Her role as Jasmine Francis, the brittle Park Avenue princess fallen on hard times, would go on to win Blanchett a second Oscar. But the experience of shooting it was no bed of roses. She describes Woody Allen’s directing style as one of “benign neglect”, although it doesn’t sound altogether benign to me. “The first day was brutal,” she recalls. “He came up to me and said, ‘This is awful and you’re awful.’ As if he were talking about someone else, some other actress, and that maybe I could go and have a word with her. And then three weeks later it turned out that he didn’t like the costumes, he didn’t like the locations, he didn’t like the scene. He said, ‘You’ve got to help me rescue this movie.’”
The trick, she decided, was to take charge of the situation; to bombard the director with questions. “I realised I had to demand things from him. And sometimes he would look at me just bewildered. But I’m not particularly needy. A lot of times, actors ask questions and what they’re really asking is, ‘Was I good? Did you like me?’ But my questions were all technical. ‘Should I stand here? Should I say it that way?’ And he would answer my questions maybe half of the time.”
What about the other half? “The other half he didn’t hear me.” She laughs. “Or he was pretending not to hear me.”
Allen turns 80 on December 1st. (One of his adopted daughters turns 17 the same month.)
There are a few directors who made movies into extreme old age. Manoel de Oliveira directed his last movie at 106. And Allen's father was over 100 when he died and had a job when he was in his 90's; His mother was in her 90's when she died. I figured Allen would keep going into his 90s.