Cate Blanchett: Why 'we’re not going back to ground zero’ on women’s rights

Cate Blanchett has been to the Cannes Film Festival in various capacities since 1997, but this year she assumes a far weightier role as president of the jury — an honor made even more significant in that it’s only the 12th time a woman has filled that seat. The glaring gender gap is not lost on Blanchett. Nor is the fact that in the festival’s seven-decade history, “The Piano” director Jane Campion is the only woman to have ever won the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Blanchett remembers being appalled to see Campion, who presided over the jury in 2014, conspicuously standing on the Palais stage at Cannes’ 50th-anniversary ceremony surrounded by an all-male coterie of auteurs who had also taken home the festival’s most coveted prize.

“Sometimes, things have to get that bad and that stark for us to say, ‘Hang on a minute. There’s something wrong — literally — with this picture,’” says Blanchett.

In a frank, wide-ranging interview with Variety, the two-time Oscar-winning actress of “Blue Jasmine” and “The Aviator” speaks candidly about the chronic suppression of women and the lack of opportunities they’ve endured. She believes that positive, irreversible strides are being made toward real change in an industry long known for male entitlement and domination. “We’re not going back to ground zero,” vows Blanchett, who’s among many high-profile women in Hollywood supporting the Time’s Up initiative. “This conversation has been had by so many individual women in isolated places for decades. What is different now is the collective, cross-industry nature of this movement.” At the same, she stresses that there’s still much to be done to level the playing field, be that on set, on-screen or in executive suites.

See photos of Cate Blanchett:

