She might appear like she’s got it all under control but, in an interview this weekend, Cate Blanchett has revealed that - like most of us - underneath she is ‘sweating bullets’.
Speaking to The Guardian, the two-time Academy Award, three-time Golden Globe and three-time British Academy Award winner, says “I used to be very socially awkward. Walk into a room. Not know what to say”.
The Hollywood star says she overcame her awkwardness and nerves by observing actors appearing for auditions when she was starting out in the industry, and decided to commence her own ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ approach, saying:
“At some point I realised: that is the act. It’s not whether you can act or not. It’s whether you can act comfortable and relaxed.”
“I’m not comfortable, I’m not relaxed. It’s all down to acting.”
In Woody Allen’s film, Blue Jasmine, a story reminiscent of Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire, Blanchett plays a wealthy woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The role resulted in a Best Actress Oscar.
Admitting the award came as a complete surprise, Blanchett tells The Guardian that when she first sat down to watch the film in its entirety, she was convinced she’d messed it up.
“Oh, it was brutal,” she says. “I was sweating bricks.”
Before correcting herself to say, “You shit bricks and sweat bullets. What a great phrase. Sweating bullets.”
The actor admits she was pleased with the outcome, but that:
“There are always bits that I wince at. I always have to prepare myself. Seeing yourself on screen is excruciating.”
Blanchett’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth, saw her awarded a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination and yet, the actor was, “shocked”.
“You know, I called my agent after making Elizabeth and said, ‘I think I’ve ended my career before it’s even begun.’ So yeah, I was completely shocked by how that film was received,” she says.
Blanchett has said that she has previously felt her career might be over, saying, “Actress years are like dog years. So that makes me about 120.”
But the reality is quite the contrary, as the 46-year-old is currently promoting two films. In the first, Truth, she plays the controversial journalist, Mary Mapes, and the second, Carol, is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 autobiographical lesbian romance novel, The Price of Salt.
In 2008, Blanchett took a break from acting, to work with her husband as co-artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. The actor recalls thinking that she might not be able to return to film, saying:
“You do carry that fear with you. When I was getting ready to leave [the company], I did think, ‘Well, I’m in my 40s, I don’t know if I’ve even got a film career to go back to.’ And then Blue Jasmine landed in my lap.”
Her latest role in Carol, in which Blanchett plays a 1950s housewife who embarks on a scandalous lesbian affair with a younger woman (Rooney Mara), has come with its own pressures:
"The problem is that when you represent a character in a same-sex relationship, it’s like you have to represent them all. You become a spokesperson, which really isn’t the point," she says.
When promoting the film at the Cannes film festival, a media storm was created when Blanchett sarcastically responded to a reporter's question about whether she had had any relationships with women, by saying "yes, many" - referring to her friends and colleagues.
“If I played someone who has an affair, I think a reporter would probably think twice before asking, ‘Ooh, how many affairs have you had?’" she says.
"But there are no holds barred about asking me whether I’ve had relationships with women. And so I facetiously said, ‘Oh yes, I’ve had many relationships with women’ – because frankly, who hasn’t? Of course I said it in inverted commas. But the inverted commas didn’t make the page.”
The actor hopes that, eventually, same-sex relationships on screen are not something we need to 'discuss' they will just happen.
"When the time comes that we have a diversity of same-sex couples in film, then the problem is solved, I don’t have to stand for everyone.”