Cate Blanchett is something of a Hollywood legend. Everything about the actress is striking — her timeless style, her ice queen cheekbones, and, of course, her long and distinguished acting career. Blanchett has appeared in countless critical successes – Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth, Aviator, and Carol, alongside actress Rooney Mara, to name a few. She has also won international fame for her turns in major blockbusters like Lord of the Rings, Thor: Ragnarok, and Cinderella (via IMDb). She has even received accolades for her impressive theatrical career, spanning nearly 30 years, as of this writing. The actress has definitely proven herself capable of handling any medium and any genre.
It’s hard to imagine this formidable acting icon as a child. However, once upon a time, Blanchett was just a little girl growing up in Australia with no idea of her future as an international star. Curious to find out more about her journey? Here is the stunning transformation of Cate Blanchett.
Cate Blanchett’s early childhood was tainted by tragedy
Cate Blanchett was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1969, according to Biography. Her father, Robert, was a naval officer and her mother, June, a teacher. Blanchett was the middle of three children.
Blanchett’s father passed away when she was just 10 years old. The experience of losing her father as a child clearly shaped Blanchett. "When someone dies … you remember what happens that day," she told Talk Asia. She explained that her mother’s co-worker told her and her siblings that they’d have to support their mother through the "tough time" that lay ahead. Blanchett explained that the idea of "I have to be a really good girl, I have to be really responsible" stuck with her.
His death also helped Blanchett feel extremely close to her mother. "I think perhaps I developed enormous empathic connection with my mother because I could see the hurdles — financial and emotional — that she had to get over," she told The Telegraph.
Cate Blanchett grew up in a family of very strong women
After her father died, Cate Blanchett’s childhood was defined by a series of strong women. Her mother changed careers and became a property developer so that her children could be sent to private school. As Blanchett told The Telegraph, "She was very resilient." Blanchett’s grandmother also moved in to help out, so, as Blanchett put it, "I grew up in a female household."
As Blanchett explained to The Times, despite seeing strong women throughout her upbringing, it wasn’t an overtly feminist home. "My mother didn’t really identify as a feminist because there was this notion that you were anti-family if you were a feminist in the 70s," she said.
Nevertheless, her female role models have certainly instilled in Blanchett a strong sense that women should be equal to men. As she told Little London, "My mother and grandmother have been my inspirations in terms of their sense of self-respect and independence."
Cate Blanchett had a rebellious phase as a teen
Like many teenagers, Cate Blanchett wasn’t always the model of good behavior. In fact, as she once told The Herald, she actually went through a rebellious, experimental phase. While attending Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School, she developed a habit of dressing like a man. "I went through a big goth [phase]," she recalled. "And then a punk period — I even shaved my head," she went on. It sounds like she had finally tired of her mother’s co-worker’s advice to be good after her father’s death.
In another interview for HuffPost, Blanchett went into more detail about how she ended up becoming a goth. Apparently, as a child, she had been desperate to get a tan. When her mother said, "don’t do it," she decided to really embrace her pale, porcelain skin. "I had to find some kind of expression for it," she said.
Cate Blanchett appeared as an extra in an Egyptian film
Cate Blanchett went to university to study economics and fine art after high school, but dropped out after one year (via The Herald). At the time, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do other than museum curation. "The only thing I wanted to do when I left high school was travel with my work," she told Harper’s Bazaar. So, she set off on a backpacking trip and ended up in Egypt. It was here that Blanchett got her first real experience of acting for the camera — though it was pretty short-lived.
A few versions of the story exist. According to the The Herald, she appeared in the Egyptian boxing movie Kaboria, or Crabs, in English. As she explained to The Guardian, she had been staying at a "flea pit in Cairo," when a Scottish casting director came looking for extras. "At the time I didn’t have enough money to pay my room for the week. I went along and there was an Arabic guy with a megaphone," she recalled. However, the experience didn’t exactly get her hooked on acting. "It was so hot and so boring that I left," she said.
Cate Blanchett went to drama school and began her career on the stage
After returning from Egypt, Cate Blanchett finally decided upon drama school. Apparently, she hadn’t really thought about pursuing acting professionally before this point, as she told Harper’s Bazaar. However, when her sister, Genevieve, came to see her in an amateur production, everything changed. "Afterwards she said to me, ‘I can’t see you anymore on stage — I can only see the character,’" Blanchett recalled.
