Cate Blanchett - The `QUEEN` Comes to Mumbai

The Tatler describes Australian actress Cate Blanchett as a person who defies categorisation. Meeting her, at Shekhar Kapur's press conference on 'Elizabeth' yesterday, confirmed that.


Dressed in an ethnic ensemble(from Banglore based designers Jamila and Seema Malhotra),Cate looked beautiful in a soft and delicate way, bearing almost no resemblance to the her hardened Elizabeth who remains sexless and adopts a frigid appearance towards the end of the film. She was essentially a stage actress, who now illuminates the big screen. She is amongst Hollywood's hottest property at the moment, but in person, she consciously downplays her current high profile at the box office.

'Elizabeth' has been acclaimed as a potent and impassioned powerhouse, and its through Cates performance that the audience has been privy to Elizabeth's every doubt and desire.

In the film, she transforms remarkably from a lovestruck maiden to a calcified monarch who susses out hidden agendas, and deploys whatever means necessary to keep her crown as the Queen of England.

In a free wheeling chat, the much lauded actress recalls her experience with the film and more.

Q:What kind of homework was required to get into the skin of `Elizabeth`?
Cate Blanchaett: Elizabeth I is a very controversial figure in Britain. And playing the part was me, and Australian under an Indian director, so that gave us a lot of liberty to give it a different treatment. Surely, I read a lot about her, because my role required delving into the psychology of the figure. But at the end of each days work, what came out was also very spontaneous.

Q:How did it feel to work with legendary football player Eric Cantona, who also stars in the film?
C.B.(smiles): You know what, in the beginning, I didn't know who he was, but I found him very dedicated. He is tall, dark and burly, very apt for the role.

Q:Were you disappointed to loose out to Gwyneth Paltrow at the Oscars?
C.B.:I think Shekhar and my mother were most upset.(smiles). To be honest, what did disappoint me was to see an art being treated like a horse race. It was a matter of personal taste. For me, it was such a great honour, just to work with an extraordinary team of people, and I don't want that to be taken away. The rest really doesn't matter.

Q:Did you meet the Queen? How did she react?
C.B.: I was doing a play in London, when I met the Queen and she had no idea that I had played Elizabeth. I was quite shocked that she hadn't seen it.

Q:You have done a lot of theatre prior to Elizabeth. Will you continue to do more or will films be a priority?
C.B.: Infact I have just finished a play in London and it is very important for me that I move between the two.

Q: You've worked with Joseph in `Elizabeth` and with his brother Ralph in `Oscar and Lucinda`, how would you compare the two?
C.B.: They are like cheese and chocolate.Infact I've also worked with his sister who is a designer, and I must say the Fiennes are an incredibly talented family.

Q: You have earned much acclaim, has it changed your life?
C.B.: I tend to sail through those things. I prefer to put my head down and keep working without letting it get to me. I am not complaining. It is nice when people want to work with me,on basis of my earlier work and nothing else.

Q: What did you know of Shekhar Kapur before you met him?
C.B.:My best friend in Australia is an Indian and she insisted that I see Bandit Queen. So I went to the cinema, but I got so distressed that I left the cinema hall and saw it on video, over three weeks. I thought Shekhar was a man with amazing vision and understood women in a deep way.

Q: How was it working with an Indian director?
C.B.I don't think the country has anything to do with it. It was fantastic, frustrating, passionate, confronting and hilarious working with Shekhar.

Q: Would you work with him again?
C.B.: No! I am just kidding. I'd even do a Hindi film with him. Infact I'm even working on my eye movements.(jokes)