As the world yesterday watched Cate Blanchett win her second Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, what people might not know is that she began her acting career here in Egypt.
Back in 1990, Blanchett was 21 years old and traveling the world, when she was forced to leave England as her visa had expired, so she decided to make a stop in Egypt. At her hotel in Cairo, a fellow guest asked if she wanted to be an extra in a movie, as they were looking for someone to play an American pom pom girl.
In an interview with Film Society's Kent Jones, Blanchett explained, “They were looking for someone to play an American. I said, ‘Well, my father is American…’”
“They were going to pay two Egyptian pounds that was going to pay my rent for the week, so I said, ‘Sure,’” she added.
The next day, Blanchett found herself in a crowded scene cheering for an American-looking boxer. She appeared in the Egyptian film called “Kaborya” as an extra, dancing for only a few minutes around Egyptian star Ahmad Zaki while he sang his famous song “Kaborya.”
“This is true. A long time ago in 1990, I did cast Cate Blanchett to act in Khairy Beshara film's Kaborya, and it was her first film. She was very young and visiting Egypt. Guys its true,” said Egyptian director Khaled El Hager in a Facebook post.
Blanchett remembers her experience, however, very negatively. “It was so boring. We were given these pom poms and they were telling us to cheer,” she said.
For her appearance, the Hollywood star was supposed to receive free falafel for her work. “The falafel never came, so I left…” she said, dreading the experience.
However, Blanchett found she couldn’t get away from acting, and she ended up studying in Sydney at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. “It was inescapable,” she says.
“I loved the looseness and freedom. Some ideas, like what you’re going to do with your life, take time to form. When something is a vocation, you don’t really make a decision about it,” Blanchett's website reads.
Her Oscar win was for her performance as a slightly nutty woman in Blue Jasmine film, directed by Woody Allen
As she accepted the award at the Academy Award ceremy, 44-year-old Blanchet looked stunning in a heavily-embellished Armani gown beating out other Oscar contenders Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Judi Dench (Philomena) and veteran Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
"This award means a great deal in a year of extraordinary performances by women," she said in her acceptance speech. "This proves movies about women are not niche – they can be very popular and they can make money!"
Cate also controversially thanked the film director Woody Allen, who has been accused of child molestation and incest by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow.
It is Cate's second Oscar – she won the best supporting actress award in 2004 for her role in The Aviator and was nominated in best actress category in 1998 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth.