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Some people change your life forever.

Rooney as: Therese Belivet
Genre(s): Drama | Romance
Written by: Phyllis Nagy (screenplay), Patricia Highsmith (novel)
Directed by: Todd Haynes
Other Cast: Cate Blanchett, Kyle Chandler, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Production Budget:
Total Worldwide Gross: $40.2m
Filming Locations: Cincinnati, Ohio

  • In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, Carol follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the h eart in the face of change.

    A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens.

    While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her compe tence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light. Carol is directed by Todd Haynes and written by Phyllis Nagy with moving performances from Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy and Cory Michael Smith.

    Production Info

  • Although Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara weren’t required to be on the other end of the line whenever they talk on the phone, they offered to do so to help each other out. Whenever Carol and Therese talk to each other on the phone, Blanchett and Mara were really on the other end of the line.
  • The character of Carol Aird was inspired by Virginia Kent Catherwood, a Philadelphia socialite six years older than Patricia Highsmith with whom the author had a love affair in the 1940s. Catherwood lost custody of her daughter after her homosexuality was used against her with a taped recording of a lesbian liaison she had in a hotel room.
  • Rooney Mara’s award-season campaign caused controversy due to the studio’s decision to place her in contention for supporting actress. Mara has 71 minutes of screen time, or 60% of the film’s running time. Cate Blanchett, nominated in the leading category, had 6 fewer minutes of screen time than Mara, clocking in at 65 minutes or 54% of run time.
  • The three boys that run up to the model train set display in Frankenberg’s toy department after Carol has walked away from it are Dashiell, Roman and Ignatius Upton, the sons of Cate Blanchett and husband Andrew Upton.
  • Rooney Mara had been offered the role of Therese after completing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but she passed on the project after doubting her ability to pull off the role. Mia Wasikowska was then attached, but later left the project due to scheduling conflicts with Crimson Peak. Mara came on board again in 2013 when Todd Haynes had signed on direct.
  • The movie is set between Christmas season 1952 and early 1953. In the New York Times office scene with Therese and the photo editors, a calendar on the wall is for the month of “April 1953”, and in the note Carol wrote to Therese she asks her if they could meet that evening, “Friday, April 17”. This lets the audience know that 3-½ months have passed since Carol and Therese were last together.
  • Carol was shot on Super 16 millimeter film to resemble the look and feel of photographic film from the late 1940s/early 1950s. The cinematography was influenced by the photojournalism of Vivian Maier, Ruth Orkin, Helen Levitt, and Esther Bubley. Photography by Saul Leiter (known for shooting through windows and using reflection) was a key influence.
  • Both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara wore wigs throughout filming.
  • The second adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel that Cate Blanchett has starred in. The first was The Talented Mr. Ripley.
  • The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, and surrounding areas doubled for 1950s New York City and New Jersey. Shot in the Spring of 2014, filming locations included Downtown Cincinnati, Eden Park, Hyde Park, Over-the-Rhine; and cities of Cheviot, Hamilton, Lebanon, and Wyoming. Additional filming locations included Alexandria, a town in northern Kentucky.
  • With the exception of the suit she wears in the bookends of the film, all of Rooney Mara’s costumes are vintage, well-worn clothing. Her character would likely have re-worn the same clothes for years, and the vintage clothing provided that lived-in feeling. Because Carol comes from an upper class background – and because of the film’s small budget – it would have been very difficult to secure vintage costumes in pristine condition at a low cost, so her clothes are recreations.
  • Character Quotes

