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    Summer break is the perfect opportunity to get back into reading. Adam Silvera’s (2017) novel, They Both Die at the End, can serve as a stepping stone into the realm of reading. The pace is fast, action-packed, and develops loveable characters. Also, Silvera switches point of view each chapter where narration mainly focuses on the protagonists, […]
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Celebrity Profiles

LOS ANGELES — Movie directors are a lot like politicians. They rarely commit fully to anything that

might come back to haunt them.

For instance, a director might say complimentary things about his leading lady, but he’ll stop short of

declaring that she is the best actress in the world for fear of alienating other actresses with whom the

director might work.

Apparently, Sam Raimi skipped class the day that lesson was taught in director’s school.

‘The only way to make this movie was to have the best actress in the world, and that is Cate

Blanchett,’ Raimi said firmly and without hesitation of the Australian who stars in Raimi’s ‘The Gift.’

‘It wasn’t even a question of whether she could do a Southern accent for the role,’ he added. ‘It was

so far beyond that in my mind. The question for me was if I was good enough to direct an actress this

great. After seeing her in ‘Elizabeth,’ it must be obvious to everyone on the planet that she is the

best actress working.’

As we said, Raimi skipped a few classes.

Blanchett, her familiar long blond locks shorn to half-inch length for another film, first blushed and then chuckled when told of Raimi’s gushing comments. Sitting in her

Los Angeles hotel suite, Blanchett displayed a sense of humor she rarely shows onscreen, where many believe she is the heiress apparent to Meryl Streep.

‘Sam Raimi is a man of consummate taste,’ the 31-year-old actress said with a warm smile and mock cockiness before turning serious again. ‘I hope I can prove him

right.’

For many movie industry observers, Blanchett already has proved him right. She was nominated for an Oscar in 1998 (‘Elizabeth’) that easily could have gone to her

instead of Gwyneth Paltrow. In fact, whenever she steps before a camera, she is considered an Oscar possibility.

‘Simply put,’ Raimi said, shaking his head in wonderment, ‘Cate Blanchett is a force of nature. She not only is a great technician – it is unbelievable what she can do as

an actress – but something happens when the camera hits that face.

‘With a lot of actresses, you move in close with the camera just to get a bigger face on the screen. With Cate, when you move in closer, you get something else. You get

warmth and goodness and intelligence. You get her soul, and it is a very good soul.’

In ‘The Gift,’ the first of five Blanchett films to be released after a year of London stage work, she plays a widow raising two children in a small Southern town who

makes ends meet by giving psychic readings. Blanchett’s gift of psychic vision is not accepted by everyone in the town, and the gift eventually embroils Blanchett in a

murder mystery.

The film was co-written by Billy Bob Thornton and also stars Oscar winner Hillary Swank as one of Blanchett’s customers. In a bit of casting against type, Keanu Reeves

plays Swank’s vicious, abusive husband, who turns his violent temper on Blanchett.

The actress said she met with several psychics while researching the role but came away from those experiences no more a believer than when she started. ‘I am not

particularly interested in the future,’ she said. ‘I am not interested in either pinning it down or trying to control it.’

Raised by her mom, an Australian schoolteacher, after her Texas-born father died when she was 10, Cate was a reluctant actress when she entered drama school in

Australia.

‘There were so many great actors who were not working that I had no illusions about the profession,’ she said. ‘While still in drama school, I decided to give the career

five years and see what happened. If it didn’t work out after five years, I would return to college and pick up the credits I missed and become an architect.

‘Life is too short to sit in a flat in Los Angeles and eat yourself away waiting for work. That’s not living, and I determined not to do that.’

She didn’t have to wait five years. She soon became a member of the prestigious Company B theater troupe, of which Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush is a member, and

worked steadily in play after play. Noted Australian film director Bruce Beresford recognized her talent and gave Blanchett her first major film role in ‘Paradise Road.’

The movie ‘Oscar and Lucinda’ was her breakthrough, which led to her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Elizabeth.’ She did such memorable work in that film that she

was flooded with offers to play similar characters, she said. Instead, she next played a Long Island housewife in ‘Pushing Tin.’

‘I owe that to (director) Mike Newell, who called me one day and said, ‘I’ve just seen ‘Elizabeth.’ Would you like to come play John Cusack’s wife?’

‘He took a leap of faith because he saw something in me. That’s called creative casting. At the time, I was being offered nothing but ‘Elizabeth’-type roles, and I wasn’t

going to fall into that trap. I was prepared to do plays or appear in small-budget movies before I would do that.

‘And I must say that I was offered a lot of money to do those roles I was turning down. It’s hard to turn down that kind of money. Other actors told me that I was being

foolish, that it’s only a few months out of my life. But it’s not just a few months. I’ll remember taking those roles (for money) the rest of my life. I wish I could think

differently, but I can’t. I’m in this for the long haul, and what you say no to in this business is as important as what you say yes to.’

Blanchett, who has been married almost four years to Australian writer Andrew Upton, said her career is not about money, just as it is not about fame. She said she

understands that fame is a byproduct of a successful film career, but she insists she has never sought such trappings.

‘It is great to be in a position to work with incredible directors and to work opposite actors you have admired and respected. That is the success part of this business that

I sought. The other stuff is froth and bubbles.

‘It is fantastic to wear a great frock and go to a party, and even to be nominated for a very glamorous award, but those are the perks of the job. That’s not the end point

for me. I didn’t start out saying: ‘How do I get to the point where I’m famous?”

She admits it may have been an attempt to thwart the celebrity fame machine after ‘Elizabeth’ that led her to London’s West End last year to appear in the play

‘Plenty.’ But she said she was eager to return to movies when the play’s run ended.

She has four films lined up after ‘The Gift’ and will play Galadriel, the queen of the elves, in the most anticipated movie of the year, ‘Lord of the Rings.’ The pace of her

career right now is exhausting, and Blanchett said she isn’t sure she wants to maintain that pace forever.

‘At the moment, I love it,’ she said. ‘I love every bit of it. But at the same time, I don’t know if I want to spend the rest of my life being looked at. It’s been a fantastic

year, but I don’t ever want to get to the point where the career overtakes my life.

‘I would rather commit euthanasia on my career than let my life slip away from me. Having said that, I must say that I am not ready to kill my career just yet. I’m having

too much fun.’

‘copy; Knight-Ridder Tribune, 2001

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