Cate Blanchett kicked off her stilettos on Friday night as she took the stage a Cannes Film Festival party hosted by Variety and the Golden Globes. Because this is Cannes, where women are mandated to wear heels on the red carpet, shoes have become a political symbol on the French Riviera. And indeed, in this case, Blanchett went barefoot to make a statement — to stand in solidarity with the women of Iran. The A-list actor, on hand to present “Holy Spider” star Zahra Amir Ebrahim with a breakthrough artists award, grabbed the trophy and joked, “This is to stab everyone who stands in the way of women’s rights. Up the vajayjay!”
In her remarks, an emotional Ebrahimi called attention to her home country, which is “executing innocent people.” She said, “I always thought being an actress was a paradox: serving the emotions of your own and being a flag or mirror or light. This award celebrates this paradox.”
Along with Ebrahimi, “May December” actor Charles Melton, “Black Flies” star Tye Sheridan and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” breakout Shaunette Renée Wilson were also honored at the gathering — a first-time Cannes collaboration with Variety and the Golden Globes that celebrated breakthrough actors.
The party, which brought out filmmaker Todd Haynes, playwright Jeremy O. Harris, director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, and more, was held at Barriere Beach at The Majestic Cannes. They were joined by top producers, executives and artists at the festival, including Thierry Fremaux, Mads Mikkelsen, Christine Vachon, Pauline Chalamet, Boyd Holbrook and Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard. Variety co-editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh and Golden Globes president Helen Hoehne emceed the evening, which went on until 2 a.m. as attendees danced on the beach to decade-spanning hits.
Back onstage, Sauvaire, who directed Sheridan in the competition entry “Black Flies,” called the actor “my friend, my supporter, my partner.”
While accepting the trophy, Sheridan dedicated to medics around the world, who served as inspiration for their intense thriller. “I’ve been super lucky to work with talented people,” he said. “You can’t be a breakthrough artist without having a lot of people who support you.”
As the evening continued, Haynes described the “daunting task” of finding an actor to play against these “extraordinary power house women,” referring to Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, who co-star in his age-gap romance drama “May December.” Melton plays the much younger husband of Moore’s character in the film, which debuts at the festival on Saturday night.
“We started looking at readings and I saw this guy Charles Melton and I was like, ‘No, he’s so good looking. There’s no way,’” Haynes said of the actor who starred in the hit CW series “Riverdale.” “I heard the audition, and it has such nuance and understanding and confidence.” He called Melton’s performance “the great discovery of the film.” Plus, the director says, “he agreed to put on 35 pounds to look more like a suburban guy.”
Melton praised his filmmaker, saying “It’s rare to find someone who trusts in you more than you trust in yourself. My legs are shaking right now.”
A stylishly dressed Harris, who closed out the night, had to shush the rowdy crowd at least twice before toasting Wilson as a “queen” and “someone who means the world to me and many others.”
As Wilson graced the stage, she said “I think the sentiment of seeing promise in an actor is wonderful and beautiful.” She still seemed in disbelief about attending the festival for “Dial of Destiny” alongside Harrison Ford. “I was in ‘Indiana Jones,’ that’s insane.”