When Cate Blanchett won the Golden Globe for Blue Jasmine this past January, the first person she thanked, after the Hollywood Foreign Press, was Woody Allen. "It's impossible to even approach good work without working with good people," she said. "Woody Allen, who writes these things and directs these things with such alarming regularity that we sort of almost take it for granted... thank you, Woody, for calling me."
A week later, she was on stage accepting yet another award, this time from the Screen Actors Guild. Again, she thanked her Blue Jasmine director. "To Woody," she said, slapping the podium for emphasis. "For writing role after role after role for women and then giving them the space to create them, thank you so much."
Both times, Blanchett appeared overcome with gratitude, and both times, that segment of the speech received thunderous applause. The actress's peers in the audience, it seemed, knew just how much Blanchett meant the words she said; without Allen, she wouldn't be up there accepting either the Globe or the SAG Award. Without Allen, she wouldn't be the frontrunner for a second Oscar. Without Allen, she'd be just like any other 40-something actress in Hollywood, waiting around, hoping to get a good part here or there, hoping her career isn't coming to a too-early close.
She may have been an established performer well before Blue Jasmine, but last summer's movie was her first truly acclaimed role in years, the next-closest being 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Blue Jasmine may not have been a "breakthrough" in the typical sense, but it did seem to serve as a reminder of Blanchett's talent; in the just over six months since the film's release, the actress has been cast in at least three films, with several others solidly in the "rumor" phase. Add this to the likely Oscar win, that red carpet fashion, and all those viral acceptance speech quotes, and it's clear that Blanchett's career has never been better, all thanks to Blue Jasmine and its director, Woody Allen.
So when Dylan Farrow, in a New York Times ' letter detailing her alleged abuse at the hands of her adopted father, called out Blanchett (along with other actors) for starring in Allen's films, fans waited for baited breath for her response. Would Blanchett side with Farrow, apologizing for her collaboration with Allen? Or would she stand by her Blue Jasmine director, taking the "he was never convicted" approach?
In the end, Blanchett did neither. While at a Santa Barbara film festival, Blanchett, asked to comment on Farrow's letter by a reporter, said just "it’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family," and that she hopes "they find some resolution and peace."
Blanchett's comment was a non-answer, the type of response celebrities are coached to give by terrified publicists desperate to avoid a PR crisis. In one regard, it wasn't bad; Blanchett acknowledged Farrow's suffering, and wished the family the best. In another, it was immensely frustrating; if Blanchett, like many, many others, truly believes that Farrow is telling the truth, then why didn't she come out and say it?
Unfortunately, the answer is simple: because it could ruin her career. Blanchett knows how much of her current success is owed to Allen; if she had publicly criticized him, she would've been burning one of the biggest, most influential bridges in the industry. Sure, she probably wouldn't be out-of-work anytime soon, but she definitely would never get to work with Allen for a second time. Fans of the filmmaker know how much he loves directing the same actors over and over again, especially his female protagonists. Diane Keaton, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson — all of them, plus several others, have credited their collaborations with Allen for helping them gain critics' respect and win future roles. There is no guarantee that Blanchett and Allen would've worked together again, of course, but if she had publicly stated her support of Farrow, then the option of a future collaboration — and possibly, a future Oscar — would've evaporated.
It's a difficult situation, and I don't envy Blanchett. If she had condemned Allen, she could've lost her career; if she had supported him, she could've lost the respect of her fans. Making her statement was a safe choice, if a disappointing one. Blanchett could've risked it all by saying what she felt, but instead, she chose cowardice.
Of course, it's not just Blanchett facing this dilemma. Farrow called out several other actors in her letter, including Alec Baldwin, Blanchett's co-star in Blue Jasmine. In two since-deleted tweets, Baldwin criticized followers' requests for comment, saying "what the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family's personal struggle?... you are mistaken if you think there is a place for me, or any outsider, in this family's issue."
Again, Baldwin is not wrong. It isn't his obligation, nor is it Blanchett's or any other of Allen's actors, to comment on Farrow's accusations. Yet that doesn't mean that his response is commendable, because it's not. The actor, as we all know, has never shied away from saying what he thinks, regardless of the consequence. If Baldwin, who has starred in two Allen movies, hadn't been fearful of his career, he likely would've voiced his support for either side — but, like Blanchett, he chose not to, and it's doubtful that any other actors mentioned in Farrow's letter won't simply follow suit.
Sadly, a dilemma like this has no easy answer. Actors have every right to not want to destroy their careers, and if that means not speaking up about certain issues, that's their decisions. It's just frustrating, though, that people with the power to exact change and get their voices heard are choosing to stay silent, when the issue they're avoiding is one so relative and important. Perhaps Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, Louis C.K. or an actor not mentioned in Farrow's letter will choose to speak up; it's doubtful, I know, but perhaps one of them will be brave enough to let justice trump career.