37 PHOTOS
Cate Blanchett
See Gallery
Cate Blanchett
SYDNEY - NOVEMBER 01: AUSTRALIAN ACTRESS CATE BLANCHETT AT THE 1999 BELVIOUR ST THEATRE SEASON LAUNCH IN SYDNEY. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images).
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Cate Blanchett arrives at the Australian premiere of Disney's Cinderella at the State Theatre on March 15, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 01: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the premiere of 'Cinderella' at the El Capitan Theatre on March 1, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
SYDNEY - MARCH 01: AUSTRALIAN ACTRESS CATE BLANCHETT AND AARON PEDERSEN AT HEARTLAND LAUNCH IN SYDNEY. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images).
SYDNEY - MARCH 01: AUSTRALIAN ACTRESS CATE BLANCHETT, SHANE O'CONNOR AND AARON PEDERSEN AT HEARTLAND LAUNCH IN SYDNEY. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images).
SYDNEY - MARCH 01: AUSTRALIAN ACTRESS CATE BLANCHETT AND GUEST AT THE SYDNEY CRITICS AWARDS 1994 IN SYDNEY. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images).
383425 05: Actresses Cate Blanchett, left, and Hilary Swank arrive at the premiere of Paramount Classics'' 'The Gift' December 18, 2000 at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Liaison)
BERLIN - FEBRUARY 7: Actress Cate Blanchett, very pregnant, attends the news conference to 'The Missing' at the 54th annual Berlinale International Film Festival February 7, 2004 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 8: (L to R) Actor Cate Blanchett and Bernie Guerin attend the Los Angeles film premiere of 'Veronica Guerin' at the Bruin Theatre on October 8, 2003 in Westwood, California. The film 'Veronica Guerin' opens nationwide on October 17, 2003 (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Australian actress Cate Blanchett poses as she arrives to attend the screening of US director Steven Spielberg's film 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' at the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 18, 2008 in Cannes, southern France. The world premiere of the latest instalment in the 'Indiana Jones' saga, the first in 19 years, is the hottest ticket at this year's Cannes film festival. AFP PHOTO / Valery Hache (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Australian actress Cate Blanchett leaves the Festival Palace after attending the screening of US director Steven Spielberg's film 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' at the 61st Cannes International Film Festival on May 18, 2008 in Cannes, southern France. The world premiere of the latest instalment in the 'Indiana Jones' saga, the first in 19 years, is the hottest ticket at this year's Cannes film festival. AFP PHOTO / Valery Hache (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Cate Blanchett attends the 'Blue Jasmine' New York Premiere at the Museum of Modern Art on July 22, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 20: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the premiere of 'Blue Jasmine' hosted by Sony Picture Classics on July 24, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 16: Actress Cate Blanchett accepts the Best Actress award for 'Blue Jasmine' onstage during the 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at Barker Hangar on January 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actress Cate Blanchett celebrates winning Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama for 'Blue Jasmine' in the press room during the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, January 12, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Actress's Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara attend the Moet & Chandon Lounge at The 2014 Santa Barbara International Film Festival at The Arlington Theater on February 1, 2014 in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon)
SANTA MONICA, CA - MARCH 01: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on March 1, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett accepts the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role award for 'Blue Jasmine' onstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actresses Cate Blanchett (L) and Jennifer Lawrence attend the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Cate Blanchett attends the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
French actress Adele Exarchopoulos and US actor Logan Lerman (L) pose with Australian actress Cate Blanchett (C) after receiving the Trophee Chopard during the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 15, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET (Photo credit should read JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Cate Blanchett attends the 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Australian actress Cate Blanchett smiles during a press conference for the animated film 'Dragon 2' at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 09: Cate Blanchett attends the 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' Australian premiere at Event Cinemas George Street on June 9, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: Actress Cate Blanchett attends Women In Film 2014 Crystal + Lucy Awards presented by MaxMara, BMW, Perrier-Jouet and South Coast Plaza held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on June 11, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Women In Film / MaxMara)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' premiere during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Cate Blanchett attended the official opening of the “Timeless Portofino” exhibition with photographs by Peter Lindbergh of brand ambassadors wearing IWC’s new Portofino midsize watches at the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) on September 27, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for IWC)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Cate Blanchett attended the exclusive IWC Gala Dinner “Timeless Portofino” hosted by IWC CEO Georges Kern at the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) on September 27, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for IWC)
Australian actress Cate Blanchett poses for photographers on the red carpet prior to the screening of the film 'Cinderella' presented in competition of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin, on February 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Australian actress Cate Blanchett poses for photographers on the red carpet prior to the screening of the film 'Cinderella' presented in competition of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin, on February 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Australian actress Cate Blanchett (L) and British actress Lily James pose for photographers on the red carpet prior to the screening of the film 'Cinderella' presented in competition of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin, on February 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Actress Cate Blanchett arrives on the red carpet for the 87th Oscars February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Producer John Lesher (L) and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (R) accept Best Feature for 'Birdman' from actress Cate Blanchett (C) onstage during the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Actress Cate Blanchett speaks onstage during the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Actress Cate Blanchett speaks onstage during the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Blanchett, 48, assails the industry’s egregious pay inequities, and reveals for the first time that she, like other top actresses — Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Claire Foy among them — has been denied compensation commensurate with that of her male counterparts. “It’s a huge issue. Show me one industry that has equal pay for equal work,” she says.

Also a first: Blanchett divulges her disdain for Harvey Weinstein, who she volunteers was an unwanted producer on several of her movies, including Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” which debuted in Cannes three years ago and starred Blanchett and Rooney Mara as forbidden lovers in the 1950s.

When asked point blank if Weinstein ever sexually harassed or was in any way inappropriate with her, Blanchett doesn’t flinch: “Yes.” As for another previous collaborator, Woody Allen, she says that if Dylan Farrow’s case against her father on allegations of sexual abuse was to be reopened, she’d fully support it.

Blanchett is a truth teller and seeker. She says she likes to listen more than talk, but when she does she’s straightforward, seemingly incapable of not speaking her mind. She makes no apologies for being self-critical and self-doubting. “I’m never happy … I think in a good way. When I say I’m restless, I think it’s in that Martha Graham kind of divine restless impatience to constantly be moving and looking for the fault in what you’ve done previously. … I’ve learnt far more from my failures than I have from any success I had.”

