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Cate Blanchett Gets Gritty for "Robin Hood"

It's back to Sherwood Forrest again as the new "Robin Hood" epic, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, opens this week.

"Early Show" Special Correspondent Amanda Holden has seen the film, and talked to Blanchett recently about playing a new kind of Lady Marian.

Photos: "Robin Hood" at Cannes
Photos: Cate Blanchett
Photos: Russell Crowe
"Robin Hood" Stars Discuss Film at Cannes
Photos: Cannes 2010 Preparations

Holden told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Blanchett plays a harder and grittier Marian alongside the legendary outlaw.

Blanchett, Holden said, took the epic role in order to work with "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott and fellow Australian Russell Crowe for the first time.

Blanchett's role as Maid Marian put her through the physical rigors of battling alongside Crowe's Robin Hood. She shared a few secrets with Holden from the set.

Blanchett said, "There's a scene where people are fighting in water and in that armor people could barely get on horseback and it's so heavy."

In the film, Crowe pulls Blanchett from the water. Both wear the "heavy" armor.

The secret to this scene: Blanchett said, "The chain metal was plastic! Don't tell Russell!"

However, Crowe did carry Blanchett a couple of times.

Blanchett, known for her small frame, said, "Me -- without the chain metal -- is heavy enough."

Holden laughed and said, "We could blow you across the room. Don't be silly."

In her career, Blanchett has played many powerful women, such as the Galadriel, queen of the elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Queen Elizabeth I, a role she played twice.

For "Robin Hood," director Ridley Scott wanted a strong and rugged Marian, which interested the star.

Blanchett said, "'He said, 'Oh, I don't want her to be you know in distress. I don't want you to scream. I don't want any of that. I want you to pick up a sword and get on the back of a horse!' and I went, 'Oh OK. Oh, all right.'"

As for the relationship between Robin Hood and Marian, this Robin Hood telling is not your classic take on the tale.

Blanchett explained, "He wanted them to be equal, and the love was born out of a struggle against it."

Despite the movie's guts and gore, Blanchett's eldest son got a sneak preview of his mother as a sword-brandishing medieval warrior.

"Ridley screened it for me, and my son with with me, and he said, 'I'm really tired Mummy. Can I just go to sleep?' And I said, 'It's gonna be really noisy.' And I looked down, and he was asleep, so I thought OK, we can watch it and I kept looking down and he was (peeking), so I think he's seen it."

Blanchett said her children were often on the set of the film.

"They came every day after school, and there was Russell with bow and arrows and the merry men playing their lutes and their mandolins and so it was a really - it had sort of a circus and gypsy kind of quality to it. ... They loved it. You know for 8-year-old boys, 6-year-old boys."

While shooting the film, Blanchett became a decent archer, she said "out of necessity."

"I got onto set it was my first night on set, and it was a night shoot and Ridley said 'OK, I want you to shoot this arrow.' And I said, 'Oh OK. When?' And he said, 'Tonight.' And I had 45 minutes to shoot it, to practice it. And then he said it was a flaming arrow. And so I think I just shot it, and fortunately I got it the first time and then I was crap."

So how did the star relax after a day of pillaging and plundering?

Blanchett told Holden, "The vodka and tonic helped."

So how is "Robin Hood"?

Holden said the film reminds her of "Gladiator" and other epic films.

"It was fantastic. If you're expecting to see men in green tights running around the forest, you're going to be very disappointed. It's epic. It's exciting. It's sexy. It's fast-moving. It's on a huge scale. … It's a great family viewing."

In the movie, Blanchett and Crowe, Holden said, have chemistry akin to Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

"There's those little fights going on underneath the surface, and frankly ... if I hadn't seen a man for 10 years (like Marian's character), I don't think I would have been quite as restrained as Cate Blanchett's Marian."

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