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13 Reasons Why star Tommy Dorfman comes out as transgender

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13 Reasons Why star Tommy Dorfman comes out as transgender

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13 Reasons Why star Tommy Dorfman has come out as transgender woman. 

The 29-year-old actress made the revelation in an interview with TIME on Thursday, saying: ‘For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman – a trans woman.’

On the hit Netflix show, Dorfman played recurring male character Ryan Shaver, who publishes Hannah Baker’s problems in the school newspaper without her consent. 

Speaking with trans novelist Torrey Peters, Dorfman explained: ‘It’s funny to think about coming out, because I haven’t gone anywhere. I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically.’

13 Reasons Why star Tommy Dorfman comes out as transgender

Reveal: 13 Reasons Why star Tommy Dorfman comes out as transgender and reveals she has been ‘living as a trans woman’ for the past year in a new interview with TIME

‘Coming out is always viewed as this grand reveal, but I was never not out,’ she went on. ‘Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman. My pronouns are she/her. My name is Tommy.’ 

The rising star sparked speculation from fans about her gender identity this past year after changing her appearance on Instagram, as well as stepping out with actor Lucas Hedges in New York recently wearing a summer dress.

Dorfman also revealed in the interview why she decided to keep her name amid her transition, explaining: ‘I’m named after my mom’s brother who passed a month after I was born, and I feel very connected to that name, to an uncle who held me as he was dying.’

Rising star: On the hit Netflix show, Dorfman played recurring male character Ryan Shaver, who publishes Hannah Baker's problems in the school newspaper without her consent

Rising star: On the hit Netflix show, Dorfman played recurring male character Ryan Shaver, who publishes Hannah Baker’s problems in the school newspaper without her consent

She added: ‘This is an evolution of Tommy. I’m becoming more Tommy… I am actually myself.’ 

Talking about her decision to come out, Dorfman said: ‘I’ve been living in this other version of coming out where I don’t feel safe enough to talk about it, so I just do it. But I recognize that transitioning is beautiful. Why not let the world see what that looks like?’

She added: ‘So I kept, on Instagram, a diaristic time capsule instead – one that shows a body living in a more fluid space.’

Glamorous: Tommy took part in a stylish shoot for TIME wearing a sophisticated black gown

Glamorous: Tommy took part in a stylish shoot for TIME wearing a sophisticated black gown 

‘However, I’ve learned as a public-facing person that my refusal to clarify can strip me of the freedom to control my own narrative,’ Tommy went on.

‘With this medical transition, there has been discourse about my body, and it began to feel overwhelming.’

The actress explained that she did consider a different route in publicly coming out, including disappearing for two years and coming back into the spotlight ‘with a new name, new face and new body.’

However, Dorfman said that it was something she ‘couldn’t afford to do’ and wasn’t what she wanted. 

Changing style: Tommy sparked speculation from fans about her gender identity this past year after changing her appearance (Pictured with actor Lucas Hedges last month in NYC)

Changing style: Tommy sparked speculation from fans about her gender identity this past year after changing her appearance (Pictured with actor Lucas Hedges last month in NYC)

Impressive performance: Tommy rose to fame on the 2017 Netflix show that was a surprise hit

Impressive performance: Tommy rose to fame on the 2017 Netflix show that was a surprise hit

Instead, the performer says her intention is to shine a light on ‘gender fluidity’ and ‘how fast and dynamic and vulnerable it can be, how it’s an ongoing thing.’ 

Dorfman spoke candidly with novelist Peters – author of Detransition, Baby – about how she was in a relationship with a gay man for nine years prior to her transitioning.

‘It’s wild to be 29 and going through puberty again. Some days I feel like I’m 14,’ she said. ‘As a result of that shift, the types of romantic partnerships I seek out are different.’ 

‘I was in a nine-year relationship in which I was thought of as a more male-bodied person, with a gay man. I love him so much, but we’ve been learning that as a trans woman, what I’m interested in is not necessarily reflected in a gay man,’ the actress divulged.