An Australian native who now lives outside London with her husband and their four children, Blanchett has passions that reach far beyond Hollywood’s borders. Days after our interview, the actress, who was named a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2016, went to Bangladesh to visit refugee camps, health clinics and a women’s center. She has also gone on missions to Lebanon and Jordan to meet with refugees and stateless people who have been displaced by the Syrian conflict.

Describing herself as “intensely curious,” Blanchett obsessively tries to figure out what makes somebody tick, be it a character she’s portraying or a stranger she meets in an airport.

So what makes you tick?
Being in dialogue with people who are more interesting, better, more engaged, who don’t necessarily think like I think. I’m constantly interested in opening unexpected, invisible doors that I hadn’t seen. When you pick up a book that someone has recommended to you, or you see an exhibition, or you hear the story of someone’s experience. I was in Atlanta recently, and I stumbled upon a doctor who started talking to me about the high incidence of child trafficking that goes through Atlanta because of the international airport. Once that door had been opened, I can’t shut that door now.

Are you politically minded?
I don’t see how you can’t be at the moment. I think it’s coming at us from all sides, really, and a lot of what’s happening is not really party political. It feels like it’s about the loss of civility or the threats upon our moral backbone. Sometimes cultures have to bottom out. We have to get to rock bottom before change can happen. I feel really positive about the inevitable, positive moves toward equality in the face of a lot of fear and adversity.

Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein:

35 PHOTOS
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault
See Gallery
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault
Kadian Noble, has filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein in New York federal court accusing the movie producer of sex trafficking by inviting her to a hotel room in France and sexually assaulting her.
Paz de la Huerta, who stars on HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire,' claims Harvey Weinstein raped her on two separate occasions in 2010: "I was in no state. I was so terrified of him," she told Vanity Fair. "I did say no, and when he was on top of me, I said, 'I don't want to do this' ... It was disgusting. He's like a pig."
British actress Lysette Anthony has publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in her home in the late 1980s.
Amber Anderson said Harvey Weinstein 'behaved inappropriately' and bragged about other actresses he had 'helped' in exchange for sexual favors.
Natassia Malthe has accused Weinstein of raping her in a hotel room. On a separate occasion, after she was assured that Weinstein would not come onto her, she was allegedly escorted to Weinstein's hotel room by an assistant. In the room was another woman, who performed oral sex on Weinstein whil he asked Malthe to join.
Lupita Nyong'o wrote a detailed essay for the New York Times recounting multiple incidents with Weinstein, including an evening during which he asked her to give him a nude massage while his family was in the same home.
Marisa Coughlan said that she planned to meet Weinstein for a meeting at his hotel. Instead, he requested a massage.

Heather Graham said Weinstein told her he had an agreement with his wife that allowed him to sleep with whomever he wants. He then asked him to meet her to discuss a film project at his hotel, falsely telling her that her friend would also be present. She declined.

French actress Judith Godreche has accused Weinstein of inappropriately pressing up against her, trying to remove her sweater and asking for a massage.

