Interview By: Rocco Passafuime
There is literally no grandiose wordplay in the world to describe Cate
Blanchett’s presence as an actress other than unforgettable. From her Oscar-nominated breakthrough role as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth to her
roles in The Lord Of The
Rings movies, her Oscar-winning role in The
Aviator, Babel, to her
Oscar-nominated role in Notes On A
Scandal, Blanchett is an actress that leaves a lasting presence.
Now she has gone back to the legendary role that made her famous in the sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
When Blanchett first discussed what made her decide to return to a role she already played once before, she mentioned of how she was approached about doing a sequel.
“I think what convinced me most was time, really,” Blanchett explains, “[Director] Shekhar [Kapur], from the minute we finished the first one, was talking about not
only my playing Elizabeth again, but hundreds of other ideas. And we remained friends and talked about various projects. Tim Bevan, from working ties, said, just
let us work on a script and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And I found the notion of the love triangle, the very structure of the narrative was quite different.”
“Because I always said that if I did another one, then Elizabeth shouldn’t be the central character,” she continues, “And the structure of the romance, because it’s an
unabashedly romantic film, I think it was quite different so I didn’t feel we were treading the same ground. So, yeah, time, I think, in the end and there was also knowing that
[Owen] were on board and that Remi [Aderafarsin] was going to shoot it and that Alexandra Byrne was going to do the costumes again,
whose a very good friend and a genius, I think.”
She also says that it was no easy decision for her to return to a role
“Look, I always would run a hundred miles away from projects and at the same time, in the end, the ones that stick are the ones that pursue you and you can’t say no to,”
Blanchett explains, “And the idea of playing Bob Dylan was so utterly ludicrous. I mean, of course, I had to say yes and it was very daunting and I was a bit nervous about
returning to a character, I suppose, that allowed me to walk into a door to an international film career. You don’t ever want to feel like you’re going backwards. So once I
perceive that I could actually progress forward through playing it, then it became exciting to me.”
Being an actress of incredible range with two Oscar nominations and one win, we asked Blanchett discussed her methodology for how she approaches her films.
“I think it’s tricky, but vital as an actor working on a film that you have a sense of the third eye and that you can be aware of what you’re projecting, but not in a
self-conscious way,” she explains, “So I think that if you’re internally engaged that a set of feelings and emotions and also the actions that you’re trying to play on the other
actor, because the actor always has to be active, that will externally take care of itself. ”
“So I hope I wasn’t mugging too much, but yeah, I didn’t think about that on the day that much,” Cate continues, “Obviously, when you get into hair and makeup, it is a form
of masking up off. But even in your Elizabethan war paint, you don’t want that mask to be opaque, it has to be transparent. So hopefully, there was a transparency to it.”
Anybody who’s seen the multiple portrayals of England’s greatest queen in the last few years, from films like the first Elizabeth to Shakespeare In Love to
HBO’s acclaimed miniseries Elizabeth I,
actress explained Elizabeth I’s enormous impact on British history and culture.
“There’s been a long and glorious legacy of actresses who’s played Elizabeth I, from Flora Robson, Bettie Davis, Glenda Jackson, Helen
Mirren and Anne-Marie Duff,” Blanchett notes, “I mean she’s constantly being reinvented. One of my favorite plays is a Sheila play, Mary Stewart, about a
fictitious meeting Mary, Queen Of Scots, and Elizabeth I.”
“She’s ripe for re-invention because she’s such an enigma and also, when you think about the Elizabethan age when the English culture, as we know it, is crystallized,” she
adds, “It’s a fascinating period of history, so I think they’ll be many more Elizabeths long after this film, because I think she’s particularly fantastic, especially for a director
like Shekhar, a leaping-off point on which to leap off for a story. I mean, Elizabeth I is iconic as well.”