She added: ‘So we’ve had incredible conversations to redefine our relationship as friends.’

'For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman - a trans woman,' she told TIME Magazine on Thursday

‘For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman – a trans woman,’ she told TIME Magazine on Thursday 

Journey: The actress said she considered disappearing for two years and coming back into the spotlight 'with a new name, new face and new body' but decided against it

Style: The actress has been showing off a number of glamorous looks to fans over the past year on Instagram

Journey: The actress said she considered disappearing for two years and coming back into the spotlight ‘with a new name, new face and new body’ but decided against it 

Pose: The actress was seen at screening for new movie Zola last month looking stylish in a white dress

Pose: The actress was seen at screening for new movie Zola last month looking stylish in a white dress 

The actress also spoke openly about the struggles she faced in medically transitioning, saying that although the process can be ‘liberating and clarifying’ there is a ‘sad part’ in that ‘you don’t get to acknowledge some of what you’re leaving.’ 

‘There’s a way in which in order to justify transition, you have to say everything was terrible before,’ she opined. ‘One doesn’t have to medically transition to be trans, but for me, it was an active choice. I’m aligning my body with my soul.’

‘Yet as a result of that, I am losing some things. I have to reckon with the fact that I brought along a lot of people and things who might not end up being there for this part of my journey.’

Recovery: Last month, Dorfman posted this flashback photo celebrating 8 years of sobriety telling fans 'there's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. i love you.'

Recovery: Last month, Dorfman posted this flashback photo celebrating 8 years of sobriety telling fans ‘there’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. i love you.’

Teenage years: The actress shared these images last month saying she was a 'teenage alcoholic and drug addict just trying to get by'

Inspiring: The actress urged anyone struggling with addiction issues to reach out for help, sharing throwback images

Teenage years: The actress shared these images last month saying she was a ‘teenage alcoholic and drug addict just trying to get by’

Sending a message: Tommy - who is now sober - told fans 'if you're struggling with addiction, when you're ready, ask for help'

Sending a message: Tommy – who is now sober – told fans ‘if you’re struggling with addiction, when you’re ready, ask for help’

Dorfman talked about how she has anticipated her transition will affect her acting career, reasoning that it’s ‘impossible’ for her to separate her ‘personal and professional’ transition, ‘because my body and face are linked to my career.’ 

‘I’m most recognized for playing a bitchy gay poet on a soap opera, and I feared that by actively transitioning in my personal life, I would lose whatever career I’ve been told I’m supposed to have,’ she said about her breakout role on the hit series.

‘But I’m no longer interested in playing ‘male’ characters  – except for maybe in a ‘Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan’ way. Sometimes you just have to say, “No, this is just who I f*****g am.”‘

Moving forward, Dorfman will next appear in Lena Dunham’s movie Sharp Stick, her first role ‘as a girl’ which wrapped earlier this year and was an ‘exciting and validating’ experience for the actress. 

LBD: Dorfman has been showing off her style on Instagram, including this image from a week ago that garnered praise from fans as well as actress Dove Cameron

LBD: Dorfman has been showing off her style on Instagram, including this image from a week ago that garnered praise from fans as well as actress Dove Cameron

Sharing: Earlier this month, Dorfman told fans that she was getting 'laser hair removal' on her chest praising her doctors

Sharing: Earlier this month, Dorfman told fans that she was getting ‘laser hair removal’ on her chest praising her doctors

Glam appearance: Tommy shared this image from a shoot earlier this month to her 1.3million followers on Instagram

Glam appearance: Tommy shared this image from a shoot earlier this month to her 1.3million followers on Instagram

Taking to her Instagram account on Thursday to promote the interview, Dorfman thanks fans writing: ‘I’m especially grateful to every single trans person who walked this path, broke down barriers, and risked their lives to live authentically and radically as themselves before me.’ 

