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OF all the many roles in her prolific career actress Cate Blanchett has definitely found the one that suits her most - motherhood.

The 34-year-old says having baby son Dashiell is the best thing that's happened to her, and even her hectic work schedule won't stand in the way of being a hands-on mum.

'I don't think there's a point in having children and have someone else raise them,' she points out. 'It takes away a lot of the pleasure for a start. Life itself is a constant juggling act, not just being a parent. But as much as I love my work, my life is more important.'

Blanchett also admits she'll happily turn down roles if it means being separated for too long from her screenwriter husband Andrew Upton, who she describes as her soul mate.

But despite her idyllically happy home life the Oscar nominated star isn't taking it too easy on the work front. In fact the first film she chose to make after Dashiell's birth in December 2001, is the hard-hitting and very violent true-life story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin.

The Dublin-based reporter made international headlines herself when she was gunned down and killed in 1996, after her investigative reports exposed and named some of Ireland's most powerful drug barons.

In order to portray the violent world Guerin encountered, Blanchett had to portray some pretty harrowing scenes, including one in which she is viciously beaten up by evil, gangland boss John Gilligan, played by Gerard McSorley in the movie.

'When you're doing a stunt like that it becomes incredibly technical and you talk about it in a technical way.

'However I did connect one time,' she adds rubbing her chin at the memory of the swift right hook she received from McSorley. 'But I was pleased, because it had to be done in a confronting way. It was raining, it was shot on gravel, I was wearing a very thin suit and so I couldn't wear any padding underneath, but that all goes to make it incredibly realistic.'

The reason the ethereal and very slender Blanchett was so eager to roll with the punches is that she became passionate about Veronica Guerin's story.

'I think we're living in very cowardly times where to actually stand up in public and say, 'I think this, I'm prepared to fight for this,' people think, 'What an idiot',' she explains.

'I think that it's such an ink blot test about what we think is important now and here's a woman who stands up and fights for what she believes in, but she's considered reckless and an irresponsible parent.'

Guerin's son Cathal was just six when she was murdered and many critics felt the journalist put her work before her little boy. Blanchett disagrees.

'People ask how she could have continued after being punched in the face and her son's life being threatened. But her newspaper gave her an option, they said you can either write the story or you can press charges, she pressed charges.

'She took Gilligan to court and they let him off, so what's a girl to do? And on a moral, existential level, what is she saying to her son - that it's OK to let them get away with it?

'What kind of world is she then creating for her son?'

The Australian-born star became so immersed in her on-screen character, she spent a month in Dublin prior to the shoot meeting friends, family and work-colleagues of Guerin.

'I learned she was a phenomenal life force. Everyone has opinions about her and that is an incredible positive for me as an actor.'

Blanchett even found herself becoming a bit of a football expert as Guerin was a keen sportswoman and huge Manchester United fan.

'There's a scene where I have to have a kick about and the director Joel Schumacher told me I had a bit of license because I'd just been shot in the leg,' she laughs.

'I did meet with a soccer guy because I am so not a sportswoman, and he showed me a few tricks.'

Her new skills are yet another example of Blanchett's dedication to her roles. This is the actress who happily took on gruelling military training when she was a few months pregnant for the movie Charlotte Grey and last year even shaved off her luxurious blonde locks for Heaven.

Next up the star's chameleon- like qualities will be put to the test again when she plays movie legend Katharine Hepburn in the new Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator.

'There isn't an actress alive who hasn't got an enormous amount of admiration for her work. It will be a singular challenge to represent someone whose job was to invent characters on screen.'

But, however eager she is about her latest challenge, it's clearly not nearly as exciting as rushing back to her little man.

'A child changes absolutely everything,' she smiles. 'The perspective it gives you is extraordinary. I'm very grateful to have that perspective.'
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 3, 2003
Previous Article:BADGER.

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