There’s something about Cate Blanchett. And it’s not just the Meryl-Streep ability to chew accents, nor the Madonna-like penchant for rotating hair color.
It’s in the roles she picks, which sometimes defies a regular movie-goer’s common sensibilities. So she didn’t win the Oscar for Elizabeth, which she was hotly tipped to in 1999. But she did have a Golden Globe, and there was no shortage of movie offers after the post-Academy Awards party.
So why is it that your regular movie-goer would be hard pressed to name a film she’s headlined since the critically-acclaimed Elizabeth? Well, that’s because there were hardly any.
Not in An Ideal Husband, Pushing Tin, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Shipping News, nor even The Lord Of The Rings – all films she made post-Elizabeth, and all smallish characters. Those she did front, were hardly what you’d call box-office material. Think The Man Who Cried, The Gift and Charlotte Gray.
Yet, the 32-yeard-old insists things wouldn’t have been any different even if she’d taken home the coveted bald statuette that night. She said in a phone interview with The New Paper On Sunday. “It was great to be there, but I don’t think that was the high point of my life. I’ve had a lot of high points since then.” Ah. Spoken like a true actress, especially if you consider her earlier work in theatre.
Theatre became her life line after she graduated from Sydney’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts. Then director Bruce Beresford spotted her and cast her in Paradise Road, alongisde Glenn Close and Frances McDormand.
Fast forward to the present and her new movie Bandits. Now showing in Singapore cinemas, Bandits is a comedy by Rain Man director, Barry Levinson.
Blanchette plays Kate Wheeler, a bored, neglected housewife who gets caught between two very different friends, played by Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton. One is strong, the other sensitive, but together, they make a perfect team of bank robbers. Here, she goes for redhead, but the accent is undistinguishable.
But Blanchett in a comedy?
“I never see a role as purely comic or purely tragic. I think if you play tragedy or drama with an irony of levity, then it becomes terribly unwatchable,” she explained. Thespian-speak again.
Ask her who she had better chemistry with – Willis or Thornton – and the exceedingly polite actress maintains her non-commital stance. “The chemistry is very different and that’s the cornerstone of the film…”
It’s hard to get anything out of Blanchett. But she did manage: “I love a guy who makes me laugh. And I’m married to him. I like the off-beat, I like things that are unpredictable. I don’t think I’d choose either type.” Her type, to be precise, takes the shape of Andrew Upton, a screenwriter she’s been married to since 1997.
The couple just had a son last December. But her marriage too, as most who’ve interviewed her would know, is also off-limits.