Wearing pointy ears for her elf role in the Hobbit trilogy is not too far removed from dressing up for awards season, according to Cate Blanchett. Both can leave you looking rather silly.
But the Aussie icon doesn’t worry about what others might think of her choices both in this world and Middle Earth.
She has much bigger things on her mind – motherhood for one.
A lot has happened in the life of the 45-year-old actress since she first turned out as elf queen Galadriel in final instalment of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Now at the end of her unexpected journey through The Hobbit, there are no visible signs of the three children, two Oscar wins, various hit movies and jet-set lifestyle on Cate.
Returning to New Zealand and one of her most famous roles was a big moment for the Aussie star – not just because she was closer to home.
The actress campaigned for a return for Galadriel before finally donning those pointy ears for what eventually became a Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies being the latest and last episode.
Joining Cate and old pals Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom and Hugo Weaving is Hobbit heroes Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug.
Cate’s enthusiasm for what is a role close to her heart illustrates her approach to work these days.
As one of Hollywood’s most respected and successful performers, she can afford to pick and choose when she works.
More important to her than movies is her life with her writer husband Andrew Upton and their three sons, Dashiell 13, Roman 9 and five-year-old Ignatius.
Here the queen of the elves talks about the sad end to her Middle Earth journey after all these years .. .and ears!
She also talks fighting in high heels, ageing in Hollywood, motherhood and her take on being dubbed a style icon.
AS: So how does it feel knowing this really is the end of your Middle Earth journey now?
CB: “It’s a bit sad to be honest. This has been a wonderful chapter in my life and to come back after Lord of the Rings to do the Hobbit and for this to turn into another three films has been an unexpected joy. I mean, when I first heard Peter was going to be doing The Hobbit, I didn’t even know if I was going to be in it until I made a few pleading phone calls to him! So to be able to go back and play a character I love so much all over again has been an absolute pleasure.”
AS: What is the one thing about working on these movies that you’re going to miss the most?
CB: “I think the people and the family atmosphere Peter always somehow manages to create on set. I hope to see and maybe work with some of those people again. Nothing like this will ever happen again but, sadly, that’s life.”
AS: We apparently see more of the dark side of your character in this one. How much fun was that to play?
CB: “It’s always fun to play that aspect of a character but I feel like this is something that has been there in Galadriel all along. We saw a little of this dark side of her in the very first Lord of the Rings.”
AS: What can you tell us about the big showdown she has in this. Who is it with?
CB: “I can’t say too much because it’s a surprise but I can say that no one comes out of this unscathed. Anything can happen.”
AS: So does Galadriel actually fight? Does she have a weapon?
CB: “Well, I was more than prepared for a bit of fighting but as an elf you have to be tall – I’m relatively tall but not that tall – and I had to wear these hugely high sort of disco glam boots. So it was a little bit tricky to walk, let alone fight. I had to fight with my eyes! But I do lose my sh**! Elven sh**!”
AS: What is it like to shoot these movies in New Zealand?
CB: “It’s amazing. I was only there a few weeks for this – far too short – but it felt a little bit like returning to summer camp. So many of the people that were a part of the first journey, were part of this journey. It’s an amazing thing to be able to return to something that began so many years ago.”
AS: Well, you certainly don’t look and older than you did when you first played Galadriel…
CB: “Oh that’s very kind of you to say so. It’s all smoke and mirrors of course! Actually, we’ve all been saying how no one who came back for the Hobbit looks any older. It must be Tolkein magic!”
AS: Do you worry about ageing?
CB: “I think we all fear getting older to some extent but I wouldn’t say it worries me, no. Certainly not in a professional sense.”
AS: Is it true your husband has kept all your elf ears?
CB: “(Laughs) I’m afraid that is true. They’re not full ears either – they’re little prosthetic tips that fit on the top of your ears to make the point. But they’re cute…and a bit weird. Someone got to hear that my husband has a bit of a thing for my ears and presented us with mine. They were all beautifully housed in a wooden box with a little section for each ear. It was kind of like a box of chocolates but with ears!”
AS: What is your relationship with Peter Jackson like?
CB: “Peter Jackson was the reason that I was so excited about being part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the first place. Of course Galadriel is just a tiny, weeny piece of the puzzle. And it’s a puzzle that I really don’t think anyone other than Peter could have pulled together. He’s got such an extraordinary sense of the sublimely beautiful and the grotesque. The way he combines those two things, that’s utterly unique.”
AS: Do you prefer working on independent films or big budget movies like this one?
CB: “I’m a product of the Australian film industry which by its very nature is independent, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. I suppose the collaborative nature of being independent feels natural to me and when people talk to me about working in Hollywood I don’t quite know what that means. Being part of big movies like this feel like more of a departure for me. In the end I think the whole notion is not about how a film is financed, it’s actually about the creative thinking behind it.”
AS: Has being a two-time Oscar winner opened a lot more doors for you?
CB: “If you mean, have I moved up to the front of the queue? I don’t know. I think that an Academy Award can sometimes be a bit of a curse. I can think of several actors and actresses who have won one, and then they’ve not worked again for quite some while. But then I’ve never been an actor who started off on a journey to get to some place. I just got lucky.”
AS: So where do you keep your Oscars?
CB: “Oh at home. I still look at them and appreciate it. They’re well loved!”
AS: Do you enjoy awards season and all the red carpet glamour? Is fashion something you enjoy?
CB: “Well, I do like wearing beautiful clothes. My tastes are fairly classic and not too wild so that probably helps not to upset anyone! But I’m as capable of a fashion disaster as the next girl when it comes to the red carpet.”
AS: How do you feel about being a working mother?
CB: “Going back to work after my first child really made me think a lot about that and how I would fit everything in. But you find that balance to the point where you find yourself adding to the challenge with another child or more responsibility. All parents do it. There’s no trick. It really is just something you make work because you want it to.”
AS: Do you enjoy being a mother?
CB: “Very much. There’s nothing in the world that makes me happier than being with my kids. I could give this all up tomorrow to spend the rest of my life looking after my family.”