Lauren Holly said that during a seemingly normal meeting with Weinstein to discuss a project, he began disrobing, got into the shower, and went to the bathroom while continuing to converse with her. He then allegedly asked her for a massage. She fled. 
Angie Everhart said that she was sleeping in her own cabin on a yacht when Harvey Weinstein entered, blocked the door and began masturbating. He told her not to tell anyone, but she "told everyone," including many actors and producers. In response, most told her that it was just Harvey being Harvey. In an interview with TMZ, she emphasized that anyone in the industry who knew Harvey at all knew that he regularly did things like what he allegedly did to her.
Kate Beckinsale has accused Harvey Weinstein of coming onto her in his hotel room when she was 17 years old.
Tara Subkoff said that in the 1990s, on the same day that she was offered a major movie role, she met Harvey Weinstein at a party. He allegedly made her sit on his lap while he had an erection. He then told her that if he did not do certain sexual things, she would not get the role that she'd already been offered. She declined. Afterward, she said, her "reputation was ruined by false gossip" and she found it near impossible to book roles.
Minka Kelly said that Harvey Weinstein offered her a lavish lifestyle in exchange for being his extramarital girlfriend. She declined.
Gwyneth Paltrow told the New York Times that Harvey Weinstein asked her for a massage in his hotel suite. After she told then-boyfriend Brad Pitt, Pitt confronted him, leading Weinstein to contact Paltrow and "scream" at her, she said.
Asia Argento has accused Weinstein of raping her in his hotel room when she was 21. She first reluctantly agreed to give him a massage, and then he forcibly performed oral sex on her. During subsequent encounters, she had consensual sexual relations with him due to fear that he would otherwise ruin her career.
Rose McGowan has publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. In October 2016, she tweeted reference to a studio head raping her. In October 2017, in a tweet to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, McGowan referred to Weinstein by name while repeating her rape accusation. The alleged incident took place in the 1990s and resulted in a financial settlement.
Cara Delevingne has accused Harvey Weinstein of attempting to coerce her into kissing another woman in his hotel room. She had just begun her acting career and believed they were meeting just to finalize talks for a film role.
Angelina Jolie said she had a "bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth" and refused to work with him subsequently.
Jessica Barth has accused Harvey Weinstein of demanding that she get naked and give him a massage.
Emma de Caunes has accused Harvey Weinstein of unexpectedly getting naked and demanding that she lie down as other women had supposedly done before her.
Lauren Sivan has accused Harvey Weinstein of cornering her in a public space and masturbating to completion in front of her.
Mira Sorvino, seen here at a Weinstein Co. event in January 2017, said that after refusing Harvey Weinstein's advances, he dissuaded others in the industry from hiring her.
Ambra Battilana has accused Harvey Weinstein of groping her breasts and reaching under her skirt. She went to the NYPD and then conducted a sting operation, the audio of which was published by the New Yorker. In the audio, Weinstein can be heard attempting to coerce her to enter his hotel room.
Louisette Geiss has accused Harvey Weinstein of luring her to his hotel room after assuring her he wouldn't hit on her. He then disrobed and repeatedly asked her to watch him masturbate, telling her he would produce her screenplay if she did.
Emily Nestor (far right), a former Weinstein Co. employee, has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.
Rosanna Arquette has accused Harvey Weinstein of dissuading others from hiring her after she rejected his sexual advances.
Rose McGowan has publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment. She has also accused others in the industry of knowing of Weinstein's misconduct and either actively or passively hiding it.
Ashley Judd has publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of asking her for a massage and then asking her to watch him shower.
Florence Darel has accused Harvey Weinstein of coming onto her in a hotel suite in 1996 while his wife was in the room next door.
Zoe Brock (left, in 2004) has accused Weinstein of getting naked and chasing her around a hotel room after she refused to give him a massage.
Katherine Kendall (right, in 2006) has accused Harvey Weinstein of disrobing and asking for a massage in his apartment after a movie screening, telling her that "everybody does it." He then asked her to at least show him her breasts, which she refused.
Romola Garai has accused Harvey Weinstein of making her feel "violated" when he watched her audition wearing only a bathrobe in his hotel room.
Lea Seydoux has accused Harvey Weinstein of forcibly trying to kiss her on the lips in 2012.
Claire Forlani said she "escaped" Harvey Weinstein on five occasions. He allegedly told her about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had in turn established their careers. He also attempted to get her to give him a massage.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Speaking of equality — or lack thereof — can women ever achieve parity in a business where all but one media company are led by a man?
The window needs to be open for people to realize how stale the air is, and women have said, “The window is open now — see how sweet the air smells.” I feel like the dam has broken. There were cracks in the dam for an incredibly long time, and we were trying to sort of put putty on them. But it’s not just women; it’s also men. It’s also people of different sexual persuasions. It’s the lack of ethnic diversity. Our job is, yes, to be creative, but one of our primary jobs as artists is to be fearless. And I think we’re fearlessly examining the issues in our industry.

Do you think the 50/50 by 2020 initiative for women in leadership roles is actually attainable, or is that a pipe dream?
I don’t think it’s a pipe dream because I think there’s a lot of will and organizations that have felt stale. Will we get those literal figures? I don’t know.

