In Depth

People In Film | Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett | A Villain for the Ages

For Cate Blanchett, an actress who seems to relish broaching new territory with every role she plays, portraying Hanna's Marissa Weigler was an opportunity to show a more sinister side. While Blanchett previously played the comic book baddie Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Weigler – the ice-cold CIA agent ruthlessly pursuing Saoirse Ronan's Hanna – is a villain for the ages, a chillingly real character who conveys a palpable sense of evil. Wiegler’s existence revolves around “the telling of lies and the holding of secrets,” says Blanchett. “Finding Hanna starts out as a professional necessity, but becomes pathological for her. She wants to possess this child; it’s a bit like the Wicked Witch from the Hansel and Gretel story.”

Cate Blanchett | A Queen of the Screen

Blanchett, the daughter of an American father and an Australian mother, grew up and began her acting career Down Under, but has never been labeled––let alone typecast––as an Antipodean. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is that the performance that made the whole world sit up and pay attention to Blanchett was as the iconic English monarch Queen Elizabeth I in director Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth. In an article on the Focus Features website, “Alison Owen on Elizabeth,” the movie's producer explains how she discovered the previously unknown Blanchett: “Our casting director, Vanessa Pereira ...kept saying that she had heard about a great girl who was acting in The Seagull in a theatre in Sydney and that if we were really up against it then we should go and see her. We were about to go into pre-production, so the idea of Shekhar and I getting on a plane to Sydney to see an unknown actress just wasn't going to happen. But Cate Blanchett had just done Oscar & Lucinda, directed by Gillian Armstrong, and  ...[a]s soon as Cate came on screen we were like, 'Oh my god, that's Elizabeth!' We still had to fly Cate over and persuade Polygram to fund the film with her... but it was just so obvious from the moment you saw her that she was Elizabeth that it didn't require any particular cleverness on our part.”

Cate Blanchett | A Class Act

Star quality is not an easy thing to describe; however there is no question that Blanchett has it in spades. In her case, what makes her light up the screen is an unmistakable presence––a combination of poise, grace and classical beauty––that sets her apart from other actresses. If she had been born 500 years earlier, one suspects, she would have been a favorite muse of the Renaissance painters. Writing about Blanchett's timeless look in the New York Times, Daphne Merkin said of her “She is not, in fact, immediately recognizable until you get up close and see those extraordinary wraparound eyes, long, narrow and a searching pale blue. Show-stopping eyes that register emotions with a clarity that conveys some Platonic essence of whatever the emotion in question is. So, I think, this is what it means to be photogenic––to have the kind of face that veils its magic until it meets up with the camera.”

Cate Blanchett | An On-Camera Chameleon

In addition to her striking looks, Blanchett is an actress whose skill is almost unrivaled among her peers. She isn't one to wear massive amounts of makeup––unless her characters do––or use prosthetics, yet she seems to simply become her characters, completely inhabiting each role that she takes on, in part thanks to a perfect ear for accents. The Australian girl who made her name as an English monarch has been equally convincing as a Southern backwoods psychic (The Gift), a fearless Irish journalist (Veronica Guerin), an Elfin queen (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and a Scottish secretary who joins the French Resistance (Charlotte Gray). In her dizzyingly varied gallery of on-screen personas are, lest we forget, also a man (the pseudo-Bob Dylan figure, Jude Quinn, in I'm Not There) and both herself andher (fictional) cousin Shelly, in Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes.It's little surprise that she is also just as deft at comedy––as evidenced in such films as An Ideal Husband, Bandits and Pushing Tin––as she is playing roles with more dramatic heft.

Cate Blanchett | An Awards Magnet

Since she broke through as an actress with her performance in Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett has been a perennial awards show darling. She won Best Actress awards at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs for playing the Virgin Queen, and was nominated in the same category at the Academy Awards. She then racked up further Golden Globe and BAFTA nods for her turns in The Talented Mr Ripley, Bandits and Veronica Guerin, before winning her first Academy Award for, all-too-fittingly, playing Katharine Hepburn––the most successful actress ever at the Oscars––in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator. Next, she was up for Best Supporting Actress at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes for Notes on a Scandal,in 2006. The following year she was a force in multiple categories, earning Best Actress nominations for reprising the role of Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, while her startling rendition of Jude Quinn in I'm Not There bagged her Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes, plus nominations at the Academy Awards, the BAFTAs and more.


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