Blanchett has never positioned herself as a fixture on the Hollywood scene. She and her husband, the Australian playwright and screenwriter Andrew Upton, and their two young sons have lived all over in recent years, though mainly in London and Brighton, on England's south coast, an outpost for many expatriate Australians. She comes across as ambivalent about Hollywood stardom. "I think it depends who you're speaking to as to how bright my name shines," she says. "I always feel as though I have one toe in the industry, and that's the way I like it." Enough to have moved back to Sydney recently, where she and Upton signed a three-year renewable contract as joint artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company. "I'm Australian in every sense of the word," she says. "My landscape references, all my internal photographic memories, are from Australia. It's the culture I most want to give back to." Her contract leaves her three months a year to do other things, and Blanchett shows no sign of neglecting her film career. Given the chance, she'd work with some seriously dead directors (Kurosawa, Kieslowski) and some live ones she's already worked with—Scorsese, Soderbergh, Jarmusch and Sam Raimi, with whom she did The Gift.
This year, she resumes her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Kapur's sequel The Golden Age, which examines the monarch's relationship with the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh. She will be one of seven actors representing some aspect of the life and work of Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There. And in 2008, she'll play a young woman in a relationship with an older man who's aging backward in David Fincher's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Pretty good going for someone who insists that she's "never been on the road to anywhere in particular." But those of us who hanker for the golden days when movie stars were shaped by their personalities, not by publicists, would love to see her star shine brighter yet.