“If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life—that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment—that would be the perfect state.”—Cate Blanchett.
Cate Elise Blanchett is an Oscar-winning actress known for her work in films such as The Aviator, Elizabeth, and Carol. Born in Australia in 1969, she studied at the Australia National Institute for Dramatic Art and worked in Australian theatre before going on to land her first American role in 1997’s Paradise Road. Since then, she has appeared in at least 53 movies, and has received critical acclaim and multiple accolades for her work. Below are 42 facts about the dramatic actress.
42. American Roots
Blanchett’s mother June was an Australian teacher and property developer and her father Robert was American. He was originally from Texas, and met June in Melbourne while he was serving in the United States Navy as a petty officer. While he didn’t remain in Melbourne then, he was obviously love-struck, because he relocated to Australia to marry her and become an ad man.
41. Sudden Death
When Blanchett was just 10 years old she suffered the untimely loss of her father. He died suddenly of a heart attack at age 40. Her mother must never got have over it, as she never remarried and pretty much raised Blanchett and her siblings on her own. Tough lady.
40. Finding Peace
Losing a parent at a young age is terribly tragic, but Blanchett has found a way to work out the trauma of that loss through her work. While she is adamant that she doesn’t use acting as ‘therapy,’ she does admit that it’s been cathartic and has helped her find peace.
39. The Experiment
Blanchett’s youngest son Dashiell refers to himself as “The Experiment,” because as the first-born, parenting was something of a learning process for Blanchett and her husband. As she explained in an interview with the Daily Mail, they made a lot of mistakes with him, which, hopefully, they learned from. Luckily for them, they have three more to practice on.
38. Financial Struggle
With all the glamor of Hollywood, it’s easy to forget that not all celebrities started out rich. With her father dying so young, her mother had three children to support on her own and Blanchett remembers genuinely worrying about where the money was going to come from. Her mother worked, but went into debt to ensure that the kids all had a good education. This also helped her relate to the riches-to-rags theme of the film Blue Jasmine, since she had essentially lived it.
37. Working Hard
Blanchett is known to be a bit of a workhorse, and she credits her mother with making her self-reliant and giving her a strong work ethic. Seeing her mother go out and work to support her family gave her the drive to go out and find a job, and at age 14, she lied about her age to get a position working in a home for the elderly.
36. Disappearing Act
Amazingly enough, acting wasn’t Blanchett’s original course of study in school. Blanchett had originally gone to Melbourne University to study art history, and acting was merely a hobby. After seeing her in a play, Blanchett’s sister told her that she wasn’t seeing Blanchett anymore on stage—just her character. This led her to drop out of university and move to Sydney to attend drama school instead. The move obviously paid off.
35. Alternating Days
In her early days as an actress, “starving artist” was a term that fully applied to Blanchett. If you think New York is an expensive place to live, try living in Sydney. When Blanchett finished school she shared a house with a window looking out on a brick wall and she had to save her money so that she could have a coffee on alternating days. Now that’s broke!
34. Honesty is the Key
Blanchett has been married to playwright, screenwriter, and director Andrew Upton for 20 years. When talking about her marriage, she’s said that she believes one of the most important parts of any good marriage is honesty. She is grateful that she’s able to talk to her husband about anything without worrying about being judged, and he also makes sure that she stays down-to-earth and can tell her to shut up if she’s being silly.
33. It’s the Little Things that Get You
For the most part, Blanchett says that she’s good at juggling the different facets of her life, but occasionally it all gets too much and she has a meltdown. Ironically, it’s not the big things that get her, but the little things, like not being able to find her pen. Isn’t it always?
32. Measuring Up
With all of her fame and accomplishments, Blanchett still worries that she’s not living up to the standards of the other mothers at her children’s private schools. She said she feels like the so-called “mummy mafia” are totally judging her parenting skills and her appearance without fully understanding the challenges of balancing work and kids. Working moms everywhere can relate.
31. Unprecedented Protest
At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Blanchett led Selma Hayek, Kristen Stewart and 79 other female actresses, producers, and directors walking arm-in-arm in a red-carpet protest to demand equal pay for women and an end to sexual harassment in Hollywood. Blanchett, who was also chosen to lead the Cannes Jury at the festival said in her statement: “We demand that our workplaces are diverse and equitable so they can best reflect the world in which we live.” Only time will tell whether or not their protest was effective.
30. Aloof and Arrogant
When Blanchett first met her future husband Andrew Upton on a movie set, they didn’t exactly hit it off. He thought she was aloof and she found him arrogant, but the next time they met, things went much better. They connected over a poker game at a party and ended up going home together that night. Three weeks later he proposed and they married. Talk about a whirlwind romance!