She added: ‘Thank you to all the trans woman that showed me who i am, how to live, celebrate myself, and take up space in this world.’

Dorfman was flooded with positive messages following her post, with fashion designer Marc Jacobs writing: ‘She is everything. A beautiful human.’ 

Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart commented: ‘You are so beautiful.’ The post was also liked by Adam Lambert, Maddie Ziegler and SNL actress Chloe Fineman.

Four Weddings and a Funeral star Andie MacDowell commented ‘Beautiful women,’ while Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson wrote: ‘Yes! Stunning as always!’ 

Katherine Langford, who starred alongside Dorfman in 13 Reasons Why, said: ‘She’s STUNNING,’ alongside three heart emojis. 

Last month, Dorfman revealed that she is now eight years sober saying she used to be a ‘teenage alcoholic and drug addict just trying to get by.’ 

Sharing a series of photos from her youth she added: ‘If you’re struggling with addiction, when you’re ready, ask for help.’ 

Coming soon: Dorfman will next appear in Lena Dunham's movie Sharp Stick, her first role 'as a girl' which she described as a 'exciting and validating' experience

Coming soon: Dorfman will next appear in Lena Dunham’s movie Sharp Stick, her first role ‘as a girl’ which she described as a ‘exciting and validating’ experience

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An Open letter to Vladimir Putin from Roger Waters

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An Open letter to Vladimir Putin from Roger Waters
President Vladimir Putin took the unexpected backup option when he recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. Kremlin.ru

Recently I have been reading comments on social media, asking why I’ve written to Mrs Olena Zelenska but not Mr Vladimir Putin? Very good question, I’m glad you asked, here it is.

An open Letter to Vladimir Putin:

Dear President Putin, since The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine on February 24th this year I have tried to use my small influence to encourage a ceasefire and a diplomatic settlement that addresses the security needs of both Ukraine and The Russian Federation.

In that endeavor I have written two open letters to Mrs Olena Zelenska the the wife of the Ukrainian President. These letters are readily available on the internet. I am increasingly asked to write to you too, so here goes.

Firstly, would you like to see an end to this war? If you were to reply and say, “Yes please.” That would immediately make things a lot easier. If you were to come out and say, “Also the Russian Federation has no further territorial interest beyond the security of the Russian speaking populations of The Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.”

That would help too.

I say this because, I know some people who think you want to overrun the whole of Europe, starting with Poland and the rest of the Baltic states.

If you do, f**k you, and we might as well all stop playing the desperately dangerous game of nuclear chicken that the hawks on both sides of the Atlantic seem so comfortable with, and have at it. Yup, just blow each other and the world to smithereens. The problem is, I have kids and grandkids, and so do most of my brothers and sisters all over the world and none of us would relish that outcome. So, please Mr Putin indulge me, and make us that assurance.

Alright back to the table, if I’ve read your previous speeches correctly, you would like to negotiate a state of neutrality for a sovereign neighboring Ukraine? Is that correct? Assuming such a peace could be negotiated it would have to include an absolutely binding agreement not to invade anyone ever again. I know, I know, the USA and NATO invade other sovereign countries at the drop of a hat, or for a few barrels of oil, but that doesn’t mean you should, your invasion of Ukraine took me completely by surprise, it was a heinous war of aggression, provoked or not.

When Mrs Zelenska replied to me via Twitter, I was very surprised and mightily moved, if you were to reply to me, I would mightily respect you for it, and take it as an honorable move in the right direction towards a sustainable peace.

Yours sincerely,

Roger Waters

_______________________

Roger Waters is a musician

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An Open letter to Mrs Olena Zelenska from Roger Waters

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An Open letter to Mrs Olena Zelenska from Roger Waters
Olena Zelenska on the war, homeschooling and Russia’s hit squads. Getty Images/Economist

Dear Mrs Zelenska,

My heart bleeds for you and all the Ukrainian and Russian families, devastated by the terrible war in Ukraine. I’m in Kansas City, USA. Iread an article on BBC.com apparently taken from an interview you have already recorded for a program called Sunday with Laura Kuenssburg which broadcasted on the BBC on September 4th.