New to Elizabeth second time around is Clive Owen, who plays Sir Walter Raleigh, a courtier who Elizabeth engages in a relationship with. Blanchett explained the
unique link the two of them share together in the film
“I think what interested me about the relationship between Raleigh and Elizabeth was that there was a vicariousness to it,” she notes, “And I think that happens in a lot of
so-called ‘love relationships’, where you almost want to be the person as much as you want to possess the person. And I think that there were a lot of male courtiers that
Elizabeth had strong connections with. And I think she was fascinated, not only by the freedom that was afforded, not only by an adventurer like Raleigh, but also the men in
the court that couldn’t travel more freely than she could. She never left the shores of England.”
Blanchett also had plenty of positive feedback to share in her working with Owen.
attractive when someone is as he is, but seemingly as unaware as he is.”
A fair deal of liberty was taken with a few of the historical facts of Elizabeth in order to give it more resonance as a film, as with many period dramas based on real
events. The actress explained to us the important difference between telling a story as documented fact and as a dramatic film.
“In the end, I don’t quite know how many minutes or seconds the film is, but when you have a couple of hours to tell an incredibly dense period of history,” she notes, “By
the process of selection, you’re automatically telescoping the events. And you’re automatically saying this event has more significance than the one that’s being omitted.”
“It’s never going to be like reading the letters and the court documents and reading a very Alison Wiers biography of Elizabeth,” Blanchett adds, “It’s not the same
experience, but then, going to see a film shouldn’t be, you are being told a fable and a fable through the eyes of that director. And it’s very temporal, too, filming, so
hopefully, the film has a contemporary quality. I think, like all good stories, if they’re able to connect to the current collective conscious of what we’re all thinking about and
what it means to be female now as much as what it means to must be female then.”
A common fact about Queen Bess, as she was commonly called, was how she ultimately never wed and was never able to produce an heir to the throne. Blanchett shares
how she believes the nature of relationships and the roles of women have evolved since the reign of Elizabeth.
“The notion of happiness, I think, for somebody in Elizabeth’s position is sort of a strange one,” she notes,
that we have to strive for, but we can achieve in this lifetime. I think Elizabeth’s situation was entirely different. And in relation to finding a companion, the reasons
were then deeply unromantic.”
“It was to do with securing a nation and it was a political tool,” she continues, “Women were used as part of the political negotiation process between countries. And the fact
that Elizabeth claimed that political mechanism and was able to use it for herself meant the prospect of finding love for her was very elusive. I think the history books say, as
the books were written by courtiers at the time, that the closest she came was the Duke of Ingue. But in Shekhar’s first film, the Duke of Ingue was a raving transvestite. I
mean, everything’s up for grabs in these films.”
Aside from her previous mentioning of a role as a young Bob Dylan in the film I’m Not There, Blanchett also discussed
with us her upcoming involvement in the Sydney Theater Company in Australia next year.
“We officially take over the Sydney Theater Company as co-artistic directors, my husband Andrew Upton and I, on the 1st of January,” she announced. “Things have
begun, Andrew’s been up there all year to see it and I’ve been coming and going. Obviously, it takes a long time. There’s been some deep time projects that we’ve been able
to set up already. But we caretake Robert Evans’s season next year, so we don’t actually start till January the 1st.”
However her most high-profile role is one in the highly-anticipated Indiana Jones And
Of The Crystal Skull, which is set for release on May 28 of next year. To close things here, in asking Blanchett to talk about the film, she responded the
following in no uncertain terms.
“I can’t, I’ll be shot,” she claims, “And so will you. There’s FBI people on the
However, she did ultimately provide us with a little bit with what he experience was like.
“It’s such a well-oiled iconic franchise, one, in which, that I grew up with,” Blanchett recalls, “And on the first day of shooting, it was extremely surreal. I was watching the
monitor as Steven set up the frame. And I knew the iconography of the frame. I knew the tracks, I knew the layout. I knew the way these things were lit. But the way
they were meant to enter the frame. It was a real Zellig moment. It’s been fantastic and so much fun and my boys have had an absolute ball. I got a couple more weeks.”
interview with Cate Blanchett!