected her to a character like Bernadette Fox. 

(You can watch Bonnie’s video interviews with director Richard Linklater,  and stars Emma Nelson, Troian Bellisario and Zoe Chao by clicking HERE).

Cate Blanchett is a runaway wife and mom in Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Cate Blanchett is a runaway wife and mom in Richard Linklater’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

ORIGINAL-CIN: Cate, another dynamite performance. There are a lot of levels to Bernadette Fox. How complicated was it to play someone like her? 

CATE BLANCHETT: “You know, it was a pleasure to get to play a character who is as conflicted and hidden from themselves as her. And her tongue is as sharp as a sword, she's got a rapier wit. 

“Then you are directed by Rick Linklater and there’s all of the character tropes from Maria Semples’ novel. It's delicious. I think  the challenge was  trying to balance the energetic push of Maria's writing with Richard Linklater's energy and focus. 

“He's desperately interested in the parent-child relationship and the husband-wife relationship and he really loved Bernadette. He felt like he had a very personal reason for wanting to make the film. But (the trick) was trying to sort of pull all of that energy and put it into the film that I was in.”

OC: I think I related to her way too much, more than I wanted to admit watching it. 

CB: “That’s okay.. there's no one listening here just you and me. Cone of silence.”

OC: Yeah, just between us gals. I wanted to know after playing her, or even after just reading the script for the first time, how much did you connect with her? 

CB:  “I connected with her in the book. I was immediately drawn to this woman when I read the novel.  

“Maria takes these things that we all feel, a sense of inadequacy, a sense of being judged or not wanting to look at ourselves and so we push our problems away. I think we can all relate to that and she pushes it to an extreme. 

“But you know, I deeply connected with the mother-daughter relationship. You can connect to how it is when you have children and you have careers and how your marriage can go into a parallel path. There’s a lot in there for families to really draw from.”

OC: Let's talk about Emma Nelson who plays your daughter Bee. Richard Linklater  has this amazing ability to cast young unknown talent like Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck, for example, who go on to become stars. I can’t even believe that this was her first film. 

CB: “Yes, she is wonderful and very confident.  It’s always the first day of school whether you have made 20 films or no films. Emma has a great sense of self possession and she's really bright and her connection to the text is really instinctive and intelligent. Plus, she was so easy and so unpretentious, like she was not fazed by anything.  

“She could talk to anybody. It didn't matter what department they were in or who they were.  It was literally like sitting on the school bench, you know, in the schoolyard having lunch with her. She wasn't fazed by the exposure of it which was wonderful.”

OC:There’s no doubt that we all have breaking points. What's yours? 

CB:  “Oh I don’t. Of course I don't! ( laughs) My breaking point was reached about 10 years ago when the earth reached its breaking point with climate change I think. 

“But you mean personal breaking point?”

OC: Sure, we all have them! What sets you off? 

CB:  “Well, I fly into what I think are rational rages. But other people might think they were irrational. 

“However, if you really want to know what sets me off, it’s leaf blowers!  If I see a leaf blower I go from naught to a thousand! 

“It's all that is wrong with the human race. They drive me nuts. I'm like a barking dog going, ‘Look, squirrel!’…. IF I see or hear a leaf blower that's it, I'm gone for the rest of the afternoon.”