Sophie Kauer on working with Cate Blanchett and mastering music in TÁR

Only a few movies this 12 months have received as much acclaim as TÁR. The brand new film from writer-director Todd Field is an ambitious and infrequently charming character study, one which dives headfirst into the area of interest world of classical music as a way to tell a story that’s each thought-provoking and surprisingly timely. Because the film’s eponymous composer, Cate Blanchett turns in a few of one of the best work of her profession and, in doing so, gives one of the vital impressive lead performances that audiences will likely see on-screen this 12 months.

For his part, Field properly surrounds Blanchett with a supporting forged comprised of capable performers, including Sophie Kauer, who makes her feature film acting debut in TÁR as Olga Metkina, a prodigious Russian cellist who catches the eye of Blanchett’s Lydia. While speaking recently concerning the film, Kauer, who’s a cellist in real life, told Digital Trends, “I’m still amazed that folks like [TÁR composer] Hildur Guðnadóttir and Cate agreed to work with me. I got to enter this whole latest world and learn the best way to act from Cate and Todd.”

Below, Kauer opens up further about her experience making TÁR and divulges why she found it “empowering” to play a personality as brusque and determined as Olga Metkina.

Courtesy of Focus Features

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity purposes.

Digital Trends: What was your initial response whenever you first read the script for TÁR?

Sophie Kauer: Todd is an incredibly gifted author. It’s a shame that his script won’t be published as a book because there’s a lot beautiful direction in there that, unfortunately, the audience won’t ever find out about. But I remember my first response was that I used to be so proud and touched that somebody had undergone a lot effort to put in writing a movie that features classical music so heavily and portrays it as this beautiful, glorious art form that folks dedicate their lives to. The film acknowledges that the industry still has loads of relevance today, while also touching on very sensitive issues and practices that should be amended inside it.

I also keep in mind that I discovered it really hard to seek advice from anyone after reading it. I just had to take a seat for like two hours in my room interested by it since the film raises all these questions and also you undergo such a journey with all these characters. What’s amazing about Todd’s filmmaking is that each one his characters are so multi-dimensional.

It’s not like one character is nice and one character is bad. It’s not like that in any respect. It’s all left open to interpretation, and you possibly can really make whatever you would like of it. I just couldn’t quite consider that I had been forged and that I used to be being trusted with this project. I feel so lucky.

Cate Blanchett conducts music while wearing a suit in TÁR.Courtesy of Focus Features

How were actually forged within the film?

I feel Todd made life quite difficult for himself because he told me they checked out actresses for a very long time prior to deciding to open the casting call to real-life cellists. He really wanted someone who understood the music industry, though, and someone who could actually play their instrument because all of the recordings we did within the film are live recordings. It’s all really my playing. Nothing was done in post, unfortunately [laughs].

In order that they opened the casting call to all of the music conservatoires and universities and I sent in some self-tapes and a few videos of my playing. I had no expectations in anyway, but then I got asked to do a zoom call with Todd. We worked on scenes for an hour or so, and I remember pondering, “Oh, that is cool. I can tell my kids or grandkids someday that I did a Zoom audition with Todd Field and all these casting agents.” I didn’t hear anything back straight away after that, and that was completely nice because I knew that the probabilities of getting a job like this were slim to none.

But then I keep in mind that they emailed me asking me to send a recording of the piece that I play within the film. I feel I used to be really busy on the time because I’m still studying and I used to be really buried underneath exams. I just didn’t really understand how big the project was or expect to get it, so I said, “Oh, yeah, sorry, I’ll send them when I even have time.” But then they rang me and said, “We really want you to send them now.”

I used to be in quarantine on the time, but I sent them a recording as soon as I got out of quarantine and, in my view, it was just not one of the best. It wasn’t to my standards, but for them, it was adequate. I’m still just amazed that folks like Hildur Guðnadóttir and Cate agreed to work with me. I got to enter this whole latest world and learn to act from Cate and Todd.

That’s not a nasty method to break into the industry.

Exactly. It’s type of hard to top, right? It was amazing. I learned a lot and had probably the most amazing time. It was an enormous challenge, obviously, but I feel like I’ve developed rather a lot because of this.

Cate Blanchett stands above an orchestra in TAR.Courtesy of Focus Features

Since the film’s recordings were all done live, how much time did you have got to practice for the performances in TÁR?

This was actually something that I used to be really surprised by. I assumed we’d have a great deal of time, right? I assumed that they’d spend a great deal of time recording the whole lot and ensuring the whole lot was perfect, but that wasn’t the case. I feel, because we had such limited time with the film’s orchestra, we ended up having little or no rehearsal time.

All our takes were recorded either very late at night after an extended day of filming or very early within the morning before I had a likelihood to warm up. All of us needed to play super hard pieces or super hard excerpts from pieces completely cold and nail it each time. That was really daunting for me.

Nowadays, I’m lucky that I’ve had a little bit of experience playing as a soloist with an orchestra, but I used to be 19 after we began filming and there’s not that much that you may have achieved by that age in that respect. I’d also not had an in-person cello lesson for 2 years at the moment due to pandemic, so it was scary. I feel we made it work, though, and it made the film all of the more authentic. I feel like we managed to create a really authentic film, which hasn’t been done before, in my view, with regards to the sphere of classical music.

What was it like attending to work with an actor like Cate Blanchett? Was your first scene along with her that incredible lunch conversation you two have within the film?

No, but that scene was quite funny because I’m shoveling food in my mouth and speaking faster than I could swallow in it [laughs]. It was amazing to work with Cate, though. She’s a extremely, really kind and warm and supportive person, and he or she’s just so intelligent. She has so many amazing ideas, but she makes you’re feeling very comfortable. My character might be quite rude to her character at times and, afterward, I’d at all times be like, “I’m so sorry!”

The primary scene we shot was actually the scene where she gives me the bear after I lose it, but that scene was also a bit different in the unique script. I also began off by filming response shots while I used to be sitting within the orchestra, which was a pleasant way for me to ease into the whole lot and learn the best way to react based on how close the camera is to my face. That was something that Cate actually explained to me.

Cate Blanchett writes on a music sheet in TÁR.Courtesy of Focus Features

It’s never revealed exactly how aware Olga is of what Lydia is doing or, at the very least, attempting to do. Was that something you talked about with Todd?

It’s great that you just asked that query because that’s precisely the point of the film. Todd at all times creates these amazingly multi-dimensional characters, and we had loads of conversations about Olga, her backstory, and what she’s pondering and feeling on a moment-to-moment basis. The good thing is that we never know whether Olga’s entirely aware of the whole lot that’s happening, though, including whether she’s using it to her advantage or not.

But what I actually like about her is that she pushes back. She doesn’t bend, ? She decides that she’s not going to go together with certain things and he or she finds her own way through the whole lot. You see very clearly when she decides, “I’m going to go my very own way.”

It was really empowering to play a personality like that. It was loads of fun to play someone that lighthearted and to be so rude and never worry about the implications. To simply go for it and run down the steps and scream with excitement was really, really fun. I miss Olga rather a lot, actually. She was an incredible character to live with throughout the months we spent filming.

Do you think that Olga was trying to control Lydia in any respect?

We type of decided that we might never fully determine, ? The great thing about the film is that it’s meant to be very unclear, and also you’re meant to make your individual mind up. I definitely think there are elements of her which are manipulative or calculating, but she may be completely unaware of the whole lot as a carefree young woman who’s attempting to make her mark in her industry. We at all times considered every possibility and all the several versions of Olga, after which we tried to include all of them into her within the hopes that they might come across.

TÁR is now playing in select theaters. It expands nationwide on October 28.

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