Cate Blanchett

One of Australia's greatest exports, she's made her name taking on versatile roles in some of the decade's biggest films, including the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Who will she become next?

Catherine Elise Blanchett was born to Robert Blanchett, an American naval officer, and June, an Australian schoolteacher.

One of three children (she has an older brother, Bob, and a younger sister Genevive), Cate was raised by her mother following her father's death from a heart attack when she was 10. She has described her childhood as normal, while seeing herself as "part extrovert, part wallflower".

It was this extroverted side that gave her an early passion for music and drama. Attending Melbourne's Methodist Ladies College, she became the school drama captain, appearing in many shows such as The Odyssey Of Runyon Jones, and even directing her fellow students in a production of They Shoot Horses, Don't They?. From here, she moved on to Melbourne University to study Fine Arts and Economics, but soon left to travel around the world before deciding upon a career.

After returning to her homeland, she enrolled in Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art. She graduated in 1992 and planned to pursue a career in theatre. She won almost instant acclaim, playing Felice Bauer in Timothy Daly's Kafka Dances and winning the 1993 Newcomer Award from the Sydney Theatre Critics' Circle for her performance.

From there, she went on to star alongside Geoffrey Rush in the 1993 David Mamet play Oleanna. Two years later, she was nominated for Best Female Performance for her turn as Ophelia in the Belvoir Street Theatre Company's production of Hamlet.

Cate’s early career wasn’t restricted to the stage. After a couple of television appearances she took on Heartland, a controversial drama in which she played divorcee Beth Ashton, who conducts an affair with an Aborigine Liaison Officer. She received widespread acclaim for a performance which brought bigotry into the spotlight in Australia. Heartland was described as ABC's "most significant production to date".

Next came a role in the short-lived series Bordertown, set in a 1950s migrant camp populated by European immigrants. However, she made her film debut as a nurse captured by the Japanese during World War II in the drama Paradise Road, before going on to star opposite Ralph Fiennes in the sublimely surreal Oskar & Lucinda.

In 1997, while playing Nina in Chekov's The Seagull, she met screenwriter and continuity editor Andrew Upton. The pair soon married and subsequently had two sons Dashiell John, named after the crime writer Hammett, and Roman Robert.

Her first high-profile role came a year later when she played Elizabeth I of England in the 1998 feature Elizabeth. The part earned her a Golden Globe Award and British Academy Award (Bafta) for best actress, although she lost out on an Oscar to Gwyneth Paltrow.

The following year, Blanchett was nominated for another Bafta award for her supporting role in The Talented Mr Ripley. Work quickly followed in the form of the well-received Pushing Tin and horror tale The Gift.

In 2001, she starred in Bandits with Bruce Willis, before embarking on her biggest yet least challenging part, when she appeared as the elf queen Galadriel in Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy (2001-2003).

Tougher was the role of Charlotte Gray, an adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ bestseller, where she played a young Scot who joins the French resistance to save her RAF boyfriend who's been shot down over France. Unfortunately the movie – which was the most expensive British film ever made – was a failure at the box office.

Undaunted, Blanchett moved on to star alongside Kevin Spacey in The Shipping News, based on the novel by E. Annie Proulx. The story centers on Quoyle, a New York journalist. Shortly after the suicide of his parents, Quoyle's unfaithful and abusive wife Petal sells their daughters to a child pornographer and attempts to leave the city and her husband.

The diversity of her work continued in 2003, when she took the title role in the true story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin and her campaign against Dublin's major drug dealers. The film, directed by Joel Schumacher, opened with Guerin's assassination in 1996 and then retraced her path to this point.

Parts in a number of successful movies followed, including Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic, the satirical tale of a Jacques Cousteau-style documentary maker; and Martin Scorsese’s biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator. Cate would face the challenge of delivering a believable Katherine Hepburn.

2006 proved to be a fairytale year for the Australian actress, as all three of her films were Oscar-nominated. First came Babel, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's searing analysis of humans under pressure. Blanchett appeared alongside Brad Pitt as tourists in Morocco trying to get over the loss of a baby. This was followed by her role as a prostitute in Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German, which was set in Berlin during World War II. Her final movie of the year was Notes On A Scandal. Here she played a pottery teacher married to older man Bill Nighy, who slips into an affair with a 15-year-old pupil.

2007 saw the multi-talented actress reprise her role as Elizabeth I in the sequel titled Elizabeth: the Golden Age. The film tells the story of one woman's crusade to control love, crush enemies and secure her position as a beloved icon of the western world.

The actress received two Academy Award nominations in 2007 – Best Actress for Elizabeth: the Golden Age and Best Supporting Actress for the film I'm Not There. Blanchett became only the 11th actor ever to receive two Oscar nominations in the same year.

In 2008, the Australian star appeared alongside Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She was later that year presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The following year, she was honoured in her home country when her face appeared on a postage stamp as part of a collection featuring actors who have made an "outstanding contribution they have made to Australian entertainment and culture".

Blanchett starred opposite Russell Crowe in a remake of the film Robin Hood in 2010. She took on the role of Lady Marian in the film, which was produced and directed by Ridley Scott.

It was announced in 2011 that the star was to reprise her role as Galadriel in the new movie trilogy based on the book The Hobbit.