If ever she wanted to be, Carey Mulligan could be a way bigger star or Jessica Chastain-like. She has game, she's a one-of-a-kind talent, and has a great sense of humour. She told Variety earlier this month that she hasn't really made a major studio movie since The Great Gatsby, and she's cool with that because she wasn't so into her performance. I believe her.
When I covered her at the Mudbound premiere at TIFF last week, she was swearing at photographers (in jest) because they were, as she told us, using accents to make her "break" and get her to laugh to get a more dynamic shot. You can watch the interview here. This was her first real red carpet appearance since her second "secret" baby was born. She was last photographed kind of maybe looking pregnant earlier in the summer, but it was never quite confirmed. She did confirm it a night before the Mudbound premiere though and knew exactly what she was doing on that red carpet. We were in the first interview position. Carey knew we were trying to in a roundabout way get her to give us a quote about how she played a mom to two little girls in Mudbound, and whether being a mom (purposely keeping it ambiguous about baby number two) influenced her decision making process. She didn't balk. She played ball and gave us a thoughtful "yes."
"I think every year you get older your life kind of infuses your work, and definitely having a child changes everything... So every time I play a mother now it feels very different, having children, than it did before. That all went into the film and you're so grateful that your experience is different to the characters that you're portraying."
The headlines from that red carpet weren't about Mudbound specifically. Go Fug Yourself wrote, "Sh-t, Carey Mulligan had her baby and no one knew." Maybe we all should have read more into how her "life kind of infuses your work" quote could reflect her own choices. It's possible that then, about a week ago, Carey had been working on something even more personal than a buzzy movie premiere (a Mudbound review will likely come closer to release). This morning, a heartfelt blog Carey wrote about her grandmother's life with Alzheimer's dropped today on Huffington Post UK.
When you think about Alzheimer's and celebrity, you might remember Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller Rogen's work with Hilarity for Charity. Or Maria Shriver's activism. Or Joey McIntyre's mom, depending on your demo. They all do great work. Important work. Like them, this has been Carey’s cause. In 2012, she recorded a video for the Alzheimer's Society about her "nans" living with her condition for 11 years. Earlier this year, she recorded another video for the organization and talked about how she was taking on a new role as a global ambassador.
Her blog post, though, is a plea for compassion and change. Once again, she relives her favourite childhood memories with her Nans, memories about baking and holidays. It's also about her final memories, and about going through her things when she passed away, or having the "privilege" of being an ambassador for Alzheimer's Society even though one could infer it can or may be exhausting work. She's also open about the "frightening and upsetting" times in the beginning of her grandmother’s diagnosis. Have you seen the amazing Sarah Polley movie Away From Her? At the start of Carey's post, it feels a bit like the shock you feel for Gordon Pinsent's character at the start of the movie, before he realizes that his wife (Julie Christie) is just trying to feel love.
Soon, Carey transitions into writing about how each resident in her grandmother's care home had a vibrant life and loving family. Then she adds that many of the nurses or support staff became part of that family. She claims there was "never a dull moment" when visiting her.
This part moved me the most:
"I remembered sitting with her listening to opera music together as she tapped her hand in perfect time. I remembered my husband playing a mandolin for her when they first met and the smile on her face. I remembered whispering in her ear before almost anyone else knew that I was expecting my first child. I remembered the look of utter contentment on her face when my mother kissed her face.
I am so lucky I had those times with her, and I hold the memories as fiercely as all of those before Nans became ill. I wouldn’t sacrifice them for anything. Nans may not have been able to speak the words but the warmth and love and joy of all of those moments were as real for her as they were for me."
Over the years, Carey's been extra frank about how families need to keep visiting and taking care of their family members or loved ones, even if it's hard. She's talked in the past about "calmness or companionship" or that, "It felt like she was being taken from us". This time around, Carey's trying to break the stigma about how challenging this can be. To let people know that they're not alone, and to have compassion. She may not be the most "interesting celebrity" by box office, or (maybe not always) by prestige (possibly all by her choice), but this was the most refreshing and authentic celebrity blog I may have read in recent memory.
So, yes, Carey is even cooler now. On World Alzheimer's Day.
Here's Carey at the TIFF premiere of Mudbound last week.