Actress Cate Blanchett attends the premiere of "Cinderella" in Hollywood on March 1, 2015.
Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images
By Michael Miller / People
May 13, 2015

Cate Blanchett was able to draw on personal experiences while preparing for her new film.

The 45-year-old actress is starring in the screen adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, which takes place in the 1950s and tells the story of a woman named Carol (played by Blanchett) who enters into a secret romance with a female department store clerk (played by Rooney Mara).

When asked by Variety if this was her first intimate experience with a woman, Blanchett replied with a wry smile, “On film – or in real life?”

Pressed to elaborate, the Cinderella star confirmed she has had off-screen relationships with woman “many times,” but declined to comment further.

Blanchett, who recently adopted a daughter with her husband of 18 years, says that she also “read a lot of girl-on-girl books from the period” to prepare for the role.

And while there will be some steamy scenes between the two characters, Blanchett promises nothing overly graphic.

“It’s not Blue Is the Warmest Color,'” Blanchett says. “That’s not the ambition of the film.”

Instead, Blanchett hopes Carol will break misconceptions in Hollywood about female-driven films while appealing to a wide range of audiences.

“It was so hard,” she explains of getting the film made. “Midrange films with women at the center are tricky to finance. There are a lot of people laboring under the misapprehension that people don’t want to see them, which isn’t true.”

Citing powerful female figures like Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Cinderella director Allison Shearmur, Blanchett says she’s hopeful things will change now that “there’s been a critical mass of women who have reached a certain place in the industry.”

“I want it to not be discussed anymore,” she adds. “But it needs to be discussed.”

Carol will compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

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