THE WIZARD OF OZ

How does Cate Blanchett man­age it all? Be­ing a mother of four, an Os­car-win­ning Hol­ly­wood star, an am­bas­sador for the UN Refugee Agency, and the face of Gior­gio Ar­mani? In a world-ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with LIFE Magazine, the 47-year-old Aus­tralian su­per­sta

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - WORLD EXCLUSIVE -

When you’ ve watched her act­ing in so many iconic film roles (Lucinda Le­plas­trier in Mered­ith Logue in El­iz­a­beth Tu­dor in Jas­mine French in or Katharine Hep­burn in it is al­most un­nerv­ing when you are ush­ered into a big suite and Cate Blanchett is just sit­ting there . . . play­ing her­self.

With her fea­tures framed against the sun­light that’s flood­ing in through the gi­ant win­dows on a Lon­don sum­mer’s af­ter­noon, she gets up from her seat in the grand Florence Hall in Port­land Place.

“I’m Barry from Dublin,” I say, to which she replies, “I’m Cate from Syd­ney.”

Then she gives me a hug. She is not the aus­tere, aloof Hol­ly­wood movie star one might ex­pect. I’ve met her be­fore — in Dublin in 2003, when she was film­ing

and Cate was like that

Lucinda, Mr Ri­p­ley, Veron­ica Guerin, Os­car and The Tal­ented El­iz­a­beth, Blue Jas­mine, The Avi­a­tor),

then. So this is not an act. Warm, nor­mal and above all friendly, she wears her su­per­star sta­tus lightly. She is wear­ing a Gior­gio Ar­mani New Nor­mal grey suit. At the cock­tail party later that night, she wears a pow­der-pink Gior­gio Ar­mani sleeve­less dress.

The glob­ally feted Ital­ian fash­ion ti­tan is the rea­son Cate is in Lon­don to­day: to at­tend the un­veil­ing of Ar­mani’s Si Le Par­fum and the Si Women’s Cir­cle, which is de­scribed as “a newly cre­ated dig­i­tal plat­form that en­cour­ages open di­a­logue be­tween one an­other and serves as an op­por­tu­nity to share life sto­ries”. Cate has been the face and am­bas­sador of Ar­mani’s fra­grance Si for three years. I ask Cate what drew her to Gior­gio. “He has been a huge aes­thetic in­flu­ence on my sense of what was pos­si­ble, vis­ually, as a woman when I was at school,” says Ms Blanchett, who was born on May 14, 1969 in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia.

“My jaw hit the floor when I first started see­ing his now iconic and much ab­sorbed in­flu­ence of mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine tai­lor­ing. So I tried to em­u­late that in an op-shop, sec­ond-hand way, un­til fi­nally, when I got my first pay cheque from my first theatre job, I went to a sale at the Syd­ney store — and I bought a Gior­gio Ar­mani suit.”

Asked how much her first pay cheque was made out for, the ac­tress, who is now on quite a few mil­lion dol­lars per pic­ture laughs, and says, “Oh, it was about 25 cents!

“That was my en­tire pay cheque for the whole sea­son! So it wasn’t par­tic­u­larly sen­si­ble, but I’d al­ways wanted one. I still have the suit. And that’s the thing — his de­sign, his aes­thetic, is time­less.

“So Gior­gio has been an in­cred­i­ble in­flu­ence on me — and I count our cre­ative re­la­tion­ship as one of the great priv­i­leges of my ca­reer. We’ve worked to­gether in the theatre, and from a phil­an­thropic point of view, and ob­vi­ously in fash­ion, and now be­ing asked to be the face of his sig­na­ture fra­grance. It has been a fan­tas­tic, fruit­ful and in­spir­ing re­la­tion­ship.”

When she de­scribes Gior­gio Ar­mani’s per­son­al­ity as “in­tensely cu­ri­ous, in­tensely sin­gu­lar,” Cate Blanchett could be de­scrib­ing her­self, too. “He is a per­fec­tion­ist, but from an east­ern per­spec­tive; he has an un­der­stand­ing that any­thing that is go­ing to be truly beau­ti­ful must be skewed slightly.” So do you share the same artis­tic and in­tel­lec­tual cu­rios­ity? “I can but hope! He is in­de­fati­ga­ble!” says the in­de­fati­ga­ble Cate Blanchett.

“He is so dif­fi­cult to catch. I think he is a bit like Santa Claus. Ap­par­ently, he was here last night and I missed him; I was stag­ger­ing to get up to fin­ish the school run,” she jokes, re­fer­ring to her chil­dren — sons Dashiell (14), Ro­man (12) and Ig­natius (7), and tod­dler daugh­ter Edith, whom she and her hus­band, play­wright An­drew Up­ton, adopted in March 2015.

“Noth­ing gets signed off with­out pass­ing over his [Ar­mani’s] desk. I think that’s why the house and the aes­thetic of Ar­mani has re­mained so ab­so­lute and in­flu­en­tial, be­cause his hand is re­ally across ev­ery­thing.”

Have you learned from him in terms of film roles?

“I greatly ad­mire his pas­sion and his work ethic . . .”

Be­ing com­mer­cial but also keep­ing the in­tegrity?

“I feel like you’re lead­ing some­where!” Cate Blanchett laughs as the gi­ant, male Ar­mani PR han­dler in the room does any­thing but laugh.

I sug­gest that per­haps the road I was lead­ing her down was that, in a sense, some of her roles could be con­sid­ered cou­ture.

“You mean, elite and unattain­able — and no one pur­chases them?” she laughs.

“But there is a bit of straight-to-video in my ca­reer and there is ab­so­lutely no straight-to-video for Mr Ar­mani.

“Look,” Cate Blanchett says even­tu­ally, “you can only say yes to the ex­pe­ri­ence; the out­come is based on tim­ing and luck and cir­cum­stance. If you are al­ways con­cen­trat­ing on the re­sults and not on the process, then I think one’s cre­ative jour­ney be­comes very arid.”

Arid cre­ative jour­neys not­with­stand­ing, Cate Blanchett has been nom­i­nated six times for an Academy Award: she’s won two — for 2004’s and 2013’s

Blue Jas­mine. The Avi­a­tor

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