Given the huge success of hits like “Blue Jasmine,” “Wonder Woman,” “Gravity,” “Arrival” and others, will Hollywood be swayed to now finance and greenlight more films with female protagonists?
The portion of Hollywood decision-making that you are referring to is deeply conservative, frightened or formulaic. So yes, as long as they think in the short term there is a well-trodden road, they will follow. What is changing is that women are truly starting to exercise the creative and box office clout they have en masse. We are collaborating without traditional Hollywood’s approval — perfect timing, as there are now so many disruptive platforms. If Hollywood doesn’t catch up and be part of this very real future, it will be left in the uncreative, irrelevant dust.

Pay disparity has become a hot-button issue for several top female celebrities. As one of the biggest stars in the world, do you ever feel like you’re not getting your fair share? 
Totally. There was a project I passed on recently, and I said, “I’m really sorry, but I know what the poster is going to be.” I knew from the get-go what the metaphorical poster image would be — me, shoulder to shoulder, font size to font size with my fellow actor, and consequently I knew what my worth was in the so-called creative equation. It would have been a fun film to make and a slog to publicize, but if I was being “sold” as a commodity of equal value to my male counterpart and worked as hard as him, I couldn’t reconcile why I wasn’t being remunerated equally. They wouldn’t budge. So I did not do it.

Blanchett stars in “Ocean’s 8” with Helena Bonham Carter and Sandra Bullock.
Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros

This is the thing that’s hard, and this is where one gets attacked about being a financially secure actress: “How dare you talk about money?” This is what happened when Jen Lawrence came out and said it; she was immediately attacked for her hubris and greed. If we were in the oil industry — thank God I’m not in the oil industry or in the banking industry — there are certain profits that get distributed. If an actor is making a profound and pivotal contribution, then they should be remunerated accordingly. And when that remuneration is different, purely because of your gender, that’s just ridiculous. It’s a marker of how much you’re creatively valued within the equation. You want to be valued for your work.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, absolutely. I never thought otherwise. I’ve never understood the stigma around that because it’s really just a drive toward equality. It’s not about building a matriarchy, although given the endless millennia that we’ve labored under a patriarchy I wouldn’t mind a small slice of matriarchy somewhere.

Many powerful media figures like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose have been brought down by allegations of sexual misconduct. Is enough being done to root out all the perpetrators?
There is so much work to be done, and it is being done. And, of course, there are a lot of cynics. Whenever change is actually happening there’s always a parallel critique on “Is it happening the right way? For what reason is it happening? Are there hidden agendas?” But change is happening within the industry in a kind of positive, unstoppable way that will benefit not just women but everybody in the industry.

You’ve been publicly supportive of women who’ve come forward and spoken out about being sexually abused.
Absolutely. I’m sure there are a lot of people in the populist movement who feel they are unheard, unseen, voiceless, which is why they want to join a movement. I mean, God, wouldn’t it be revolutionary if you looked at the outsiders in all these different movements and tried to find a point of intersection in all of it? Often the party political can get in the way of finding those points of commonality.

Have you ever been sexually harassed?
Well, there’s layers and layers to sexual harassment. I’ve been pestered, of course. I don’t know that there are many people who haven’t been.

Harvey Weinstein and various celebrities through the years:

