Watch Cate Blanchett Join ‘Hot Ones,’ Endure Spicy Wings, and Talk ‘TÁR’

The experience of conducting the Dresden Philharmonic is enough to intimidate an Oscar winner.
Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett on "Hot Ones"
YouTube/First We Feast/screenshot

Cate Blanchett has been picking up early Oscar buzz for her performance in Todd Field’s “TÁR” since the film premiered at Venice and screened at the Telluride in the same week. But the film’s wide release this week will provide the largest platform yet for her performance, which sees her playing a brilliant orchestral conductor who finds her career derailed by scandal.

To promote the film’s expansion, the Oscar winner made an appearance on “Hot Ones,” the talk show that features prominent entertainment figures discussing their work while sampling various hot sauces. She was an enthusiastic participant, joking that for host Sean Evans, eating extremely hot chicken wings will be “the closest you’ll ever get to knowing what menopause feels like.”

Once they began, the conversation soon turned to her experiences filming “TÁR.” The conducting scenes featured Blanchett presiding over the actual Dresden Philharmonic, an experience that even someone as accomplished as Blanchett found intimidating. (Blanchett even told IndieWire previously that during production, she’d wake up in the middle of the night “with my hand in the air, moving sound.”)

“It was absolutely terrifying. I played the piano as a little girl, so I understood the instrument in that way, but the conductor’s instrument is the orchestra,” she said. “The weirdest thing was that you prepare in silence, because you have the score in front of you and you imagine the music in your head. And Mahler’s Five, for those of you who haven’t listened, is a massive, massive exciting work. And when you get the downbeat and the trumpet started… it was like an electric charge.”

The work certainly paid off, as “TÁR” has been almost universally regarded as one of the year’s best films, with Blanchett’s performance earning particular praise.

In his review of the film, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote that “we’ve seen Blanchett play women on the verge of a nervous breakdown before, but she’s never obliterated herself on screen with such concussive force. The controlled demolition of a performance she delivers here provides a more nuanced (and cautiously sympathetic) interpretation of the social dynamics behind the #MeToo movement than any male actor or character might be able to offer. It’s because of Blanchett that ‘TÁR’ is able to elevate the uselessly outmoded paradigm of separating the art from the artist into the visceral portrait of an artist separating from herself.”

“TÁR” is now playing in select theaters. It expands nationwide on Friday, October 28. Watch her “Hot Ones” appearance below:

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