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Cate Blanchett Wows Crowd at Santa Barbara International Film Festival Award Presentation

Star of Blue Jasmine describes passion for the acting craft, and the career she thought she would have as an art gallery manager

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The Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented its 2014 Outstanding Performer of the Year Award to Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett on Saturday night at the historic Arlington Theatre

Blanchett looked glamorous as she walked the red carpet in a bejeweled, pleated dress with a matching knee-length beige coat jacket that warded off a chilly Santa Barbara evening. Not in a hurry, she took her time greeting the crowd and taking interviews outside the theater before the on-stage program.

The packed house was not disappointed in the two-hour long interview by veteran film critic Pete Hammond. The interview was accompanied by a well-edited assortment of clips that spanned Blanchett’s body of film work.

The Australian was honored for her performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine at the 29th annual festival. In Blue Jasmine, she portrays Jasmine French, a deeply conflicted and complex woman in the throes of her world unraveling.

“In her first collaboration with master director Woody Allen, Blanchett knocks it out of the park in the best performance of her already illustrious career,” said Roger Durling, the film festival executive director. “We’re so grateful to be able to celebrate her achievement.”

Blanchett took home the 2005 Academy Award for her performance in The Aviator. She was also Oscar-nominated for her work in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I’m Not There and Elizabeth.

In a nod to the festival’s major sponsor, Hammond said, “I never go anywhere without my Uggs. I had no idea they were the sponsor. I guess it is just an Australian night.”

Hammond and Blanchett reminisced that Blanchett had been in Santa Barbara in 2008 to receive the film festival’s Modern Master’s Award. That was the same year that she received Oscar nominations for best actress and best supporting actress in the same year.

Since then, however, Blanchett has gone back to her roots to work in live theater in Sydney, Australia, where she is raising three sons.

During the Q&A, Blanchett revealed how she came to return to film after a six-year hiatus.

“I got a call from Woody Allen,” she said. “It was very short. He told me about this movie (Blue Jasmine) and that I should come to San Francisco. I was told that he wrote the role for me, but I didn’t know that at the time. I accepted the part.

“Woody Allen is so amazing. He has an impeccable sense of rhythm.”

Hammond asked Blanchett how she came to get into film.

“When I was young I loved getting dressed up,” she explained. “I think I was a bit of an exhibitionist. But I was interested in the arts and studied economics in college. I thought I might become manager of art gallery.”

Blanchett said she got into acting as a vocation, but her outlook quickly changed.

“It’s not just a career it’s a passion,” she said.

Blanchett received a standing ovation when presented with the film festival award.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival continues Sunday and runs through Feb. 9.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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