40 PHOTOS
Harvey Weinstein and celebrities through the years
See Gallery
Harvey Weinstein and celebrities through the years
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 27: Harvey Weinstein (L) and actress Meryl Streep attend the Australian Academy Of Cinema And Television Arts International Awards Ceremony at Soho House on January 27, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
Lindsay Lohan and Harvey Weinstein at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)
Film producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Gwyneth Paltrow arrive for the 50th anniversary gala of the NFT at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank in London. (Photo by Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
(L-R) Harvey Weinstein and Sarah Jessica Parker attend The Weinstein Co. Celebrates 'I Don't Know How She Does It' Presented By vitaminwater at the Martinez Hotel on May 13, 2011 in Cannes, France.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 12: Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein (C) and tv personality Heidi Klum (back, L) and actress Uma Thurman (front, L) attend The Weinstein Company & Netflix's 2014 Golden Globes After Party presented by Bombardier, FIJI Water, Lexus, Laura Mercier, Marie Claire and Yucaipa Films at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Producer Harvey Weinstein (L) speaks with Jennifer Lawrence during a commercial break at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California January 18, 2014 REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)(SAGAWARDS-SHOW)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Harvey Weinstein and Jennifer Lawrence during the 18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at The Barker Hanger on January 10, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 16: Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein attend the19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at Barker Hangar on January 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor George Clooney and producer Harvey Weinstein attend the Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2013 with Skinnygirl Cocktails at Barkar Hangar on January 10, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
Actress Julia Roberts (R) and producer Harvey Weinstein (L) attend the premiere of 'August: Osage County,' December 16, 2013 at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 25: Harvey Weinstein (L) and Nicole Kidman attend the amfAR Gala Cannes 2017 at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 25, 2017 in Cap d'Antibes, France. (Photo by Dave Benett/amfAR2017/Dave Benett/WireImage for amfAR )
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Harvey Weinstein and Blake Lively attend the 2017 TIME 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: (L-R)Harvey Weinstein and Taylor Swift attend 'Finding Neverland' Workshop Presentation At New 42 Studios on April 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Harvey Weinstein (L) and Megyn Kelly attend The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017 at The Pool on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Harvey Weinstein, and Jay Z speak onstage during TIME AND PUNISHMENT: A Town Hall Discussion with JAY Z and Harvey Weinstein on Spike TV at MTV Studios on March 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Spike)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: Jennifer Lawrence (L) and Harvey Weinstein attend the 'Silver Linings Playbook' Grey Goose Dinner hosted by Harvey Weinstein and Stephen Fry at Little House on February 8, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein (L) and actress/recording artist Jennifer Lopez attend The Weinstein Company's Academy Awards Nominees Dinner in partnership with Chopard, DeLeon Tequila, FIJI Water and MAC Cosmetics on February 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TWC)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: (L-R) Actor Dev Patel, producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Priyanka Bose attend The Weinstein Company's Pre-Oscar Dinner in partnership with Bvlgari and Grey Goose at Montage Beverly Hills on February 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: (L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Tracee Ellis Ross and fashion designer Zac Posen attend The Weinstein Company's Pre-Oscar Dinner in partnership with Bvlgari and Grey Goose at Montage Beverly Hills on February 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: (L-R) Recording artist Taylor Swift, musician Este Haim, actress Jaime King, producer Harvey Weinstein and recording artist Lorde attend The Weinstein Company's 2015 Golden Globe Awards After Party with Moet & Chandon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Harvey Weinstein and Anna Wintour attend the Marchesa Fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein (L) and executive producer and rapper Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter attend the 'TIME: The Kalief Browder Story' Sundance World Premiere at The Marc Theatre on January 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Spike TV)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Harvey Weinstein (L) and Suki Waterhouse attend The London Evening Standard British Film Awards at Claridge's Hotel on December 8, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Music Producer Terry Lewis, recording artist Usher and C0-Chair of Weinstein Co., Harvey Weinstein attend the ceremony honoring Usher with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Amanda Seyfried attend the Audi celebrates 'The King's Speech' awards season party held at Chateau Marmont on February 7, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Supermodel Heidi Klum and Producer Harvey Weinstein pose at the Project Runway fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: (L-R) Director David O. Russell, actress Jennifer Lawrence and co-chairman of The Weinstein Group Harvey Weinstein attend 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: Leonardo DiCaprio attends a Hillary Victory Fund fundraiser at the residence of Harvey Weinstein on June 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Film producer Harvey Weinstein and chef Sandra Lee attend the 2016 amfAR New York Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on February 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Harvey Weinstein and Tamron Hall attend the Marchesa fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: (L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, actors Channing Tatum, and Jenna Dewan attend the world premiere of 'The Hateful Eight' presented by The Weinstein Company at Le Jardin on December 7, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Weinstein Co)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: Bette Midler (C)and daughter Sophie von Haselberg and Harvey Weinstein attend the Marchesa fashion show during Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week at St. Regis Hotel on September 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Dame Judi Dench and Harvey Weinstein attend A Special Screening of 'Mrs. Henderson Presents' at MGM screening room on November 28, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Actress/recording artist Jennifer Hudson, Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein, and actress Kerry Washington attend The Weinstein Company's Academy Awards Nominees Dinner in partnership with Chopard, DeLeon Tequila, FIJI Water and MAC Cosmetics on February 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TWC)
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 09: Harvey Weinstein and Helen Mirren attend the 'Woman in Gold' press conference during the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 9, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Filmmaker Harvey Weinstein with musician Taylor Swift arrives at the 'One Chance' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Winter Garden Theatre on September 9, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence (L) and producer Harvey Weinstein attend the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 04: Actress Julia Roberts and producer Harvey Weinstein arrive at the 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 4, 2014 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/Getty Images for PSIFF)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, model Chrissy Teigen, and musician John Legend attend Samsung Studio and Harvey Weinstein Host Annual Weinstein Sundance Bowl Football Party During The Sundance Film Festival 2016 on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Samsung)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 10: Singer Gwen Stefani and Producer Harvey Weinstein attend the premiere of TWC-Dimension's 'Paddington' held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on January 10, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

