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‘Cinderella’ movie finds its evil stepmother: Cate Blanchett

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
November 28, 2012

Because apparently, she's not sick of fairy tales quite yet, "Hobbit" star Cate Blanchett is reportedly in talks to join Disney's live-action re-imagining of "Cinderella" as the main character's evil stepmother.

According to The Wrap, Blanchett is in final negotiations to play the villainess in director Mark Romanek's as-yet-untitled "Cinderella" project. While nothing is official yet, the Academy Award-winning Australian actress would be the first to be cast in the film. Not a bad move -- Blanchett is a strong performer to anchor a movie around, and her involvement is sure to attract some other major talent.

The 43-year-old star is no stranger to the fantasy and medieval genres, either, having already appeared in three "Lord of the Rings" movies, Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," and the award-winning "Elizabeth" films. The actress also recently wrapped shooting on Peter Jackson's three "Hobbit" movies, in which she reprises her "Rings" role as the ethereal Elf Galadriel. All this sword and sorcery practice basically means that Blanchett can probably play this evil stepmother part in her sleep.

See also: When actors reprise their famous roles (PHOTOS)

Based on a pitch by "The Devil Wears Prada" screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna, Disney fast-tracked "Cinderella" after the success of their updated "Alice in Wonderland" movie, starring Johnny Depp. The House of Mouse recently tapped "Never Let Me Go" filmmaker Romanek and "Sherlock Holmes" screenwriter Simon Kinberg to direct and write the film.

"Cinderella" is just the latest in a long line of fairy stories and classic children's tales being revisited by the major Hollywood studios. In 2012, there were not one but two films based on the folk fantasy tale of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" — Rupert Sanders' dark and gritty "Snow White and the Huntsman" and the Tarsem Singh's visually spectacular "Mirror, Mirror." And there are more modern re-imaginings of timeless tales on the way. Paramount's "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (due out in January) will infuse the Brothers Grimm story with violent horror action, while Disney's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" will give the Land of Oz the "Alice in Wonderland" treatment, while "Maleficent, (a "Sleeping Beauty" story) will offer a twisted take on the fairy tale from a different perspective.

What do these films have in common — other than being based on folklore and fairy stories? They all feature prominent female villains played by "aging" Hollywood actresses.

Of course, by "aging," we mean that most of these actresses are in their late 30s or early 40s — by Hollywood's youth-obsessed standards, they're practically over the hill. The "Snow Whites" had Charlize Theron and Julia Roberts as evil queens, "Hansel and Gretel" has Famke Janssen as the witch, "Oz" has Rachel Weisz the Wicked Witch of the East, "Maleficent" features Angelina Jolie in the title role, and now "Cinderella" has Blanchett as the evil stepmother. Has Hollywood found a niche for aging Hollywood actresses?

See also: Five things you likely didn't know about 'The Hobbit'

So far, Blanchett has been an exception to the unfortunate and unspoken Hollywood rule that says once a woman reaches a certain age (basically over or around 40) she can only play a villain or a mom in the movies. She and many other actresses (including some of the ones listed above) continue to do great work that doesn't typecast them based on their age. But the sad fact of the matter is that there simply aren't that many roles for women around that age in Hollywood. Many actresses suffer from huge career slumps between the ages of 35 and 50 -- something that rarely happens to their male counterparts. Things may be starting to change as more people become aware of this issue (or as more roles become available), but if middle-aged actresses are merely exchanging the role of "mom" for "evil witch," how far have we really come?

Do you think actresses in their late 30s and early 40s are being typecast as fairy tale villains?

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