BY DONNA FREYDKIN
It's a walk to remember.
To play legendary news anchor Dan Rather, Robert Redford nailed his gait, a sort-of shuffle with shoulders slightly hunched.
"That's what Mary said," exclaims Blanchett.
Color Redford not impressed -- with himself.
"That's your job as an actor. But don't go into arm-waving or extreme stuff. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But the challenge was exciting. With Dan, one of the things that impressed, is that he's almost this old-fashioned person with his dignity and politeness. How do you apply that without going too far, so it seems like you're doing a caricature? You're looking at the history of people. Dan had to rise up. He had to work hard," says Redford. "I can relate to being an outsider. The story is told from Mary's point of view and Cate embodies that."
As Mapes, Blanchett is Rather's producer, his sounding board, his protector, and the very vocal yin to his more reserved yang in "Truth," out today.
In the drama, fwritten and directed by James Vanderbilt, Blanchett's Mapes is the backbone of news stalwart '6o Minutes,' but loses her career in the fallout following the show's report that former President George W. Bush had preferential treatment during the Vietnam war.
Documents purporting that Bush avoided combat duty couldn't be verified, and Mapes was fired by CBS in 2005; Rather retired shortly thereafter. The movie is based on Mapes' memoir, "Truth and Duty: The Press, The President And The Privilege Of Power."
"Mary is very type A. She's front-footed. She's ambitious. She's profoundly sensitive and meticulously organized -- many things I am not," says Blanchett, who has won two Oscars, for 2004's "The Aviator" and 2013's "Blue Jasmine."
The film, along with "Spotlight," shows the slog of journalism, the endless calls and interviews and rejections and sources it takes to get a major story done. Today, in-depth coverage of a story has been largely usurped by clickbait headlines, as editorial budgets are slashed and staffs face ongoing cuts.
"Life changes. It evolves. It's inevitable. But every now and then, you want to reflect on what we've lost, what's worth salvaging. I think there's been a great demise in investigative journalism. There's no time to digest. That's something the film does capture, the pressure and the time constraints around putting out a story as complicated as this one," says Blanchett. "Truth exists in context. What has changed, since 2004, with the caption news -- if we exist in the caption news world only, it's only not interesting, it's destructive."
Redford played legendary newsman Bob Woodward in the 1976 classic "All the President's Men," about Watergate. How things have changed. Now, a basketball player's overdose in a Nevada brothel is the story dominating headlines.
"I felt privileged to be able to document the high point of journalism. I never dreamed it would slide down so quickly," says Redford, commenting on the general state of news today.
He doesn't fixate on what critics say, saying he wants his films to live or die on their own merit.
"I'm going to do the work and maybe the work will stand on its own and maybe eventually it won't be about criticism of the work in that moment, but over time it will accumulate either interest or not," says Redford.
Staying sane means never Googling yourself -- a lesson Mapes learns the hard way when she goes online in the wake of the document scandal and is horrified by the level of vitriol directed at her.
"I read what's written about Bob but not me," jokes Blanchett. "There's a difference between constructive criticism, which I welcome, and bias and hype."
Blanchett is ambitious, and she's particular, but she's also witty, easygoing and relaxed. She's the face of skincare brand SK-II, of Giorgio Armani's Si fragrance, and the star of this year's other talked-about drama, "Carol," about a young photographer's relationship with an older married woman. She once showed this writer one of her tattoos in the ladies' room, during an awards party in Los Angeles. She's that kind of cool.
"I don't know if I'm driven. I have four children. I'm probably a perfectionist and I'm deeply curious about things. But I can also leave it behind. I have a very rich life outside that stuff," says Blanchett.
Adds Redford: "She does. I was witness to that when I went to Australia. She's able to balance that out and totally be involved in both worlds. She's busy."