You worked on a number of movies with Harvey Weinstein going back to “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” Did he ever sexually harass you or act inappropriately? 
With me, yes. I think he really primarily preyed, like most predators, on the vulnerable. I mean I got a bad feeling from him. … He would often say to me, “We’re not friends.”

What did he mean by that?
Well, I wouldn’t do what he was asking me to do. [When asked to clarify, Blanchett declined to specify.] I’m really interested in the people who have transgressed in ways that are beyond the bounds of offensive, what people like Harvey have done, and there are men across many industries [who have done that]. He’s been held up as an exemplar because he’s unfortunately typical of certain men. I’m interested in those people being prosecuted. We have to set a legal precedent.

Part of the mission of Time’s Up is to help those who do not have the capacity to raise the funds to defend themselves and to move toward workplace equality, fairness and safety. When legal precedent is set by people being actually convicted, then other people can benefit from that because those precedents have been set. But me fueling the gossip and accounts? There’s enough out there.

Do you think Harvey could go to jail?
Well, I hope so. Statutory rape is a crime, the last time I looked. [Weinstein has denied all rape and sexual-misconduct allegations, but the LAPD, BHPD, NYPD and Scotland Yard are pursuing criminal investigations.]

I think it’s really important that people get tried through the judicial system. It’s a really important arm of democracy that we must uphold because it’s under threat from a lot of different quarters.

Where do you stand on Dylan Farrow’s allegations of sexual abuse against her father, Woody Allen, with whom you’ve also worked?
Obviously, Dylan Farrow has been living in a world of pain, and if the case has not been properly tried, then it needs to be reopened and go back into court because that’s a place where those things get solved.

Would you ever work with either Weinstein or Allen again? 
I don’t think Harvey will be making films with anybody. He was brought on as the producer on many films that I had absolutely no say on. I didn’t have a creative or functional relationship with him.

Would I work with Woody again? I had a very productive time working with Woody, and he has written some of the most extraordinary roles for women. But at the time I worked with him I knew absolutely nothing about what was going on, and it came out subsequently.

But, far more important than me adding to yet another headline … and finger-pointing is, if that issue has not been dealt with … I am absolutely for it to go back into the courts because there lies the solution.

There are many male directors who I have heard about and have not necessarily had positive experiences with whom I would not work with again who didn’t lay a finger on me at all. There are many reasons why one doesn’t want to work with people again.

Such as?
I’ve worked with directors who’ve treated their crews abominably, disrespectfully, who had not allowed them to fly. I feel when the crew is disrespected, I don’t want to work in environments where we’re not all making the film together.

