Veronica Lake. Audrey Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn. Lauren Bacall. Every decade or so, a new actress emerges on the Hollywood scene with the classic blend of beauty, haughtiness, self-deprecation, and bone structure that makes her an instant classic.
In 1998, Cate Blanchett became the next to take that most coveted position. Her first high profile international role as Elizabeth I of England in the critically acclaimed film Elizabeth, directed by Shekar Shapur earned her the both the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards as well as her first SAG and Academy Award nominations for best actress. From there, she went on to star and appear in a multitude of films, playing every role from leading lady ( Song to Song, opposite Ryan Gosling) to leading man (Bob Dylan: I’m Not There.)
So what makes this woman so darn compelling? A lot of things apparently, perhaps too many to discuss in one article, however, there are a few more notable than the others. Here is a little bit about Cate and what made us fall in love with her.
What We Know:
So what does it take to make an enigmatic woman like Cate Blanchett? Is it something in her genes, life circumstances, hard work, or simply destiny that put her in the right place at the right time? Let’s put the pieces together. Here’s what we do know about Cate:
Cate Elise Blanchett’s early life had its share of drama. She was born on May 14, 1969, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Her mom, June (nee Gamble) was an Australian teacher and property developer; her dad Robert Dewitt Blanchett Jr. was an American advertising exec from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was 10, her dad died of a heart attack at the age of 40. Her mom never remarried and her grandma moved in to help out.
Things became literally dramatic for Cate when she began her study at Australia’s National Institute from which she graduated in 1992. After that, she made her first US film debut in 1997’s Paradise Road, and with films like The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Blue Jasmine and Carole to her credit, it was only a matter of time before Cate became a household name, and the rest is pretty much Hollywood history.
She’s Not Afraid To Take On the Tough Roles
But Cate proved that she was more than just a pretty face. It might be easy to make the big screen, but it takes integrity to stay there. Cate is an actor’s actor through and through. She doesn’t just play the part, she plays them with conviction. It’s no wonder the New York Times called her “the best and bravest actress on the planet.”
There’s no role Cate Blanchett won’t tackle. She’s played everything from queens (Elizabeth I) to train wrecks (Carol, Blue Jasmine), from elves (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) to actresses. (She won the Academy Award in 2005 for her portrayal of Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator – ironically making her the first Oscar winner to play an Oscar winner.) She’s experimented with gender-bending (I’m Not There), and earned critical praise for her role in the science fiction drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
So how is that Cate can remain on the A-list without sacrificing her integrity? It’s because Cate not afraid to draw on her unique androgynous appeal and use it to her advantage. By doing so, she will age into maturity gracefully, in a way the more highly sexualized female actresses we usually see won’t.
Says Cate on the subject, “Honestly, I think about my appearance less than I did ten years ago. People talk about the golden age of Hollywood because of how women were lit then. You could be Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and work well into your 50s because you were lit and made into a goddess. Now, with everything being sort of gritty, women have this sense of their use-by date.”
Cate, you’ll never pass your use-by date with us. We know you’re just getting started.
She’s A Devoted Mom
She may have played a wicked stepmother in “Cinderella,” but when she plays her role as mother in real life, she’s wickedly serious. The mother of three biological sons: Daniel, 14; Roman, 11, and Ignatius, 8, and adopted daughter Edith, Cate makes sure to stay as involved in her children’s lives as possible.
Another reason we love Cate? She suffers from the same “working mom guilt’ as the rest of us and, furthermore, she knows how to deal with it. Says she, “They (judgemental outsiders) assume you have a nanny and a driver and a chef. Who gives a sh*t whether I do or not? The fact is, I don’t, but you know there is a certain circle of people- and we all get insecure, who ask, ‘Why can’t she brush her hair? You just have to shrug that off.”
As for parenting advice, Cate says she and husband Andrew Upton make a point of not lecturing them and says they “roll their eyes” when she waxes political. She actually prefers to hear their opinions than to have them hear hers. Says Cate, “Its actually interesting to hear them talk when they think you’re out of earshot.”
She Has Strong Political Views
It’s no accident that Cate Blanchett plays strong female parts with such conviction; it’s not much of a stretch from her real life. Blanchett has always been completely unapologetic in her stance on politics and feminism, telling Sky News that she was worried that a “wave of conservatism sweeping the globe” was a danger to women’s increasing presence in society. And if that reference to conservatism had anything to do with Donald Trump, it wouldn’t be surprising. Cate makes it clear that there is no love lost between her and the Republican American president.