The comment spurred her to study at drama school in Sydney. By the time she graduated, she was hooked. "Acting had become like this terrible addiction," Blanchett told The Guardian. So, as she explained, she decided to "give it five years" to see if it would lead anywhere. Nevertheless, she was ready to try something else if nothing came of it. However, soon after graduating, Blanchett became a prominent actress in Sydney stage productions. It’s clear that she made the right decision!
Cate Blanchett’s career was kicked into high gear after being spotted onstage by this director
In Cate Blanchett’s early stage career, she starred in Oleanna opposite Geoffrey Rush in the play by David Mamet shortly after graduating from drama school. As The Herald reported, Blanchett’s stunning performance attracted the attention of critics and theater-goers alike. She even won the Sydney Theater Critics’ Best Newcomer Award. Her performance also attracted the attention of a prominent film director.
Director Gillian Armstrong saw Blanchett’s performance in Oleanna. Three years later, she remembered Blanchett and cast her in the film Oscar and Lucinda. Just one year later, Blanchett landed the leading role in Elizabeth, for which she earned a BAFTA. "I called my agent after making [Elizabeth] and said, ‘I think I’ve ended my career before it’s even begun.’ So yeah, I was completely shocked by how that film was received," she confessed to The Guardian. One thing was certain — Blanchett’s career was off to an exciting start.
Cate Blanchett got engaged a few weeks after meeting her now-husband
Cate Blanchett married Andrew Upton, a playwright and screen director, in 1997. As she explained to the The Herald, she initially got together with him while working on Oscar and Lucinda. For her role, Blanchett was determined to learn the ins and outs of poker and enlisted Upton’s help. Although the pair had met before, they’d never really clicked. Apparently, he found her "aloof," and she found him "arrogant." As Blanchett recalled, "He was in the middle of telling how he was attracted to a friend of mine and then we suddenly kissed." Just three weeks later, he proposed.
In an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she explained that the proposal came after she "cooked him the worst meal" of trout, walnuts, and goat’s cheese because it was all she had. "You give them food poisoning, they’re delirious, then you’ve got them," Blanchett joked.
Cate Blanchett moved permanently to the UK where her career really took off
After Cate Blanchett married Andrew Upton in 1997, the couple stayed in London because of Upton’s agent, according to The Herald. Blanchett also landed a role in a play called Plenty in the city. It was thanks to their base in the UK that Blanchett was available to take on Elizabeth. After the huge success of this role, Blanchett took on role after role. In 1999, she starred in four films, including An Ideal Husband and The Talented Mr. Ripley (via IMDb).
For Blanchett, the sudden rise to stardom was a bit of a shock. As she explained to The Guardian at the time, her usual routine of rehearsing for the play was transformed due to the press surrounding Elizabeth. "It becomes a horse race," she said. She explained that being in Plenty helped her to stay grounded. "I literally went [to the Oscars] for the weekend and came back to the church-hall rehearsal-room atmosphere of the Almeida," she recalled. "It was, ‘Did you have a good time? Yep? Anyway, so on to page…’ That made it much easier to cope with it." It sounds like for Blanchett, focusing on her work has always been the best way to deal with the pressures of stardom.
Cate Blanchett’s role in Lord of the Rings shot her to international fame, but she stayed grounded
While Elizabeth shot Cate Blanchett into the public eye and gave her a taste of the awards circuit, it wasn’t until she starred as Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy that she got a taste of true international fame. The series remains one of the most influential of all time, so it’s no wonder she became a household name overnight.
Despite the franchise’s success, Blanchett insists she wasn’t thinking about her career when she took the role. As Blanchett explained to BAFTA Guru, "I didn’t really care [about its success] to be honest. I just wanted to work with Peter Jackson. … I had no idea it was going to be what it was."
And, as the actress explained to the Independent, the fame that came from the trilogy never really interested her. "I certainly didn’t go to drama school expecting to be sitting here in the Corinthia Hotel in my designer dress having my hot water and lemon! That’s a wonderful by product but it certainly isn’t what gets me up in the morning," she said.
