Friday, May 18, 2012

The casting of Cate Blanchett

I was completely transfixed when I saw Elizabeth, which is when I was first introduced to the extraordinary actress known as Cate Blanchett.  When I think about her career, it’s amazing to me how diverse it’s been.  She’s played practically every role imaginable from an elf to a queen to Bob Dylan to Katherine Hepburn.  She’s different all the time and she’s a phenomenal character actress with a leading lady’s career.  As I was thinking about Blanchett’s great roles, I started to recall some of the great leading roles by women in film that I think Blanchett could have played.  The purpose of this post is not to suggest that Blanchett should have been cast over the actresses who actually played the parts, but rather to consider ten films that, if they had been made today or if they’re ever to be remade someday; Blanchett would be a great casting choice for:

1. Ellen Ripley, Aliens

I can imagine Cate Blanchett uttering the famous line: “Get away from her, you bitch!” with as much command and tenacity as Sigourney Weaver did.  Blanchett has proven that she can get physical and kick ass in films like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Hanna.  I can easily picture Blanchett putting an arsenal together, riding the elevator down to the lowest level of the spaceship and raging against the Alien Queen.

2. Thelma or Louise, Thelma and Louise

We’ve seen her play a tough Southerner who gets caught up in some trouble before.  In fact, her performance is the best reason to see The Gift.  I think she could play either the naive housewife or the tough-as-nails waitress just as powerfully and memorably as did Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, respectively.

3. Clarice Starling, The Silence of the Lambs

When Julianne Moore was cast as Clarice Starling in Hannibal, I thought she was a great choice to fill the big shoes left vacant by Jodie Foster.  I think if Clarice were ever to meet Hannibal Lector again that Blanchett would be a great choice to play her.  Blanchett portrayed crime reporter Veronica Guerin in the film of the same name with perfect feistiness, determination and bravery.  Portraying the beautiful, intelligent, vulnerable and strong FBI agent would be a cakewalk for Cate.

4. Marion Crane, Psycho

Though already remade in 1998, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that this Hitchcock classic might be remade again.  I have to give director Gus Van Sant credit for directing a shot-for-shot remake of the original, but the film doesn’t live up to the original, and I think it has a lot do with improper casting.  Anne Heche was far less substantial as Marion Crane and she lacked the carnal quality that Janet Leigh brought to the original.  I think Blanchett would do the role justice.

5. Beatrix Kiddo, Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2

In Volume 1, Uma Thurman took down 88 of Japan’s deadliest Yakuza fighters with a samurai sword and graceful, merciless venom.  In her role as Elizabeth I, Blanchett infused the monarch with outstanding sauciness, strength and smarts.  She fought off assassination by the French, the Spanish, her rivals and even the Pope and outsmarted everyone to rule the throne for 45 years as one of the early female heads of state.  Killing Bill is something I believe she would handle perfectly.

6. Trinity, The Matrix

When we first see Trinity, she defeats six policemen singlehandedly and then goes flying through a window and leaps across to the roof of the building across the alleyway.  She is a tough as nails, ass-kicking heroine with crazy hand-to-hand combat and weaponry skills.  I think it would be fantastic to see Blanchett play a physically intimidating woman.  She held her own against Indiana Jones and fought with thieves in Robin Hood, so I can easily imagine her donning jet black hair and shooting things up to save Morpheus.

7. Catwoman, Batman Returns

Michelle Pfeiffer oozed sex appeal and sadism in Tim Burton’s dark and brooding sequel to his original Batman film.  She exuded strange qualities that placed her outside of the mainstream and she was driven by festering resentments.  Playing a woman filled with personal inadequacy, burdened by pain and punished for her choices is familiar territory for Blanchett who experienced this and more in her role as an adulterous wife having an affair with one of her students in Notes on a Scandal.  Sure she’s not bitten by alleycats and she doesn’t fashion a fetishist cat suit out of leather, but she has one very powerful “she’s losing it” scene that demonstrates her remarkable ability to play a woman who’s become unhinged. 

8. Alex Forrest, Fatal Attraction

Having commanded the big screen in roles as a strong single mother, a famed male singer-songwriter, a beloved screen siren and a frontier medicine woman, there’s little doubt that Blanchett would once again command the screen as an obsessed, unstable mistress hell bent on revenge.

9. Evelyn Mulwray, Chinatown

Faye Dunaway was luminous in her role as the woman in the private eye plot who comes to the private eye for help, but withholds the full circumstances of her trouble from him.  Dunaway was pale, neurotic and beautiful, two of out three qualities that Blanchett also possesses.  Feigning neurosis shouldn’t be hard for Blanchett considering her acting resume.