In a memorable appearance on the Tonight Show, Blanchett told host Jimmy Fallon, she believed Trump’s ascendancy to President is “absurd and ridiculous,” and then proceeded to take the gum out of her mouth and mold it into a penis. “The phallus,” said she, “is an appropriate symbol for our country right now – with tiny little balls.” Why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Cate?
However, when asked about playing Melania Trump, the actress admitted she would not refuse the role. In fact, she would step up to the plate with the same vigor as she does in all her acting pursuits. However, Cate did make it a point to say that she wouldn’t in any way whitewash the first lady.
“When I’m playing a character, she explained, “I think you have to portray people warts and all… I wouldn’t necessarily be coming from a place of ‘Free Melania.’ I’d be trying to understand the situation to then throw that back at the audience and say, ‘What’s her position as a woman? What does she think? What is like being married to – you know.”
Yes, we know, Cate. And we love you for keeping it real.
She’s An Activist
Cate’s also not afraid to use her celebrity and good fortune to support the causes she believes in.
She’s a patron and ambassador of both the Australian Film Institute and The Sydney Film Festival, as well as the developmental charity Solar Aid.
In 2006, she joined Al Gore’s Climate Project, and became ambassador (2007) and eventually honorary life member of the Australian Conservation Foundation in 2012 for her work in support of environmental issues.
She fearlessly showed her support for the carbon tax in 2011, despite the conservative backlash, and walked the Green Carpet in an initiative to raise awareness about sustainable clothing in 2014.
But of all of the great roles, Cate has played, perhaps the most impressive is as Goodwill Ambassador in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, to which she was elected in 2016. As an Australian, Cate has seen the off-shore processing of refugees by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and has played a part in raising political awareness on the subject. However, Blanchett admits to being more of a ‘witness’ than an ‘expert’ on the subject and allows that going out in the field to meet refugees has helped her to “bring a human face back to the enormous number.”
She and her husband, Andrew Upton adopted daughter Edith when they heard there was an Australian child needing a home.
She’s A Fashion Icon
As with all classic actresses, Cate is nothing if not fashion forward Although some of her past fashion choices have been known to be unconventional, longtime stylist Elizabeth Stewart says that she’s just wearin’ what she likes. “She’s (Cate) considered a risk taker, but I don’t think she views it that way. She wears what she’s drawn to and her natural taste leans toward the quirky and sophisticated,” adding that, “Cate could have been an editor in another life. She has an instinct for what works for her. The common thread is good old-fashioned top-drawer design.”
We certainly can’t argue with that. Remember the Gucci sequined gold turtleneck dress she wore to the premiere of Thor or that wildly conceptual Louis Vuitton black and white futuristic meets classic number she wore to the Tony in 2016? And who can forget Cate at the 2016 Oscars in her seafoam green gown with embellishments from Armani Prive? And can we talk about the Versace chainmail gown with the Tiffany and Co diamond bib necklace?
There are no two ways about it. Cate knows what works for her, and she knows how to work it.
She Shares Her Beauty Secrets
Another thing we love about Cate Blanchett is that she doesn’t seem to age, except for maybe in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but that’s another story. Maybe the fact that she’s had a skin product designed specifically for her has something to do with it. The 47-year-old actress (what?) has been the face of SK-II for 15 years and has not seemed to have aged a day since. So radiant is her skin, that she actually inspired the Japanese skincare brand, Mid-Day Essence Face Spray and swears by it to this day. In fact, Cate says that her consistency is the key to her glowing skin.
Cate says that even though she loves to change her hair and clothing (as we well know), her skin routine is something that she likes to keep uniform. The actress believes, “consistency is a big part of keeping skin resilient,” and owes her radiant skin largely in part to her loyalty to SK-II. “My skin has taken a lot of beatings from being on stage, having four kids, working in film and traveling, and I feel like it’s a lot more stable (after using SK-II).”
Another thing Cate is loyal to? Her sunscreen and apparently, her mom. “I’m eternally grateful that my mother always encouraged me to stay out of the sun and use sunscreen. With very pale skin, it was especially important for me not to become a bronzed sun bunny.” Cate’s mom, we’re eternally grateful to you as well. You kept Cate from Baywatch debauchery.
Lastly, we love Cate because she wears the mask. In fact, if you ever see Cate on an airplane, don’t be surprised if she’s wearing the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask treatment when you ask for her autograph. Plus, if you check her carry-on, you’re more than likely to find a bottle of the Facial Midday Essence in there. Cate always keeps it within reach to keep her feeling refreshed.
And even if she never plays Melania Trump, she will play Mrs. America. Cate is set to take the title on officially in the limited FX series “Mrs. America” documenting the history of the women’s movement. We’ll be sure to set our TiVos accordingly.