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Catherine Zeta-Jones Renée Kathleen Zellweger
Cate Blanchett - Goddesses of the Silver Screen
527    Dibyendu Banerjee    23/06/2023

Born on 14 May 1969 in the Ivanhoe suburb of Melbourne, Catherine Elise Blanchett was the second of three children, with an older brother and younger sister, of June née Gamble, an Australian teacher and property developer. Unfortunately, she lost her father at the age of ten, when her 40-year-old American father, Robert DeWitt Blanchett Jr, died of a sudden heart attack. However, after attending Ivanhoe East Primary School, she went on to Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School for her secondary education and then to Methodist Ladies’ College, where she explored her passion for the performing arts. Later, Cate Blanchett described herself as an extrovert and wallflower teenager, who preferred to be dressed in masculine clothing and went through the Goth, a music-based subculture, as well as Punk culture, which are largely characterised by anti-establishment views, even shaved her hair at one point. After one year at the University of Melbourne, studying economics and fine arts, she dropped out to travel abroad and while in Egypt, she was offered to be an extra as an American blonde cheerleader in the Egyptian boxing film Kaboria (1990).

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She accepted the job as she was in need of money, which probably changed the course of her life. After returning to Melbourne, she moved to Sydney and enrolled herself at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in fine arts, graduating in 1992.

cate blanchett

After graduating from NIDA, Cate Blanchett joined the Sydney Theatre Company's production and her first stage role was in 1992, for the Sydney Theatre Company in David Mamet’s Oleanna, in which she played the role of a student, accusing her teacher of sexual harassment. In 1993, Blanchett was awarded the Sydney Theatre Critics' Best Newcomer Award for her performance in the role of Felice Bauer, the bride, in Tim Daly’s Kafka Dances and also won Best Actress Award for her performance in Oleanna, making her the first actor to win both categories in the same year. By that time, she also made her television debut in 1993, appearing in one episode in Police Rescue and she soon landed leading roles in Heartland (1994) and Bordertown (1995).

cate blanchett
In Paradise Road (1997)

Blanchett made her feature film debut with a supporting role as an Australian nurse in the group of women captured and imprisoned on the island of Sumatra by the Japanese during World War II, who use music to relieve their misery in Paradise Road (1997).

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However, her first leading role came later that year in Gillian Armstrong’s romantic drama Oscar and Lucinda (1997), in which she played the role of Lucinda Leplastrier, a rebellious heiress ostracized from Australian society and earned her first AFI Award nomination as Best Leading Actress. In the same year, she also won the AFI Best Actress Award for her starring role as Lizzie in the romantic comedy Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997). Nevertheless, her breakthrough and first high-profile international role was the portrayal of the young Queen Vitoria I, in the critically acclaimed historical drama Elizabeth (1998), directed by Shekhar Kapur, for which she was profusely acclaimed for capturing the emotional complexity of the queen’s development from a lovestruck adolescent to an indomitable political force who represses her emotional vulnerability. The film propelled her to international prominence, earning her a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama, BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

cate blanchett
In Elizabeth (1998)

After that, her performance in the role of Connie Falzone in Pushing Tin (1999), a comedy about air traffic controllers, was also singled out by critics, while she received her second BAFTA nomination for her performance as Meredith Logue in the critically acclaimed and financially successful American psychological thriller film The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), co-starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.

cate blanchett
In Talented Mr Ripley (1999)

By that time, Cate married writer Andrew Uptron in 1997, whom she had met a year earlier on a movie set. However, in that first meeting, Andrew thought her aloof and unapproachable, while Cate considered him haughty and arrogant.

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Nevertheless, they were connected again over a poker game at a party and it was not until that late-night game of poker that things turned romantic. That night, she went home with him and three weeks later, Andrew proposed to marry her. They married without any delay, on 29 December 1997, because she had to leave for England to play her breakthrough role in Elizabeth. The couple has three sons and also adopted a daughter recently, in 2015.

cate blanchett
The Lord of the Rings 2001

Apart from appearing as the elf queen Galadriel in the Academy Award-winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003), Cate Blanchett also appeared in several important films between 2001 to 2005, which include the romantic thriller Charlotte Gray (2001), in which she played the role of the leading lady, a young Scottish woman, who joined the French Resistance to rescue her Royal Air Force boyfriend, lost in France during World War II. In Heaven (2002), another romantic thriller, directed by Tom Tykwer, she appeared as Philippi, who takes the law into her own hands, as police did not pay any heed to her pleas to arrest a man responsible for the death of her husband, but got herself arrested for murder and falling in love with an officer. In the western The Missing (2003), directed by Ron Howard, Blanchett brought her trademark complexity to the role of Magdalena Gilkeson, a young woman forced to confront her estranged father to reclaim her kidnapped daughter.

