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Last Updated: Monday, 22 October 2007, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Blanchett revisits 'modern' queen

By Razia Iqbal
Arts correspondent, BBC News

Cate Blanchett promoting The Golden Age in Madrid
Cate Blanchett was unsure about playing Elizabeth again

It was playing the role of Queen Elizabeth I in the Oscar-nominated 1998 film that saw actress Cate Blanchett burst onto the international scene.

Director Shekar Kapur persuaded the Australian star to reprise her role in Elizabeth: The Golden Age - but Blanchett says she was initially reluctant to play the Tudor monarch again.

"I wanted to work with Shekar Kapur again, but I'm never certain about roles," she explains.

"When I knew that Geoffrey Rush was on board, and Clive Owen was willing to be a part of it, the project as a whole seemed appealing. There is no question that the character of Elizabeth I is endlessly fascinating."

Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I
The Golden Age sees Elizabeth at the peak of her powers
She plays the Queen at the prime of her life; England was threatened with Holy war by Spain, and the country was on the verge of being defeated by the Spanish Armada.

There is also some historical licence taken in the context of the Queen's relationship with Walter Raleigh, played in a swashbuckling-Errol Flynn fashion by Owen.

Blanchett urged the film's cinematographist to remove the dernier stocking from the camera, which softens the focus.

"If you shoot a woman harshly, you can make her look much older and I was keen for that to be pushed to the limit," she explains.

"I find it interesting that there is this central dilemma for women today, as young as in their 20s and 30s, this terrible fear of ageing and I felt that Queen Elizabeth I embodied that idea.

"She was looking back on her life and wondering about the choices she had made. There was much about her that was modern."

Blanchett highlights the preoccupation with youth in her own industry, saying there is "just as much Botox-injecting going on in Middle America as there is on either the east or west coasts".

Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There
Blanchett plays the young Bob Dylan in I'm Not There
She adds: "We live in a Godless society, for all the talk of fundamentalism and Creationism, there is a sense of accepting that there is nothing after this, so we cling on to what we have here and now.

"My view of it is that we should just take our fingers off the panic button."

The screen star, who is soon to appear as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There - a role which won her best actress at the Venice Film Festival - balks at suggestions that she is at the peak of her powers.

And she will appear with Brad Pitt, once more (most recently she played opposite him in Babel), in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and then there is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett
The actress starred alongside Brad Pitt in Oscar contender Babel
"You never want to peak," she says. "The only reason to continue to do it - and it is a vocation - is there are new challenges and new potential to fail," says the actress.

"The more well known you are, you continually risk that failure. Unless you push those boundaries, you won't continue to expand."

Blanchett recently took a decision which many in the industry have expressed surprise at.

At the top of her game, she and her husband, the scriptwriter, Andrew Upton, are going to run the Sydney Theatre Company.

She says she has been very privileged to have been able to move between film and theatre, and the surprise people express says much more about their values than hers.

The actress says that although film transports better than theatre and theatre only lives in the memory, she loves that "gossamer quality" that theatre has.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age has its UK premiere on 23 October and goes on general release on 2 November.

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10 Nov 06 |  Entertainment

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