BBC.com quotes you as saying that if support for Ukraine is strong the crisis will be shorter. Hmmm? I guess that might depend on what you mean by “support for Ukraine?” If by “support for Ukraine,” you mean the West continuing to supply arms to the Kiev government’s armies, I fear you may be tragically mistaken. Throwing fuel, in the form of armaments, into a firefight, has never worked to shorten a war in the past, and it won’t work now, particularly because, in this case, most of the fuel is (a) being thrown into the fire from Washington DC, which is at a relatively safe distance from the conflagration, and (b) because the “fuel throwers” have already declared an interest in the war going on for as long as possible.

People like you and me actually want peace in Ukraine, don’t want the outcome to be that you have to fight  to the last Ukrainian life – and possibly even, if the worst comes to the worst, to the last human life.

If we, instead, wish to achieve a different outcome we may have to seek a different route and that route may lie in your husband’s previously stated good intentions.

Yes, I mean the platform upon which he so laudably ran for the office of President of Ukraine, the platform upon which he won his historic landslide victory in the democratic election in 2019.

He stood on the election platform of the following promises.

  1. To end the civil war in the East and bring peace to the Donbas and partial autonomy to Donetsk and Luhansk.

  2. And to ratify and implement the rest of the body of the Minsk 2 agreements.

One can only assume that your husband’s electoral policies didn’t sit well with certain political factions in Kiev and that those factions persuaded your husband to diametrically change course ignoring the people’s mandate. Sadly, your old man agreed to those totalitarian, anti-democratic dismissals of the will of the Ukrainian people, and the forces of extreme nationalism that had lurked, malevolent, in the shadows, have, since then, ruled the Ukraine. They have, also since then, crossed any number of red lines that had been set out quite clearly over a number of years by your neighbors the Russian Federation and in consequence they, the extreme nationalists, have set your country on the path to this disastrous war.

I won’t go on.

If I’m wrong, please help me to understand how?

If I’m not wrong, please help me in my honest endeavors to persuade our leaders to stop the slaughter, the slaughter which serves only the interests of the ruling classes and extreme nationalists both here in the West, and in your beautiful country, at the expense of the rest of us ordinary people both here in the West, and in the Ukraine, and in fact ordinary people everywhere all over the world.

Might it not be better to demand the implementation of your husband’s election promises and put an end to this deadly war?

Love,

Roger Waters

     ______________________

Roger Waters is a musician. 

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Bob Dylan Book on ‘Modern Song’ to Come Out in November

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Bob Dylan Book on ‘Modern Song’ to Come Out in November
Bob Dylan performs in Los Angeles on Jan. 12, 2012. Dylan has a new book coming out this fall, a collection of more than 60 essays about songs and songwriters he admires, from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello. The new book called “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” is scheduled for Nov. 8. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Bob Dylan has a new book coming out this fall, a collection of more than 60 essays about songs and songwriters he admires, from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello.

The new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” is his first release of new material since the acclaimed memoir “Chronicles, Volume One” was published in 2004. “The Philosophy of Modern Song” is scheduled for Nov. 8.

“He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal,” according to an announcement issued Tuesday by Simon & Schuster. “And while they (the essays) are ostensibly about music, they are really meditations and reflections on the human condition. Running throughout the book are nearly 150 carefully curated photos as well as a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem.”

The 80-year-old singer-songwriter won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016 and has continued to tour and record, his most recent album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” was released in 2020.

