Cate Blanchett born 14 May 1969) is an Australian actor, producer, and theatre director.
Cate Blanchett born 14 May 1969) is an Australian actor, producer, and theatre director. Regarded as one of the greatest actresses of her generation, she is noted for her versatile roles in blockbusters, independent films, and in her stage work in various theatre productions. She has received numerous accolades, including two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and three British Academy Film Awards.
After graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Cate Blanchett began her acting career on the Australian stage, taking on roles in Electra in 1992 and Hamlet in 1994. She came to international attention for portraying Elizabeth I in the drama film Elizabeth (1998), for which she won the Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for Best Actress, and received her first of seven Academy Award nominations. Her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese‘s The Aviator (2004) won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and she later won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing a neurotic former socialite in Woody Allen‘s comedy-drama Blue Jasmine (2013).
Blanchett’s highest-grossing films include Peter Jackson‘s The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit trilogy (2012–2014), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Cinderella (2015), Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Ocean’s 8 (2018). From 2008 to 2013, Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton, served as the artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. Some of her stage roles during this period were in revivals of A Streetcar Named Desire, Uncle Vanya and The Maids. She made her Broadway debut in 2017 with The Present, for which she received a Tony Award nomination.
The Australian government awarded Cate Blanchett the Centenary Medal in 2001 and she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2017. In 2012, she was appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. Cate Blanchett has been presented with honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from the University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and Macquarie University. In 2015, she was honoured by the Museum of Modern Art and received the British Film Institute Fellowship. Time magazine named Blanchett one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, and in 2018, she was ranked among the world’s highest-paid actresses.
Cate Blanchett studied acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Kensington, New South Wales
Catherine Elise Cate Blanchett was born on 14 May 1969 in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe. Her Australian mother, June Gamble, worked as a property developer and teacher, and her American father, Robert DeWitt Blanchett Jr., a Texas native, was a United States Navy Chief Petty Officer who later worked as an advertising executive. The two met when Blanchett’s father’s ship broke down in Melbourne. When Cate Blanchett was 10, her father died of a heart attack, leaving her mother to raise the family on her own. Blanchett is the middle of three children, she has an older brother Bob Blanchett (born 1968), and a younger sister Genevieve Blanchett (born 1971). Her ancestry includes English, some Scottish, and remote French roots.
Cate Blanchetthas described herself as being “part extrovert, part wallflower” during childhood. During her teenage years she had a penchant for dressing in traditionally masculine clothing, and went through goth and punk phases, at one point shaving her head. She attended primary school in Melbourne at Ivanhoe East Primary School; for her secondary education, she attended Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School and then Methodist Ladies’ College, where she explored her passion for the performing arts. In her late teens and early twenties, she worked at a nursing home in Victoria.
She studied economics and fine arts at the University of Melbourne but dropped out after one year to travel overseas. While in Egypt, Blanchett was asked to be an American cheerleader, as an extra in the Egyptian boxing movie, Kaboria; in need of money, she accepted. Upon returning to Australia, and after working in the pocket theatres of Melbourne, including La Mama, she moved to Sydney, and enrolled at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). She graduated from NIDA in 1992 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
1992–2000: Beginnings and international breakthrough
Blanchett’s first stage role was opposite Geoffrey Rush, in the 1992 David Mamet play Oleanna for the Sydney Theatre Company. That year, she was also cast as Clytemnestra in a production of Sophocles’ Electra. A couple of weeks after rehearsals, the actress playing the title role pulled out, and director Lindy Davies cast Cate Blanchett in the role. Her performance as Electra became one of her most acclaimed at NIDA.
In 1993, Cate Blanchett was awarded the Sydney Theatre Critics’ Best Newcomer Award for her performance in Timothy Daly‘s Kafka Dances and won Best Actress for her performance in Mamet’s Oleanna, making her the first actor to win both categories in the same year. Blanchett played the role of Ophelia in an acclaimed 1994–1995
Company B production of Hamlet directed by Neil Armfield, starring Rush and Richard Roxburgh, and was nominated for a Green Room Award. She appeared in the 1994 TV miniseries Heartland opposite Ernie Dingo, the miniseries Bordertown (1995) with Hugo Weaving, and in an episode of Police Rescue entitled “The Loaded Boy”. She also appeared in the 50-minute drama short Parklands (1996), which received an Australian Film Institute (AFI) nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Cate Blanchett made her feature film debut with a supporting role as a spirited young Australian nurse captured by the Japanese Army during World War II, in Bruce Beresford‘s film Paradise Road (1997), which co-starred Glenn Close and Frances McDormand. Paradise Road made just over $2 million at the box office on a budget of $19 million and received mixed reviews from critics, with Roger Ebert criticising the film’s “lack of a story arc”. Her first leading role came later that year as eccentric heiress Lucinda Leplastrier in Gillian Armstrong‘s romantic drama Oscar and Lucinda (1997), opposite Ralph Fiennes.
