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18 Performances That Prove Cate Blanchett Is The Most Versatile Actor Of Her Generation

Updated September 14, 2020 593 votes 83 voters 2.0k views18 items

List RulesVote up the best performances that prove Cate Blanchett's rare versatility.

Some famous actresses have a career driven by their unique looks, while others use their skill at performing to play believable supporting characters. Only a few are just as stunning to look at as they are capable of handling just about any part you throw at them.

And then there’s Cate Blanchett, who's just as convincing as a regal matriarch as she is as someone you might meet pushing a cart at the supermarket. From Elvish queen to crooked housewife to the Goddess of Death, here are the roles that prove just how incredibly versatile she is. Remember to vote up your favorite Blanchett roles.

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  • Along with Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan and other beloved Disney films, Cinderella got the live-action treatment in 2015. In the lead roles were Lily James as the glass slipper-loving heroine and Cate Blanchett as the evil yet fashionable stepmother, Lady Tremaine.

    Unlike some of the other "reimaginings" of animated classics, this one was a hit with audiences and critics alike. Blanchett was the first member of the cast to sign on, and her abilities certainly helped director Kenneth Branagh's vision of focusing more on the psychological depth of the characters rather than an overabundance of CGI flash. And as for how she felt about playing such a dastardly and diabolical dowager? She described the experience as "fantastic."

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  • Playing silver screen legend Katherine Hepburn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator earned Cate Blanchett the 2004 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Hepburn’s unique mannerisms have made her easy picking for impersonators over the years since she, as Roger Ebert put it, "was herself so close to caricature that to play her accurately involves some risk."

    But Blanchett did more than just perform a crude imitation, delivering "a performance that is delightful and yet touching; mannered and tomboyish, delighting in saying exactly what she means."

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  • A musical drama consisting of six different storylines featuring six different actors - including a woman - that explores the facets of the personality of Bob Dylan kind of sounds like something Seth Rogen might have dreamed up while passed out on the floor of Willie Nelson’s tour trailer. But Todd Haynes's biopic I’m Not There actually turned out to be a very good, decidedly unconventional film.

    Cate Blanchett appears in the fifth chapter as Jude Quinn, who is essentially Dylan between the years of 1965 and 1966. This was when he was first experimenting with electric guitars and got booed for it by diehard folk music fans (there was actually such a thing back then). Blanchett is the only one who does a full-on Dylan embodiment, and she does it so well that it prompted critic David Gates of Newsweek to remark that she was "so convincing and intense that you shrink back in your seat when she fixes you with her gaze."

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    13 Different Characters In ‘Manifesto’

    13 Different Characters In ‘Manifesto’
    Photo: FilmRise

    Usually you only get to play a bunch of different roles in the same movie if you’re Peter Sellers or Eddie Murphy. But Cate Blanchett might hold the record with the 13 characters she played in the 2015 monologue collection, Manifesto.

    Appearing as everything from a homeless man to a schoolteacher, she embodies each role with her typical passion and received her typical kudos from the critics. And while the film may be a bit artsy (it actually began life as an art installation that premiered at museums) for the average moviegoer, it may be the best example of Blanchett’s chameleon-like capacity for bringing diverse characters to life.

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