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Blanchett's Busy Year
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Blanchett will take over as co-director of the Syndney Theatre Company in 2008.

THE HARDEST-WORKING WOMAN IN SHOW BUSINESS
(Courtesy of San Francisco Examiner)†

If you think Cate Blanchett is just about everywhere these days, well, maybe you’re on to something.†

The Australian actress, who earned an Oscar for her supporting role in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, is making her omnipresence felt this winter, with starring roles in three films (Babel, The Good German and Notes on a Scandal), and two more (I’m Not There and The Golden Age, a sequel to 1998’s Elizabeth) on the horizon.†

Now, the only problem is finding time to talk about it all.†

“It has been a bit crazy,” she admits. “I did Babel after a period of time off in Morocco, then I started work on Notes. The transition from Notes to The Good German was the most rapid for me. They’re both extraordinary projects with incredible roles for women. Those don’t come along every day, so when I was offered both, I desperately wanted it to work. The studios were able to sort everything out in terms of scheduling, but what it meant for me was that I walked off the set of Notes on a Scandal on a Friday in north London and flew to L.A. for Good German on a Monday. And the preparation for Good German had to be done in the wee hours, while my two sons slept.”

For Notes, an adaptation of the ZoŽ Heller bestseller about an unhappily married teacher who sleeps with one of her teenage students, Blanchett was first attracted by the challenge presented by her character – Sheba Hart, the lady in question – and later by the opportunity to work with director Richard Eyre and castmates Judi Dench and Bill Nighy.

“I’d read the book, and it was such an edible read,” she says. “But it’s all told from the perspective of one character, and we needed [screenwriter] Patrick Marber to liberate the rest of the characters from that first-person narrative, which he did so well. At first Judi wasn’t available and then she was, then Bill came aboard and Richard, who is a great lover of actors, soon followed. So everything really fell into place quite nicely.

“Of course, Sheba comes from a place that is so far outside the boundaries of my experience, but then I’ve never wanted to play characters who resemble myself. I run miles from characters like that. It was important for me to move beyond my moral judgment of Sheba’s actions and allow the complexity of her problem to breathe. I could never do what she did, but at the end of the film, I needed to make the audience understand her, perhaps even sympathize with her on some level.”

Not one to rest on her laurels, Blanchett will be back in 2007 with I’m Not There, in which she plays Bob Dylan – “a fantastically crazy experiment,” she says – before returning to the familiar role of Elizabeth, for which she once earned a Best Actress nomination. And in 2008 she’ll be starting her three-year tenure as co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company with her husband, playwright Andrew Upton. Could that interfere with her movie career?

“We’ll be caretakers for the company in 2008, and our first season will begin in 2009,” she says. “It’s an enormous responsibility that we’re galvanized and excited by, but there will be time enough for me to pursue my own artistic endeavors. I’m not sure I’ll do that every year, but if Scorsese calls, you can bet I’ll be there. As long as the film industry will have me, I’ll have it.”

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