Cate Blanchett: She's Everywhere from "Veronica Guerin" to "The Missing"

Cate Blanchett is a versatile Australian actress showing that talent really does get noticed in Hollywood.  Already she has won a Golden Globe, a Chicago Film Critics Association Award and a London Film Critics Association Award, not to mention the scores of  additional nominations cast in her direction every time an award presentation comes around.

Blanchett's most recent films "Veronica Guerin" and "The Missing" show yet another side to her incredible talent, as she works alongside groundbreaking directors such as Joel Schumacher and Ron Howard.

Blanchett, who is well-remembered for her role in "Elizabeth," can now be remembered for a more recent film where she portrays the passionate and courageous journalist, Veronica Guerin, a national folk hero today in Ireland.

Question - You are a very busy lady, aren't you?

Cate Blanchett - I suppose so.  I mean last year I made "Veronica Guerin" 2and I had the rest of the year off and I had a chance to recharge my batteries, so yes, busy, but it is quite good.
Why this film, why did you choose Veronica Geurin?

CB - Jerry [Bruckheimer] and Joel [Schumacher] sent me, I knew very sketchily about her as a journalist and nothing about her as a human being or really what had been achieved in the wake of her death.  Joel and Jerry sent me a 60-minute special that was made about her and she was so enigmatic and incredibly passionate and I think she must really believe in herself to keep going after she had been shot.  I was just fascinated by the whole socio-political environment in which she was working.  Basically, most of the films that I had seen come out had either been about the clergy or the IRA so to learn about the rampant drug problem in the 80s and 90s, basically because the government was so concerned about the IRA and the para-military and the drugs bands were rampaging around unchecked.  So I was just fascinated by the circumstances.

Question - Did you get to meet any of Veronica Geurin's family?

CD - Yes, I did.  I mean as an actor just because you are playing someone I don't have a sense that they have to meet and I said whatever they wanted to do is fine.  So they were really incredibly generous with their time and the memories of her, as were her friends and her work colleagues.  I think there was the sense, because a number of books have been written about her and many articles and people have sort of tried to dramatize the events of her and the last few years of her life before.  I think that the sense from the people who really knew her well was they wanted it to be done right.

Question - One thing you can't really "get" from the film is where this passion in her came from.  What was it about her that made her such a passionate advocate? 

CB - It was her personality.

Question - You think that is what it was?

CB - Yeah, I mean everyone you speak to just says she was like that.  Whatever she turned her hand to, rather it was that or organizing a birthday party, she just did everything 110 percent and she was always gripped by other people's problems.  She wrote about many things, and not just drugs, so if she was writing about the clergy she would fly to Florida and just take off and sit in detox waiting for this priest to come speak to her.  She would stay there weeks, she would not let up.  She was really dogged, I suppose, like any investigative journalist who has to pursue the story until the end. 

Question - Does that include all journalists?

CB - There are many types of journalism as there are many different kinds of acting.  The interesting thing for me is that she started out as an accountant.  I think she was quite criticized for not being a particularly proficient writer.  She wasn't a great journalist when she started off, but she had an incredible spirit and an amazing ability to get - it is very different for an actor doing press to just talk their head off - but to go into a [situation] and try to get these guys to tell her things that would incriminate them and the things they told her were outrageous. 

Question - Did you find any more respect about journalists or journalism or do you have a different perspective on it now?

CB - It is not that I found a newfound respect for it, I think it is one thing if you just had a baby and they try and come to your house and get a photograph and you think come on, how important is that to the world.  That, as opposed to Veronica who, I mean she said herself, and other journalists said it - everybody knew what was going on, you just needed to get these people on record so you could actually print it.  So she actually kind of achieved something, which I consider a bit more important.

Question - You have said that you do not she was naive, but do you think there was a sense of naiveté that she would go up to someone's doorstep and they would go on the record.

