MICHAEL MORIATIS / NEWS-PRESS PHOTOS
TED MILLS, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
January 27, 2008 7:20 AM
From dressing like the Virgin Queen to playing Bob Dylan in drag, actress Cate Blanchett has had a busy 2007. And with both of those roles earning her Oscar nominations (Best Actress for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and Best Supporting Actress for “I’m Not There”), she was honored Saturday by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
She received the Modern Master Award in a tribute that included a look back on a career that includes nearly 40 films in about 13 years.
Despite the bad weather, film fans turned out in great numbers to see the program at the Lobero Theatre.
“I know we are honoring her as a Modern Master, but Cate is an incredibly young and vital person,” said presenter Todd Haynes, director of “I’m Not There.”
In the Bob Dylan-based fantasia, the actress plays the poet and singer in drag, when Mr. Dylan “was at his most androgynous,” according to Mr. Haynes. The 1966 version of Mr. Dylan, the mysterious figure of D.A. Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Back” and “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” suited Ms. Blanchett, who has been adventurous in movies like Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes,” where she played two versions of herself in deep conversation with each other.
Ms. Blanchett said she inhabited the Dylan character for three weeks.
“I lost a lot of weight and studied the raw footage of his press conferences from that time. Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen gave me a lot to watch.”
If there was one song that helped her get into character, it was “Tombstone Blues,” she said. “It was important to Todd that it be a liberating role, and not just mimicry.”
Asked if she had any ill effects after playing “Bob” for all that time, she smiled and said, “The smoking! I’m not a smoker, and Dylan chain-smoked through the entire thing.”
Last year and this year may well be one of Ms. Blanchett’s busiest periods so far, she said. On top of these two roles, she spent time working on David Fincher’s “The Curious Tale of Benjamin Button” (alongside her “Babel” co-star Brad Pitt) and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
Saturday’s tribute, hosted by critic Leonard Maltin, looked back on a body of work that includes her breakthrough film, “Oscar and Lucinda” (1997), “Elizabeth” (1998), “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” all three “Lord of the Rings” films and “Notes on a Scandal,” which, along with “Elizabeth,” earned her Oscar nominations.
It was 2005’s “The Aviator,” in which she played Katharine Hepburn, that earned Ms. Blanchett her first Oscar.
Ms. Blanchett, visibly pregnant in her green evening dress, took time to meet with fans before the show.
One of them, Matt Wallace, said he was lucky enough to have his festival pass signed by the actress.
“I said congratulations to her,” said Mr. Wallace, who was impressed by the evening. “It’s a really touching tribute. The festival puts a lot of time into these events, and the stars looked very touched by them.”
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