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Cate Blanchett shares rare insight into married life with director husband Andrew Upton

The Australian actor shares four children with director Andrew Upton

Andrew Upton, Cate Blanchett at InStyle Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 23 Oct 2017© John Salangsang/BFA/Shutterstock
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
March 17, 2024
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Cate Blanchett, one of the most gifted and successful film stars of her generation, has portrayed characters ranging from Queen Elizabeth I to an elf queen. But for her latest role, the actress returned to her roots to work in the Australian Outback alongside her husband. 

The star plays a renegade nun in The New Boy, which is set in 1940s Australia. It tells the story of a nine-year-old orphaned Aboriginal child who arrives in the dead of night at the remote monastery where she is in charge. Cate, 54, and her theatre director husband Andrew Upton, 58, are among the movie’s co-producers and worked closely together during filming. Yet she had no qualms about spending so much time with her spouse, whom she married in 1997 and with whom she has four children.

"For us it works, although at first people looked at us in horror, like: 'How could you be with one another 24/7?'" she says. "We do argue, but in a constructive way that has good creative results. But we’ve always worked together. We’ve been married a long time, so something is working."

WATCH: Cate Blanchett stars in The New Boy

Cate started acting more than 30 years ago with the Sydney Theatre Company. She has since won Academy Awards for her role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, and has a star, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Cate smiling with her husband Andrew Upton © Getty
Cate and her husband Andrew Upton have been married since 1997

She says she was delighted to be back working in Australia, having overcome an initial obstacle in the fact that her character Sister Eileen was originally written for a man. 

"That came about through my husband and I being desperate to work with Warwick Thornton, a director we have long admired," she says. "We were speaking to Warwick about doing something and that’s when he mentioned the script he had been working on with [writer] Kath Shelper.

"The script was incredible, but the main character was a priest rather than a nun. It was Andrew who suggested that switch and now here we are. It was wonderful to go home and to work with an Australian director who really understands the country and really speaks to Australians as well as an international audience."

Cate Blanchett stars as a nun
Cate Blanchett stars as a nun in The New Boy

The "new boy" of the film’s title is an Indigenous child played by Aswan Reid, in his first acting role. "Aswan is incredible – we couldn't have made the film without him," Cate says.

"This is his first role and he’s in every single scene. He had never so much as been on a film set before this, but he had so much discipline and curiosity about everything that was happening around him. I think his performance is incredible."

She says her instinct as a mum kicked in during the shoot, when she took Aswan under her wing. "I have four kids, three of them boys, so I couldn’t help it. I loved working with not only Aswan, but all the boys in the monastery. They were extraordinary. Everyone on set fell in love with them all. "Their families were with them because this was rural South Australia and we were all away from home, so we looked after each other," she says.

cate blanchett husband children everything you need to know© Photo: Getty Images
Cate and Andrew share four children

"We were staying in a little mining town so there wasn’t anything to do. But Warwick did this wonderful thing with Nick Meyer, our editor. Every Friday, they gave a masterclass on editing, so the kids could see themselves up on screen and understand the process of filming from so many angles and using so many takes.

"Sometimes they would cut the footage together like a tragedy, or the next time might be a comedy. Everyone loved it."

And having enthused about the technical process, Cate reveals that she enjoys being behind the camera, rather than in front of it. "I'm always trying to get out of the acting," she says with a laugh. "It’s almost a relief for me if I don’t have to act.

cate blanchett husband children everything you need to know edith© Photo: Getty Images
Cate with her daughter in 2017

"I remember when Andrew and I were running the Sydney Theatre Company – if it was a show we had produced, I had a profound sense of relief in wishing the actors good luck before they went out on stage.

"Maybe one day I will direct, but it’s all a matter of time, because projects take so long to develop. I also have four children and a garden, so it’s a lot."


The New Boy is in cinemas from Friday.

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