CB - That is standard practice for journalists.  I think there is a structure to the film too, the audience knows in the first five minutes what her fate is for the next hour-and-a-half.  She doesn't have that objectivity and that hindsight.  It was a vocation to her, it was not a job.  It was a 24/7 thing for her and I think when you are passionately involved in something you don't have that objectivity, you simply just take the next step in the circumstances of which you are working as they become increasingly more dangerous. I think they just become commonplace to you and it is not until somebody else points it out that you think 'Oh, that's right,' because you are so engaged in it.

Question - Her husband kept trying to tell her how dangerous her job was getting for her.

CB - I think there are alot of male war correspondents who also have families.  Like my agent, her brother was going into Iraq and she was desperately worried as were his family and I think anyone who has done this job.  In a strange way.... and you can say this was a fault or a virtue with Veronica depending on where you stand, but she was acting more like an undercover cop in a strange way, but she wasn't armed.

Question - Do you think it would have been as much an issue if she had been a male journalist?

CB - No, I don't think there would be that judgment.  The questions are there to be ask I suppose, particularly in Ireland, I mean it is a very Catholic country where roles are still quite... I mean the abortion referendums that were taken - all of this you are asking basic questions, it is quite astounding to me.  So it is still quite a conservative country in terms of gender differentiation.

Question - What drives you to work so hard when you do take on two or three [projects] - what is it that drives you?

CB - I don't know, I honestly don't know.  I think that, I am not that interested in knowing what drives me.  The fact is that I do it and I love it.  It is important to recharge your batteries when you have got something to bring back to your work.

Question - Has your family life changed the choice of roles you take on?

CB - I think when children are very young they are much more secure in their immediate environment and much more portable.  When they start to go to school and connect to their own pier group then they have a window - it depends on the personality of the child. 

Question - How do you feel about change?

CB - I am not frightened of change and I was never frightened of parenthood.  People kept talking about it like things will change, of course, but I am sort of one who welcomes a challenge and so does my husband and I have found it actually expansive.  I have found possibilities within more possibilities. 

Question - Why is London a base instead of Los Angeles?

CB - It is just the way things worked out.  It wasn't a conscious choice and we are going back to Australia [to spend] six or eight months in the year.  You just have to do something to regain your dignity.  I found that really fascinating.

Question - How do you contrast Joel [Scumacher] and Ron Howard?

CB - Joel is incredibly energetic and I suppose the similarities, Ron is a directing machine.  The great thing about Joel is he takes risks on new talent, like he will take a little known photographer and an unknown actor and give crewmembers a chance to do things they haven't done before.  You can just feel that on the set, when people are given that opportunity, when abilities are respected you can just see them wanting to do their very best. 

Question - What can you tell us about working on "The Aviator" with Scorsese?

CB - I have only just started, I just had my first couple of days... Playing someone who is so iconic on screen on screen is impossible. You get as close as you possibly can and then Marty says he doesn't want to see some sort of Pepsi-Cola commercial version of actors doing some cabaret performance.  He is trying to catch the spirit of the times and I think you have got to adjust your performance according to the time of the film because the film was about Howard Hughes.  It was about... who knows what, it was a very private affair.  And being an actor myself, in a small way, who you are to the public, who you are on screen often holds very different resemblance to the private life. I mean it is the whole thing about who was the private Katherine Hebburn and that is the enigma.

Question - There is a very interesting documentary on her life, have you done that kind of research?

CB - Yeah, and what I found very interesting was I read that she had given her first television interview ever in 1973 with Dick Cavett and I read about it and [saw] the tapes and that is pretty interesting. I found that the most useful piece because she wasn't sure whether she wanted to do the interview so she just came in to test out what it felt like to be in a television studio and they rolled the cameras for about 20 minutes until she finally said 'let's do it' so you saw the pre-interview where she was bossing everyone around and moving the furniture and getting comfortable.  That was fascinating because it was actually her not being conscious of being any particular way or the fact that she had a scrawny neck.

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