With the latest Indiana Jones adventure, released on DVD this weekend we talk to Cate Blanchett about independent cinema and her childhood crush on Harrison Ford.
Cate Blanchett is in full bloom and the picture of health and happiness. The Oscar winner and her playwright husband Andrew Upton are enjoying family life after the birth of their third son, Ignatius, and devoted wife and mother Cate says she is loving every minute.
But Cate seems almost as excited about taking on her dream role and working with her childhood hero. In her latest big-screen outing Cate, 38, plays Russian bad girl Agent Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, out on DVD in Ireland this weekend. Even though she is an award winning actress Cate admits she was star struck when she met Harrison Ford for the first time.
Chameleon Cate’s rare gift for shape-shifting has enabled this talented actress to create a series of unforgettable roles – and her most recent is no exception. Always up for a challenge, Cate says she enjoyed a bit of rough and tumble for her starring role in the latest in the action hero series.
Here, she chats about her happy family life, why she refuses to have Botox and her childhood crush on Indy. . .
Q: You play the villain – Agent Irina Spalko in the latest Indie adventure. Do you think you have to like a character to play a character?
A: “No – definitely not. I think it is important to have an objectivity about a character and not to patronise your audience by trying to play for sympathy or portray the good sides of a character.”
Q: How did you feel about acting in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ with Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford?
A: “I was such a fan of the originals. I was completely head over heels in love with Mr Ford – and I still am. That’s been such a hoot to make – lots of macho stuff. It was like being welcomed into a very happy family on that set – Harrison and Steen knew all about what they were doing, they couldn’t have been more confident about the franchise”
Q: How was it being one of the new kids on the set?
A: “It was pretty incredible. I had not met Harrison until the time I first walked onto the set. We had to do a scene together and there he was with the whip and the hat and the jacket. It was just perfect because that was the icon that I had so loved when I was a child. But I did not tell him that it might have made him feel a bit old! He was amazing. He and Spielberg and the producers were such a family. They know that genre so well. It was quite strange to know the iconography and then be stepping in to the frame.”
Q: What is it like being part of such an iconic franchise like that?
A: “It’s such a well-oiled, as you say, iconic franchise, and one in which I grew up with. And on the first day of shooting, it was extremely surreal. I was watching the monitor as Steven set up the frame, and I knew the iconography of the frame. I knew the trucks, I knew the layout, I knew the way these things were lit, but yet when I was meant to enter the frame, it was a really strange moment. So it’s been fantastic, and so much fun. And my boys had an absolute ball.”
Q: How is this film different from all the others?
CB: “Each film thus far has had its own story. It is like a new adventure. This in the same vein is a completely new adventure into new dimensions but it absolutely fits into the same genre. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. It is in the same very flat style and there’s a picture book, cartoon book quality to it. It is very much in line with the other films. The humour is the same, the irony is the same. That is all still there. Harisson is amazing. We did this really long sequence in Hawaii and he did all his own stunts for hours and hours and hours. I was like ‘Uh!’ trying to keep up with him. His stamina is amazing.”
Q: Did you grow up watching the Indiana Jones films?
A: “I can remember that was a big part of taking part in this for me…I thought, ‘Ooh, gosh. When I grow up I’d like to marry a man like him, even if he does fall asleep after I kiss him.”
Q: Did you get your childhood wish?
A: “I’m not saying either way.”
Q: Which is your favorite Indy film?
A: “I have a soft spot for the first one because I adore Karen Allen. This one is a big bar of chocolate and you want to eat the whole thing. I’m really looking forward to this slotting into the boxed set.”
Q: Do you get the sense that it will fit in and not feel out of place with the others because so much time has passed?
A: “That’s really hard to say, isn’t it? I did feel on the first day [like], “I know the iconography of this.” When they were setting up the shot and I was walking into the frame, it felt familiar and strange at the same time.”
Q: What did your kids think of you being in the film?
A: “My kids absolutely loved it too. They had a ball with the trucks and the soldiers and the locations. It meant an enormous amount to my kids. They were on set, and Steven Spielberg was great with the children. They loved all the effects and the stunts. It was a real riot for them.”
Q: Do you prefer working on independent films or mainstream movies?
A: “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 the Indiana Jones franchise and the Lord of The Rings – those films felt more of a departure for me. In the end I think the whole notion is not about how a film is financed. It is actually about the creative thinking behind it.”
Q: Did the Oscar for your role in The Aviator open a lot more doors for you?
A: “Hmmm. Do you mean am I on a lot more lists now, 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 ever been an actor who started off on a journey to get to some place – it’s all rather taken me by surprise in a way.”
Q: So where do you keep your Oscar?
A: “At first I thought that I’d do something quite amusing with it – like use it as a bookend, or something. But all my friends wanted to see it, and touch it, and even to pose with it for photographs. So…well, it’s on the grand piano, at home. So that it’s there and ready for….whatever…”
Q: What’s your take on getting older? How do you embrace coming of age and the maturity in your life?
A: “I think there is a huge terror of aging. I’m not somebody who wants to be back and visit my 20s. When I left school, I didn’t go to a school reunion. When I left university, I wasn’t interested in becoming a member of the Alumni. I’m not interested in holding on to those things. I think the parts, the friendships, the memories you hold on to naturally. So I am kind of interested in what’s coming next. Especially when you have children, you do get older. I am very happy with being where I am. And also, what I think is beautiful is the flaw in the glass. It is the imperfection. I am not interested in some sort of homogenetic sense of cloned beauty where everything is homogenous and perfect.”
Q: That’s your definition of beauty?
A: “Today. Yes.”
Q: Would you ever have Botox or plastic surgery to stop the tell-tale signs of ageing?
A: “The marks on your body, the lines you get on it, on your face, wherever, when you have children, and as you grow older – they are the song lines of your youth!”
Q: Are you a woman that likes to be in control?
A: “No. Not particularly. I think all of us find being out of control in certain circumstances terrifying. But you know, you can’t possibly expect to be in control with two boys under the age of six. But it is also important not to think that your job is to be friends with your children. I think you are the parents.”
‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ is released on DVD in Ireland on November 7th 2008.
We have copies of the DVD to giveaway later this week, stay tuned…