Q&A: Cate Blanchett

She arrived with "Elizabeth," and now Cate Blanchett is tackling Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator." The Oscar nominee spoke with a fellow Aussie, NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.

How fabulous a time did you have wearing Hepburn's wardrobe? All those slacks!

I felt completely at home in her persona--in trousers, sweaters and trench coats. Whenever Marty had me in a dress, I felt so out of place.

Does it bug you when people say you are impersonating Hepburn rather than portraying her?

I'll be disappointed if people think it's an impersonation. I suppose that's the assumption because you're playing someone iconic.

There's a moment in the film when Howard Hughes accuses Hepburn of always acting. Can you relate?

I think very few people are interested in the craft of acting, which is actually to demask, to reveal what it is to be human. It's also just a cliche that actors are like that in real life. I'm not. I don't project when I go buy milk.

Can you project whether you'll win an Oscar?

[Laughs] Don't jump the gun! This film was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. If it's well received that will be the biggest relief.

When Scorcese offered you the role, did you say, as a joke, "I'll think about it"?

I played hard to get for about two and a half seconds. No, I was in shock.

He talks so fast. Was he hard to understand?

You get into his rhythm. But I do find that when I'm around people who talk fast, it makes me speak really, really slow.

You were going to be in "Closer" and then you got pregnant and had to drop out. Or were you just feeling sorry for Julia Roberts and thought you'd throw her a bone?

[Laughs] I hear she's fantastic in the film. In the end I think the right thing happens and films get made the way they should.

I read that you like making to-do lists.

It's very satisfying. But I think the greatest thing is vacuuming and the sound of the dirt being sucked up. My vacuum has a clear cylinder so you can actually watch it.

A Disneyland Divorce?

It looks like Harvey Weinstein and Michael Eisner are nearing splitsville. Sources tell NEWSWEEK that Weinstein and his brother, Bob, who run Disney's Miramax subsidiary, are close to an agreement that would end their relationship with Mickey. Sources say the brothers will have to walk away from Miramax, but might take some projects in the pipeline. Apparently they'll also get to keep the name of Bob's Dimension Films, though not its library. Miramax and Disney say that "there are amicable discussions about a variety of scenarios, but there has been no resolution. Any suggestion that there has is simply rumor and speculation." Could Weinstein still balk at signing? "Harvey goes through different stages as to how willing he is to accept this arrangement," says a source. But it looks like he's passed through rage and denial.
--David J. Jefferson

Brokaw: All Tom, All The Time

The ratings were huge: 15.4 million people--about 50 percent more than usual--tuned in for Tom Brokaw's final night in the NBC anchor chair. Glimpses of how friends said goodbye:

'NIGHTLY NEWS' After his signoff, decades-old footage of Bob Hope singing "Thanks for the Memory."

'TODAY' A champagne toast with Matt and Katie at his onetime home.

THE RIVAL ANCHORS Dan Rather called him "one of the best"; channeling Yoda, Peter Jennings noted "friends we are, but compete we do."

THE MASS MEDIA Rush Limbaugh aired the four best-ever Brokaw moments featuring... Rush Limbaugh.

Incredibly Well Read!

So you thought "The Incredibles" was just a kid's movie about superheroes? Fools! Web geeks are contending that Pixar's hit is, in fact, a CGI shout-out to objectivism, a philosophy created by author Ayn Rand that argues for rule by ruthless survival of the most talented. (Right, and the Smurfs were a bunch of commies...) To be fair, the movie is filled with lines such as this one from Mr. Incredible: "They're constantly finding ways to celebrate mediocrity!" One objectivist praised the movie for at last "putting egalitarians on the defensive." Oh, yes, puny egalitarians, the objectivists have you right where they want you now!
--Devin Gordon