NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new movie about Bob Dylan is the first dramatic portrayal of his life and music that the reclusive performer has approved, but Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett says fans may struggle to understand it.
After all, she plays one of six Bob Dylans -- the others are Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Ben Whislaw, and young black actor Marcus Carl Franklin in his movie debut.
“It doesn’t make sense in terms of it being a non-conventional narrative. I think it definitely makes sense but in a dreamlike musical way. You have to let the film wash over you,” the Australian actress said of “I‘m Not There.”
“The fact that director Todd Haynes fractured Dylan’s musical journey and persona into six different characters, none of whom are called Bob Dylan -- it’s unusual,” the 38-year-old actress said in an interview at the New York Film Festival this week.
While not meant to be a direct mimic of Dylan, Blanchett’s hair is dark and frizzy like the singer’s and she adopts some of his mannerisms. But the actress said she needed extra help to become more masculine -- by putting socks down her pants.
”There was a scene where I was lounging on the bed and I saw Todd looking a little pensive and my friend who was doing make up, looking a little pensive and they both had the same thought at the same time, that maybe it was a bit too feminine
-- I needed a bit of ‘hamburger helper’,” she said.
The role has already won her the Venice Film Festival best actress award and is being touted as worthy of another Academy Award nomination. She won a best supporting actress Oscar in 2005 for her portrayal as Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator.”
While her decision to play Dylan may seem unusual, Blanchett said there was no way she could turn it down.
“It’s such a wild and crazy idea,” she said. “You don’t get offered that kind of stuff every day.”
So just one week after finishing starring as England’s 16th century queen in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” Blanchett took on the character of Jude -- a depiction of Dylan in the mid-1960s when he first played electric guitar and drew ire from some fans who wanted him to remain a folk protest singer.
“I‘m Not There” has garnered mixed reviews. The Hollywood Reporter said, “It’s a curiosity that could delight or turn off loyal Dylan fans and may prove too oddball to draw in younger and mainstream audiences.”
But Blanchett has won praise. Variety called her performance “a daring coup.”
While most critics see the Dylan film as too high concept and esoteric for most Americans, Blanchett’s next project will likely draw a bigger audience.
The actress has just finished filming Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” with actor Harrison Ford, which she described as “a riot.”
“It was like revisiting my childhood. I ate that series of films alive,” said Blanchett, who has two young sons. “My children had a fantastic time. And Steven, being a father of seven, was so embracing of the kids.”