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Blanchett's 'Golden Age'

Globe and Mail Update

TORONTO — Cate Blanchett and director Shekar Kapur last brought Queen Elizabeth to Toronto in the 1998 film, Elizabeth, that earned seven Oscar nominations.

Now they've returned with the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which has its premiere Sunday night. Comparing the famed queen to contemporary politicians, Blanchett noted that “she travelled even less than George Bush.”

In an odd way, said Blanchett the Virgin Queen had some parallels to the late Princess Di: “The account emphasize how she would walk among the people with very little guard and how they adored her”, though “politically and psychologically” the two women were quite different.

Kapur, who directed both films, said that the historical distance provided a kind of “blank” space and he counted on the actors to create the “psychological and political” reality of what the characters said. “Without great actors, I have nothing.”

Geoffrey Rush, who returns as Elizabeth's adviser, Sir Frances Walsingham, from the previous movie gave an example: “I remember on the first film we went into this room and Shekar told us to find a place where we felt comfortable. Some things were obvious, of course, the Queen wasn't going to stand in the corner so she stood in an important place. I found a place to stand slightly out of the scene and then Shekar said, ‘There's a Gothic arch behind you which adds a visual pressure to the shot' It was all that elemental really. I'm the sort of person who waves and flaps his arms about a lot in real life but I felt my character was quite still, with the intensity working on an internal, mental level.”

The new movie also stars Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, the poet, explorer and courtier who caused Her Royal Knees to tremble. Said Kapur: “He was a man who lived his dreams but she was trapped within her power and couldn't live hers.”

Clive Owen lived up to Sir Walter Raleigh's dashing reputation in his comments about Toronto, in contrast to events such as Cannes which are essentially for press and industry: “This is a festival where the people who live here are coming to see these movies. That's what a film festival should be.”

Kapur noted that, being of South Asian descent was no disadvantage in Toronto because he gets preferable treatment from South Asian taxi drivers and waiters in his hotel.

“I get my breakfast served first.”

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