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Playing Hepburn Was 'Terrifying'

Cate Blanchett has won rave reviews for playing such real-life characters as Queen Elizabeth the first of England, and crusading Irish journalist Veronica Guerin.

Now, she's received a Golden Globe nomination for portraying legendary actress Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator," which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio as billionaire Howard Hughes.

"It's probably the most terrifying thing I've ever done, you know?" she confessed to The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "Because I'm representing her in the same medium that she's so ironically known and loved. Her body of work is so diverse, and her fan base is so enormous. I understand, you know, to people -- I have the same feeling -- is that you have a very intimate connection with your favorite actors and actresses. And so I brace myself for the people saying 'That's not my Kate.'"

But, added Blanchett, with Martin Scorsese at the helm, "Of course you can't say no. So you just have to throw yourself into it and hope for the best."

Blanchett admitted to "enormous trepidation: There's so much work to do, vocally and physically."

How did she get Hepburn's famous voice down? "It was a bit like a language lab, like learning French or German. I just listened to it 24 hours a day for quite a long period, because you want it to become an organic part of the character. You don't want it slapped on. Because I think it's important when you're playing someone, like when Anthony Hopkins played Nixon, I imagine that the preparation has to be long so that people are not just watching your homework. They want to believe you are who you say you are in the time they're watching you."

During the period of Hepburn's life shown in the film, Hepburn was having a rough go of it in Hollywood. But, says Blanchett, "People are not remembered for their failures, necessarily. Because you look at her filmography, and there are so many films that are so loved, and she's so inspirational as an actress because she had such a long career.

"She was, is longevity, and it's amazing she had all of these films that didn't necessarily work. Yet, the studio -- which I don't think happens so much now -- was really invested in actors, so even though their films wouldn't necessarily work, they would try and find films that would work for them because she was very particular. She was a very particular presence."

Blanchett has another movie out, "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou," in which she plays a journalist who follows a Jacques Cousteau-like character on a journey.

The character was written as being pregnant and, lo and behold, Blanchett first learned she was pregnant in real life when she got sick while being fitted for a prosthetic belly she was to wear to make her appear pregnant. "By the end of the film, I didn't fit into the prosthetic anymore," Blanchett chuckles.

Blanchett had that baby eight months ago and also has a three-year-old.

But she realizes, "I have it easy. I mean, I don't have to be somewhere 9 to 5. My job is really flexible. I think it's harder for mothers who have to return to work and put their children into day care. I mean, I do have it easy and my son is 3 and he goes to a Montessori school and it's heartbreaking" the way he just accepts when she leaves for work.

"(That's) always kinda good," Blanchett reflects. "You want them to be well-adjusted, but then, part of you says, 'Don't you miss me a little bit?' But then the homecoming's always so gorgeous: It's them throwing out their arms" to welcome her.

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