Playing Hela was hella of fun for Blanchett
Thor: Ragnarok star loved beating people up in film
Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett entered new territory when she signed on to play goddess of death Hela in Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok.
"I got a call from my agent who said (Marvel Studios president and producer) Kevin Feige wanted to send me a package," recalled the 48-year-old Australian.
"I was trying to play cool, but I was so excited because you don't get offered these things often.
"Then after doing a little bit of research, I realised there had not yet been a female villainess in one of the Marvel movies before. I felt the role could be really exciting."
Currently showing here, Thor: Ragnarok sees Thor (Chris Hemsworth) being imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer.
He finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok - the destruction of his home and end of Asgardian civilisation - at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela.
This was the most physical role Blanchett has ever taken on.
She said: "I am pretty physical when I am on stage. Indiana Jones (And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull) was quite physical. But in terms of hand-to-hand combat, this definitely wins. And that is part of what I have relished actually.
"I enjoyed working with Zoe Bell, who is the most extraordinary stunt person and also a wonderful actor...
"Some of the happiest times on this film for me have been beating people up.
"I was like, 'Oh, I don't have to speak today. I can just throw axes into someone's gut and decapitate that person there'. So, it has been good."
On playing such a fantastical character, Blanchett said: "You can be mysterious... but also give enough information of the back story so you understand why the character does what she or he does, because I think the best villains are those that you kind of love but hate what they do.
"You sort of understand it. There is a logic to it. They are just not completely nuts.
"There is an incredible, fantastic element to Hela but you still want an outline of a person in there that people can grasp onto."
Bringing Hela to life on screen was a collaboration between Blanchett and New Zealand director Taika Waititi.
"I liked that Taika was really open to all the possibilities of her," said Blanchett.
"We agreed that we did not want her to be predictable, and we were open to the random sides of her.
"What Taika and I spoke about really early on was trying to give Hela a bit of a journey, from someone who has literally been locked under the Asgardian stairs, and rather cross for quite a number of millennia, to someone who is set on killing people."
Many large and detailed sets were built for Thor: Ragnarok, and their effect on the actors was not lost on Blanchett.
"Sets give you so much. The wonderful thing about them is that on one side, they look like they have always been there. Then on the other side you realise it is all smoke and mirrors.
"But I was really surprised actually at how constructed and built the world was.
"When we went up to the Asgardian plaza set, it had a river running through it.
"It looked like it should be a hotel in Dubai. I wanted to get a room. But what is ingenious about it is that it is a ring with steps, like an amphitheatre. But it is completely malleable.
"So every time I have gone up there, we are in a different place. It is incredibly ingenious the way the whole thing has been put together, so that you can shoot it from many different angles," she said.
Summing up her experience in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Blanchett said: "I have had incredible fun playing Hela because her capabilities are so surprising and so unusual.
"She is not simply sinister. She also sometimes doesn't want to kill people. There is a bit of mischief in there and playfulness. I hope audiences are in for a roller-coaster ride with Hela."