In writer-director Todd Field’s favorite awards season tarCate Blanchett’s performance as the world famous (fictional) conductor Lydia Tár is equivalent to that of Beethoven Symphony No. 5: full of grand gestures and emotional and irresistible pomp. She’s the first woman to conduct the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and an EGOT winner to boot, but she’s also a monstrous genius who has risen to the top of the classical music world without little care for the people she took advantage of and abused along the way. Throughout the film, like the plot of any good opera, Lydia Tár’s heroic triumph is followed by her tragic fall, as the conductor falls victim to a “culture of cancellations” ” and more precisely her own egotism.
Against Blanchett’s iconic role of cymbals, as if opposed to the music, we have Nina Hoss as Sharon Goodnow, the first Philharmonic violinist, Lydia’s wife and full-time mother the time of their daughter, Petra.
While Blanchett’s Lydia is full of nerves and naked ambition, Hoss’s performance is pure pianissimo. The often-tired Sharon, seemingly resigned to her fate as the conductor’s long-suffering housewife, accepts Lydia’s frequent affair with young patrons. However, with just a few minutes on the screen, Sharon has set herself up against Lydia. Hoss experiences a wide range of emotions, from love and hurt to anger and grief, to a tough determination against self-delusion. She could even be Lydia’s secret supporter, the power behind the throne.
“You can play Sharon as a betrayed, abandoned wife, but I find it more interesting to think of her as someone who helps keep the power system intact,” says Hoss, “a person decide when to look away, when not to ask questions.”
Seen through this prism, Sharon is the eyes and ears of tar, and Hoss is the heart and soul of the film. As a concert conductor and first violinist, Sharon really set the tone for the orchestra. And Hoss, often with just a glance or an eyebrow, has power over the orchestra and over Lydia. In Hoss’ first scene in the film, Sharon, seemingly distraught, tells Lydia that Petra comes home from school with bruises on her leg, possibly the result of being bullied at school.
“I don’t know if Todd meant it, but I read something in that scene — that Sharon knew what she was doing,” Hoss said. “She knows what Lydia will do with this information.”
Cut-scenes of Lydia hunting down the bully with pints in the schoolyard: “I’m Petra’s father,” she growled in German at the frightened little girl. “If you don’t stop, I’ll get you.”
“That’s when I realized who and what Sharon is,” says Hoss. She likes the power and privilege that being married to Lydia brings, but she doesn’t want to do the dirty work herself.”
Field offered Hoss the role after meeting her in 2019 Audienceco-written and directed by Ina Weisse, in which she plays an obsessive violinist whose life is slowly unraveling.
“He knew I could play the violin, but he also watched my other roles,” the 47-year-old actress said of her first meeting with Field. “When we talked, he said, ‘I have a role, but I don’t know if there’s enough meat here for you.’ “
In German cinema, Hoss is used to playing the main role. She is best known for starring in six films directed by Christian Petzold, including Phoenix (2014), Barbara (2012) and yella (2007), and is often considered the director’s muse. (Less romantic, Petzold once described Hoss as Bausparvertragor build an investment contract, meaning she is the investment that has brought great returns to his films.) Phoenix, in which she plays a Holocaust survivor who undergoes plastic surgery and struggles to reconstruct her identity, Hoss has taken a creative break with Petzold. “It’s time to take a break,” she said, “and get ready for something new.”
Those new things include American movies and television. Before tarHoss appeared in Anton Corbijn’s 2014 film Most Wanted Man alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman and played German agent Astrid in three seasons of Showtime’s Countryside. She also starred in the Netflix short-lived crime thriller Play soccer with Taylor Kitsch and Michael C. Hall, and will appear in the upcoming third season of Prime Video’s Jack Ryan. But, she noted, it was tar “that really opened the door” to Hollywood. “It’s like seeing me in that role, with Cate, making people understand my other German performances and how they might fit in with me,” she said.
In September, Hoss signed with CAA, and for the first time in her career, she actively participates in meetings with HBO, Apple TV+, Fox Searchlight and Focus Features (distribution). tar).
“The projects I’m talking about all have the same kind of finely drawn characters, deep and challenging stories, which is what I want to stick with,” says Hoss. After 25 years in the business, her big break now “feels a bit bizarre,” she said. “But it’s also amazing. I didn’t think, at this stage of my life, this would still happen to me.”
This story first appeared in the December independent issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.