January 21, 2001
SHE GREETS YOU warmly, but warily. As you anticipated, Being Interviewed does not appear on her Top 10,000 List of Favorite Things. Blanchett is carrying half a dozen videos from BlockbusterSome Like It Hot, Roman Holiday, etc.and as an icebreaker you say, Do we have to watch all those? She smiles. We could. Itd save us having to talk. Blanchett gets tongue-tied when forced to hold forth on the subject of Cate Blanchett. Shed rather discuss art, theater, Jane Fonda, the geological history of various continentseven the T shirt on that guy across the street. Before submitting to the interview, Blanchett transfers her wig to her assistants handbag and deadpans, with a kind of deathbed gravitas, Im going to give you my hair.
Hair, no hair. Crown and robes or T shirt and jeans. Accent of any kind. Since her blazing breakthrough in 1998s Elizabeth, Blanchett has proved herself to be an astonishing chameleon. This month she plays a small-town psychic in Sam Raimis scary and touching supernatural thriller The Gift. Raimi was working with a budget reportedly under $10 million. But he had no trouble getting people like Keanu Reeves to work cheap when theyd read the rich, layered scriptand heard whod be telling their fortunes. Once they knew Cate Blanchett was starring in the piece, he says, they knew they were going to be across from one of the best, if not the best, leading ladies in the world. The actress, whos married to screenwriter Andrew Upton, is reluctant to play the star game. Shes always made idiosyncratic choicesshe couldnt fit the Clarice Starling role in Hannibal into her schedule, but lobbied for a small part as the pointy-eared elf queen Galadriel in the upcoming film version of The Lord of the Rings. How does she keep her agents from pushing her around? Well, Im an adult, says the Australian-born actress, 31. Its very easy to revert to a second childhood in this business. If you allowed it to happen, you could have people literally telling you what to eat and what to wear. You know? Its kind of like, I can dress myself, thanks.