Blanchett proves there’s life after death

By Simon Holden

Bafta-winning actress Cate Blanchett’s early life was marred by tragedy – but the death of her father when she was 10 also gave her the drive to succeed in life.

“There’s a quote in Thackeray which says, ‘The best thing I could wish you, my child, is a little misfortune.’

“His death made me appreciate the lack of time we have and how life is so important,” she says.

The star of Elizabeth has made her first true Hollywood movie, the comedy Pushing Tin (out this week), about air traffic controllers.

She plays a Long Island housewife married to John Cusack. He gets into a macho duel over a woman with a fellow air traffic controller (Billy Bob Thornton).

Blanchett told Big Screen: “It’s a black comedy about the nightmare of personal competition. It’s quite funny. My character is more or less the dumping ground.

“When we finished making Elizabeth, I felt like a big weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but it was a very demanding production. Pushing Tin was an easier shoot.”

She says she likes to tackle roles she thinks she can’t do.

“If you’re always trying to play parts close to yourself, you’re not extending your knowledge or being stretched.

“You expend so much energy doing roles that it’s foolish to just cynically do what you’ve done already.” At home in Tinseltown

Unlike many other stars, the Australian likes Tinseltown.

“The only times I’ve been to Los Angeles I’ve had a lovely time,” she says.

“I think it’s incredibly easy to demonise Hollywood and American film-making, but there are a lot of extraordinary actors and directors in LAShe grew up in Melbourne and studied art history for two years at Melbourne University.

Her role model is actress Judy Davis but her first experience of film-making wasn’t as glamorous.

“I was in Egypt and I had no money and I asked to be an extra in an Egyptian boxing movie,” she says.

“This mad Danish woman got the lead role as this boxing slut and I got the part of the cheerleader. We didn’t even get to wear any costumes. It was so disappointing.”

She went on to win the Bafta for Elizabeth while her stage play Electra and performance in David Mamet’s Oleanna drew plaudits. Next year she stars with Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley.

In between movies, Blanchett tries to spend time at home in Sydney with her husband Andrew Upton, a set designer.

Though she’s model thin she says: “I really love eating and cooking big lunches. My favourite food has been Japanese fish-based dishes, although I’m now concerned about all the talk of our oceans being over-fished.”

Thanks to Nona for the article!