Her latest film, "Veronica Guerin," tells the true story of the celebrated journalist who campaigned to expose and bring down the powerful Irish drug lords of the 1990s.
Blanchett tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith it was a challenging role to play. She says, "When you play someone who lived and breathed and who has become so iconic within Irish culture... I mean, there, everybody knows what she looked like, she got so many radio and television interviews. Of course, there is a sensitivity one has to have as a human being in the fact that the grief surrounding her death is so real and present for her family. They were very generous in sharing some of their memories and anecdotes."
To prepare, Blanchett says she would go over the interviews to try to approximate her character. She notes, "There's so much psychology revealed in our body language, speech patterns. So I suppose I'd try to use that to get into someone's psychology."
One of Ireland's top journalists during the 1990s, Guerin's stories focused her nation's attention on the rising problem of heroin use in Dublin. Painting a vivid picture of a dangerous world that perhaps many in the country had not yet focused upon, Guerin became the sworn enemy of the city's underworld, ultimately galvanizing the anti-drug forces and leading to stronger drug laws in Ireland.
Blanchett says, "I suppose her skill is that she was able to sort of operate in a very male environment, but still use her feminine ways to get the information she needed to get. And I think there was a pressure on her to continue to do what she was doing, because there was so few people were actually writing that. The other people that were doing it were male. The government, there was no coordinated approach to catch these guys who were making so much money from the drugs in the '80s and '90s, so she felt it was incredibly important. I don't know if I would have had the same presence of mind that she had."
For Blanchett, acting is like flirtation. She says it has to remain titillating because it has to seduce you each time, as an affair would.
Blanchett says, "When I fell in love, it was completely by chance. There is such an element of chance and faith and complete instinct in the way one chooses roles because it's a risky endeavor and it should be a risky endeavor making it - that is the exciting part. I don't work in a bank, no offense to people who do work in a bank. But sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. There is a sense that somehow you're only having a great career if you make huge box office hits and they're not the films that I'm necessarily drawn to as an audience member and films like 'Veronica' are small films and hopefully...they find their own audience."
And yet there are blockbusters in her future. Next for Blanchett is portraying Katharine Hepburn, with Martin Scorsese as the director.
About this role, Blanchett says, "I panic and panic again. I think this is an utterly impossible task. You say to Martin, 'What do you want?' I mean, he is Martin Scorsese. I mean, he's not wanting a burlesque sort of adaptation of her which would be sort of crass. And it is not about Katharine Hepburn; the film is actually about Howard Hughes. It's called 'The Aviator.' So of course, you watch all the films she's made and the very few interviews she gave. But, in the end, I'm not playing her, playing an actress. It's the secret invented affair that she had with Howard Hughes, which is all make-believe, really."
About Cate Blanchett:
- Born Catherine Elise Blanchett in Melbourne, Australia on May 14, 1969
- Attracted attention for her performance in "Electra" at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.
- Attended Methodist Ladies' College in Victoria, Australia. Also attended Melbourne University in Melbourne, Australia. Majored in art history. Enrolled as an economics major; dropped out after two years to attend drama school. Went to National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia (1992).
- 1992 - Joined Sydney Theatre Company. Appeared in "Oleanna," starring opposite Geoffrey Rush.
- 1993 - Made TV debut in a commercial.
- 1994 - TV acting debut in episodes of the Australian series "Police Rescue." Co-starred in the Australian TV program "Heartland."
- 1996 - Made film acting debut in the short "Parklands."
- 1997 - Feature film debut in "Paradise Road." Had featured role in the Australian film "Thank God He Met Lizzie." She won Best Supporting Actress Award from Australian Film Institute. Co-starred opposite Ralph Fiennes in "Oscar and Lucinda," directed by Gillian Armstrong.
- 1998 - Played title role of "Elizabeth," a film biography of Queen Elizabeth I directed by Shekhar Kapur; co-starred with Rush and Joseph Fiennes; and received Best Actress Oscar nomination.
- 1999 - Had featured roles in Barry Levinson's "Pushing Tin;" "An Ideal Husband," directed by Oliver Parker; and "The Talented Mr. Ripley," directed by Anthony Minghella. Also made London stage debut in the Donmar revival of David Hare's "Plenty."
- 2000 - Starred as a Southern widow with psychic abilities in "The Gift," co-written by Billy Bob Thornton. Co-starred as a Russian chorus girl in "The Man Who Cried;" screened at Venice, released in USA in 2001.
- 2001 - Co-starred with Thornton and Bruce Willis in "Bandits." Portrayed the elf queen Galadriel in the Peter Jackson-directed "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings." Cast as Petal Bear, the wife of Quoyle (Kevin Spacey) in "The Shipping News."
Played the title character, a Scottish woman who agrees to be a spy in Vichy France during WWII, in "Charlotte Gray," directed by Gillian Armstrong.
- 2002 - Starred in "Heaven." Tom Tykwer's English-language directorial debut re-teamed on screen with "The Gift" co-star Giovanni Ribisi. Reprised Galadriel in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
- 2003 Again portrayed Galadriel in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King".