Why Cate Blanchett Always Looks Amazing

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07_-48431_bPhoto: Courtesy of SK-II.
We try really hard not to geek out like fangirls when we meet celebrities — it is part of our jobs, after all. But sitting knee-to-knee with the divine Cate Blanchett in a hotel room in Milan makes it impossible to not freak out and gush embarrassing things like, "You have the skin of a thousand angel wings."

To her credit, Blanchett handled our display of extreme affection with absolute grace, class, and poise —but we would have expected nothing less from the stunning star. Blanchett, who is the face of SK-II, was there to promote the brand's limited-edition holiday gift: a deluxe Facial Treatment Essence embossed with a signature print featuring Swarovski Elements’ Xilion-cut crystal that will launch later this month at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Blanchett has been a fan and loyal user of the brand's Treatment Essence for over a decade, and just looking at her skin up close was enough to make us want to dump our current routine and take daily baths in it (that's a work expense, right?). Seriously, we had to physically restrain ourselves from reaching out to touch her face.

When we finally managed to stop creepily staring at her glowing complexion, we did manage to choke out a few questions. Click through to see her thoughts on the Oscar race, why the next big thing in fashion isn't all it's cracked up to be, and the embarrassing beauty habit she's guilty of.
rexusa_1777145lPhoto: BEImages/Gregory Pace.
You've been a loyal user of SK-II for years. What do you say to the women who think spending that kind of money on a skin-care product is insane?
"I think it's because they’ve used expensive products in the past that haven’t worked. They get sold something from a fashion perspective rather than the perspective of it being scientifically proven. Whereas the science behind SK-II, and I can say this because I’ve been using it for 11 years, the science behind it is amazing. And, they’re constantly testing it. It works. The thing with the Essence is that it works on the radiance and the clarity as well as hydrating your skin, so it's kind of three products in one. I just say, if you haven’t tried it before, just get through the bottle and then you’ll be hooked."

Something else we've seen over the years is the mistrust of celebrity endorsements. People feel like they can't trust celeb recommendations anymore because they feel inauthentic. What are your thoughts on that?
"People are smart — they know when they’re being marketed to and they know when something is real. I think any endorsement that I’ve been a part of, it's come out of a relationship and what I personally love. SK-II approached me 10 years ago — it's pretty unusual to have a relationship with a skin-care brand for that long. They had heard that I had been using it, because it wasn’t in the West yet. That’s what piqued their interest, not who I was necessarily — obviously, it’s a compliment when someone likes your skin. But, they had heard that I had already known about it, so the relationship has continued in an authentic way because it began in an authentic way."

One of the SK-II execs was telling us how you have absolutely no shame wandering around in the full-face sheet masks.
"I’ve been doing it for so long — you know when you’ve been doing something for a really long time and it just becomes habit? You don’t even recognize that it’s an odd thing to do anymore."

Does anyone give you a weird look?
"I did get a weird look from my neighbor the other day. I put them in the freezer and I’d put an eye mask on really early in the morning. I took the kids to school, walked them to school, and I had my sunglasses on. I came back and I was talking to my neighbor and he was looking at me very strange and then he asked me if I had hurt myself. And, I realized, I had them on."

Switching gears, we have to talk about Blue Jasmine. Everyone is buzzing about it and coming off of that and a Streetcar Named Desire — how do you prepare yourself for those intense roles?
"Having played Blanche DuBois, when we took it to New York, I had assumed that everyone had seen it and that’s why [Woody Allen] was offering me the role. Obviously, the roles are entirely different and his film pays off in a very different way — the texture of his writing is so different. I think every great role that you play, whether it's Elizabeth I or Hedda Gabler or Blanche, they expand you and they make biting off more than you think you can chew the next time more possible. So, in a way I don’t think I could have played Jasmine unless I’d played Blanche and Hedda and all of those great roles in the theatre. She’s such a theatrical character that it means that what you’ve got in your arsenal — you can throw more stuff at it. I think it expands your sense of what’s possible and perhaps your bravery."

And how do you come down from such an intense, emotionally draining performance like that?
"Well, I’ve got three boys — they’re a great, great leveler. So, I went home every night feeling deeply sad for Jasmine’s plight because I knew I had a family and a life to go home to, whereas she doesn’t."
BFA_6666_774165_rPhoto: Matteo Prandoni/BFANYC.com.
There's been a lot of buzz about your role being an Oscar contender. When you think about the Oscars, where does your mind go for red carpet? What's your fashion strategy?
"I don’t think about a strategy to tell you the truth. It’s like my career: Maybe that’s why I’ve enjoyed it so much — I’ve never tried to get anywhere in particular. I remember I had a director friend who said to me about 10 years ago, 'You’ve got to stop taking small roles.' And, I said, 'But that was the role I was interested in.' Sometimes you can experiment under the radar with something if you’re not carrying the film. And, I’m only interested in experimenting; I’m not interested in achieving anything in particular. If you have a success with something — and I’m not talking about a success that’s measured by other people — my sense of success is often quite different. [Success] is a wonderful byproduct, but it's never to get anywhere in particular; I don’t have a strategy. Maybe that’s why some people like what I wear and some people don’t — it’s what happens in the moment."

You always manage to surprise us (in a good way!) on the red carpet. When everyone else is doing jewel-tone mermaid gowns, you come out in some unique, interesting creations.
"It’s like anything: You can’t make a film when there are too many voices, you can’t do a collection if there’s too many people trying to make it safe and trying to make it sellable. You can’t make anything worth anything out of a formula. It has to be risky, there has to be a sense of adventure and experiment in it."

Are there any up-and-coming designers or established designers you really like right now who are doing that?
"I’m really excited to see what Jason Wu is going to do, always. Prabal [Gurung] is really interesting, and Christopher Kane is doing some really amazing stuff. What Raf [Simons] is doing at Dior, what Karl [Lagerfeld] is doing at Fendi. Mr. Armani is constantly reinventing the wheel — there’s always something new to look at. And, it’s not always the up-and-coming designers — often you get a complete surprise by a gown or a collection from a really established designer. That’s what I really admire. Fashion is always so obsessed with the next thing, but when someone who’s mid-career or late career is still doing something amazing — look at Bruce Dern or Judi Dench or Meryl Streep— and you’re still pushing yourself...that’s amazing."

We read that you work with your husband on occasion — is that stressful or is it like a dream come true?
"We’ve been running the Sydney Theatre Company together for five years, but he’s now doing it by himself. People would look at us with horror, saying how could you do that? But it’s so easy because we can be direct. I think we balance each other out. We net out the jobs quite naturally. Sometimes it’s a military operation, between home life and work life, but it’s actually been great."

How do you keep those separate?
"You don’t — you can’t."

If you have a disagreement at work, when you bring it home, is there any sort of like a mutual understanding of we aren’t going to talk about this here?
"We often say, 'It’s time to stop talking about this now.' Or we’re going out to dinner and we’re not going to talk about the children, we’re not going to talk about the theatre. But, in the end, we do end up talking about that stuff because it's what interests us."

Are there any beauty looks, if you had your druthers and you could do whatever and no one was watching, that you would try?
"I’ve done a lot — shaved my head, which I loved. Sally Hawkins is about to do Paddington and she got a perm — I went, 'Wow, that’s kinda great.'"



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