10. Annie Hall, Annie Hall

Diane Keaton delivered the performance of her career in Annie Hall.  It is rumoured that Cate Blanchett may appear in not one but two upcoming Woody Allen films and it’s about time those two paired up.  In the right Allen film with the right Allen script – think intellectual wit, smart cultural references and great dialogue – Blanchett would be magical. I can close my eyes and easily imagine her as the young, pretty, smart and scatterbrained Annie Hall.

What films would you cast Cate Blanchett in? Let us know in the comments section.


  1. Would the parts have to include her playing a dude?

    I think she could pull off the role of playing Hansel from Zoolander. Or what about Ron Burgundy? I would love to see her in low-brow comedies, if they're done right.

    1. Anything goes! A done right low-brow comedy would definitely be interesting with Cate Blanchett playing lead.

  2. I'm especially intrigued by your choice of Annie Hall. I know they're not the same person (or even performers with the same sensibilities) but The Aviator and such makes it impossible for me not to think of Cate in tangent with Kate Hepburn and the later despite being noted for drama has a penchant for comedy which Cate has but is woefully underused (see her fine work in Bandits, for example). I'd be intrigued at the idea of her playing an Annie Hall-esque character.

    1. I, too, think of Cate in tangent with Katherine Hepburn - her portrayal of her was superb. Blanchett is the most memorable part about 'Bandits' and I would also love to see her do more comedy. I'm looking forward to seeing her team up with Woody Allen.

  3. Wow, this is a great post! Love the Blanch and I think your list above is fascinating. As iconic as Weaver was in Alien, I can totally get on board with a Blanchett version; that would be pretty amazing.

    Also, never knew the name for "The Bride" in Kill Bill was Beatrix Kiddo. Thanks for that little bit of trivia. Did you just amke that up or is that written some where? I know Caradine actually calls her Kiddo at one point. It never occurred to me that that could actually be her name.

    1. Thanks a bunch. I'm really glad you enjoyed the post and my list. I would love to see Blanchett do a real action flick stunts and all.

      Nope, I didn't make up the name Beatrix Kiddo. It's the name of The Bride in 'Kill Bill.'

  4. Anonymous7:07 am

    I think most of the films above were cast so well that it is hard to imagine a different actress playing them. However it's so easy to image Cate Blanchett in these roles because she is that versatile. Would love to see her play Catwoman.

    1. I agree - the actresses who portrayed the roles on my list were great in them. Blanchett is such a versatile actress that I think she could play anything. I hope to see her in an action film or a comedy soon. I think she'd be great.

  5. I like your picks for Psycho(1998),Thelma and Louise, and Fatal Attraction, but I just can't picture her in Annie Hall or The Kill Bill flicks. She just doesn't have the right persona for those roles. Glad to see she might do a movie with Woody Allen soon

    1. That's fair, though I'd love to see her try her hand at an Annie Hall-esque role or a kick-butt action flick. I think she could pull it off.

      I'm looking forward to seeing her team up with Woody Allen. It's long overdue.

  6. Excellent idea here, and I love the films you've chosen. Usually, I have such a hard time picturing another actor stepping into the shoes of any role, but Cate's versatility makes her intriguing for just about anything. What can't she do? Hell, she even showed up in Hot Fuzz to get some good comedy under her belt.

    The one thread I see through all of the roles you've chosen is that they're tough as nails. Cate doesn't play the wallflower much. Though that makes me wonder if there are any good roles that are more timid that we could envision her in?

    1. Thanks - I'm glad you like the idea and the list! I probably would not have attempted a post like this with any other actress, but with Cate Blanchett, it didn't seem like an impossible task.

      I'm glad you mentioned 'Hot Fuzz.' I had forgotten she was in that film.

      Thinking of more timid roles for Cate is a challenge, which is probably why the tough of nails ones dominate my list.

      Hmmm...I wouldn't classify this role as timid necessarily, but it's definitely more homely and ordinary as female lead roles go: Marge Gunderson in 'Fargo?' She can do accents really well and I could see her playing the plain, quirky sheriff from Minnesota brilliantly.

      Or how about mute Scotswoman Ada McGrath in 'The Piano?' Cate could convey crazy emotion even without saying a word.

    2. The Fargo one's another great match - Marge isn't exactly "tough as nails," but she is a kind of "no bullshit" gal. Plus, we've already seen Cate play pregnant in The Life Aquatic (another comedy).

      I haven't seen The Piano, so I can't say, but what a shame it would be to have her not speak!

  7. You gave me a tough challenge there! That was my reason for selecting Marge because of her "no bullshit" character. "The Life Aquatic" was another fun film.

    "The Piano" is worth seeing. Holly Hunter gives an exceptional performance in the film. It would be a shame to have Cate not speak, but just think about what she could convey through mere gesture and expression. It would be an interesting kind of role for her.


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