“It feels really nice to be at this festival eating lots of free cheese,” Blake Lively said as she sat down with reporters at a Cannes luncheon earlier today. Lively was there to promote Woody Allen’s Café Society, though she told me she hadn’t had time to look into the Ronan Farrow editorial that had Hollywood buzzing: “I don’t want to speak on something I haven’t read, that’s dangerous.”
But Lively was happy to talk about Café Society’s 1930s setting, which came as something of a surprise to her: When she auditioned to play the role as a Manhattan socialite who becomes romantically entangled with Jesse Eisenberg, she wasn’t told the film’s premise or even the time period the movie takes place in. Fortunately, Lively is self-schooled in all things retro, and could adapt accordingly, which she attributed to a major television addiction shared by her husband, Ryan Reynolds.
“I watch a lot of TCM!” she said excitedly. “TCM is the best. That’s always on at my house, sometimes on silent, sometimes not.”
Lively began to rattle off trivia she had learned from the classic-movie network, including a piece of gossip about Katharine Hepburn’s performance in Bringing Up Baby: “She had never been in a comedy before, so they surrounded her with vaudeville actors and comic extras, sitting behind the monitor, and they were there around her at all times, helping bring out that side of her … it’s neat to hear those stories.”
“Do you guys watch TCM?” she asked, nibbling on some prosciutto. I nodded, and asked her if she had any aspirations to guest-program it one day.
“That’s my husband’s dream job!” she said. “To be Ben Mankiewicz or Robert Osborne.” And would she like to deliver a tribute to Hollywood actresses of the 1930s, pegged to Café Society? “I would love that,” she said, eyes lit up. In fact, Lively confessed she’d rather be chilling in front of the TV, watching an old film, rather than traipsing down the Cannes red carpet: “I do this stuff for my job where I dress up and do social things, but normally I’m at home getting peed on.” Off our raised eyebrows, she added, “By my daughter. Not my husband, let’s be clear.”