October 28, 1999
Proves There's Life After Death
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
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
"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."
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
She 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."