When you think of Woody Allen’s great characters, you might
consider the ones the prolific filmmaker writes for himself (or his male stand-ins). Or you might think of any one of the memorable female roles that Allen has imagined over the course of his five-decade career. In this week’s issue of TIME, Richard Corliss makes the case for Woody Allen as America’s great creator of “women’s films.” Rather than turn his lens to the the male-centric stories that so often dominate cineplexes, Allen examines, time and again, the themes of sisterhood and troubled minds that happen to be female. And the women who get to play those parts are often recognized for doing so: actresses who’ve appeared in Woody Allen’s movies have earned 11 Oscar nominations for their work in those roles.
In Allen’s latest film, Blue Jasmine (in theaters July 26), the actress who plays that grand—if not always good—woman is Cate Blanchett. As she tells TIME, she was fascinated by the classic dilemma Woody Allen crafted for her character out of the tension between perception and reality: “It’s very pleasant to choose fantasy,” she says, “but there lies madness.”
And, predicts Richard Corliss, Blanchett may be on the way to rounding out the Oscar-nod count at an even dozen. Blanchett spoke to TIME about working with the legendary writer-director and playing the complicated character he created.