Blanchett 'Thrilled' At Oscar Nod

Cate Blanchett has a chameleon-like quality with the ability to flawlessly become the character she's playing. She earned an Oscar nomination for her latest role as the legendary actress Katharine Hepburn, the love interest of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes in "The Aviator."

Blanchett has been down this road before with an Oscar nomination for "Elizabeth."

But it is "Not the Hepburn road," she tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "That is a rocky, frightening road to go down."

It was a gamble in which Blanchett threw the dice and said she was going to do the part that was so frightening to her at first. And that is why she says it was so "lovely to be nominated for an Academy award.

"I completely did not expect to be here. I knew the film would be great because it's Martin Scorcese, but I thought, 'There goes my career. I've just begun and I'm walking out the door.' I'm thrilled."

So does it matter to her to win or not?

"I think it becomes a race," Blanchett says. "I was talking to Virginia Madsen the other day and to Laura Linney, and somehow the joy of being nominated is sort of, you've got to enjoy that because that's what it is. And the group of women that I've been nominated alongside with...Natalie Portman -- that's fantastic. Of course, it will be nerve-racking, but we've gotten to enjoy the actual joy of what it is."

Asked if she knows what she'll wear, Blanchette says, "A frock, but I haven't chosen it yet."

Interestingly enough, she points out, she always envisioned Hepburn as arriving and everyone loving her, but that was not so.

"At the time I'm playing her, which was something I didn't know about, she was box office poison," Blanchett says. "She had to wait for Hollywood to catch up with her. And Hughes, at the time, his celebrity is much greater than hers."

And getting into the role was not easy. "There's a sense that she almost became a burlesque of herself; she's a caricature of herself, and the pitfalls are getting massive," Blanchett says.

To prepare, listening, watching and reading about the legendary actress, was not the only thing Blanchett did.

"The first thing I did, apart from asking Martin Scorsese what he wanted, was to ask everyone that I met, "What did you think of, when you think of Hepburn,' to try to get a sense of what their expectations were. And she's full of contradictions."

Hepburn was very independent and really had to chart her own course through Hollywood, acting as if she didn't want much to do with it.

Blanchett notes, "You know the fact that she was able to negotiate and navigate her way through all of the Hollywood stuff and be very, very focused on being a star that she was. But then, also really wanting to be an actor and doing a lot of theater and really working on her voice, and being so physical. She was a great golf player."

People talk about Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, so would there be talk of Blanchett and Leonardo DiCaprio?

"I absolutely loved working with Leo," Blanchett says. "He and Martin Scorcese were so passionate about the project. They were really embracing and welcoming and cognizant of the challenge that I had. It was fun, actually."

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." She also starred opposite Tommy Lee Jones in the suspense thriller "The Missing," directed by Ron Howard.
  • In 2004, Blanchett was cast in Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes," a series of short stories that all have coffee and cigarettes in common; received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female. Portrayed legendary screen icon Katharine Hepburn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in "The Aviator;" received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. And was cast as a journalist opposite Bill Murray and Owen Wilson in "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," directed and written by Wes Anderson.