Shekhar Kapur says studio wanted a star for 1998 film Elizabeth, not Cate Blanchett: ‘I had to go with my heart’

Shekhar Kapur has revealed he fought against producers to cast Cate Blanchett - an unknown actor then - in his 1998 film Elizabeth.
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth in Shekhar Kapur’s film.
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth in Shekhar Kapur’s film.
Updated on Jul 19, 2020 10:56 AM IST
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Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur has shared the experience of making his first Hollywood film, Elizabeth and how not bowing down to the pressure of having a star feature in the lead role led to a star like Cate Blanchett being born. Released in 1998, the British biographical drama had Cate essaying the role of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

He wrote early Sunday, “Elizabeth was my first Hollywood film. I had noticed an unknown girl called Cate Blanchett who I wanted to play Elizabeth. My agent said Studio wanted a star and if I kept insisting on an unknown actor, they will replace me. I said i had to go with my heart. The rest is history.”


Shekhar’s tweet comes in the midst of a debate about the chances the film industry gives to relatively unknown talents. It all began when R Balki said in an interview with Hindustan Times, about the issue of nepotism in Bollywood, “The question is do they (star kids) have an unfair or bigger advantage? Yes, there are pros and cons. But I’d ask one simple question: Find me a better actor than Alia (Bhatt) or Ranbir (Kapoor), and we’ll argue. It’s unfair on these few people who’re probably some of the finest actors.”

Among a host of artists and filmmakers listing their own favourite talents outside of the traditional film families, Shobha De also tweeted Saturday, “Wake up, Bollywood!!! The real, bona fide talent is on the web. Amazing performances and scripts. Nobody cares about Bollywood’ s chosen few any longer. Agree, Shekhar? @shekharkapur #Bollywood.” While Shekhar simply RT-ed the tweet, he posted the tweet on Elizabeth just hours later.

Also read: Neena Gupta reveals she took inspiration from Priyanka Chopra to fly to Los Angeles for an audition. Watch

Shekhar had earlier written in separate tweets, “Have huge respect for you, Balki. But i just saw Kai Po Che again last night. Three new young actors at that time. And stunning believable performances by each. “



He also tweeted, “Best actors today are coming from theatre. Theres new found respect for them. And confidence. I’ve worked with Naseer, Shabana,Satish Kaushik, Seema Biswas and entire cast of Bandit Queen, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Heath Ledger Daniel Craig Eddy Redmayne All are from theatre.”

Shekhar’s Elizabeth was written by Michael Hirst and also featured Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant, and Richard Attenborough. The film opened to wide critical acclaim and holds an approval rating of 82% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

About working with Shekhar, Cate had told PTI in 2015, “I am a passionate lover of history. I was passionate about the history of the Elizabeth. Shekhar is also like that. He was more excited about the fact that an Indian and Australian, who were once colonised by British, are recreating their history. We had many healthy and productive fights. I think when everyone is in agreement, creative art can be a little bit monotonous. But I must say that meeting and working with Shekhar is the turning point of my career.”

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Saturday, November 27, 2021