Catherine Blanchett is an Australian actress and theatre director. She has received international acclaim and many accolades including six AACTA Awards, two Academy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and three BAFTA Awards. Blanchett came to international attention for her role as Elizabeth I of England in Shekhar Kapur’s 1998 film Elizabeth for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award and earned her first Academy Award for Best Actress nomination.
Her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s 2004 film The Aviator brought her critical acclaim and many accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, making her the only actor to win an Oscar for portraying another Oscar-winning actor. In 2013, she starred as Jasmine Francis in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, for which she won numerous accolades including the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Blanchett is one of only six actors and the only actress to receive Academy Award nominations for portraying the same role in two films, accomplished in her case by portraying Queen Elizabeth I. She is additionally the only Australian to win two acting Oscars. A seven-time Oscar nominee, she has also received nominations for Notes on a Scandal (2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), I’m Not There (2007) and Carol (2015). Her other notable films include The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), Babel (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Robin Hood (2010), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) and Cinderella (2015). Her main role in a big-budget movie was as Galadriel in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–03) and The Hobbit trilogy (2012–14). She has been cast as Hela in the Marvel Studios film Thor: Ragnarok (2017).
Cate Blanchett Background and Education
Blanchett was born on 14 May 1969 in the Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe. She is the middle of three children; her older brother is a computer systems engineer and her younger sister is a theatrical designer. Her Australian mother, June worked as a property developer and teacher and her American father, Robert DeWitt Blanchett, a Texas native was a United States Navy petty officer who later worked as an advertising executive. The two met when Blanchett’s father’s ship broke down in Melbourne. When Blanchett was 10, her father died of a heart attack, leaving her mother to raise the family on her own. Blanchett’s ancestry includes English, some Scottish and remote French roots.
Blanchett has described herself as being “part extrovert, part wallflower” during childhood. She had a penchant for dressing in traditionally masculine clothing, went through goth and punk phases during her teenage years and shaved her head at one point. She attended primary school in Melbourne at Ivanhoe East Primary School; for her secondary education, she attended Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School and then Methodist Ladies’ College, where she explored her passion for the performing arts. In her late teens and early twenties, she worked at a nursing home in Victoria. She studied economics and fine arts at the University of Melbourne but dropped out after one year to travel overseas. While in Egypt, Blanchett was asked to play an American cheerleader, as an extra in the Egyptian boxing movie, Kaboria; in need of money, she accepted. Upon her return to Australia, she moved to Sydney and enrolled in the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) to pursue an acting career. She graduated from NIDA in 1992
Cate Blanchett Career
Blanchett’s first major stage role was opposite Geoffrey Rush, in the 1992 David Mamet play Oleanna for the Sydney Theatre Company. That year, she was also cast as Clytemnestra in a production of Sophocles’ Electra. A couple of weeks after rehearsals, the actress playing the title role pulled out and director Lindy Davies cast Blanchett in the role. Her performance as Electra became one of her most acclaimed at NIDA. In 1993, Blanchett was awarded the Sydney Theatre Critics’ Best Newcomer Award for her performance in Timothy Daly’s Kafka Dances and won Best Actress for her performance in Mamet’s Oleanna, making her the first actor to win both categories in the same year.
Blanchett played the role of Ophelia in an acclaimed 1994–95 Company B production of Hamlet directed by Neil Armfield, starring Rush and Richard Roxburgh, and was nominated for a Green Room Award. She appeared in the 1994 TV miniseries Heartland opposite Ernie Dingo, the miniseries Bordertown (1995) with Hugo Weaving, and in an episode of Police Rescue entitled “The Loaded Boy”. She also appeared in the 50-minute drama short Parklands (1996), which received an Australian Film Institute (AFI) nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Blanchett made her feature film debut with a supporting role as an Australian nurse captured by the Japanese Army during World War II, in Bruce Beresford’s film Paradise Road (1997), which co-starred Glenn Close and Frances McDormand. Her first leading role was as Lucinda Leplastrier in Gillian Armstrong’s romantic drama Oscar and Lucinda (1997), opposite Ralph Fiennes. Blanchett received wide acclaim for her performance and earned her first AFI Award nomination as Best Leading Actress; she lost to Deborah Mailman in Radiance (1998). She won the AFI Best Actress Award in the same year for her role as Lizzie in the romantic comedy Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997), co-starring Richard Roxburgh and Frances O’Connor. By 1997, Blanchett had accrued significant praise and recognition in her native Australia.
