Cate Blanchett started with ‘practice’ to play a musical maestro in Tár

Watch: Cate Blanchett talks to Yahoo about her award-winning role in Tár

Cate Blanchett, who won her fourth Golden Globe this week for her portrayal of a troubled conductor in Tár, has revealed the secret behind her award-winning performance: music.

The Lord of the Rings star plays a music superstar whose carefully controlled life begins to unravel when secrets about his past are revealed.

Blanchett says the way to play the troubled maestro is to start with the basics.

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“I just got started with Practice,” Blanchett told Yahoo UK. “I started with the piano and started with the conductor. We started with music and we had a lot of work to do. The Dresden Philharmonic were great musicians and very generous, so we had good teachers.”

Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár in Todd Field's Tár.  (Focus Features)

Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár in Todd Field’s Tár. (Focus Features)

The film’s director, Todd Field, says he doesn’t have any advice for the lead actor to play the role, and they take an equally practical approach to developing a complex character together.

“I play a chief conductor who is also a pianist trying to complete a large bespoke composition and runs a large cultural institution. Meanwhile, she’s turning 50, so she’s in the middle of a career and midlife crisis.

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“There’s so much in his past that he’s tried to rewrite and destroy at great personal cost, so it’s volcanic in a way. But then he looks very still and controlled, commanding and successful on the surface, so there’s a lot to play with.

Watch a trailer for Tár

Her co-star Nina Hoss plays the orchestra’s lead violinist in the movie. She was able to benefit from her own musical knowledge while exploring her character.

“I play the piano,” Hoss tells Yahoo. “So I can study music, which has helped, and I was previously working with a great teacher who was a great violinist in her own right.

“I learned a lot about Sharon while doing her homework. [her character]I learned a lot about the orchestra and how it was formed, what my role is as a concert conductor, how much responsibility you have in this position.”

(From left) Nina Hoss, Sharin Goodnow and Cate Blanchett as Lydia T¡r, director Todd Field's Tహ x81;x81;;  Credits: Courtesy of Focus Features

Nina Hoss as Sharin Goodnow and Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár in Tár, directed by Todd Field. (Focus Features)

His research on composer Gustav Mahler, whose music was at the center of the film, was invaluable. Sharon is also the wife of Lydia Tár, so she helped her understand the musical power couple.

“I learned a lot about Mahler and his wife Alma that inspired me for Sharon. It wasn’t just technical, it helped you find character.”

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For director Todd Field, who wrote the film specifically for Blanchett, his approach meant that although it came from Lydia Tár’s own imagination, the film felt like a biography of a real person.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Todd Field and Cate Blanchett attend the UK Premiere

Todd Field and Cate Blanchett attended the UK Premiere of TÁR. (David M. Benett/Max Cisotti/Dave Benett/WireImage)

“It’s a testament to Cate Blanchett’s art, in the sense that people think she’s a living, breathing person,” Field says. “I watch Cate Blanchett for five minutes and I believe it – and I wrote the script! It is an extraordinary opportunity to watch such an artist do what he does. He does real magic.”

Field found himself in an almost unique position while working on the film. “The studio came to me and said ‘write whatever you want’ and I wrote it. It has never happened to me before and it hasn’t happened to many filmmakers. I wrote it before any cinema was opened, everywhere was closed, and I never thought this thing would come to light.”

He also wrote the script completely with Blanchett in mind. “It should have been him. Of course, he didn’t know I was writing for him and if he had said ‘no’ I probably wouldn’t have made it.

Cate Blanchett, directed by Todd Field's TÃ x81, stars as Lydia T¡r in a Focus Features.  Credits: Courtesy of Focus Features

Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár. (Focus Features)

The film has already garnered critical acclaim, garnering more than 50 awards so far, and Blanchett’s performance has been the focus of attention.

After her Golden Globe victory this week, she is currently at the forefront of the Best Actress Oscar. This year’s nominees will be announced on January 24, and a win at the ceremony in March will join Frances McDormand and Meryl Streep as the third actress of the day to win three Oscars. She previously won Best Actress for Blue Jasmine (2013) and Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2004).

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Tár is Field’s third film in 22 years. His previous films In the Bedroom (2001) and Little Kids (2006) earned him Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay.

German actress Nina Hoss is perhaps best known for her performance in the 2014 post-war thriller Phoenix. In addition to his role in TAR, he is currently appearing on smaller screens alongside John Kraskinsky in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

Tár hits theaters today, January 13. Watch a trailer below.

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