29. Double Best
Blanchett has the distinction of being the first person to win the Sydney Critic’s Circle award for Best Newcomer for her work in Kafka Dances and Best Lead Actress for her work in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of David Mamet’s Oleanna in the same year. Her co-star in Oleanna was actor Geoffrey Rush, who also won a Sydney Critic’s Award for his performance in The Diary of a Madman.
28. Uncredited Appearance
Occasionally, an A-list actor will make a secret cameo in a movie where you’d least expect them. In Cate Blanchett’s case, the movie was director Edgar Wright’s film Hot Fuzz, which she jumped into mostly because she was a fan of the director’s previous film Shaun of the Dead. Blanchett played Simon Pegg’s forensic scientist ex-girlfriend, Janine, but had her face covered with goggles and a mask so only the most eagle-eyed viewers would have spotted her.
27. Unnatural Pressure
In an interview with Sky News for her new film Ocean’s 8, Blanchett discussed feeling the pressure that comes along with trying to draw audiences to a film with a female-led cast. She admitted that she was praying the film did well because if it didn’t, it would reinforce the false idea that nobody wants to see an all-female film. She didn’t have to worry though. The movie topped the box office in its opening weekend and debuted with the highest numbers of the entire Oceans franchise.
26. Dance Like an Egyptian
When Blanchett was 18 years old, she went on vacation to Egypt. Thanks to a fellow guest at her Cairo hotel, she ended up landing a role as an extra in the Egyptian boxing movie Kaboria. She appeared in three scenes in the movie and was dancing to the movie’s main song in one of them. Lucky girl.
25. It’s Not What You Look Like
Blanchett’s adopted daughter Edith is the baby of the family, and as a result, she ends up with hand-me-downs from her older brothers. Blanchett totally bucks the traditional attitude towards children’s clothing and states that what her daughter wears doesn’t matter because it’s who she is that counts. Absolutely!
24. They Just Popped Out
All three of Blanchett’s pregnancies were unplanned, and as she told InStyle after giving birth to the third, “they just popped out.” While adopting a child would have taken a bit of planning on parts of Blanchett and her husband, generally, she is a big believer in just letting things be and not overplanning.
23. Giving it a Boost
In 2015, just days before she was scheduled to walk the Oscar red carpet for the seventh time as a nominee for Carol, Blanchett was trying to drum up some new interest for the DVD release of her film Truth. The movie, which chronicled the “Rathergate” scandal of 2004, debuted to strong reviews at the Toronto Film Festival but failed to garner similar buzz at the box office. Though she was proud of both films, she was disappointed that it didn’t find an audience. Can’t win ‘em all.
22. Embodying the Ideal
In May 2018, Blanchett was announced as the first Global Beauty Ambassador for the brand Giorgio Armani Beauty. For the last five years, she’s been the face of the brand’s Si fragrance and will now represent all of their make-up and skincare products too. According to Armani, they wanted to work with her because she embodies the choice of the Armani woman.
21. A Little Souvenir
When her part in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was finished, Blanchett couldn’t resist taking home a souvenir. She kept the elf ear prosthetics from her role as Galadriel and had them bronzed. I wonder if she put them next to the baby shoes.
20. Cate Playing Kate
Cate Blanchett is the only actor to ever win an Oscar for portraying another Oscar winner. Her performance as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator was so uncannily accurate, she received both critical acclaim and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I bet even Hepburn would have approved.
19. Walk Like a Man
Portraying a character of the opposite sex is definitely a challenge, but Blanchett found an interesting solution for her portrayal of Bob Dylan in the experimental film I’m Not There. She said that stuffing a sock down her pants helped her walk like a man, making her performance more believable. That’s innovative.
18. Staggering Range
Critics often praise Blanchett for her range, and if you stack up all of her roles, it’s a pretty wide one. She’s twice played a queen, she’s played Katherine Hepburn and Bob Dylan, not to mention the evil sister of a Norse God, a wicked stepmother, and a wealthy ‘50s housewife. What can’t she do?
17. Improving the Craft
From the moment she appeared in her first play with the Sydney Theatre Company, Blanchett has been earning accolades for her acting and it wouldn’t seem like there’s any room for improvement. When asked whether or not she thinks her craft has improved since her theatre days she said: “I hope I got better!” Give her credit for her humility.
16. Stepping Out of Character
There was one moment during the filming of Cinderella where Blanchett didn’t feel in character as Cinderella’s wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine. It was during the ballroom scene where the Prince and Cinderella began to dance. She said it was such a beautiful, romantic moment it just made her want to weep. Other people on set must have agreed as she said they all burst into applause afterward.