  • Wine makes me feel naughty but in a good way.
  • I want to ask you things. But I’m not sure that you want that.
  • I could get used to having a whole city to myself.
  • I always spend New Year’s alone. In crowds. I’m not alone this year.
  • I should have said no to you. But I never say no. And it’s selfish because… Because I just take everything and I don’t know anything and… I don’t know what I want. And how could I, when all I ever do is say yes to everything?
  • [Carol lights cigarette]
    Therese: I’m sorry. You’re not allowed to smoke on the sales floor.
    Carol: Oh, of all the… Forgive me. Shopping makes me nervous.
    Therese: That’s all right. Working here makes me nervous.
  • Carol: So what kind of name is Belivet?
    Therese: It’s Czech. It’s changed. Originally it was…
    Carol: It’s very original.
    Therese: Well.
    Carol: And your first name?
    Therese: Therese.
    Carol: Therese. Not Teresa?
    Therese: No.
    Carol: Therese Belivet. That’s lovely.
    Therese: And yours?
    Carol: Carol.
    Therese: Carol.
  • Carol: Do you live alone, Therese Belivet?
    Therese: [Laughing] I do. Well, there’s Richard. He’d like to live with me. Oh, no, it’s nothing like that. I mean, he’d like to marry me.
    Carol: I see. And would you like to marry him?
    Therese: Well… I barely even know what to order for lunch.
  • Carol: Were those pictures of me you were taking at the tree lot?
    Therese: I’m sorry. I should have asked.
    Carol: Oh, don’t apologize.
    Therese: I’ve just been trying to… Well I have a friend who told me I should me more interested in humans.
    Carol: [Laughing] And how’s that going?
    Therese: It’s going well, actually.
  • Carol: Will you show me your work?
    Therese: Sure. I mean, I haven’t sold anything. Or even shown a picture to someone who could buy one. I don’t even have a decent camera. But they’re all at my place. Under the sink, mostly.
    Carol: Invite me around.
  • Therese: Have you ever been in love with a boy?
    Richard: No.
    Therese: But you’ve heard of it?
    Richard: Of course. I mean, have I heard of people like that? Sure.
    Therese: I don’t mean people like that. I just mean two people who fall in love with each other. Say, a boy and a boy, out of the blue.
    Richard: I don’t know anyone like that. But I’ll tell you this. There’s always some reason for it, in the background.
    Therese: So you don’t think it could just happen to somebody, to anybody?
    Richard: No, I don’t. What are you saying? Are you in love with a girl?
    Therese: No.
    Richard: Don’t you know I want to spend my life with you? Come to France with me. Let’s get married.
    Therese: Richard, I’m not ready for that. I can’t just make myself.
  • Richard: You know what I think? I think two weeks from now you’re going to be wishing that… She’s going to get tired of you and you’re going to wish that you never…
    Therese: You don’t understand!
    Richard: Oh, I do. I understand completely. You’re in a trance!
    Therese: I’m wide awake. I’ve never been more awake in my life. Why don’t you leave me alone?
  • Quoting: Rooney Mara

    On her character: Therese is not that grounded — she doesn’t have a home base and is in the middle of figuring out who she wants to be and what she wants her life to look like. Carol really opens her world and her mind to what her life could be like, which helps Therese understand the kind of relationships she wants to have.

    On Therese’s struggle with her emotions: When you’re falling in love, your mind kind of works the way a criminal’s mind would. You are constantly thinking about different scenarios and different things that could go wrong or different.

    On Therese and Carol’s relationship: Both of the women are coming of age in a different way. They’re both at a stage of life where they have to decide what kind of women they’re going to be and if they’re going to live their truth or continue on in this life that doesn’t really feel like theirs.

    On referencing the novel for her performance: I had a copy in my trailer. It’s written from my character’s point of view, so you get to be in her head for the entire book. That’s a gift for an actor. Therese doesn’t fit into this cookie-cutter world that she’s in, and she’s not really sure why.

    On becoming involved with the film: I actually passed on Carol when I was first offered it because I was exhausted from making the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was out of fear of not being good that I turned it down. A year later they came back to me when Todd Haynes was attached to it and I was in a completely different mindset. I re-read it and couldn’t believe that I had passed on it – it felt like something I really wanted to do.

    On working with Cate Blanchett: People keep asking me what we did to work on our chemistry. But you can’t force chemistry. Either it’s there or it’s not. Actually, for most of our relationship in the film there is this tension between our characters. There isn’t closeness. We’re sort of figuring each other out. Therese is just in awe of this creature Carol, and I was very much in awe of Cate.

    On working with Cate Blanchett: It’s been years since I’ve worked with women in any real way, so to get to do so many scenes with Cate and Sarah [Paulson] was really different for me and it was really fun. Cate’s on a different level to most people – I’ve looked up to her since I was 13 or something. I was probably nervous to work with her the whole time, but she’s such a generous actor – she’s so low key and funny – I don’t think people know that about her. She’s got that great Australian wit.

    On working with Todd Haynes: Todd is such an incredible storyteller for women. He loves and respects women so much and you can really feel that in this work. Carol is very different from any other period love story – it’s not your typical love story or your typical period piece, and that’s all down to Todd.

