- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

LONDON Cate Blanchett, heavily pregnant, shifts in her chair and smiles when asked about having turned out five movies in as many months.
"I'm interested in diversity," says the 32-year-old actress, who came to attention three years ago in "Elizabeth," for which she received an Academy Award nomination.
"I will never say 'no' outright to anything," Miss Blanchett continues in her soft Australian accent, "and I don't set about to make a particular type of film."
That much is clear from the spread and sweep of parts in which Miss Blanchett has been visible lately, starting with her performance earlier this year as the free spirit who ends up sharing Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton in "Bandits."
That's a far cry from the fantastical realm Miss Blanchett inhabits in "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," playing Galadriel the Elf Queen. That in turn is worlds apart from the Vichy France in which she does battle alongside Billy Crudup in "Charlotte Gray," playing the Scottish heroine of the title.
Though yet another Blanchett starring vehicle, Tom Tykwer's "Heaven," isn't expected until the Berlin Festival in February, the actress can be seen briefly but vividly as Kevin Spacey's spitfire spouse in "The Shipping News," adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by E. Annie Proulx.
As fiercely sexual as Mr. Spacey's character is reined in, Miss Blanchett's character gives the Lasse Hallstrom film such a charge that the movie seems diminished once she leaves.She says the part, though small, was rewarding for her.
"It was a little nugget," she says, laughing. "I had an absolute hoot making it and trying to shock Lasse as deeply as I possibly could."
Miss Blanchett says she thought the character of Petal "was so obnoxious that I couldn't say no."
The five recent movies represent 18 months of work for Miss Blanchett, who says, "The films are very different, and the focus on me is different in each film.
"I'm hardly the center of attention in 'The Shipping News,' and 'Lord of the Rings' is such a creature unto itself. It's not about the individual. It's the sum of all its parts, so hopefully I've submerged myself enough."
As for "Bandits," Miss Blanchett's larkiest screen appearance to date, she says that "was a very different film to anything I'd made before. The characters were strangely ar-chetypal certainly the two blokes are."
She goes on: "You say Bruce Willis, and people go, 'Oh,' as they would with any celebrity, as if they have a preconceived notion of what that means."
In fact, she says, "There's sort of Bruce Willis the industry, and then there's Bruce Willis the actor, and I didn't find that one got in the way of the other; he's a great facilitator an incredible energy force."
In "Charlotte Gray," she got to play a variant on the British woman parachuted into France whom she had played on London's West End in the David Hare play "Plenty." (The film version starred Meryl Streep.)
"I did think about 'Plenty' a lot while shooting 'Charlotte Gray,' " even if the latter, she says, contains far greater optimism.
"Charlotte has such a strong sense of hope that she's almost galvanized by her grief; she refuses to be defeated."
Miss Blanchett will next play Veronica Guerin, an Irish journalist who was murdered, in a film biography for director Joel Schumacher.
Her immediate role, however, is mother. Since this interview, she and her screenwriter husband, Andrew Upton, have had a son, Dashiell John.
With parenting, says Miss Blanchett, who grew up in the Australian city of Melbourne with two siblings, "you can have read all the books, but it's the most unpredictable experience, and I think you never know what form it's going to take."
Is that why she played Galadriel for her then-unborn child?
"Actually," she says of the role in which she has ears like Mr. Spock, "I did it for my husband; he's obsessed by my ears."

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