Actor of the Week: Cate Blanchett
This week’s Actor of the Week sees the third Australian take the honour, and that honour goes to Cate Blanchett. Straight off the bat, I'll confess: I write this as a convert of sorts. It's not that I ever disliked her, because that would be absurd. It was more that it seemed every film she did was up for an Oscar, and films I felt deserved one were not, so I wrongly had some resentment. She is the actress of our generation, so is rightly up for awards more often than not.
Blanchett began her acting career on stage in 1992, and has a rich history in the department, winning many awards to go alongside the many she has won for her on-screen work.
The first film I remember seeing her in was 2001’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, where she played Galadriel, a royal Elf. This was a role she reprised for the two subsequent instalments, 2002’s The Two Towers and 2003’s The Return of the King, as well as all three parts of the Hobbit prequels. Fellowship was the first time she was cast in a big-budget blockbuster, and she was a perfect fit for the role. While she didn’t win any nominations for any of The Lord of the Rings films, she most certainly contributed to the monumental success the films had at the Academy Awards.
The first of her two Oscar wins to date came for 2004’s The Aviator, where she actually plays an actress, Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn was an Oscar winner herself, four times, and this, interestingly, makes Blanchett the only actor to win an Oscar for playing the part of another Oscar-winner! The cast in this film is incredible, with Blanchett working alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin and others, as well as underneath the legendary director Martin Scorsese. With this cast and director, it comes as no surprise that the film was nominated for an incredible eleven Oscars, winning five.
Bizarrely, off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember what role brought her her second Oscar win, so upon confirming it was for 2013’s Blue Jasmine, I was ultimately astounded it wasn’t for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Furthermore, I was even more amazed that Benjamin Button didn’t even bring her a nomination. This was the film that completed my U-turn of opinion on Blanchett. I adored her character, Daisy, and what she did for Brad Pitt’s Benjamin Button. The relationship between the two is compelling, I found myself not wanting the story to end. I suppose it’s logical that this is what happens when you bring two acting heavyweights together. Blanchett was amazing in this film. She was beautiful, she was evocative and I couldn’t take my eyes off her work.
Currently, Blanchett’s next big work comes in the form of the third instalment of Marvel’s Thor films, Thor: Ragnarok. The latest big name to get in on the superhero act, she plays Hela, the big bad of this chapter. From what there is available to see so far, the film looks really good, and Blanchett herself seems to bring a spooky yet ruthless streak, making me want to see more of her once again.
I’m delighted I dropped my unjustified approach to Cate Blanchett, because there is so much brilliance in her back catalogue, so it would have been criminal to miss out on her genius and not form an opinion fairly. As I said, Benjamin Button was a turning point, and for 166 minutes, I fell in love with her and truly realised her artistry. I apologise for my naivete and salute the incredible work she has done so far, and hope for plenty more. Thanks Cate!