WITH her regal stature and ethereal beauty, Cate Blanchett was born to play a queen.
The Australian actress has reprised her award-winning role as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age – which comes out on November 2 – almost 10 years since her high-profile debut in Elizabeth.
Dressed in a black sequined top and wide-legged black trousers, Cate reveals why it has taken so long for the film to be made.
“The structure to this film is quite different. I wasn’t ready for a long time but they came back with a really interesting script at the centre of which was a woman who was coming to terms with the fact she was ageing. This is unlike the last time where there was a boy meets girl story and a love triangle.
“I needed to get older, otherwise there’s no real story. While the first film was about denial – a woman denying herself in order to rule – this was more about acceptance, and a woman who was having to confront the fact that she was ageing and what that meant. It’s pertinent to both women and men, that whole fear of ageing which was a huge issue for Elizabeth.”
Cate, who was also crowned Elf Queen Galadriel in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, has a great admiration for the first British Queen Elizabeth. She says: “I find her incredibly inspiring. She had an amazing intellect and an ability to negotiate her way through unchartered waters while negotiating a minefield of political associations and still keeping everything afloat. The way she navigated the whole Protestant Catholic conundrum was pretty incredible. She was also an incredible patron of the arts which I find utterly inspiring. The poetry of the time, the music, the literature, the birth of English theatre, Shakespeare is all there in a large part, I think, due to her patronage.”
She adds, more poignantly: “When making the film we thought a lot about Diana, Princess of Wales. Although we don’t know how much is propaganda, one of the things that is repeatedly written about Elizabeth is that she often went out with very little guard and walked around and shook people’s hands. So she was able to somehow be untouchable and remote, and also incredibly accessible. We were reminded of Diana in terms capturing the public’s imaginations and that public feeling that they could connect.”
Cate, a mother-of-two, who has been married to Australian playwright and screenwriter Andrew Upton for almost 10 years, said playing the role made her grateful for her own family life and relationships.
“I wouldn’t like to be as isolated as she was. I’m lucky that I’ve got a private life that happily and richly balances my work life.
“What the film primarily deals with is a woman who is incredibly isolated and lonely. While Elizabeth matured as a woman, emotionally she was quite adolescent in her responses,” says Cate, leaning back in her chair.
“As politically wise and astute as Elizabeth was, I don’t think she really had the chance to mature as a partner. Her emotional life was probably quite stunted and unrealistic. I don’t think she ever experienced the notion of being loved for who she was, not what she can actually bring someone. Her status, her position and power would always come into any friendship that she developed.
“I think what struck me was the notion of how utterly alone she must have been, and that must go for anyone in power really. Who can you truly confide in? Who loves you for who you really are?”
The actress prefers to stay out of the kind of spotlight that Royals come under, so she can bring up her two sons – six-year-old Dashiell and three-year-old Roman – out of the media glare in their native Australia and has recently made England her base.
But she admits she found playing Elizabeth in both films fascinating.
Cate is also starring in the fourth instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise – Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull – as well as starring in I’m Not There, a film about music icon Bob Dylan. But she isn’t sure about completing the Elizabeth trilogy.
“Who knows? We’ll have to see how this one does, I think,” she says.
However, she thinks Elizabeth’s career in the movies may be even more prolific than her own.
“There are endless possibilities. There’s a long history of women (who have played the Queen) – Flora Robson, Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson, Anne Marie Duff, Helen Mirren – and there will be a lot more Elizabeths beyond this because she is endlessly fascinating.”