_______

AP

 

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Jennifer Hudson wins top honor at 53rd NAACP Image Awards

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Jennifer Hudson wins top honor at 53rd NAACP Image Awards
Jennifer Hudson and Ne-Yo. GETTY IMAGES

Jennifer Hudson was named entertainer of the year at the 53rd annual NAACP Image Awards that highlighted works by entertainers and writers of color.

After Hudson accepted the award Saturday night, the singer-actor thanked the NAACP for inspiring “little girls like me.” She beat out Regina King, Lil Nas X, Megan Thee Stallion and Tiffany Haddish.

“I was just standing here thinking ’It was here – the NAACP Awards – where I watched so many legends and icons that inspired me,” said the Oscar and Grammy winner. “Now, I’m standing here holding an award like this. It’s because of seeing the Arethas, the Patti LaBelles, the Halle Berrys, all these legends right here on this stand that inspired me.”

Hudson played her idol Aretha Franklin in the film “Respect.” She was summoned to meet with Franklin in 2007 to portray The Queen of Soul shortly after Hudson won an Oscar for “Dreamgirls.”

“Respect” follows Franklin from childhood through the 1972 recording of the gospel album “Amazing Grace.”

“This is for Ms. Franklin’s legacy,” Hudson said after she earlier won best actress.

The awards ceremony aired live on BET in Los Angeles with some talent appearing in person while others watched virtually. There was no in-person audience.

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were honored with the President’s Award. He showed gratitude to the NAACP for welcoming him into their community before he spoke about those in Ukraine impacted by the ongoing Russian invasion.

“We would like to acknowledge the people of Ukraine who urgently need our continued support as a global community,” said Prince Harry while standing next to his wife. The couple was recognized for their outreach efforts in the U.S. and around the world.

“It’s safe to say I come from a very different background than my incredible wife,” he said. “Yet, our lives were brought together for a reason. We share a commitment to a life of service, a responsibility to confront injustice and a belief for the most overlooked that are the most important to listen to.”

Both talked about inspiring the next generation of activists through the NAACP-Archewell Digital Civil Rights Award. It’s a newly created award that acknowledges leaders creating change within the social justice and technology realm to advance civil and human rights.

On Friday, the inaugural award was given to Dr. Safiya Noble, who Meghan called a “visionary.”

Samuel L. Jackson received the NAACP Chairman’s Award for his public service. The ceremony highlighted his acting achievements and activism including a moment when he was expelled from Morehouse College in 1969 for for locking board members in a building for two days in protest of the school’s curriculum and governance.

The video mentioned Jackson’s efforts to raise awareness toward cancer checkup for men and autism. It also spotlighted him and his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who created a performing arts center at Spelman College.

Jackson quoted activist Marian Wright Edelman after he accepted his award.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a lot of different eras where I had the opportunity to use my voice and my legs and my body to fight for things that were right,” said the 73-year-old actor. He has appeared in more than 100 films including Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” and Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever.”

Jackson also starred in several other films such as “Do the Right Thing,” “Unbreakable,” “Snakes on a Plane,” and multiple Marvel films including “The Avengers” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

“We got it done,” he continued. “Right now, we still have things we need to do. The most important thing being the voting rights act. I know we can’t change that. But we can put our legs, our bodies and our voices to work to make sure that people do get out and vote – no matter what they do to keep us from doing it.”

The awards ceremony featured a performance by nine-time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige, who was a co-headliner at the Super Bowl halftime show this month. She performed her single “Good Morning Gorgeous” and “Love No Limit” from New York City’s Apollo Theater.

Anthony Anderson, who returned as the show’s host, won best actor in a comedy series. With his mother in attendance, the “black-ish” star screamed out “I told you I was going to win, Momma” before he ran on stage and chest bumped her.

“I would like to thank my momma for sleeping with my daddy and making me,” he jokingly said before turning serious. “I’m just a kid from Compton, California. If you dream and believe, anything is possible.”