cate blanchett
In Heaven (2002)
cate blanchett
With Leonardo DiCapri in The Aviator (2004)

After her portrayal of the young Queen Victoria I, Blanchett returned to her study of historical characters to portray Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004), the highly acclaimed film directed by Martin Scorsese. However, at the instance of the director, she watched the first 15 screen performances of Hepburn before the inception of filming, to study the poise, mannerisms and speech pattern of the iconic actress. Cate Blanchett won the heart of the critics and the public for her performance in the role and also won her much deserved first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, which made her the first actor in history to win an Academy Award for portraying another Academy Award-winning actor. She then won Australian Film Institute Best Actress Award for her performance as Tracy Heart, a former heroin addict, in the Australian film Little Fish (2005) and also appeared opposite Brad Pitt as one half of a grieving couple who get caught up in an international incident in Morocco, in multi-lingual, multi-narrative and highly acclaimed drama film Babel (2006), directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, which won seven Academy Award nominations. In the same year, Cate also appeared as Lena Brandt, a prostitute desperate to get out of Berlin, opposite George Clooney in the World War II-set drama The Good German (2006), directed by Steven Soderbergh and received her third Academy Award nomination for her performance in the psychological thriller Notes on a Scandal (2006), portraying Sheba Hart, a lonely teacher, involved in an affair with a 15-year-old student and becoming the object of obsession for an older woman, played by Judi Dench.

cate blanchett
In Babel (2006)
cate blanchett
In Notes on a Scandal (2006)

In 2007, Cate Blanchett became the first actress to receive two Oscar nominations, Best Actress nomination for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (2007), directed by Shekhar Kapur and Best Supporting Actress nomination for performing the role of Jude Quinn, one of six incarnations of Bob Dylan in I'm Not There (2007), an unconventional biopic inspired by the life and music of Bob Dylan, directed by Todd Haynes. The following year she played the Soviet villain Irina Spalko in Steven Spielberg’s action film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). and also starred opposite Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), a tragic drama about a man who ages backwards. After that, she appeared as Marion Loxley in Ridley Scott’s action drama Robin Hood (2010), with Russell Crowe as the outlaw hero.

cate blanchett
With Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

During the next decade, Cate Blanchett starred in the thriller Hanna (2011), where she appeared as Marissa Wiegler, a CIA agent in pursuit of a former agent and his teenage daughter, trained by her father to be an assassin. In Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine (2013), she played the lead role of Jasmine Francis, a socialite struggling to handle the situation in declining circumstances and earned Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, BAFTA Award for Best Leading Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama. This glorious achievement made her the first Australian to win more than one acting Oscar and also put her on the list of the only six actresses, who achieved the glory of winning Oscar in both of the acting categories and the third to win Best Actress Award after Best Supporting Actress. The next year, Cate co-starred with Matt Damon and George Clooney in The Monumental Man (2014), in which she played a French art historian and Resistance member, based on the real story of a group of art historians and museum curators who recovered several famous works of art plundered by Nazis. She then reunited with director Todd Haynes and starred in Carol (2015), playing a married socialite who enters a romantic relationship with a younger store clerk. Her performance in the film was highly acclaimed and often described as one of the best of her career, alongside Elizabeth and Blue Jasmine. Moreover, Blanchett again earned Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for her performance in the film.

cate blanchett
In Blue Jasmine (2013)

Subsequent films of Cate Blanchett include, among others, Terrence Malick’s Song to Song (2017), a romantic drama set against the Austin, Texas music scene; the all-female spin-off in Ocean’s 8 (2018), opposite Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Sara Paulson and others; and Don’t Look Up (2021), an apocalyptic political satire, black comedy film for Netflix, directed by Adam McKay and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

cate blanchett
With Leonardo DiCapri in Don’t Look Up (2021)

Cate Blanchett, regarded as one of the finest and most versatile actresses of her generation and noted for her ability to play characters from many different walks of life, has received numerous awards, including two Academy, four Golden Globe and four British Academy Film Awards. Apart from that, she is the recipient of several honorary awards. In 2001, the Australian government awarded her the Centenary Medal and in 2017, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia. She was awarded honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and Macquarie University, a public research university in Sydney. She was appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012 and was honoured by the Museum of Modern Art and received a Fellowship of the British Film Institute in 2015.

Catherine Zeta-Jones Renée Kathleen Zellweger
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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