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Cast The Film
As the story is about Elizabeth, it was, of course, essential to secure Cate Blanchett in the part. "Without Cate as Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age could not have been made,” Kapur simply states.

Interestingly enough, the Oscar® winner and prolific Blanchett was not immediately attracted to the idea of returning to the role. Kapur and Rush campaigned Blanchett over dinner, and it was only later that she agreed to portray the ruler once again. Blanchett explains, "It helped, however, when I played Hedda Gabler in a production in Sydney, and then again 18 months later in New York. I had a sense that through returning to a role, you can delve deeper into it.

"I've learned much more about filmmaking since Elizabeth,” the actor continues. "That said, it is a tricky role and there are times when I thought I've got it all wrong and I wanted to start again. I think that's the testament to a really powerful, complex character—there are an infinite number of ways you can approach her…and because film is temporal, this is the way we chose to do it at the time. Elizabeth is a character who continues to fascinate people; it's why so many versions of her life have been told. What is revealed about her depends on where you shine the light.”

"For Cate,” Kapur acknowledges, "this is a far more challenging part, where she is much more active than reactive—Elizabeth is now far more complex. Cate has given a performance that maintains the vulnerability she expressed in Elizabeth, but now, it is underneath the surface of this much stronger woman.”

The concept of appearances—literally, that Elizabeth I lived and reigned at the center of a theatrical stage—is one of the things that intrigued Blanchett: "Elizabeth explored denial, what one had to extricate from oneself in order to lead. She made herself into an icon, an image that she polished and honed for political ends…and I surmise for emotional protection. The journey of The Golden Age, in many ways, is about acceptance. What I have tried to do in this film is to create a sense of a hollow woman—without a companion, a husband, a child—searching for what replaces that void.

"Elizabeth had a vigilant sense of self-control,” Blanchett continues. "She was very controlling about her image. What the film deals with, among other themes, is that as she began to age, her availability to be married and form alliances with other countries—a very powerful weapon—was ebbing away. Her physical attractiveness and ability to bear children was questioned. It deals with the political pressure, as well as pressure from within. Things that she's kept suppressed for so long come flooding to the surface, especially in the relationship she forms with Raleigh.”

For Blanchett, her relationship with Raleigh proved to be the most motivating aspect of stepping back into the role. As the script began to evolve, an exploration of a love triangle that develops among Elizabeth, Raleigh and Bess was brought to the fore. Another draw for the leading lady was the opportunity to re-team with director Kapur. "We connect,” she shares. "We always understand where one another is coming from. He comes up with ways of entering a scene which are completely unique, but at the same time, he is intensely collaborative and genuinely loves what actors bring to the scene. He will reshape a scene around a moment an actor brings, if it feels right.”

Supplies Kapur: "Cate has a remarkable combination of talent, control, understanding, intellect and emotion. These qualities—along with incredible discipline—allow her to seamlessly shift between different sides of the character she plays. I've never seen her when she's not at work on the role. She works all the time. If she has two minutes off, she'll be listening to her lines on tape, and thinking about them. She's unbeatable.”

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