Talented, brave and never boring, Cate Blanchett knows how to take on a challenge, from her role in The Hobbit to raising a family.
It’s another sunny day at the swish Milk Studios in Los Angeles. Cate Blanchett bursts out of the makeup room, blond and gracious, apologizing a hundred times over. Her trip to L.A. is too short—this morning, the production team from How to Train Your Dragon 2, to which Blanchett lends her voice, had to have a meeting with her while she was on a plane. And she absolutely has to wrap our photo shoot before catching another flight to Sydney this evening. “Could we do the interview later?” she asks. I would love to hate her (after all, who likes being stood up?), but I’m impressed by the gravitas of this strong-minded woman. Besides, Blanchett is running out of time. It’s hard to picture this elegant apparition being frantically busy—but after spending two years running the Sydney Theatre Company, Blanchett reappeared on the big screen in Blue Jasmine, the latest Woody Allen film, which has already generated a great deal of Oscar buzz. And now, the Australian actress is gracing the latest instalment of The Hobbit, in theatres this winter, and is the face of Sì, the new fragrance from Giorgio Armani.
So, reluctantly, I agree to speak to her later on the phone when she’s back in Sydney, between meetings and after she has dropped her kids at school.
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What is your everyday life like?
“My daily life is a movable feast. But, generally speaking, I find retreating into domestic life incredibly calming. I like the simplicity of what some people might find mundane: school lunches, cooking, walking the dog. I have ceased running the Sydney Theatre Company [her husband, Andrew Upton, is now the sole artistic director], so it’s wonderful to do just one thing at a time.”
What are you working on, then?
“Well, I’ve just finished playing The Maids, by Jean Genet, onstage with Isabelle Huppert, and last year I made two movies: one with Terrence Malick and one with Woody Allen.”
They are both legendary directors.
“Yes! And both experiences couldn’t have been more different! Woody obviously is very interested in the tensions between the dialogue, the actors and the situation. Whereas with Terry, you don’t really know what the finished story will be. He is more about the atmosphere, the poetry within people and spiritual yearnings.”
Is it hard for you to find interesting roles?
“I’ve been very lucky to play iconic roles like Blanche DuBois, Lotte Kotte and Hedda Gabler onstage, but cinema is a different beast. You are not always able to influence the final results in the same way as you can in the theatre. So I’m not always interested in large roles onscreen. I’m more interested in making the space to keep experimenting as an actor. What’s important when you’re working on a film is that you want to work with a director who is going to collaborate with you or who is interested in what you can offer.”
What drew you to the character of Jasmine in Woody’s last film?
“Post-financial crisis, so many men and women have had their worlds shattered and they have fallen from grace. And, like Jasmine, they have had to look at themselves directly in the mirror and reinvent themselves and find out who they are without their social standing, without economic security. I think this story is very current. The unique thing about Jasmine, however, is that she has been a fantasist and has never had a firm grip on who she is or on reality.”
Cate Blanchett reveals personal details about work and family on the next page...