Cate Blanchett became a mother of three boys
Cate Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton, have three boys, and, as she told The Herald, she feels that motherhood has changed her. "I hope I’ve evolved. I hope I’m wiser, I hope I’m a better actor," she said. One thing that has definitely changed for Blanchett since becoming a mother is focus on family life. As she told Working Mother, "I love spending as much time as I can watching my children, playing with them, and being surprised by how fast they learn things and how they’re growing up." She went on to explain that she always tries to do the school run or spend an evening at home with the family. Of course, being a mother also made her aware of her responsibility. Setting a good example became a priority. She said, "I think it’s important to set an example and show how the two can work together quite well."
However, as she told Little London, she does understand how difficult motherhood can be. "I almost accept that you can’t be perfect and you will make mistakes from time to time and you try to learn from that," she explained. "Every mother and father feels that they are failing in some respect."
Cate Blanchett and her husband spent six years running the Sydney Theatre Company
For Cate Blanchett, it’s clear that the theater has always been a first love. Even though the actress has more than made a name for herself with her screen roles, she never strays too far from the stage. In fact, in 2008, she and husband Andrew Upton were joint artistic directors of the Sydney Theater Company, an opportunity they enjoyed together for the next six years. As Blanchett said to Harper’s Bazaar, "He suggested that we both do it together. It was one of the crazy ideas." The couple had just settled into a new home in the UK, but they upended everything and relocated back to Australia. Apparently, once the idea got into their heads, they couldn’t shake it.
Blanchett loved the career shift. "I really loved those moments on opening night when the actors went one way and I went the other way," she said. Luckily, she and her husband developed a great system for working together so closely. "We would divvy it up in a fluid way that perhaps only a married couple could. We’ve always talked," she explained to The Telegraph.
Cate Blanchett took a step back from acting after adopting her daughter, Edith
In 2015, Cate Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton, adopted a baby girl named Edith. Blanchett told Harper’s Bazaar, "She has been an extraordinary blessing for all of us." When Edith came into Blanchett’s life, she decided to take a little time off to focus on raising her daughter. In fact, with Edith, Blanchett began to realize just how important motherhood was to her. "It’s a huge part of what I am and what I want to do," she said. "I can’t help it, it’s part of my instinct." And her favorite thing to do? Stay in bed all day in her pajamas with Edith.
As Blanchett explained to the Sydney Morning Herald (via Hello!), she and Upton had been interested in adoption for years. "It’s about welcoming," she said. "There’s a lot of children out there in need, both children who are up for adoption but also children in the foster system." What a lovely story!
Cate Blanchett often chooses roles with her children in mind
Because Cate Blanchett is passionate about her family, it comes as no surprise that her children often influence her career decisions. As she told The Telegraph, her children don’t particularly like watching her on stage. "They know you with baby vomit on your pyjamas, and so to see you made up, pretending to be someone else, or in interview mode where you’re trying to string a sentence together, they just think it is really weird. It makes them feel uncomfortable," she explained. And when it comes to choosing films, her children have some opinions, too. Apparently, her eldest son worries that she hasn’t done enough blockbusters. That changed when Blanchett starred in Thor: Ragnarok, alongside Hollywood heartthrob Chris Hemsworth.
Her children also force Blanchett to be a little more choosey. "They force you to be economical. To choose your roles wisely and then shrug them off as soon as you’re done," she told The Guardian. Even though motherhood has made her careful not to work all the time, she was careful to be clear — juggling home life and work life is more than possible. And when people ask her how she manages, her retort is, "Now, I might be wrong, but I don’t think they put the same question to male actors, do they?"
Cate Blanchett is definitely aging gracefully
One thing’s for sure — Cate Blanchett isn’t going to start worrying about getting older. "I just accept it," she told Working Mother. "Getting older happens to all of us and there are many advantages that come with age." In fact, as she went on to explain, Blanchett is more confident than ever and feels happy with where she is in life.
"I enjoyed my thirties a great deal and now in my forties I feel my life has become even better," she gushed. Her approach, as she explained, is to treat getting older as an adventure. And while many actresses may feel the pressures to stay young for the sake of their careers, Blanchett doesn’t think it’s worth worrying about. "Even though you might like to fight it, there’s not much point!" she summed up. We have to say — it’s a great example to set for young women everywhere. Plus, when it comes to Cate Blanchett, we doubt a few wrinkles will distract us from more phenomenal performances.