Her first high-profile international role was as Elizabeth I of England in the critically acclaimed film Elizabeth (1998), directed by Shekhar Kapur. The film catapulted her to stardom, and her performance garnered wide recognition, earning her the Golden Globe Award and British Academy Award (BAFTA), her first Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. The following year, Blanchett appeared in Bangers (1999), an Australian short film part of Stories of Lost Souls, a compilation of thematically-related short stories. The short was written and directed by her husband, Andrew Upton, and produced by Blanchett and Upton. She also appeared in the Mike Newell comedy Pushing Tin (1999), costarring Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie (critics singled out Blanchett’s performance), the critically acclaimed Anthony Minghella film The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), alongside Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. She received her second BAFTA nomination for her performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Already an acclaimed actress, Blanchett received a host of new fans when she appeared in Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning blockbuster trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, playing the role of Galadriel in all three films. The trilogy holds the record as the highest-grossing film trilogy of all time. In addition to The Lord of the Rings, 2001 also saw Blanchett diversify her portfolio with a range of roles in the dramas Charlotte Gray and The Shipping News and the American crime-comedy Bandits, for which she earned a second Golden Globe and SAG Award nomination.
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In 2002, Blanchett appeared, opposite Giovanni Ribisi, in Tom Tykwer-directed Heaven, the first film in an unfinished trilogy by acclaimed writer-director Krzysztof Kieślowski. 2003 saw Blanchett again playing a wide range of roles; Galadriel in the third and final installment of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy (which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), the Ron Howard-directed western-thriller The Missing, Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes — playing two roles (both against herself) — for which she received an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female nomination, and the biographical film Veronica Guerin, which earned her a Golden Globe Best Actress Drama nomination.
In 2005, she won her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her acclaimed portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. This made Blanchett the first actor to garner an Academy Award for playing an Oscar-winning actor. She lent her Oscar statue to The Australian Centre for the Moving Image. That year, Blanchett won the Australian Film Institute Best Actress Award for her role as Tracy Heart, a former heroin addict, in the Australian film Little Fish, co-produced by her and her husband’s production company, Dirty Films. Though lesser known globally than some of her other films, Little Fish received great critical acclaim in Blanchett’s native Australia and was nominated for 13 Australian Film Institute awards.
In 2006, she starred opposite Brad Pitt in the multi-lingual, multi-narrative ensemble drama Babel, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, which received seven Academy Award nominations, the Steven Soderbergh-directed The Good German with George Clooney and the acclaimed Notes on a Scandal opposite Dame Judi Dench. Blanchett received a third Academy Award nomination for her performance in the latter film.
In 2007, Blanchett was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and also one of the most successful actresses by Forbes magazine. Blanchett had a cameo as Janine, forensic scientist and ex-girlfriend of Simon Pegg’s character in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (2007). The cameo was uncredited and she gave her fee to charity.
She replaced her role as Queen Elizabeth I in the 2007 sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age and portrayed Jude Quinn, one of six incarnations of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ experimental film I’m Not There. She won the Volpi Cup Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival (accepted by fellow Australian actor and I’m Not There co-star Heath Ledger), the Independent Spirit and Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress Award for her portrayal of Jude Quinn. At the 80th Academy Awards, Blanchett received two Academy Award nominations—Best Actress for Elizabeth: the Golden Age and Best Supporting Actress for I’m Not There—becoming the eleventh actor to receive two acting nominations in the same year and the first female actor to receive another nomination for the reprisal of a role. Of her achievement that year, critic Roger Ebert said, “That Blanchett could appear in the same Toronto International Film Festival playing Elizabeth and Bob Dylan, both splendidly, is a wonder of acting”.
On 5 December 2008, Blanchett was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in front of Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. Blanchett voiced the character of Granmamare for the English version of the film Ponyo, released July 2008.
In 2008, Blanchett and her husband became co-CEOs and artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company.
Blanchett reprised her role as Galadriel in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of The Hobbit (2012–14), prequel to The Lord of the Rings series, filmed in New Zealand. She voiced the role of “Penelope” in the Family Guy episode “Mr. and Mrs. Stewie”, which aired on 29 April 2012, and Queen Elizabeth II in the episode “Family Guy Viewer Mail 2”. Blanchett returned to Australian film with her appearance in The Turning (2013), an anthology film based on a collection of short stories by Tim Winton. She was head of jury of the 2012 and 2013 Dubai International Film Festival. The Sydney Theatre Company’s 2013 season was Blanchett’s final one as co-CEO and artistic director.
In 2013, Blanchett played Jasmine French, the lead role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, costarring Alec Baldwin and Sally Hawkins. She received rave reviews for her performance, with some critics calling it the best role of her career (surpassing her acclaimed starring role in Elizabeth). The performance earned her more than 40 industry and critics awards, including LAFCA Award, NYFCC Award, NSFC Award, Critics’ Choice Award, Santa Barbara International Film Festival Outstanding Performance of the Year Award, Australian Academy Award (AACTA), SAG award, Golden Globe award, BAFTA award, Independent Film Spirit Award and the Academy Award for Best Actress. Blanchett’s win made her just the sixth actress to win an Oscar in both of the acting categories, the third to win Best Actress after Best Supporting Actress, and the first Australian to win more than one acting Oscar.
