I found that with Rooney, her instincts in films was always to underplay and to sort of reduce down what was necessary to bring you in - a sense of economy, a sense of scale, which just seemed to understand the medium so well. When you see that in a younger actor, I always think it speaks to incredible knowledge. I can't exactly figure out where that comes from, that confidence to know how to be quiet.
Feminist theory has left an indelible mark on my own critical""and creative""thinking . . . For me, everything I questioned about what it meant to be a man "" and how much my sexuality would perpetually challenge those meanings""could be found in arguments posed by feminists. What can I say? I identified.
I was 3 years old and Mary Poppins  made an impression on me that was seismic, apparently. I fell into some kind of total creative, imaginative rapture over that movie that propelled this industry of Mary Poppins drawings, plays, performances - just an obsessive, creative reaction to it.
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I'm not ready to give up gayness in and of itself as something unique and different. A litmus test for me for all of it was the bisexual imagination and the androgynous imagination of the Glam era. Because that meant everybody was implicated in this uncertain sense of sexual self, and it meant that everything was unstable. I guess I'm just not that interested in stable notions of identity, whatever they are.
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There is no single approach that actors take to their craft. And the best thing you learn is that you have to really listen and respect each actor's own process and own method, and that takes a kind of delicate, non-imposing patience and openness, I think, to get the very best out of the people you work with.
We're the end of the baby boomers, and we participated in many social changes. Who would of thought, for example, when the AIDS epidemic came along that so many would die, because it was gay people dying. And what emerged was a grassroots movement that developed, and succeeded in getting things done. The pinpointing of that movement evolved into the changes that we have today.
I would just say there are no two roles that are more demanding than Bob Dylan of 1966 [Blanchett's role in 'I'm Not There'] and Carol Aird of 1952. I challenge any director out there to come up with a wider divide. I had to convince her to take the Dylan role, and that took effort. But with 'Carol,' she was already attached.
I'm drawn to female characters, not all of them are strong characters. I think I'm drawn to female characters partly because they don't have as easy or as obvious a relationship to power in society, and so they suffer under social constraints or have to maneuver within them in ways men sometimes don't, or are unconscious about, or have certain liberties that are invisible to them.
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People define gay cinema solely by content: if there are gay characters in it, it's a gay film. . . . I think that's really simplistic. Heterosexuality to me is a structure as much as it is a content. It is an imposed structure that goes along with the patriarchal, dominant structure that constrains and defines society. If homosexuality is the opposite or counter-sexual activity to that, then what kind of a structure would it be?
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I know a bit about his [Sirk] life, but it's more about his style than biography. He was European and came out of a theater background, and could easily be defined as 'Brechtian.' He was expressionistic in his films, and was an example of those intensely intellectual artists who ended up working for American studios, and was handed the Ladies Home Journal and asked to adapt the stories for the screen. He found ways to use his artistry to make them interesting and nuanced, while critiquing American values in the process.
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You gain all of the rights and privileges and respects that are afforded the majority, and that's ultimately what matters for your kids, or anybody - because we're all innocent of the fact that we are the way we are. But it also means the ways that you coped, and the languages and narratives and points of view that you had no choice but to make from the sidelines - and that often carried with them really acute readings of dominant society - those no longer have the same need.
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I came to this project and 'Far from Heaven' from completely different vantage points. 'Heaven' was of course about the Douglas Sirk films of that period, with the very specific cinematic language and style of melodrama. With 'Carol,' it was presented to me already packaged, with Cate Blanchett attached and Phyllis Nagy's script complete - when it came to me it had a long history and pre-history.
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I hope it's water under the bridge, but Richard Carpenter is a complicated individual, and he's also entitled to his own opinion on how his sister is depicted. The film has lived on and survived, and to me is ultimately is an affectionate celebration of Karen Carpenter. I hope that wins out in the end.