Other top awards handed out include Will Smith who best actor for his role in “King Richard” and “The Harder They Fall,” which took home best film. Issa Rae won for best comedy series and Nikole Hannah-Jones was honored with the social justice impact award.

Sterling K. Brown shouted with joy when he won outstanding actor for a drama series. After Tiffany Haddish virtually presented him with the award, the “This Is Us” actor thanked the show’s network, NBC, before he joked about hanging out with Anderson’s mother.

“There’s way too many white people on my show for me to actually win this thing,” he said. “But I got to say ‘Thank you, Black people for voting for me. I really do appreciate it.’” AP

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Three Members of K-pop BTS Diagnosed With Covid-19

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Three Members of K-pop BTS Diagnosed With Covid-19
Jin, a member of South Korean K-pop band BTS, poses for photographers during a press conference to introduce their new album "BE" in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Three members of the K-pop superstar group BTS have been infected with the coronavirus. the Big Hit Entertainment agency says in a statement that RM and Jin were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday evening. It earlier said another member, Suga, tested positive for the virus on Friday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

Three members of the K-pop superstar group BTS have been infected with the coronavirus after returning from abroad, their management agency said.

RM and Jin were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday evening, the Big Hit Music agency said in a statement. It earlier said another member, Suga, tested positive for the virus on Friday.

All three took their second jabs in August, the agency said.

The BTS is a seven-member boyband. The four other members are J-Hope, Jungkook, V and Jimin.

According to the agency, RM has exhibited no particular symptoms while Jin is showing mild symptoms including light fever and is undergoing self-treatment at home. The agency said Friday that Suga wasn’t exhibiting symptoms and was administering self-care at home in accordance with the guidelines of the health authorities.

RM had tested negative after returning from the United States earlier this month following his personal schedule there. But he was later diagnosed with the virus ahead of his scheduled release from self-quarantine, the agency said.

After returning to South Korea this month, Jin underwent PCR tests twice — upon arrival and later before his release from self-quarantine — and tested negative both times. But he had flu-like symptoms on Saturday afternoon before he took another PRC test that came back positive, the agency said. Media reports said he also traveled to the U.S.

Suga, who has had a number of personal engagements in the United States during the band’s official time off, was diagnosed with COVID-19 during quarantine after returning from the U.S., the agency said.

The agency said it’ll continue to provide support for the three members for their speedy recovery. It said it will cooperate with the requests and guidelines of the South Korean health authorities.

Since their debut in 2013, BTS has garnered global recognition for their self-produced music and activism, which includes giving a speech at the United Nations and publicly calling out anti-Asian racism. The band topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart three times in 2020, and was nominated for prominent music awards like Billboard Music Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. AP

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Blanchett, del Toro on the femme fatale of ‘Nightmare Alley’

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Blanchett, del Toro on the femme fatale of ‘Nightmare Alley’
This image released by Searchlight Pictures shows Cate Blanchett, left, and Bradley Cooper in a scene from "Nightmare Alley." (Searchlight Pictures via AP)

With a touch of Barbara Stanwyck, a sumptuous Art Deco office and a deadly shade of crimson lipstick, Cate Blanchett plays a femme fatale in Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” with cunning embrace and subversion of the film noir archetype.

If “Nightmare Alley” is del Toro’s lushly composed love letter to noir, the movie’s pulpy heart is in Blanchett’s conniving psychiatrist Lilith Ritter. She doesn’t enter the film until halfway through, when Bradley Cooper’s carnival huckster, Stan, catches her eye in his nightclub mind-reading act, and the two begin scheming together. But when she does turn up, Blanchett shifts the film’s fable-like frequency, conjuring deeper shades of mystery from the movie’s rich tapestry of shadow and fate.

“We tailored the part for her, but she fit in those clothes on the first try,” says del Toro.

