Carol, the highly anticipated movie adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's 1952 lesbian potboiler The Price of Salt, finally premieres May 17 at Cannes, and Cate Blanchett isn't going to let anyone forget it. Centering on a mature New York woman (Blanchett) who falls in love with a younger shopgirl (Rooney Mara), the film's star is now hinting that she's had "many" female lovers. When asked in a Variety interview whether this was her first "turn as a lesbian" she responded coyly: "On film - or in real life?" When pressed further and asked if she had ever had a relationship with a woman, Blanchett told the interviewer: "Yes. Many times." Blanchett says she doesn't call herself bisexual (she's married to Andrew Upton and has three sons and a daughter), or relay on labels for sexual orientation. "I never thought about it," she says, referring to how she envisioned the character, she adds: "I don't think Carol thought about it."
She didn't stop there. Blanchett also revealed that she'd read a "a lot of girl-on-girl books from the period" to prepare for her role and "talked a lot about erogenous zones" with the film's costume designer, Sandy Powell, asking "What is the most erotic part of the body?"
As the writer notes, a memorable scene in the novel takes place when the women consummate their love for the first time in a hotel room. That scene appears in the film, but it isn't overtly racy. "It's not Blue Is the Warmest Color," Blanchett explains. "That's not the ambition of the film."
Gay filmmaker Todd Haynes, the film's director who last worked with Blanchett when she played a version of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, also shares his feelings about why this could be a breakout hit for them. "In some ways, the event of a gay love story is less surprising every day. But I think love stories are hard to pull off, period. They require external forces that keep the lovers apart."
If Carol were alive today, Blanchett says she couldn't see her marching in a gay Pride parade. "Her sexuality isn't politicized," Blanchett explains. "I think there are a lot of people that exist like that who don't feel the need to shout things from the rafters."
So far there are two clips from the film, which certainly show a moody, stylized scenes (Haynes shot the film in 16mm) of the two women falling in love. Although there are no scenes of costars Sarah Paulson and Carrie Brownstein as two of Carol's ex lovers, we'll certainly be ready for them as well when it's released in theaters in December.
Watch the sexual tension in the first clip below:
In this clip, Carol and Terese have a lunch date: