Cate of the Art: Strong on and off screen, Tár star Cate Blanchett finds it hard to leave the limelight

By Joseff Musa
May 20, 2023

Porcelain perfection is what many would instantly notice about Cate Blanchett. Shining on the big screen is a quality she has always had, and it is hard to think of times over the past decade when she wasn’t having a big year. With that caveat, the Australian Hollywood actress is enjoying a massive 2023 following her outstanding performance in the Todd Field epic, Tár.

The 53-year-old thespian is known for her versatile work across independent films, blockbusters and the stage and has received numerous accolades, including two Academy Awards, four British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globe Awards, in addition to nominations for a Tony and two Primetime Emmys. Every award-giving body out there has given Blanchett the attention she so richly deserves.

Cate Blanchett

Taking the biscuit
It’s always fascinating to look back on the humble beginnings of celebrated icons – and for Cate Blanchett, this is the iconic TV commercial for Tim Tam, the chocolate biscuits sold in her homeland. In between theatre roles after she finished a degree in fine arts, the Melbourne native played a woman who, after freeing a genie from a lamp, is granted three wishes. Blanchett’s cookie-craving character merely requests an endless supply of Tim Tams.

Blanchett’s extensive appearances both on screen and stage can be traced back to 1992 when she debuted as Electra in the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art production of the play of the same name. From there, she landed her first leading role on local television in 1994’s Heartland, and Bordertown with Hugo Weaving in 1995.

Cate Blanchett

The international viewing public first discovered Blanchett’s incredible potential for transformation in 1998 when she played Elizabeth I in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth. Pale-faced, with flame-red hair and a steely character, the actress gave a punchy performance as the British monarch who took the throne in 1558 at the age of 25. The Virgin Queen ruled England during one of its most opulent eras in a world dominated by men. She received both a Bafta and a Golden Globe for Best Actress for the breakthrough role.

The Great Pretender
After headline-hitting roles in The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Lord of the Rings, she appeared in the seminal 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes by Jim Jarmusch. She portrayed both herself and a fictitious cousin, Shelly, in one of 11 vignettes shot in black and white. One more time Cate played chameleon on screen.

Blanchett is also the only actress in history to be nominated for the same role, following up her lead turn in Elizabeth with a sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, nine years later. Her Oscar triumph for portraying Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator made her the first person to win the award for playing another Oscar winner.

Cate Blanchett

Complex metamorphoses and playing people of the other sex do not faze her. She stunned reviewers and viewers in 2007 when she appeared as Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ biopic I’m Not There. Dylan was played by six different actors at six different phases of his life, with Blanchett turning in a standout performance. This role brought her a notable distinction: she is one of three women to be nominated for an Oscar for portraying a man.

“I wanted to be him,” Blanchett has said of the singer. “It’s the first time I ever had that feeling. I actually wanted to be Dylan. Ultimately, he just really didn’t care. He’s on his own path.”

(Read the full article in the May 2023 issue (pg: 114). Available on the Gafencu app on Android and Apple.)