Catherine “Cate” Blanchett, 46, 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 for her evocative performance as the titular character in Todd Haynes’ Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, The Price of Salt.
It’s 1952 in Manhattan and this glamorous, sophisticated woman slowly seduces a wide-eyed shop assistant (Rooney Mara) while going through the struggles of a divorce and subsequent custody battle over her young daughter.
Of course, same-gender sexual relationships in the 1950s were, for the most part, not played out in public, this being a time when homosexuality was largely viewed as a psychological defect; a ‘condition’ to overcome. “It was the first novel I remember where a gay romance didn’t end with either one killing themselves, nor were they redeemed by some sort of ‘normal’ love,” says Blanchett. “It was revelatory and it shone a light on the 1950s through a different lens.” Carol marks the second time Blanchett has acted in a movie adapted from a Highsmith novel, the first being The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). “I am a huge fan of hers.”
This past year she has also starred in political docudrama, Truth, playing CBS news producer, Marla Mapes, opposite Robert Redford as television news legend Dan Rather. Based on Mapes’ memoir, “Truth and Duty: the Press, the President and the Privilege of Power, the film garnered rave reviews for this multi-award winning actress.
Despite the litany of accolades that accompany her name, Blanchett is remarkably down-to-earth. She’s been married to writer-director Andrew Upton for 18 years, and they are raising three sons and their newly-adopted daughter.
From 2008 until 2012, the couple worked as Co-Artistic Directors of the Sydney Theatre Company, during which time Blanchett directed, produced and starred in productions for the company.
“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.”
Approximately 50 films later, Blanchett will next be seen next in Manifesto, written and directed by Julian Rosefeldt in which she plays 13 different roles performing various manifestos. She follows with the lead in an untitled Terrence Malick film.
Her auspicious career began with a searing performance in 1992’s Oleanna at the Sydney Theatre Company. 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 measures 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 Australian actors. She followed up with another Oscar in 2014 for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, which also earned her a Golden Globe. 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.
One of Hollywood’s most prolific actresses, Blanchett announced recently that she feels she has made too many films. We beg to differ.