The ravishing Australian actress continues to make waves in Hollywood.
A little known fact about Australian actress Cate Blanchett who plays Cinderella’s wicked step mother in the new Disney release: Her father was American.
“He was in the navy, and his ship broke down in the Antarctic. It was being repaired in Melbourne. My mother was a teacher. They didn’t have enough men at a dance, so she went down to the port,” Blanchett explained.
“It was. From what I’ve been told, they danced all night, he was there for two weeks, they wrote for three years, and then he came out, and they got married.”
Unfortunately he died when Blanchett was 10.
Is she still in touch with her American side of the family? Surprisingly, she answered: “No, my father was an only child. No relatives really. My brother kept in contact with a cousin we visited when he was10, but no, we grew up very much with my mother’s family in Australia.”
When she won her first Golden Globe for Elizabeth 17 years ago, she credited her husband with teaching her the meaning of love.
Her own courtship – her husband is theatre director and playwright Andrew Upton – was almost as romantic as her mother’s, although not quite love at first sight.
“We were friends, although we didn’t like each other at all. But then we got together through friends, and one night he kissed me, and that was sort of it. I think he asked me to marry him about six weeks after that kiss.”
At her press conference for Cinderella, Blanchett confirms reports that she and her husband (and their three sons) will be moving to Los Angeles. The two of them have always lived and worked in Sydney where he ran the Sydney Theatre Company.
Has living in Sydney and working all over the world taken a toll on you?
People take enormous risks when they fall deeply in love. And to be an actor and to have been as nomadic as I have been, you have to sacrifice.
We haven’t lived in the States before so I think that might be an exciting thing to do. (What she didn’t reveal at the press conference was that she and her husband have just adopted a baby girl while in Los Angeles. The baby, a couple of weeks old, has been named Edith Vivian Patricia.)
Have you always wanted to be an actress?
I think theatre has always been my great love, although I planned to study economics at the university but majored in art history instead.
Then someone who hated me suggested I go to drama school. And it was during a production of Elektra in my third year that I lost all sense of time and space and realised theatre was a magical place for me.
Some would say you are a worthy successor of Bette Davis.
I love watching Bette Davis. I think she’s extraordinary. I watched All About Eve again not long ago, and I watched The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex before I played Elizabeth both times.
I find her fantastic. She’s fearless. She doesn’t ask you to like her. She’s funny. She’s savage. She’s unique. She’s one of my favourites.
Your next movie, Carol is quite opposite of Cinderella. Will it be typically Todd Haynes (who also directed Blanchett in Far From Heaven and I’m Not There)?
Every film Todd makes is a Todd Haynes film. He constantly astounds me with his invention. It’s so fantastic to work with him again.
Your earlier encounter with Todd earned you a second Golden Globe for playing Bob Dylan in I’m Not There.
When Todd approached me about playing that role I just burst out laughing. “What are you talking about?” I asked him. But how can you not take a meeting with somebody as audacious and nutty as Todd.
I was worried about not having enough time to prepare – I literally walked off the set of Elizabeth: The Golden Age straight into the Dylan film – but because the roles were so divergent, that helped.
Does it embarrass you to be called the most glamorous, great actress in the long history of film?
Not at all. I think that’s lovely. Thank you very much. You’ve made my day.
You have three sons (Daniel, 13; Roman, 10 and Ignatious, six). What do you do to make sure they have a normal childhood?
I don’t know what a normal childhood is. I think childhood is a deeply abnormal thing. I think all children have a fantasy life, and we live a kind of circus existence, but like all working parents you try and work that out by keeping things stable.
My children have the good fortune of seeing the hard work that goes into making a movie. They see what the crew does, and they see the artistry that goes on behind the scenes. And that probably normalises the more shiny side of what I do.
Besides acting and being a caring mother, do you have any hobbies?
Unfortunately, I have no hobbies. None. I keep saying I am going to develop or cultivate some.
I suppose my work is my hobby. I am a bit of a goldfish; I sort of swim around the bowl and forget where I have been. But I think the residue of experience exists somewhere.
I don’t talk that much, but I am very curious. I listen in everyday life. I love going to the supermarket and watching other people, or when children are playing in the park, watching people.
Although I should add I do respond to visuals; so any time we have a little bit of extra money tucked away, we collect paintings and sculptures. I love living with those things. I am very visually sensitive. My taste is very eclectic.
In the past few years you have done an astonishing number of films including the Hobbit series as well as collaborations with George Clooney and Terrence Malick. Why the compulsion to work so much?
It’s not a compulsion, they were just roles I couldn’t pass up.
Do you feel pressured by agents and managers to accept roles?
If there’s pressure, I’m not listening. The whole thing about an actor being controlled by other people, I don’t know anyone who is.
I think I’m an adult. I make my own decisions. I have been brought up with a healthy sense of self respect.
An actor has to have a moral backbone and a moral fibre. So you just throw yourself passionately into every project and hope it comes out for the best.
Do you discuss your roles with your husband?
Yeah, I pick his brains all the time. I find his writing incredibly inspiring, and often in discussions with him I’m able to unlock things in the text.
Like if there’s a line which I can’t understand how it would work, he will say it’s here for this reason; so it’s fantastic that he has such a strong understanding of structure. I find it fantastic just to talk to him.
■ Cinderella is currently playing in cinemas nationwide.