Cate Blanchett Film and Career
The actress had, in fact, been in Australia, where she was born in Melbourne on May 14, 1969. The daughter of an Australian mother and an American father hailing from Texas, Blanchett was one of three children. Following her father’s death when she was ten, Blanchett was raised by her mother. She went on to study economics and fine art at the University of Melbourne, before deciding that such studies weren’t her real vocation. In true Australian fashion, she went traveling for awhile, living in England for a time before her visa ran out.
She then found herself in Egypt, where, desperate for money, she agreed to work as an extra on an Arabic boxing film. This initial film experience led to her enrollment, after her return to Australia, at Sydney’s prestigious National Institute of Dramatic Art. Following her graduation from NIDA, Blanchett joined the Sydney Theatre Company, where she first performed in a production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls.
A subsequent role in Timothy Daley’s musical Kafka Dances won Blanchett a 1993 New Comer Award from the Sydney Theatre Critics Circle, an honor that was doubled that same year with a Rosemont Best Actress Award for her performance opposite Geoffrey Rush (who was later to star with her in Elizabeth) in David Mamet’s Oleanna.
The considerable prestige that accompanied these theatrical triumphs led Blanchett to television, where she appeared in various programs for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, including the drama Heartlands and the popular series Police Rescue. Her television performances caught the attention of director Bruce Beresford, who cast her in his upcoming film Paradise Road. Blanchett made her film debut in the 1997 POW drama as a shy Australian nurse, playing opposite Glenn Close and Frances McDormand. Also in 1997, she starred in the comedy Thank God He Met Lizzie, for which she won an Australian Film Institute Best Actress Award.
With the considerable amount of praise and recognition Blanchett was receiving in her native country, it was only a matter of time and opportunity before she became known to a wider audience. Her opportunity came that very same year, with her role in Gillian Armstrong’s adaptation of Peter Carey’s novel Oscar and Lucinda.
Playing opposite Ralph Fiennes, Blanchett won almost uniform praise for her performance in a film that incurred very mixed reactions. The attention she received got her a small patch of land on the Hollywood map, something she would soon exchange for what amounted to prime Hollywood real estate, with her performance in the title role of Elizabeth the following year.
The critical and popular reaction to Elizabeth was swift and unequivocal, with Blanchett’s portrayal of the queen netting her a spot in the roster of Hollywood royalty. A whole spectrum of awards greeted both the film and her performance, including eight Oscar nominations, one of which was a Best Actress nomination for Blanchett. The actress won a Golden Globe and British Academy Award, as well as a host of critics’ circles awards.
With the industry wrapped neatly around her little finger, Blanchett went on to star with Angelina Jolie, John Cusack, and Billy Bob Thornton in the Mike Newell comedy Pushing Tin (1999). Although the film got a lukewarm response, Blanchett was praised for her performance as a Long Island housewife. The same year, she played another housewife, albeit one of an entirely different stripe, in Oliver Parker’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. Despite a uniformly strong cast including Jeremy Northam, Rupert Everett, and Julianne Moore, the film received very mixed reviews, although, as was usually the case, Blanchett won praise for her contribution to it.
Remaining remarkably busy through 2003, Blanchett would appear in no less than five films in 2001 alone. After following Pushing Tin with a supporting role in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Blanchett joined Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci with her role as a kindhearted though materialistic showgirl in The Man Who Cried before starring as a fortune teller who may hold the key to a mysterious murder in director Sam Raimi’s The Gift.
Gaining positive notes for her uncanny ability to move effortlessly and convincingly between a wide range of characterizations, Blanchett appeared as a hostage of love in the crime comedy Bandits before re-teaming with Gift co-star Giovanni Ribisi in director Tom Tykwer’s Heaven. Her busy year already off to a hectic start, Blanchett then faced the daunting task of appearing in not one but three films with her role as Galadriel, Queen of Lothlorien, in the eagerly anticipated Lord of the Rings trilogy.
As if her plate wasn’t full enough, Blanchett would also appear in 2001 in both The Shipping News and director Gillian Armstrong’s Charlotte Gray before rounding out the Lord of the Rings trilogy with The Two Towers in 2002 and The Return of the King in 2003. That same year, Blanchett’s performance as ill-fated Irish journalist Veronica Guerin director Joel Schumacher’s eponymously titled film captivated audiences despite only a brief run at the box office.
A brief but memorable performance as a pair of twins in director Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes found Blanchett equally as convincing as a glamorous Hollywood actress as she was portraying the actresses’ embittered and destitute cousin – with the segment serving as a highlight of the episodic feature.
Shortly thereafter Blanchett effortlessly lit up the screen with a performance as film legend Katherine Hepburn in director Martin Scorsese’s lavish Howard Hughes epic The Avaitor. If The Aviator’s “Best Picture” loss to Clint Eastwood’s boxing drama Million Dollar Baby proved somewhat dissappointing to Scorsese fans when the Oscars were handed out at the 77th Annual Academy Awards, Blanchett’s winning of the “Best Supporting Actress” award at least contributed to the film’s impressive five-Oscar run. ~ Rebecca Flint, All Movie GuideRelated Information: