Five minutes with . . . Cate Blanchett

By Meghan O'Connor

The 44-year-old actor talks to Meghan O’Connor about working with Woody Allen and running the Sydney Theatre Company.

Cate Blanchett is enjoying her work with the Sydney Theatre Company, but misses Brighton, the English seaside town where she used to live. Photo/Lionel Cironneau.
Cate Blanchett is enjoying her work with the Sydney Theatre Company, but misses Brighton, the English seaside town where she used to live. Photo/Lionel Cironneau.

I've always been pale. It's partly to do with being from Australia, where the hole in the ozone layer is at its most intense, and partly to do with my mother, who very quickly put an end to me sunbathing in baby oil as a teenager. I would go red as a lobster. She told me to accept what I had.

I lost my father young. The earliest memory I have is seeing him in bed when I was 18 months old - I later learned he was recuperating from his first heart attack at 32. He died when he was 40 [of a heart attack], but I don't think I really quantified the consequences for me until much later, when my husband reached 40. I was euphoric at his birthday party, like a weight had been lifted. And I thought: "Now there's the detritus."

We need to keep switching up the language around climate change. For so long we've talked about sacrifice and people get discredited for what they haven't given up. [Celebrities] get criticised for taking flights, but the truth is someone like Leo [DiCaprio] takes fewer flights than he's asked to. If we want it to stay on the radar, we need to focus on the fact there's a lot of opportunity.

You're always more critical of your own country. People will talk about stuff in Britain and I'll go, "Aw, it's not that bad," but at home it's different. It's inside you.

I don't know if I ever really wanted to be an actor. I'm an active person - the thought of waiting for the phone to ring wasn't something that sat happily with me. But I kept doing it, trying not to do it, and then doing it. There's such a blessed unrest that you feel all the time, but maybe that's what keeps you going.

I can be a real pessimist. You know that when you win an Oscar and you walk offstage and your first thought is: "Oh God, I've peaked." I've done a lot of talking over the past six years. My husband and I have been running the Sydney Theatre Company and it's been magic - my kids have been able to see so many of those transient moments between acting and real life behind the scenes. But now that I've given it up I'm looking forward to being a bit quieter. I'm very conscious of that. There have been times when I've heard myself in the past and thought: "Aw, just shut up."

You don't ever really get to know Woody Allen. He's not the sort of person where you can knock on his door and say, "I've got this really interesting idea". You just have to hope that he's written your name on a little scrap of paper somewhere and that one day he will call and say: "I've got a script I want you to read."

I miss Brighton. [Blanchett and her husband lived there for several years.] The faded grandeur of the British seaside. It has such a nostalgic poetry.

There are very few issues that lie specifically in one region now. Polio in Syria doesn't affect Syria alone. I don't think any issue can ever be isolated into local politics these days, because we all know too much.

No one is ever who they purport to be. And I suppose I'm most interested in the gap between who we project socially and who we really are.


• Cate Blanchett is the global ambassador for SK-II beauty (sk-ii.co.uk, available in New Zealand exclusively at DFS Galleria), and the face of the new Armani fragrance Si.


- The Observer

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