Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
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Catherine “Cate” Blanchett, 44, is one of the world’s most acclaimed actresses and one who continues to surprise and electrify at every turn, be it in film, on television or on stage. This exciting awards season sees Blanchett gracing nomination lists galore for her searing turn in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, widely acknowledged to be his best film in a while. Blanchett too is at her thespian chameleon best as Jasmine, still trying to play the part of an uppercrust Manhattan society dame while life falls apart at her drug-addled designer seams. Forced to move in with her sister (British actress Sally Hawkins), Jasmine finds her new San Francisco accommodation totally lacking but, in being forced to live beneath what she considers her means, discovers the life that a ‘normal’ world can provide.
Blanchett is all about the normal as well, as she navigates her global tour of very different characters in different mediums. She lives in Sydney with her husband of sixteen years, writer-director Andrew Upton (with whom she was until recently co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company) and their three sons. The couple took on the STC assignment in 2008 during which time Blanchett has directed, produced and starred in productions for the company. Only this year she took a small step back to refocus on her film work, leaving Upton to finish out their term.
“I remember when I came out of drama school I’d seen a lot of actors, brilliant actors who didn’t work very often. And when you’re starting out, there’s more rejection than there is acceptance, and I said to myself, “I’ll give it five years. I don’t think I have a strong enough mettle to deal with the rejections.”
Forty-three films later, Blanchett will next be seen next in The Monuments Men in which GeorgeClooney directs and stars alongside Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville. She will also reprise her relationship with director Todd Haynes (she earned a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her turn as Bob Dylan in his 2007 film I’m Not There) in the film version of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt. She will also appear as the wicked stepmother in Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming version of Cinderella, as well as in David Mamet’s Blackbird. Not their first collaboration, it was in Mamet’s play Oleanna that Blanchett made her professional debut at the Sydney Theatre Company in 1992. She continued to work in theatre and television and made her film debut in 1997’s Paradise Road for Bruce Beresford alongside Glenn Close, Frances McDormand and Julianna Margulies. By the time she won her first major international starring role - as Queen Elizabeth I in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth - she already had two awards under her belt: Sydney Theatre Critics’ Best Newcomer and the Australian Film Institute’s Best Supporting Actress. Clearly, this was a sign of things to come.
Blanchett was nominated for virtually every award on the planet for Elizabeth and has continued to use her intellect, versatile looks and phenomenal talent to extraordinary measure in everything from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (she reportedly played Steven Spielberg’s favorite villain from the series) to The Aviator in which she played Katharine Hepburn (and became the only woman to win an Oscar for playing another Oscar-winning one). Unsurprisingly, Blanchett’s 2004 Oscar is not front and center at her home because she has loaned it to The Australian Centre for the Moving Image to inspire future generations of Aussie actors. She is also one of four Australian acting legends on a special edition of postage stamps in her beloved homeland.
“It was Nicole, Russell, Geoffrey and I made into stamps. I was really chuffed. And the irony is that there was a picture of me as Queen Elizabeth on an Australian stamp. That was pretty cool.”
Of course she has achieved her greatest fame in one of her smallest roles, as Elf Queen Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She has reprised her role for The Hobbit trilogy. Always one to find humor in her life and work, Blanchett says she took the role because she wanted “pointed ears”. She subsequently had her prop ears bronzed for posterity.
Blanchett announced recently that she feels she has made too many films. We beg to differ.