Cate Blanchett can be forgiven for not knowing that Drew Barrymore wants to eat her.
This story first appeared in the February 15, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The two-time Oscar winning actress is currently appearing on Broadway in an adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Present,” and her schedule is punishing. The actress has nine performances weekly, each clocking in at almost three hours, which doesn’t leave much time to catch E News, where Barrymore, promoting her new Netflix series about a suburban mom who becomes a cannibal, proclaimed Blanchett to be the person she’d most like to eat “because she’s like the most amazing woman ever.”
Blanchett laughs a deep throaty laugh when she hears the story, and immediately gives the love right back. “She’s an angel, a very talented angel.” But the actress — who today is conducting interviews with international beauty editors in her role as the face of Giorgio Armani’s Si fragrance before heading to the theater for her evening performance — has been avidly following the political news during her time in New York.
In January, for example, she joined the The Ghostlight Project’s protest march on Broadway, wearing a pink knit “pussy” hat, and while she couldn’t attend the Women’s March on Washington because of her performance schedule (“I was there in spirit,” she says), she hasn’t been reticent about speaking her mind.
“When Elizabeth Warren is told that she can not speak in the Senate, they are dark days,” says Blanchett. “I don’t know what century I’m in. I thought that the equal pay for equal work conversation was boring and reactionary enough, but this is deeply shocking. We have the choice now to evolve as a species and part of that is finally getting rid of the shocking inequalities that exist not only between the genders but the wealth divide.”
Blanchett’s relationship with Armani has been a longstanding one — she likes to tell the story of running out to buy an Armani suit after getting her first acting paycheck and is quick to note that she still owns it (“his clothes don’t date”) — due in part to his espousal of gender equality. “He was one of the first designers to really unlock the complexity of the female aesthetic. He liberated women from the need to wear traditionally feminine clothes or traditionally sexy clothes,” says Blanchett. “There is a kind of Eastern simplicity, and also an Eastern mélange of the opposites that exist in his designs — you’ve got the masculine with the feminine and the soft with the hard.
“He is interested in all of those dualities,” she continues, “and when he was creating Si he wanted all of those complexities and dualities to exist.” It is a message that has resonated. Industry sources estimate that Si, which is currently launching its second flanker called Rose Signature, has reached retail sales of $80 million in the U.S. since launching in 2014.
Sitting in the Presidential Suite on the 53rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Blanchett, wearing a navy Armani trouser suit, has a commanding view of New York City and Central Park. When asked if she’s enjoyed working in New York, she gives a brief hesitation. “It’s very confronting at the moment, for sure, but it’s a great city,” she says.
While she’s performed in New York before, “The Present” marks her Broadway debut. As for what’s next to tick off on the bucket list? Blanchett reels off a list of directors she’d like to work with, including Thomas Ostermeier, Julian Rosefeldt (who directed her in the one-woman multiscreen film installation, “Manifesto”) and Andrea Arnold. “And I’d also like to finally get some chickens in my chicken coop,” she adds. “So there is a lot to do.”