15. Missing Out
Blanchett was originally supposed to play Anna in the Mike Nichols film Closer but had to drop out at the last minute due to being pregnant. Priorities, right?
14. Not the Girl Next Door
Blanchett has occasionally been criticized for her eclectic choice of roles. Her characters are not always wholesome or likable, but one thing they are not is boring.
13. A Spectacular Failure
One of Blanchett’s slogans is “If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously.” Even an Oscar-winning actress can have a turkey once in a while, and not being afraid of failing is an admirable trait.
12. On Second Thought…
When Blanchett was first offered the role in Oleanna, the play that put her on the map, her first instinct was to turn it down because she thought it was “a misogynistic piece of crap” and wasn’t thrilled by its questionable sexual politics. She ended up appearing in the play, and recognizes it as a turning point in her career. In fact, thinking about the play in hindsight, she realizes that the exact things she hated about it are what she ended up enjoying about it the most—the fact that it does generate such strong emotions. As she put it, “It punches an audience senseless.”
11. The Opposite of Tan
When Blanchett was about 10 or 11 and growing up in Australia, having a pale complexion was “deeply uncool.” She was so anxious to have a tan she would apply baby oil on her skin and then go out on a tin roof. In her mind, ending up looking purple was a pretty good day, but her mother promptly took away the oil and gave her a talk about the perils of tanning. Blanchett took the advice to the opposite extreme and became a goth instead. Probably not what her mother had in mind, but she eventually grew out of it.
10. I’m Playing How Many Characters?
When Blanchett agreed to take a role in the film Manifesto, she didn’t realize that she was agreeing to play 13 different characters. She originally believed that she would be playing about four characters max, but the director was thinking more like 24. They agreed to meet somewhere in between, but she forgot what number they settled on and was still surprised when she arrived on set.
9. Trapeze Act
Blanchett likens her relationship with a performance to a circus act. As she explains, she can do all the homework in the world to prepare for a role, but in the end, it comes down to “jumping into someone’s hands” and hoping they catch her at exactly the right time.
8. Double Nomination
Many actors have reprised a well-received role for a sequel, but Blanchett is one of only six actresses in Oscar history to ever be nominated twice for playing the same role in different films. Her turn as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth won her the Best Actress Oscar in 1998, and her reprisal in 2007’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age earned her a second nomination. She is also one of only three actresses to be nominated for portraying a man.
7. Title Characters
At least eight of the films that Blanchett has starred in have had her playing the title character, and it’s probably no coincidence that at least half of those roles have earned her award nominations.
6. Winning Them All
Every actor hopes to score the role of a lifetime in their career, and for Blanchett, it was her role in the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine. Her performance earned her more than 40 industry awards, including the BAFTA (British Film Award), Oscar, Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Golden Globe. Only nine actresses total can say they’ve been lucky enough to win all five major awards for the same role, so Blanchett is in rare company.
5. Cookie Wish
Prior to her feature film breakthrough, one of Blanchett’s early acting jobs was in an Australian commercial for the cookie brand Tim Tam. In the commercial, she frees a genie from a lamp and is granted three wishes, and uses her first wish to secure an unlimited supply of cookies. Cookie Monster would be in heaven.
4. A Touching Tribute
Blanchett wrote the profile of friend Sarah Paulson for Time magazine’s 100 most influential people issue in 2017. The pair met on the set of Carol, and Paulson was immediately awed by her. Blanchett called her a “rare pearl” who is “at the forefront of a generation of women who are changing the landscape of the film and television industry.” Paulson was so moved by the tribute that she was not only rendered speechless but broke down in tears. Paulson also noted that Blanchett’s work makes her want to act. Now that’s high praise.
3. No Tweets From Her
If you’re hoping to find Blanchett joining the legions of celebrities who have embraced social media, you’ll be extremely disappointed. Blanchett does not buy into selfie culture, and thinks that people worrying about what other people think is “pathetic”. While she does admit that she believes social media does offer people a chance to connect, she has no plans to change her position on joining the fray.
2. Secret Longing
During a June 2018 appearance on a London episode of James Corden’s Late Late Show, Orlando Bloom revealed a fun tidbit about his Lord of the Rings co-star. At the time of filming, he was a tender 23, and she was 30, but he had a major crush on her. Sadly, she didn’t reciprocate his feelings, but that didn’t stop him from stealthily spying on her from the corner of the room—in a totally non-stalkerish way of course.
1. Essential Ritual
The last time Blanchett saw her father alive, she was sitting at the piano and waved goodbye as he walked past the window. That was also the day he died, and because she didn’t get to give him a hug goodbye, she developed a ritual where she couldn’t leave her house until she physically said goodbye to all of her family members. Totally understandable under the circumstances.