Sally Hawkins interview: ‘I didn’t think Woody Allen would trust me with an American character’

We speak to the ‘Blue Jasmine’ star nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 2014 Oscars

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British actress Sally Hawkins was out doing her food shopping when her phone started buzzing and she found out she’d been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Cate Blanchett’s sunny-side-up sister in Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’. This is the super-talented 37-year-old Londoner’s first Oscar nomination and her second film with Woody Allen, after ‘Cassandra’s Dream’.

Is it true you’d forgotten about the announcement of the nominations for the Oscars?
‘Yes. I’d just flown home from the Golden Globes, so the suitcases were still lining the hallway. I just tripped over everything and landed in a pile, phone flying. My flat has got phone reception black holes so it kept cutting out and I couldn’t quite hear what was happening. My brother was the first person to text. He was watching at work online. Very sweet.’

You won a Golden Globe in 2009 for Mike Leigh’s ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’. Did you have fun on the night?
‘It was amazing and terrifying as well. You’re scared you’re going to fall flat on your face or make a bit of a prat of yourself. I was miles away from the stage, and assumed there was a reason for that. I was just glad I hadn’t drank more than one glass of champagne. I’d broken my collarbone so I was on serious painkillers. Everything looked completely out of focus already.’

Was it less nerve-wracking working with Woody Allen second time around?
‘No! It’s never less nerve-wracking. It was a much bigger part so I felt more responsibility. And you just don’t want to let him down. It’s Woody Allen! And he’s given you Woody Allen words to say! I thought I didn’t have a chance, because the character was American and so far removed from everything I know. I didn’t think he would trust me with that.’

There’s been a lot of talk this year about ‘campaigning’ for the Oscars. What does that involve?
‘I have no idea. I haven’t been part of that at all. I think it’s terrifying. And it’s probably a lot of work. I know for Cate it started months before. I expect it’s quite lonely doing all that on the road on your own. I expect it’s very much like being a politician.’

The red carpet has turned into one big catwalk…
‘Cakewalk?’

No, ‘catwalk’. Do you enjoy the fashiony side of it?
‘Cakewalk would be brilliant! I’m not a model, and I don’t want to be. But it’s fun. You have to be a bit tongue-in-cheek with it. You’ve got to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing and feel good. I’d love to do the Oscars in Topshop vintage, my way. But I’m not allowed. And it’s all an illusion. The dresses – mine, anyway – have to be boxed up and sent back at midnight, like Cinderella.’

Watch the ‘Blue Jasmine’ trailer

Read our ‘Blue Jasmine’ review

  • Rated as: 4/5

One of the most pleasing things about ‘Blue Jasmine’ is that it feels truly knotty and never obvious in how it unfolds. It has a lightness of touch and a seriousness of purpose. Yes, Tennessee Williams’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ hangs over Allen’s portrayal of these sisters, their men and their pasts, and yes, some of those men are clunky working-class stereotypes. But mostly this is surprising and refreshing.

See the full ‘Blue Jasmine’ review

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