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Born Catherine Élise Blanchett in Melbourne, Australia, on May 14, 1969, Cate Blanchett began making a name for herself in theater soon after graduating from Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992. She quickly won roles with the Sydney Theater Company, first in its production of Top Girls and then in Kafka Dances. For her latter performance, Blanchett won the Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Newcomer Award in 1993. She also received critical acclaim for roles in the theater productions of Hamlet, The Tempest and The Seagull.
Blanchett went on to land various parts on Australian and American television series, and then made her feature film debut in 1997's Paradise Road. Later that year, she grabbed Hollywood's attention with her performance opposite Ralph Fiennes in Oscar and Lucinda (1997). In 1998, Blanchett's Golden Globe-winning portrayal of England's Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth earned the actress her first Academy Award nomination. She was 29 years old at the time.
Blanchett turned in a superb supporting performance in 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley, a film also featuring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. In 2000, she starred as a psychic woman in a small Southern town in the thriller The Gift, starring alongside Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear. The following year, Blanchett co-starred with Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton in the comic caper Bandits, and with Kevin Spacey and Julianne Moore in The Shipping News. Additionally, she headlined the World War II-era drama Charlotte Gray, playing a British woman who is drawn into the French resistance movement.
The following year, Blanchett appeared the first installment of The Lord of the Rings franchise, directed by Peter Jackson and based on the novel by author J.R.R. Toklien; she played the royal elf Galadriel in The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). Blanchett returned to the character for the second and third installments of the film trilogy (reuniting with Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler, among other recurring Lord of the Rings cast members): The Two Towers, released in 2002, and The Return of the King, released in 2003.
In 2005, Blanchett garnered her biggest cinematic accolade to date; she earned an Academy Award (best actress in a supporting role) for her portrayal of the legendary Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator.
Two years later, Blanchett returned to one of her most famous characters, Queen Elizabeth I, in the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). Picking up a later chapter in the life of Elizabeth I, the film explores how the queen handled threats to her rule and her relationship with explorer Sir Walter Raleigh.
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Explore our collection of Best Supporting Actress Oscar winners, including Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie, Penelope Cruz, Octavia Spencer, Juliette Binoche, Marisa Tomei and Whoopi Goldberg. View full biographies, photos and videos, only at Biography.com.
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Truth is often more fascinating than fiction. Since the beginning of movies, actors have been portraying figures from history and bringing them to life on screen. Mastering the well-known mannerisms and characteristics of real world figures can be more challenging than portraying a fictional character. Enormous amounts of research and drastic physical transformations are not uncommon for actors wanting to properly inhabit their role on film. Whether playing a scheming Queen, a country singer, a temperamental boxer, or a pioneering writer, those performers who can accurately play the part often find Oscar gold as their reward. Here are the Academy Award-winning actors, and the larger-than-life people they portrayed.
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