The Curious Case Of Blanchett
With a steady stream of new actors and actresses finding their way onto the big screen each year, it’s fair to assume that many stars have a short shelf life in Hollywood. While this may be the case for some, there is handful of talent that have – through their sheer skill and popularity – become a mainstay on the Hollywood scene.
With two Oscars, three Golden Globes and three BAFTAs, to name but a few, Cate Blanchett is one woman that has secured herself a spot in Hollywood’s history books.
Australian-born Cate made her big screen debut in 1997 and has gone on to star in many blockbuster hits. In fact, Cate has starred in some of the world’s most successful film franchises including The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) trilogy and The Hobbit series (2012-2015). She has also been a key part in gritty feature films such as Babel (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Truth (2015).
With a C.V. as impressive as Cate’s, and having been hailed by many as one of the Hollywood greats, many would presume that she is a confident actress but even after 20 years at the top of her game, she has been known to describe herself as “eternally dissatisfied.”
Cate’s early roles set the scene for her distinguished career opting for roles in the gritty Paradise Road (1997) and the poignant Oscar and Lucinda (1997). However, it was Cate’s game-changing turn in Shekhar Kapur’s 1998 film Elizabeth, where she took on the iconic role of Queen Elizabeth I, which saw her rise to the top of directors’ casting lists.
The irony of Cate’s high standards with her performances reared its ugly head once filming for Elizabeth had wrapped. In an interview with The Guardian she admitted that she phoned her agent, saying, “I’ve ended my career before it’s even begun!” This went on to be the film that saw her win her first ever BAFTA and Golden Globe award.
The deep dissatisfaction she feels is not down to lack of praise, though. Quite the contrary in fact, the directors that followed Shekhar, to feature Cate in their films, have always been quick to give her praise. Casting her in his 1999 film, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Anthony Minghella spoke highly of her acting talent “Blanchett is the Bach of acting, giving the lie to the myth that artists have to lead eccentric or destructive lives in order to be any good […] she talks about the shedding of skin when acting and I think she shares this with only a handful of her peers - Juliet Stevenson, Juliette Binoche and Meryl Streep among them - the hotline to the heart, the glimpse of soul, tiny flashes of joy and pain. It’s as if she is letting you into her secrets.”
Cate is a director’s dream – professional, knowledgeable, versatile and accurate, but not an obsessive perfectionist, making her a pleasure to work with. Woody Allen was another director to notice this. In 2013, the acclaimed director cast her as New York socialite Jasmine, in his film Blue Jasmine. He said of her casting: “She was my first choice. She’s not the only great actress in the world but she is certainly one of the few great actresses in the world.” Cate thrived in the role and although it presented her with one of her most challenging parts to date, her stunning performance went on to win her, her second Oscar (the first came in 2009 after her performance in Aviator), a BAFTA and a SAGA award.
As one of Hollywood’s most beautiful and put-together women, it could be easy to assume life has been easy for Cate, however her life of stardom could have been very different, with her teens tainted by tragedy.
On 14 May 1969 Catherine Blanchett, was born in sunny Melbourne, Australia, to parents June and Robert but ten years later tragedy ripped Cate’s nuclear upbringing apart. The passing of her father when she was just 10 years old has been, and will undoubtedly still be, the topic for many interviews, with journalists seeking to find cracks in the effortless grace of Cate. Understandably, wanting to brush over the topic, Cate always tackles it with dignity, and once explained to The New Yorker that she doesn’t “necessarily need to consciously understand [her] past.”
It was a situation which could have seen Cate spiral out of control as many have done before her. Instead, she was encouraged to continue her education, attending Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School followed by the Methodist Ladies’ College. It was at the latter that she began exploring the idea of a career in acting. Her education ended at the National Institute of Dramatic Art from where she graduated in 1992.
In 1996 Cate met her husband Andrew Upton in what became quite the whirlwind romance. Engaged after just 21 days of meeting, and married in December 1997, Andrew and Cate have four children together and are considered one of Hollywood’s most rock-solid partnerships. 2017 marks their 20th anniversary.
Despite a busy home life, Cate isn’t one to take her foot off the pedal and 2018 will also see Cate grace our screens once again for not just one, but three, very different films – The Jungle Book Origins, Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and Ocean’s Eight. The latter is perhaps the most highly anticipated and will see her work alongside the likes of Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock and Helena Bonham Carter. This female remake of the billion-dollar Oceans trilogy will follow seven female thieves as they embark on a huge bank heist.
Alec Baldwin: “I wanted to work with Cate Blanchett. She is one of the five greatest movie actresses of her generation.”
Brad Pitt: “Cate Blanchett is mesmerising. I don’t know why. It’s beyond my understanding. Why we all want to work with her is she elevates the rest of us. She’s just got some ethereal grace and elegance that’s beyond me, and an acute understanding of human nature. She’s just exquisite. She’s otherworldly.”
Rooney Mara: “Just working with someone who you think is the best at what you do. It’s terrifying to stand beside them and try to do it with them.”
Ashley Greene: “I love Cate Blanchett. She’s extremely classy and has this knack for taking on roles and being very, very strong, but also embedding vulnerability. She has this relatable quality. I like the path she chose.”
Kate Bosworth: “When I watch people like Cate Blanchett act, I don’t know what is going on in her life, you just get lost in her performance and that’s what I hope to do so well.”