In period films like “Carol,” “The Good German” and “The Aviator,” Blanchett has often evoked a classical kind of mid-century movie stardom. But in “Nightmare Alley,” an adaptation of the ’40s novel first made into Edmund Golding’s well-regarded 1947 film (currently streaming on the Criterion Channel), Blanchett slides into one of the movies’ most iconic types by trading less on her character’s seductiveness than on her razor-sharp intellect.

“What I thought was timely and dangerous about this story was it’s an exploration of the truth,” Blanchett said in an interview from Brighton, England. “Playing such a deliberately mysterious and ambiguous character I found really challenging because you have to know there’s a lot going on, but you’re never invited into exactly what she’s thinking.”

It’s one of two roles this December for Blanchett that revolve centrally around American deception and disinformation. There’s “Nightmare Alley,” currently in theaters, and Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up,” which arrives Friday on Netflix. In the latter, she plays a TV morning news anchor who cheerfully steers the news away from an impending asteroid doomsday and toward lighter subjects — like the sex appeal of Leonardo DiCaprio’s scientist.

There may be something timeless about Blanchett in “Nightmare Alley,” but to her, both films are characterized by their timeliness.

“It was such a privilege to be on a film set in this particular point in human history,” Blanchett says. “One should always be alive to the time in which what you’re making is going to be viewed. I never felt that more profoundly than making these two films.”

Blanchett and del Toro had discussed various projects for years but came together for the first time on “Nightmare Alley.” (She also voices a role in the director’s upcoming stop-motion animated “Pinocchio” — another film about truth telling.)

Del Toro, who calls his kinship with author James M. Cain “profound,” had long pined to pay tribute to noir. His affection for the genre runs deep. In his previous film, the best-picture Oscar-winner “The Shape of Water,” del Toro explicitly referenced Otto Preminger’s “Fallen Angel.” An avid collector, del Toro calls the portrait that hangs in Preminger’s “Laura” “the one prop I would kill to own.”

“I read all of (Raymond) Chandler right before I married,” says del Toro. “I’m not sure why.”

Del Toro scripted “Nightmare Alley” with film critic Kim Morgan, whom he wed earlier this year. His taste in noir leans toward seedy, rather than the more elegant varieties, and films that inhabit an audacious psychology.

“I like these characters, like Bette Davis in ‘Beyond the Forest,’ who are too smart for their environment,” he says. “I root for them not because I think they do things that are good but because I agree that they are left without recourse in what seems like a rigged game. That’s the noir that I find interesting.”

One touchstone for “Nightmare Alley” was 1949’s “Too Late for Tears,” a nasty noir starring Lizabeth Scott as a housewife who finds a bag full of cash. (Del Toro and Morgan screened it recently on TCM.) Tasting a chance for freedom from her husband and more, Scott’s character clings to the money. Del Toro and Morgan envisioned Lilith similarly as operating within a male-controlled society.

“Frankly, it’s the character I was completely passionate about creating with Cate,” he says. “She’s almost like an avenger. We said: Whatever happened to her in the past, she’s sort of righting the wrongs.”

To Blanchett, the term femme fatale suggests a diabolical woman — “like a siren seeking to draw the male character onto the rocks to destroy them for no reason apart from they have diabolical urges.”

Blanchett and del Toro instead played with subtle gradations in Lilith’s motives. Blanchett thought one line of dialogue was too straightforward, and del Toro agreed in cutting it. But he still quotes the speech a little ruefully: “Do you know what it is for a woman like me to grow up in a town where the smartest man is just a stupid beast?”

“Even though there’s nothing explicit that Lilith says about her background, there’s a sense that she’s damaged goods from the system, that she wants to burn down and she’s going to use Stan to do it,” says Blanchett. “Her faith in him and the men who run the system is nonexistent.”

Del Toro shot Blanchett’s scenes with Cooper, he says, like three 5-10-minute miniature plays. Inside Lilith’s ornate, wood-paneled office, the two con artists dance — a shifting drama told through blocking and camera movement. It’s a chess game that Lilith, inevitably, will win. AP

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