In 2014, Blanchett co-starred with Matt Damon and George Clooney in the latter’s film, The Monuments Men, based on the true story of a crew of art historians and museum curators who recover renowned works of art stolen by Nazis. The film featured an ensemble cast, including John Goodman, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville, and Jean Dujardin. She voiced the part of Valka in 2014’s How to Train Your Dragon 2. The animated film was a critically acclaimed, box-office success, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and received an Academy Award nomination. Blanchett guest starred on the Australian show Rake, as the onscreen female version of Richard Roxburgh’s rogue protagonist, Cleaver. On 29 January 2015, she co-hosted the 4th AACTA Awards with Deborah Mailman.
In 2015, Blanchett starred in five films. She portrayed Nancy in Terrence Malick’s Knight Of Cups, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.Indiewire named Blanchett’s performance in Knight of Cups one of the 15 best performances in Terrence Malick films. She then portrayed Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s evil stepmother, in Disney’s live-action re-imagining of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella and the 1950 animated film, to critical acclaim. She starred opposite Rooney Mara in Carol, the film adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, reuniting her with director Todd Haynes. Blanchett is an executive producer on the film.
She received Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and BAFTA Award nominations for her performance in Carol. She also portrayed Mary Mapes opposite Robert Redford’s Dan Rather in Truth, a film about the Killian documents controversy. Blanchett’s production company was a producing partner for the film. Blanchett also appeared in Manifesto, Julian Rosefeldt’s multi-screen video installation, in which 12 artist manifestos are depicted by 13 different characters played by Blanchett. In 2016, Blanchett narrated one of two versions of Terence Malick’s documentary on Earth and the universe, Voyage of Time, which had its world premiere at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.
In 2017, Blanchett appeared in Malick’s Song to Song, shot back-to-back with Knight of Cups in 2012 and will portray one of the female leads in Thor: Ragnarok. In May 2016, she was confirmed to portray Hela in the film. In 2018, Blanchett will star in the all-female spin-off of the Ocean’s Eleven franchise directed by Gary Ross, Ocean’s Eight, opposite Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter.Blanchett will also voice the sinister python Kaa in Andy Serkis’ adaptation of The Jungle Book titled Jungle Book, in which he will mix motion capture, CG animation, and live action.
Blanchett will develop and direct Australian drama series Stateless based on the life and controversial mandatory detention case of Cornelia Rau. The project is funded by Screen Australia and co-produced by Blanchett and Andrew Upton’s production company. In September 2015, it was announced that Blanchett would portray Lucille Ball in an untitled biographical film, written by Aaron Sorkin and produced by Ball’s two children. In November 2015, it was reported that Blanchett was in talks to appear in the film adaptation of the best-selling book Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which will be directed by Richard Linklater.
Cate Blanchett Awards and achievements
Among her numerous accolades for her performances, Blanchett has received two Academy Awards, three British Academy Awards, six Australian Academy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, three Critics Choice Awards, three Independent Spirit Awards, four Helpmann Awards, awards from the Venice Film Festival, the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review. Her performance as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator made her the only actor to win an Oscar for portraying another Oscar-winning actor.
Blanchett is only the third actress after Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep to win Best Actress after winning Best Supporting Actress. She is one of only six actors (and the only actress) in the history of the Oscars to be nominated twice for portraying the same role in two films (Elizabeth I in the films Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and the eleventh actor to receive two acting nominations in the same year. She is also the only Australian actor to win two acting Oscars.
Blanchett received Premiere magazine’s Icon Award in 2006. In 2008, she received the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Modern Master Award in recognition of her accomplishments in the film industry. That year, she received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard. She received Women in Film and Television International’s Crystal Award for excellence in the entertainment industry in 2014.
In 2015, Blanchett was honoured at the Museum of Modern Art’s Film Benefit for her outstanding contributions to the industry. She received the British Film Institute Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding contribution to film, presented to her by fellow actor Ian McKellen. Blanchett was the recipient of the AACTA Longford Lyell Award for her “outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Australia’s screen environment and culture.” In 2016, she received the Costume Designers Guild Lacoste Spotlight Award, in honour of an “enduring commitment to excellence” and her “appreciation for the artistry of costume design and collaboration with the Costume Designers.”
In 2006, a portrait of Blanchett and family painted by McLean Edwards was a finalist for the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Archibald Prize. Another portrait of Blanchett was a finalist for the Archibald Prize in 2014. In 2009, Blanchett appeared in a series of commemorative postage stamps called Australian Legends, in recognition of the outstanding contribution made to Australian entertainment and culture. In 2015, Madame Tussauds unveiled a wax figure of Blanchett draped in a recreation of the Valentino Garavani dress she wore to the 2005 Academy Awards ceremony.
Blanchett was appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture in 2012, in recognition of her significant contributions to the arts. Blanchett was awarded the Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society by the Australian government. She has been presented with a Doctor of Letters from University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Macquarie University, in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the arts, philanthropy and the community.