Q&A: Cate Blanchett


Cate Blanchett joined the Sydney Theatre Co. in 1992 right out of acting school and quickly made her mark in Australia. Now, after a distinguished Hollywood career that includes performances in "Elizabeth" (1998), "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999), "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (2001-03), "Veronica Guerin" (2003), "The Aviator" (2004) -- for which she won an Oscar -- and "Babel" (2006), she has come full circle, returning to the theater company as director with her husband, Andrew Upton. She spoke from Sydney with Noe Gold for The Hollywood Reporter.

The Hollywood Reporter: Do you relate to running the Sydney Theatre Co. as an actor, as an administrator -- or both?

Cate Blanchett: The company has always been directed by actors or artists. I'm an actor, and my husband is a writer. I'm in rehearsal playing "Richard II" in a Shakespeare cycle. When I enter that room, I don't go into it as a director -- I go as an actor. The challenge is to find space for both those roles, because running the company with Andrew is a big task that one responds to artistically and creatively, but we don't want to remake it in our own image. So you have to have an arm's length from the production, with that hat on. When you're an actor in a production, you want to immerse yourself in it entirely.

THR:We've seen you in some comedies, more in dramas. Which type of role do you seek out the most?

Blanchett: You want to find an authentic buoyancy, a lightness of being, no matter what it is. Even in tragedies. You can't think about outcomes, because as long as the industry's been around, no one knows what makes a film succeed or fail. Plenty of wonderful films don't find an audience -- but they do work as films. You have to think about the offer and the experience. (It appeals) if someone offers me something I haven't thought of.

THR: Is it important who is doing the offering, who might be directing you?

Blanchett: Increasingly so, yes.

THR: And you've gone through many transformations.

Blanchett: I apologize for all of them (laughs), but the offer is there, isn't it? I've had the great good fortune that directors have made some bizarre offers to me.

THR: When you're in production, do you stay in character even when you're not in front of the camera?

Blanchett: Sometimes, yes. And sometimes it's a matter of taking things off -- metaphorically -- removing those layers and demasking. In fact, the transformation is much more internal and subtle.

THR: In Paramount's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," you inhabited the different stages of a character's life opposite Brad Pitt, who is aging in reverse.

Blanchett: It was a real challenge to age, as our personalities (get) revealed to ourselves and we struggle with that and try to be somebody else and change our mind and backtrack or run far ahead into the future and try to be older than we are and then we get there and want to be younger than we are. It's a strange relay race you play with yourself. It was a challenge to make that as subtle and as complex as possible and to also embrace those incredibly joyous moments when they arrive.