    On working with Todd Haynes: A woman couldn’t have made this movie any more beautifully than Todd did. He just has this way into female stories and characters. I think he deeply loves and respects women, and he’s not afraid of them. There’s no gap between men and women with him. I know a lot of writers who are terrified of writing female dialogue. Why? We’re all humans. And I felt very safe with Todd. The character is super-vulnerable and naïve. I have those qualities in myself. They’re not qualities that I let out easily or often, and it felt very safe to do it around Todd.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Todd Haynes: I have always had an interest in performers who play against the most obvious of expectations and are able to find something secret, something withheld, and some level of restraint. I find that so many of her choices are interesting. When I saw Side Effects, the Steven Soderbergh film, where she’s having to play up the reality and the ruse at the same time, that the effects of depression through prescription drug addiction, I saw a kind of reserve of despair and a full emotional range. From that performance, I just knew that she could also play someone who’s emotional range is sort of unformed, young, uncertain and awkward. I knew that we could watch Rooney evolve into something else in the course of the film, and that was what I most wanted for Therese, a finding of her own identity.

    Director Todd Haynes: She has so much integrity, and such a surprising sense of understatement. She really understands the medium of film and its ability to convey emotional changes with very small, almost invisible gestures. She knows her own strength.

    Co-star Cate Blanchett: Rooney plays her acting cards pretty close to her chest, but when she plays her hand, it is breathtaking, beautifully judged, connected and felt.

    Critical Response

    Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Mara is a remarkable screen entity, with a delicate prettiness that, in her case, somehow suggests not sweetness or fragility but unknown depths. She could play a saint or an ax murderer, or an ax murderer who makes everyone think she’s a saint, and be perfectly convincing just by looking into the camera and thinking that way.

    Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: It would be difficult to exaggerate how completely inside their respective roles Blanchett and Mara are or how beautifully they play off each other with their combination of elegance and tentativeness. Because Carol is the more experienced character, Blanchett’s role has somewhat greater complexity, but the wordless looks of palpable yearning they exchange are superbly done on both sides.

    Jessica Kiang, The Playlist: Mara is the revelation, investing Therese with a very gentle witchiness that makes Carol’s description of her as “flung out of space” all the more appropriate: she is a little bit of an alien.

    Anthony Lane, The New Yorker: The film is a casting coup, with Blanchett’s inherent languor—plus that low drawl of hers, a breath away from boredom—played off against the perter intelligence of Mara, whose manner, as always, is caught between the alien and the avian. (“What a strange girl you are. Flung out of space,” Carol says to Therese.) Mara pecks at the world, testing it out before taking it on, and, if Haynes can’t resist adding winged liner to the corners of her eyes, thus re-creating the young Audrey Hepburn, I don’t blame him.

    Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: Therese is unformed clay, which makes her largely a reactive character most of the way. But Mara really comes into her own in the story’s latter stages as, without overt melodrama, Therese realizes what she wants. Thanks largely to how Mara shapes her characterization in the home stretch, the final, dialogue-free scene is a knockout.

    Awards and Nominations

    Below is a list of all accolades Rooney has received for her role in the film.

    NOMINATED: Academy Awards – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
    NOMINATED: Alliance of Women Film Journalists – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Austin Film Critics Association – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: Awards Circuit Community Awards – Best Actress in a Leading Role
    NOMINATED: BAFTA Film Award – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Central Ohio Film Critics Association – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Critics’ Choice Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Dorian Awards – Performance of the Year (Actress)
    NOMINATED: Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards – Best Actress (Runner-up)
    NOMINATED: Film Independent Spirit Awards – Best Female Lead
    NOMINATED: Florida Film Critics Circle Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Georgia Film Critics Association – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: Gold Derby Awards – Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Golden Globes – Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama)
    NOMINATED: Indiewire Critics’ Poll – Best Lead Actress
    NOMINATED: Indiewire Critics’ Poll – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: International Online Cinema Awards – Best Ensemble Cast
    NOMINATED: Iowa Film Critics Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – Actress of the Year
    NOMINATED: North Carolina Film Critics Association – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Online Film & Television Association – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: San Francisco Film Critics Circle – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: Satellite Awards – Best Actress in a Supporting Role
    NOMINATED: Seattle Film Critics Awards – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: St. Louis Film Critics Association – Best Supporting Actress (Runner-up)
    NOMINATED: Toronto Film Critics Association Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    NOMINATED: Village Voice Film Poll – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: Village Voice Film Poll – Best Supporting Actress (Runner-up)
    NOMINATED: Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards – Best Supporting Actress

    WON: AACTA International Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    WON: Cannes Film Festival – Best Actress
    WON: Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    WON: Houston Film Critics Society Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    WON: International Cinephile Society Awards – Best Actress
    WON: International Online Cinema Awards – Best Actress
    WON: New York Film Critics Online – Best Supporting Actress
    WON: Online Film Critics Society Awards – Best Supporting Actress
    WON: Palm Springs International Film Festival – Sonny Bono Visionary Award
    WON: Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Cinema Vanguard Award