Cate Blanchett received wide acclaim for her performance, with Emanuel Levy of Variety declaring, “luminous newcomer Cate Blanchett, in a role originally intended for Judy Davis, is bound to become a major star”. She earned her first AFI Award nomination as Best Leading Actress for Oscar and Lucinda. She won the AFI Best Actress Award in the same year for her starring role as Lizzie in the romantic comedy Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997), co-starring Richard Roxburgh and Frances O’Connor. By 1997, Blanchett had accrued significant praise and recognition in her native Australia.
Her first high-profile international role was a young Elizabeth I of England in the critically acclaimed historical drama Elizabeth (1998), directed by Shekhar Kapur. The film catapulted her to international prominence and her performance garnered wide recognition, earning her the Golden Globe Award and British Academy Award (BAFTA), and her first Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In his review for Variety, critic David Rooney wrote of her performance,
“Blanchett conveys with grace, poise and intelligence that Elizabeth was a wily, decisive, advanced thinker, far too aware of her own exceptional nature to bow to any man. [She] builds the juicy character almost imperceptibly from a smart but wary young woman who may be in over her head into a powerful creature of her own invention.”
Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that Blanchett’s performance “brings spirit, beauty and substance to what otherwise might have been turned into a vacuous role”, and Alicia Potter writing for the Boston Phoenix stated that, “In the end, Kapur’s crown jewel is a tale of twin transformations, that of Elizabeth into one of history’s most enigmatic and powerful women, and that of Blanchett into, well, a bona fide screen queen.”
The following year, Blanchett appeared in Bangers (1999), an Australian short film and part of Stories of Lost Souls, a compilation of thematically-related short stories. The short was written and directed by her husband, Andrew Upton, and produced by Blanchett and Upton. She also appeared in the Mike Newell comedy Pushing Tin (1999), co-starring Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie wherein her performance was singled out by critics, and the critically acclaimed and financially successful Anthony Minghella film The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999),
alongside Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. She received her second BAFTA nomination for her performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley as Meredith Logue, a naive and wealthy American heiress.
2000–2007: Established actress
Already an acclaimed actress, Blanchett received a host of new fans when she appeared in Peter Jackson‘s Academy Award-winning blockbuster trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, playing the role of elf leader Galadriel in all three films. The trilogy was a major critical and financial success, earning $2.981 billion at the box office worldwide, and all three films were later ranked within the top 10 greatest fantasy movies of all time in a poll conducted by American magazine Wired in 2012. In addition to
The Lord of the Rings, 2001 also saw Blanchett diversify her portfolio with a range of roles in the dramas Charlotte Gray and The Shipping News and the American crime-comedy Bandits, for which she earned a second Golden Globe and SAG Award nomination. Bandits marked Blanchett’s first notable foray into the comedy genre, with Ben Falk of the BBC declaring her and co-star Billy Bob Thornton “a real find as comedians” and calling her performance as an unsatisfied housewife caught between two escaped convicts, “unhinged, though undeniably sexy”.
