In the end, whether I write the script or, in this case, somebody else did, there's a point where you let it go when you're making a movie. You just have to. The thing that you shoot is not what you imagined in your head - it never is exactly that. And it shouldn't be.
I don't pay attention to the 'marginalizers.' They simply don't have any impact anymore, on where we're headed or what the law is. I'm not worried about gay people in America right now, as opposed to their status in other countries. The change here was remarkable and swift, which was awesome, and we've witnessed that change right before our eyes.
I think when you're trying to get a film together that's had a long gustation process before I came on board and was trying to get financed in various stages, sometimes you're trying to make it more friendly to the financial interests or the commercial interests of various parties.
I'm drawn to female characters, not all of them are strong characters. I think I'm drawn to female characters partly because they don't have as easy or as obvious a relationship to power in society, and so they suffer under social constraints or have to maneuver within them in ways men sometimes don't, or are unconscious about, or have certain liberties that are invisible to them.
We're the end of the baby boomers, and we participated in many social changes. Who would of thought, for example, when the AIDS epidemic came along that so many would die, because it was gay people dying. And what emerged was a grassroots movement that developed, and succeeded in getting things done. The pinpointing of that movement evolved into the changes that we have today.
I used to fall hard when I was younger, and it occupies a lot of journals and redundant preoccupation and analysis. It is a state in which you are in an overheated fervor of production - of mental production - where you're analyzing everything that happened. And what they said! And how they looked! Did that touch mean something, or not? Everything is sort of endowed with meaning, but you're also hopelessly boring and out of the world.
You gain all of the rights and privileges and respects that are afforded the majority, and that's ultimately what matters for your kids, or anybody - because we're all innocent of the fact that we are the way we are. But it also means the ways that you coped, and the languages and narratives and points of view that you had no choice but to make from the sidelines - and that often carried with them really acute readings of dominant society - those no longer have the same need.
I think camp is a really fascinating thing, and it's hard to define and hard to apply consciously. It's almost something you take from material that's already existed in the world, a reading of the world. But I think it speaks of a long tradition of gay reading of the world, before gays were allowed to be visible.
There is no single approach that actors take to their craft. And the best thing you learn is that you have to really listen and respect each actor's own process and own method, and that takes a kind of delicate, non-imposing patience and openness, I think, to get the very best out of the people you work with.
I would just say there are no two roles that are more demanding than Bob Dylan of 1966 [Blanchett's role in 'I'm Not There'] and Carol Aird of 1952. I challenge any director out there to come up with a wider divide. I had to convince her to take the Dylan role, and that took effort. But with 'Carol,' she was already attached.
Doing a love story as a genre, and looking at love stories in movies, and feeling like I learned stuff about that, and that it broadened my view and my idea of what I can do, and how I can work with the people around me, that was such a great, really satisfying experience.
It's like our go-to notion of innocent and secure mythology of American life. I was always amazed when people would come up to me and say that 'Far from Heaven' was exactly what it was like back then. [laughs] I was so disinterested in what it was 'really like' in the 1950s when I was putting the film together, I was only interested in what it was like in movies.
I'm not ready to give up gayness in and of itself as something unique and different. A litmus test for me for all of it was the bisexual imagination and the androgynous imagination of the Glam era. Because that meant everybody was implicated in this uncertain sense of sexual self, and it meant that everything was unstable. I guess I'm just not that interested in stable notions of identity, whatever they are.
Once you are shooting a movie, even if it's your own script, you have to let it go at a certain point. That's true for every film. It breaks up into phases where the thing that you have in front of you is the thing you have to address, and you can't worry about what you imagined a scene was going to like and that it came out differently, because that's what you have to make work.
When you really do feel like an alien, and you really do feel like a space creature, and you really do feel you want to experiment and dress up and be different every day, to find what looks best but never stick to one thing... Just the fact that that was offered to those kids during that time is pretty remarkable.
It's hard to transport myself forward in time, and the scarcity of opportunity back then kind of fueled my ambition. But back in my day, every family I knew had a Super 8 camera, and that's what I first picked up. We adapt to the technology we have available. But for the kids of today, they can really make something great with what is available.
People define gay cinema solely by content: if there are gay characters in it, it’s a gay film. . . . I think that’s really simplistic. Heterosexuality to me is a structure as much as it is a content. It is an imposed structure that goes along with the patriarchal, dominant structure that constrains and defines society. If homosexuality is the opposite or counter-sexual activity to that, then what kind of a structure would it be?
I hope it's water under the bridge, but Richard Carpenter is a complicated individual, and he's also entitled to his own opinion on how his sister is depicted. The film has lived on and survived, and to me is ultimately is an affectionate celebration of Karen Carpenter. I hope that wins out in the end.
In fact, to me it's liberating to not think of identity as some organic property that we have to find and stick to, but actually something that is constructed, or that's imposed, that we can then counter by taking a different route and re-dressing it, and then re-dressing it again, and then re-dressing it again.
I found that with Rooney, her instincts in films was always to underplay and to sort of reduce down what was necessary to bring you in - a sense of economy, a sense of scale, which just seemed to understand the medium so well. When you see that in a younger actor, I always think it speaks to incredible knowledge. I can't exactly figure out where that comes from, that confidence to know how to be quiet.
You want everything for your kids that you didn't have, but that that very desire can pollute and corrupt the good, basic American pluckiness, resourcefulness and down-to-earthness that we like to pride ourselves with, and result in aspirations of wealth and high culture.
The ways in which Oscar Wilde was attacking the Romantics that preceded him, and the Romantic ideas that preceded him, were very similar to what the glam-rockers, particularly Bowie and Bryan Ferry, were attacking in the earnestness of '60s culture. Trying to shock, but with wit, cleverness, and homosexuality.
Feminist theory has left an indelible mark on my own critical—and creative—thinking . . . For me, everything I questioned about what it meant to be a man – and how much my sexuality would perpetually challenge those meanings—could be found in arguments posed by feminists. What can I say? I identified.
In male-driven [films], the protagonist is not the person who's necessarily in harms way. There's a sense that they're going to figure out how to persevere and take on the obstacles and foes and you don't necessarily know if that's going to happen with the subjects of love stories.
I came to this project and 'Far from Heaven' from completely different vantage points. 'Heaven' was of course about the Douglas Sirk films of that period, with the very specific cinematic language and style of melodrama. With 'Carol,' it was presented to me already packaged, with Cate Blanchett attached and Phyllis Nagy's script complete - when it came to me it had a long history and pre-history.