I come from a very nonhierarchal filmmaking culture in Australia. So when I initially started working in America, it was a big shock to me how frequently hierarchical the structures were, and it was just anathema to me. I don’t respond well when crew members — male or female — are disrespected or their input is not valued. I’m used to working in teams. And I want the environment to be creative, not cautious, because I think you all have to be fearless as a bunch of people. But in order to be fearless, there needs to be trust. It’s dealing with people on a social or professional basis when you feel that there’s a culture of entitlement: “My position entitles me to behave this way, to treat you this way.”

Isn’t the issue of entitlement and abuse of power at the center of the conversation around sexual misconduct?
There is no defending people who abuse people sexually, physically, [or who are] intellectual bullies — I’m not interested in defending them. But there are certain things that need to go through the criminal justice system. … Don’t let the white noise distract from that actually happening, because then the precedent is set. And also then don’t hunt around for someone who put their hand on someone’s knee. What social media does is flatline our ability to discern between things that are offensive and annoying and criminally reprehensible.

I do think that what has finally been uncovered and finally discussed — and the reason why the eruption needed to be as volcanic and broad and loud as it was — is that this conversation will not be at ground zero again in 10 years. We are not going back to ground zero. We are moving onward and forward from here. So I think it’s really, really important that there have been as many voices as there have been in the discussion. But the challenge is then to wade through all of that to work out how we can actually weave those voices and perspectives into a tolerant, cohesive way forward.

Blanchett co-starred in 1997’s “Paradise Road” with Frances McDormand, whom she calls “one of the most truthful people I know.”
20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX/Shutt

Do you think of yourself as an activist?
As an actor, I don’t see my role in my work to tell people what to think. So, am I an activist? Yes. Part of what drives me as an actor is to work out what makes people tick, why people do things, but it’s also building bridges and empathy. If there is a function to art at all, it’s to form empathetic connections between the impossible and the possible. And so I’m always looking at things and saying, “Why are they doing that? Why is that happening? How can that be happening?” I’m engaged in the world. If I weren’t engaged in the world, I think I’d maybe be in a different profession. Like your work — you want to take the watch apart and try to put it back together.

Did you hear Frances McDormand’s powerful Oscar speech?
F—, yeah. One of the highlights of my year so far. Fran is so wonderful. She’s one of the most truthful people I know. She’s not afraid to name the elephant in the room. I remember when I first came out of drama school, and I was in a play, and this grand, very, very well-respected theater actress who was playing the central role was talking to me about what it means to be a leading actress, and she said, “It doesn’t mean you’ve got the most lines. It doesn’t mean that you’re in more scenes.” She said, “That’s part of your job, but you have to lead the company. You have to be part of creating what the atmosphere is going to be in the room. And you have to be aware of bringing everyone else with you.”

People talk about how people in Hollywood get up and give pontificating speeches. [McDormand] didn’t. She was a true lead actress. Not only because of the incredible work she did, but she was saying, “As the chosen lead actress this year, I’m leading the conversation.” And that’s part of your job, because when you get to a certain point in an industry, you do have an opportunity and a responsibility to advocate for the sector, to advocate for those who are coming up behind you and to make sure that whatever trials and tribulations you had could perhaps make it easier for the people behind you.

What about her final words: “Inclusion rider”?
It’s a litmus test, don’t you think? We have nothing to lose but progress.

How likely is it that the films you and the jury are going to watch in Cannes will be a healthy, diverse selection reflecting our times?
Will there be an equal proportion of films represented directed by women? I don’t know. Will there be a transgender director? I don’t know. But those questions are being really openly interrogated.

Are you at all uneasy about judging the work of your peers? 
It’s an enormous responsibility. Because getting that prize is a big platform and an international launching pad for a movie. You’ve got nine people trying to balance and reach artistic consensus, which I’m sure will be a challenging task. I can’t wait for the conversation. Cannes is multicultural by nature, and my role is to respond to the work, not to agendas.

Subscribe to Variety Newsletters and Email Alerts!

Read Full Story