Glamour 2003

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British Glamour August 2003

"I love work but life is more important"
Cate Blanchett looks like the ultimate ice queen. But scratch beneath the surface of this cool beauty and you'll find a down-to-earth Aussie A-lister who still catches the bus. Miranda Sawyer talks to a woman of mystery about secret dates, the truth about her relationship and the ['happy accident that's changed her life.

If you were to judge Cate Blanchett by her looks, you'd have her down as a cool customer,. So sophisticated she makes Gwynnie looks like Billie, so elegant she wears Galliano as though it were made for her (as, indeed, it often is). Cate's Grace Kelly beauty and ice-maiden style make her one of the world's most dazzling red-carpet regulars. Collected, classy, chic.
If you were to judge Cate by her films, however, you'd have more of a problem. She's played so many parts, in so many ways, She disappears into characters, makes you utterly believe she is them. Is she the beleaguered, passionate lead in Elizabeth? The delicate yet fearsome elfin queen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy? The crazed, stroppy cow of The Shipping News? The tense little rich girl of The Talented Mr Ripley? The determined spy of Charlotte Gray? the courageous and controversial journalist of her latest film, Veronica Guerin? Perhaps, then mercurial, gifted and selfless.

The one thing you can't do is judge Cate by her real, 5ft 8in, 34-year-old, Australian self. She goes out of her way to give nothing away. She's elusive and vague, which means women like her, but we're not sure why. Maybe it's because she's stunning, but not precious about it. Because she's talented, but not bigheaded. Because she's happily married, to a man no one really knows. Because she's not caught up in the celebrity game. Because she still catches the bus.
Whatever, like her we do. Which is lucky, because today Cate is late. Still, the wait in the Art Deco foyer of Claridge's in London is entertaining: old money sweeps about, nose aloft, rattling its jewellery. And there's a contemporary buzz, too: check the sharp-heeled PRs, the shuffling TV crews, even little Ant and Dec, who skip past, dolled up in dinky bow ties. In an upstairs suite, George Clooney is promoting Solaris and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.
Just as I start to think about crashing the Clooney show and ask him Cate's questions, in she strides. Long-limbed, straight-backed, an elegant black spider in her pencil skirt, boots and fishnets; her pale hair and face glint like glass. Cate is glamorous, but unlike her image, she's not perfect: she's all elbows and knees, and there's a whacking great hole in her tights. Claridge's looks up, sniffs, then continues its business.
Upstairs a few moments later, Cate is full of apologies. She's off to the US tomorrow to work on The Missing, a Western directed by Ron Howard. And when Cate moves, her family moves, too: husband Andrew Upton, a fellow Aussie, and their baby son, Dashiell, are leaving their London home for life on the new Mexico prairie. (She tells me she lives

 in Islington; many people swear she has a beach-front Brighton home. When I ask her she flatly denies it.) After six months away from work, Cate's excited, but hectic.
"It was such a palaver getting here today!" she rattles, in her soft tones. "I was in Paris yesterday then back for a meeting that went on until 11pm. I woke up at six, because we're moving and packing, and Andrew had a meeting, and there was no food in the house, and I had a personal trainer round, but I had to say, 'Can we just do one set of exercises 'cause I've really got to go?' then I did more packing, dashed off, and now I'm here. I'm so tired, I'm just happy to sit down.
As Cate speaks, she's very animated. For a tired person, she has a lot of latent energy Her voice is calm, though, and once she settles, her body language is controlled. Still, when questions get too direct, she twists into odd shapes and fiddles with her boot zips.
Is it important for you to have your family on set? "We always go together. Andrew and I have been apart for a film a couple of times and we hated it. You have to plan around the relationship. It's the number-one priority and it doesn't work unless you prioritize it. I've just had six months off, hanging out, because Andrew [he works in film and theater as a write, editor and director] had a play on in Sydney. It was great, looking after the baby, seeing friends and family. I love work, but life is more important."
Dashiell, named after the crime writer Dashiell Hammett, was conceived while Cate was working on Charlotte Gray and was born in December 2001. He wasn't planned, but

Cate says, "He's the happy byproduct of a happy marriage." His parents married in 1997 - "before all this" - in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. The bride wore a white MaxMara coat, since donated, by mistake, to a thrift shop. Cate and Andrew are madly in love, despite hating each other when they first met working in a Sydney theatre (he thought she was aloof, she thought him arrogant). "He's an amazing person," gushes Cate, who says she can barely remember a time when she didn't' know Andrew.