There could be no mistaking the star of the show when How To Train Your Dragon 2 premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
Australia’s dual Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett is only a new addition to the animated DreamWorks franchise but she was the clear the centre of attention in the French Riviera on Friday.
Hours before gracing the red carpet in a stunning metallic Givenchy number, Blanchett sat on a star-studded panel of cast members at a press conference for the international film media.
She found herself in high demand, with 11 of the 14 questions from the floor directed at the Blue Jasmine star.
Reporters applauded as Blanchett entered the room before quizzing the 45-year-old about everything from motherhood, politics and sexism to the film itself.
Some exchanges were downright bizarre but, typically, Blanchett handled it all with grace and humour.
At times she had the room, including her co-stars, in stitches.
A discussion about motherhood took a strange twist when a Latin American reporter asked Blanchett if she let her three young children play with her Oscar statues.
“Yes, every day. Mummy sits them down and I get my two Oscars out and I let them stroke them for 15 minutes before they go to school, if they’re good,” Blanchett quipped.
In another comical exchange, one Colombian journalist asked: “How do you train your dragon?”, to which Blanchett replied: “I don’t know if I want to answer that in public.”
Later, a proposal of sorts came from a Bangladeshi reporter, who invited Blanchett to visit his country.
“I’ll give you my number,” Blanchett replied.
“Can I stay with you and her wife? I’ll train her dragon.
“We should probably have this conversation in private later. Come on, it’s a children’s film.”
On more serious matters, Blanchett spoke out against gender inequality and also hit out at arts cuts in the Australian federal budget.
How to Train Your Dragon 2, the follow-up to DreamWorks’ 2010 3D animation hit, has been greeted with positive reviews in Cannes, hailed for its humour, emotional depth and stunning visuals.
Blanchett voices new character Valka, a reclusive vigilante from the Arctic and the mother of the story’s teenage protagonist Hiccup (Jay Baruchel).
Writer/director Dean DeBlois wrote the part with Blanchett in mind and “ambushed her” at a chance meeting at the Academy Awards in 2011 to offer her the part.
“It’s a gift to to be offered a part like this, my children and I adored the first film,” Blanchett said.
Voice work on the film, which also stars Jonah Hill, Gerard Butler and Game of Thrones favourite Kit Harington, has been ongoing for almost four years and Blanchett has relished the change from live action work.
“As an actor, you’re used to using your body and your face to communicate,” said Blanchett.
“But when you can only do it through your voice and you’re doing it in tandem with the most extraordinary state-of-the art animation – I’ve found it an intriguing ride.”
The film is released in Australian on June 19 and the franchise’s third instalment is already in the works.