Cate Blanchett talks about herself through the roles she loved most.
Diaphanous, elegant in her manners, gentle in her thoughts and acute in her remarks, Cate Blanchett is the personification of the saying “you cannot buy class.” A few roles – all as a queen – were enough to make her known to the general public, such as in Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age or in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
Today, she is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actresses, with eight Academy Award nominations and two wins (for the role of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, and for “her” Jasmine in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine).
What are the roles you remember most fondly?
“One is definitely Lady Marion in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. Russell Crowe played Robin Hood… We had so much fun! We had known each other for a while, and that allowed us to make the story even more credible. We Australians are not complicated people – I mean, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
“Also, I loved the role I had in Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There. I was something of a Bob Dylan clone, complete with tousled hair, sunglasses, and sideburns. I wanted to be Dylan, I really wanted to be him. And I succeeded. Makeup works wonders. You look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself anymore. Suddenly you see another person’s reflection. I had never experienced such a sensation… On the screen, I was able to bring my Bob to life.”
What does a character have to be like for you to want to play that role?
“I’ll tell you a story: an acting teacher of mine, years ago, in Melbourne, pointed out that the most difficult task for an actor is to speak somebody else’s words without an issue, as if they were his own. So, a character must make me want to become her, to say those words, to think those things. You have to transform into the character and forget about yourself. There are about five seconds, before you step on stage or on the set, an ethereal moment when you have to leave everything you know – your life, yourself, your body, everything you know and are – to enter the unknown area of ‘un-real life’.”
How does it feel?
“It’s a strange feeling, hard to describe. However, it is very liberating, because you can afford the luxury of living the life of another person. Fortunately, my face is malleable and lends itself to metamorphosis. It’s not just a matter of makeup – it relies on the deep desire I have to disappear within each character. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself… And then I understand that I am on the right path because I am close to my disappearance.”
When did you realize that acting was to be your destiny?
“As a young girl. I managed to get a small role in a play: as soon as I got on stage, I realized that it was exactly the job I wanted to do.”
What relationship do you have with beauty?
“If you are referring to the passing of time, then I can tell you that I have a peaceful relationship with it. I am 54 years old, and I find it natural for time to leave its traces, for life to mark my face, my body, my soul. Life can give us so many joys and satisfactions, if we only know how to grasp them, and it is nice to be able to read them all in my eyes.”
But who is Cate Blanchett, really?
“Cate is a woman, a wife, and a mother. She is also an actress.”
In your heart, do you have a favorite role?
And what role would that be?
“The role of Mom!”