I've gotten worn down by years of seeing women in Hollywood be cast according to the demands of the male leads, with the only guarantee being that the age gap gets progressively wider, so it's incredibly refreshing to hear the reason Kyle Chandler was cast in Carol : because they needed someone to measure up to Cate Blanchett. YES. PREACH. Chandler plays Harge Aird in the film, husband to Blanchett's titular Carol Aird, whose affair with Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) starts the movie on its spin out of control. From the outside, it's very clear to me that Blanchett and Mara are the main characters, with Chandler serving a supporting role, but that's such a reversal for Hollywood that I was nervous the plot line would be more heavily weighted toward Chandler. After all, I've been burned before. We all have.
But all those fears were erased when director Todd Haynes spoke about the reasoning behind his casting choices during a Q&A on Oct. 10 within the New York Film Festival's Directors Dialogue series:
You have to cast, without sounding sexist, a real man opposite Cate Blanchett. You need a guy who's grown up, and a lot of actors don't seem grown up, no matter how old they get. They just seem like juveniles with gray hair or something, and he seems like a grown-up. He can hold his own with her. That's not always easy.
Wait, what? A dude in Hollywood with an awareness about what maturity means in other dudes? Be still my beating heart! Not only is Haynes showing respect for the tornado of talent that is Cate Blanchett, but he actually structured the movie around her, instead of a) casting the man first and trying to work around him, or b) just throwing any old famous face in there. Plus, there's only a four year age difference between Blanchett, 46, and Chandler, 50. What is all this fresh air I'm taking breaths of? I'm almost embarrassed by how surprised and thrilled I am to see a woman in the industry being treated this seriously, even a titan like Blanchett.
It makes me feel like this feminist story about women, starring women, and by a woman — the fabulously-skilled writer Patricia Highsmith, also responsible for The Talented Mr. Ripley — is in good hands with Todd Haynes. He has eyes and ears and a brain, and he appears to be putting all three to excellent use. So cheers to you, Todd Haynes!
Carol opens on Nov. 20, and you better believe I'm gonna be the first in line. Think anyone will be mad if I start the movie with a standing ovation for Todd Haynes and just continue clapping throughout? Because that's what I'm feeling would be appropriate at this point.
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