Cate Blanchett, Interpreted: 9 Female Artists and Photographers Expose the Actress’s Power as a Muse in a Special Issue of W Magazine

Photograph by Rineke Dijkstra. Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Sam McKnight for Sam McKnight Products at Premier Hair and Make-up; Makeup by Mary Greenwell for Giorgio Armani at Premier Hair and Make-up. Produced by Laura Holmes Production; Photography Assistants: Jodie Herbage, Richard Kovacs; Fashion Assistants: Allia Alliata, Angelique De Raffaele.

At the Cannes Film Festival this year, 82 women, all of whom have starred in, directed, written, or otherwise worked on movies, including many that have been shown over the festival’s 72-year history, were celebrated together on the long red carpet that leads to the Grand Théâtre Lumière. It was a beautiful and profound statement that spoke directly to the #MeToo movement. Instead of commiserating about injustice, these women, from different backgrounds and countries, were proudly displaying their talent, range, and creativity. It was an active gesture of solidarity. “We need to remake the industry in a new and fresh way,” said Cate Blanchett, who was the head of the jury in Cannes and is also the guest editor of this issue of W. Our idea was to create something similar to that amazing female empowerment scene in Cannes: to show what female photographers, artists, directors, and stylists can create. This issue, spearheaded by the greatest actress of her generation (who, most recently, plays a complex witch in The House With a Clock in Its Walls, out on September 21), is an extraordinary ode to the female gaze. All of our contributors in these pages are women. For Blanchett, who was the muse for nine of these varied talents in this cover portfolio—including Alex Prager, who cast her in a murder mystery; Cass Bird, who captured Blanchett on the night of her Ocean’s 8 premiere, in Times Square; and Shirin Neshat, who envisioned her as a raven-haired chanteuse—the breadth of vision was thrilling. “I don’t like to generalize about gender,” Blanchett explained, “but, for me, the biggest question was: Why haven’t I worked with these remarkable women more?! Where have they been?” They are here. World: Take notice.

Cate Blanchett by Rineke Dijkstra
Cate Blanchett by Alex Prager

Cate Blanchett wears a Victoria Beckham coat.

Cate Blanchett by Jackie Nickerson

Cate Blanchett in a Martine Rose trenchcoat.

Cate Blanchett by Shirin Neshat

Cate Blanchett on the cover of W magazine.

CATE BLANCHETT, LONDON, JUNE 12, 2018Photographs by Rineke Dijkstra

“People are complex, never one thing. I photograph them over a period of time, to see how they change. So my idea was to portray Cate just as she was when she came into the studio, with no makeup and in her own clothes. Then we dressed her up as if she was going to a major event. It’s interesting to wonder: Who is the real Cate? “

From Left: Cate Blanchett wears a Vince tank; the Row pants; her own necklace and ring. Vera Wang gown; De Beers earrings.

UNCANNY VALLEYPhotographs by Alex Prager

“I wrote a script about a scientist who creates robots in his lover’s likeness. Their plan is to help society, but it all goes wrong. The scientist decides to destroy the robots, but they kill him and her instead and take off. I’ve been reading a lot about what’s going on in the world of artificial intelligence—the title Uncanny Valley refers to the unsettling feeling elicited by humanoid objects—and it’s not such a crazy scenario.”

Clockwise from top left: Chloé top, pants, pendant necklace, and boots; Bulgari necklace. Sergio Rossi boots. Stella McCartney coat. Victoria Beckham coat. Hermès shirtdress; Sergio Rossi boots.

Photograph by Alex Prager

Chloé top, pants, pendant necklace, and boots.

THE CARNIVAL IS OVERPhotographs by Shirin Neshat

“For a long time my work has focused on women and the ways in which they defy society’s repressive codes. I was interested in how female singers are universally treated as objects of desire. At first, Cate looks gorgeous, but when she sings it’s a male’s voice. The audience heckles her, and she becomes confrontational. When the music comes back on, she does a seductive dance but her face is evil. For her final act of subversion, she takes off her hair and makeup and walks away. That part was Cate’s idea. Fuck the beauty.”

SHE’S A NATURALPhotographs by Jackie Nickerson

“I hadn’t met Cate before the shoot, but she reminded me of women like Simone de Beauvoir, Joan Didion, and Peggy Guggenheim, all of whom were relaxed and self-confident with their body language. We shot in Cate’s own beautiful garden in the English countryside, and she was game to try every crazy idea we came up with.”

From left: Sonia Rykiel coat; Vince T-shirt. Hi-Tec sneakers; Blanchett’s own jeans.

MAVERICKPhotograph by Sam Taylor-Johnson

“My starting points for this shoot were cinematic, as they always are: Fellini’s women and Coppola’s One From the Heart. I came up with a narrative: It’s 5 a.m. and she’s atop a muscle car, then she’s furiously typing, connecting all her ideas. I was trying to create a wild spirit.”

Versace dress; David Webb gold, platinum, and diamond earrings.

Photograph by Sam Taylor-Johnson

Cate wearing Attico dress; Ellen Christine Couture headpiece.

DREAM GIRLPhotographs by Viviane Sassen

“I started out wanting to do something quite surreal with collage, but in the end I painted on the images, which is something I did in my work years ago. I like the coolness and modernity of it.”

Cate Blanchett wears a Marine Serre dress and catsuit. Nicholas Kirkwood x Marine Serre boots; Repossi bracelet and ring. Givenchy dress.

URBAN LEGENDPhotographs by Cass Bird

“I’m interested in portraying my subjects in a spirited way. Thankfully, Cate is always game to explore, to play. It was she who suggested that for the first part of this shoot we run around the block for 10 minutes. There was no location van, no producer, no hair and makeup—it was so special. We reconvened at sunrise the next morning in Times Square, and shot some more. She’s interested in taking risks, as am I.”

From left: Givenchy coat and belt; Chopard earrings and ring. Alberta Ferretti blouse, pants, and belt; Vhernier earrings Proenza Schouler shoes.

HER PHOTOGRAPHSPhotographs by Sharna Osborne

“I come from a fine-arts background and work a lot with moving image. For this shoot, we had a studio set up in Cate’s backyard. Her daughter was chasing a dog and cat around, and I was filming her watching her, using a VHS camcorder from the ‘80s. I wanted to do something that was more real than glamorous. She caught glimpses of herself dressed in this masculine way, and she adopted a character. The fact that she trusted me with my little camera and rolled with this makes her the best person ever.”

Cate Blanchett wears a Martine Rose jacket, top, and jeans; Miu Miu boots.

A MOMENTARY GLANCEPhotographs by Dominique Issermann

“I like pictures where the psychology is hard to understand. You don’t know who the person is, or what they’re thinking. I wanted a woman passing by, like an apparition. You catch a glimpse of her and she’s like a ray of light, too good to be true. In the film, the man spends all of his time chasing her down.”

From left: Simone Rocha dress. The Vampire’s Wife dress; Jimmy Choo shoes.

Cate Blanchett by Cass Bird

Cate Blanchett wears a Vanessa Seward shirt and jeans; hat from Early Halloween, New York; Chopard earrings; Alberta Ferretti belt.