In 2002, Blanchett starred opposite Giovanni Ribisi in Tom Tykwer-directed Heaven, the first film in an unfinished trilogy by acclaimed writer-director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Her performance in the film as a grieving woman who commits a desperate act of terrorism was highly praised, with Stephen Holden of The New York Times calling it, “the most compelling screen performance of her career” and going on to state, “Although Ms. Blanchett’s face has always registered emotion with a mercurial fluidity, the immediacy of feeling she conveys in ”Heaven” is astonishing.” 2003 saw Blanchett again playing a wide range of roles:
Galadriel in the third and final instalment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which won the Academy Award for Best Picture); the Ron Howard-directed western thriller The Missing opposite Tommy Lee Jones; Jim Jarmusch‘s Coffee and Cigarettes – playing two roles (both against herself) – for which she received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female nomination; and the biographical Veronica Guerin, which earned her a Golden Globe Best Actress Drama nomination. In 2004, Blanchett portrayed a pregnant journalist chronicling an underwater voyage by an eccentric oceanographer in Wes Anderson‘s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.Blanchett at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
In 2005, she won her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her highly acclaimed portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese‘s The Aviator (2004). This made Blanchett the first actor in history to win an Academy Award for portraying another Academy Award-winning actor. She lent her Oscar statuette to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. In his review for Newsweek, David Ansen wrote that Blanchett portrayed Hepburn with “lip-smacking vivacity” and Roger Ebert lauded the performance, describing it as “delightful and yet touching; mannered and tomboyish”. During her preparation for the role and at the request of Scorcese,
Blanchett reviewed 35-millimeter prints of all of Hepburn’s first 15 screen performances to study and memorise her poise, mannerisms and speech pattern. In an interview with The New York Times, Cate Blanchett spoke of the responsibility of portraying such an iconic star, “Representing Kate in the same medium, film, in which she existed was very daunting. But because she was so private and few people really knew her, we basically know Hepburn through her films. So of course you have to give a nod to her screen persona when playing her.”
Also in 2005, Cate Blanchett won the Australian Film Institute Best Actress Award for her role as Tracy Heart, a former heroin addict, in the Australian film Little Fish, co-produced by her and her husband’s production company, Dirty Films. Though lesser known globally than some of her other films, the “sober, sensitive” Little Fish received great critical acclaim in Blanchett’s native Australia and was nominated for 13 Australian Film Institute awards.
In 2006, Cate Blanchett starred opposite Brad Pitt as one half of a grieving couple who get caught up in an international incident in Morocco in the multi-lingual, multi-narrative ensemble drama Babel, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Babel received seven Academy Award nominations. She also co-starred in the Steven Soderbergh-directed World War II set drama The Good German with George Clooney, and the acclaimed psychological thriller Notes on a Scandal opposite Dame Judi Dench.
Cate Blanchett received a third Academy Award nomination for her performance in the latter film. In Notes on a Scandal, Blanchett portrays Sheba Hart, a lonely art teacher who embarks on an affair with a 15-year-old student and becomes the object of obsession for an older woman played by Dench. Both Blanchett’s and Dench’s performances were highly acclaimed, with Peter Bradshaw writing in The Guardian, “Director Richard Eyre, with unshowy authority, gets the best out of Dench and Cate Blanchett and, with great shrewdness, elicits from these two actors all the little tensions and exasperations – as well as the genuine tenderness – in their tragically fraught relationship.”
In 2007, Cate Blanchett was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, and appeared on Forbes‘ Celebrity 100 list. She made a cameo as Janine, forensic scientist and ex-girlfriend of Simon Pegg‘s character, in Edgar Wright‘s action comedy film Hot Fuzz (2007).
The cameo was uncredited and she gave her fee to charity. She reprised her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the 2007 sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age directed by Shekhar Kapur, and portrayed Jude Quinn, one of six incarnations of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes‘ experimental film I’m Not There. She won the Volpi Cup Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival (accepted by fellow Australian and I’m Not There co-star Heath Ledger), the Independent Spirit and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Jude Quinn.
At the 80th Academy Awards, Cate Blanchett received two nominations – Best Actress for Elizabeth: the Golden Age and Best Supporting Actress for I’m Not There – becoming the first actress to receive a second nomination with the reprisal of a role. Of her achievement that year, Roger Ebert said, “That Cate Blanchett could appear in the same Toronto International Film Festival playing Elizabeth and Bob Dylan, both splendidly, is a wonder of acting.”
Also in 2008, Cate Blanchett and her husband Andrew Upton became co-CEOs and artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. Cate Blanchettreturned to acting in the theatre in 2009 with the Sydney Theatre Company production of Tennessee Williams‘ A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Liv Ullmann. She starred as Blanche DuBois alongside Joel Edgerton as Stanley Kowalski. Ullmann and Blanchett had been meaning to collaborate on a project since Ullman’s intended film adaption of A Doll’s House fell by the wayside. Blanchett proposed embarking on Streetcar to Ullmann, who jumped at the opportunity after initial discussion.
A Streetcar Named Desire production traveled from Sydney to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. It was a critical and commercial success and Cate Blanchett received acclaim for her performance as Blanche DuBois. The New York Times critic Ben Brantley said, “Ms. Ullmann and Ms. Cate Blanchett have performed the play as if it had never been staged before, with the result that, as a friend of mine put it, “you feel like you’re hearing words you thought you knew pronounced correctly for the first time.”