Cate Blanchett returns to theater, makes Broadway debut in 'The Present'

Sandy Kenyon Image
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
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Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has the latest details.

TIMES SQUARE, New York (WABC) -- Cate Blanchett might be associated with movies, but the actress has a long history with theater. And this month, she's back in New York City bringing new life to an old story.

Her co-star in "The Present" is Richard Roxburgh, both one of her oldest friends and one of Australia's biggest stars, and together they appear in a play adapted by her husband as part of a theater company the couple once ran together.

The show is copacetic for her, but she doesn't want it to be too comfortable. After all, she is the rare star who is equally at home on Oscar's red carpet as she is on stage. Still, one guiding principle determines what she does next.

"I think the more one's perceived to achieve, the more you have to risk," she said.

She never set out to be a movie star, originally wanting to be a great stage actress. And yet, despite performing all around the city, she has never appeared on Broadway.

"I'm nervous, of course," she said. "But mostly, I'm excited."

"The Present" was adapted from Chekov by her husband, Andrew Upton.

"It's like a bad weekend barbecue, with a bunch of people you've gone to high school with," she said. "Many of whom you love, and a lot of whom you don't like at all."

This version, set in Russia during the 1990s, was first performed by the Sydney Theater Company, where the couple served as artistic directors.

"A lot of people looked at us in horror when we said we were going to do the job together," she said.

But their marriage survived and prospered.

"It made our marriage deeper and richer," he said.

The play is directed by John Crowley, who made the movie "Brooklyn" and who has known the actress for the better part of a decade.

The star, who earned her second Oscar for playing a character inspired by Bernie Madoff's wife Ruth in "Blue Jasmine," is happiest outside her comfort level.

"I think it's good to be terrified," she said.

Blanchett is proud to represent Australia on stage with an Australian company of actors from Sydney, where she has lived much of her life. But her late father hailed from Texas.