Hot Patricia Kennedy (actress) nudes (61 photos) Video, swimsuit
Mini Bio (1)
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, to June (Gamble), an Australian teacher and property developer, and Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., an American advertising executive, originally from Texas. She has an older brother and a younger sister. When she was ten years old, her 40-year-old father died of a sudden heart attack. Her mother never remarried, and her grandmother moved in to help her mother. Cate graduated from Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1992 and, in a little over a year, had won both critical and popular acclaim. On graduating from NIDA, she joined the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls", then played Felice Bauer, the bride, in Tim Daly's "Kafka Dances", winning the 1993 Newcomer Award from the Sydney Theatre Critics Circle for her performance. From there, Blanchett moved to the role of Carol in David Mamet's searing polemic "Oleanna", also for the Sydney Theatre Company, and won the Rosemont Best Actress Award, her second award that year. She then co-starred in the ABC Television's prime time drama Heartland (1994), again winning critical acclaim. In 1995, she was nominated for Best Female Performance for her role as Ophelia in the Belvoir Street Theatre Company's production of "Hamlet". Other theatre credits include Helen in the Sydney Theatre Company's "Sweet Phoebe", Miranda in "The Tempest" and Rose in "The Blind Giant is Dancing", both for the Belvoir Street Theatre Company. In other television roles, Blanchett starred as Bianca in ABC's Bordertown (1995), as Janie Morris in G.P. (1989) and in ABC's popular series Police Rescue (1994). She made her feature film debut in Paradise Road (1997). She also married writer Andrew Upton in 1997. She had met him a year earlier on a movie set, and they didn't like each other at first. He thought she was aloof, and she thought he was arrogant, but then they connected over a poker game at a party, and she went home with him that night. Three weeks later he proposed marriage and they quickly married before she went off to England to play her breakthrough role in films: the title character in Elizabeth (1998) for which she won numerous awards for her performance, including the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama. Cate was also nominated for an Academy Award for the role but lost out to Gwyneth Paltrow. 2001 was a particularly busy year, with starring roles in Bandits (2001), The Shipping News (2001), Charlotte Gray (2001) and playing Elf Queen Galadriel in the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. She also gave birth to her first child, son Dashiell, in 2001. In 2004, she gave birth to her second son Roman. Also, in 2004, she played actress Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's film "Aviator" (2004), for which she received an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. Two years later, she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for playing a teacher having an affair with an underage student in "Notes on a Scandal" (2006). In 2007, she returned to the role that made her a star in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (2007). It earned her an Oscar nomination as Best Actress. She was nominated for another Oscar that same year as Best Supporting Actress for playing Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There" (2007). In 2008, she gave birth to her third child, son Ignatius. She and her husband became artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company, choosing to spend more time in Australia raising their three sons. She also purchased a multi-million dollar home in Sydney, Australia and named it Bulwarra and made extensive renovations to it. Because of her life in Australia, her film work became sporadic, until Woody Allen cast her in the title role in Blue Jasmine (2013), which won her the Academy Award as Best Actress. She ended her job as artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, while her husband continued there for two more years before he too resigned. In 2015, she adopted her daughter Edith in her father's homeland of America. That same year, she and her husband sold their multi-million dollar home in Australia at a profit and moved to America. Reasons varied from her wanting to work more in America to wanting to familiarize herself with her late father's American heritage. She played the title role of Carol (2015), a 1950s American housewife in a lesbian affair with a younger woman, for which she received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress. While most actresses might slow down in their forties, Blanchett did the opposite by stretching her boundaries even further, such as when she played 13 different characters in Manifesto (2015) and then making her Broadway debut in 2017 in "The Present", which is her husband's adaptation of Chekhov's play "Platonov" for which she earned a Tony nomination as Best Actress in a Play. Also in 2017, she was selected for the highest honor in her birth country: the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous
Trade Mark (3)
Blonde hair and blue eyes
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Deep wise voice
1993: She was the first person to win the Sydney Theatre Critic's Circle Theatre award for Best Newcomer (for her role in "Kafka Dances"), and Best Lead Actress (for her role in David Mamet's "Oleanna", with the Sydney Theatre Company, opposite Shine (1996) star Geoffrey Rush in the same year.
Has an older brother named Bob who works in the computer field, and a younger sister, Genevieve who is a theater designer.
When she was 18, Cate was on vacation in Egypt. A fellow guest at a cheap hotel in Cairo asked if she wanted to be an extra in a movie, the Egyptian boxing movie Kaboria [Crabs (1990)], directed by Khairy Beshara. She appeared in 3 scenes in that movie, in one of them she was dancing to the main song of the movie.
Attended Methodist Ladies College (MLC) in Melbourne, Australia and was the School Drama Captain.
Her father, (Robert Blanchett) a Texan advertising executive, died of a heart attack when she was ten years old.
After completing work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy in the role of Galadriel, she kept and bronzed her elf ear prosthetics.
Was considered for the role of Clarice Starling in Hannibal (2001). The part eventually went to Julianne Moore.
In an interview she gave to Fox Television Network, she admitted blushingly that she had accepted the role of Galadriel, the Elf Queen, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy because she always wanted to appear in a movie wearing pointed ears.
Enjoys making lists and crossing items off as she accomplishes them.
Chosen as one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. 
As os 2015, has been in 8 movies where the title contains the name of the character she plays: Veronica Guerin (2003), Charlotte Gray (2001), Elizabeth (1998), Thank God He Met Lizzie (1997), Oscar and Lucinda (1997), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Blue Jasmine (2013) and Carol (2015).
Was originally going to play the role of Anna in Mike Nichols's latest film Closer (2004), but due to her second pregnancy she had to drop out, so it was recast with Julia Roberts instead.
Was the original 'Tim-Tam' girl in the series of commercials promoting the product.
September 2004: Flew back home to Melbourne, Australia to launch the skincare range from SK-II at Australia's leading department store Myer. As of September 2011, she was still featured in full-page print ads for the same cosmetic.
Was set to play "Portia" in Michael Radford's adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (2004), thus reuniting with actor Joseph Fiennes, her co-star from the blockbuster Elizabeth (1998), but had to drop out after discovering her pregnancy. This also would have reunited her with Ian McKellen, with whom she appeared in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, who would have played "Shylock". He too ultimately left the project.
By winning the Oscar for her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn, she became the first person to give an Oscar-winning portrayal of a previous Oscar winner.
In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), she appears with Anjelica Huston, and in The Aviator (2004), she works with Danny Huston, the daughter and son, respectively, of director John Huston. In addition to having played Katharine Hepburn, who appeared in The African Queen (1951), directed by John Huston, she also appeared in a remake of a film that John Huston appeared in: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
In The Aviator (2004), she works opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Howard Hughes. The year before, she appeared in The Missing (2003) with Tommy Lee Jones. Jones played Hughes years earlier in The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977).
1995: Nominated for Best Female Performance by the Melbourne Green Room Awards, for the Belvoir St Theatre Company's production of "Hamlet".
Won the Rosemont Best Actress Award for her performance in "Oleanna".
1992: Graduated from Australia's NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art).
Four of her six Oscar nominations are for playing real people (Queen Elizabeth I, Katharine Hepburn and Bob Dylan). The latter two are both Oscar winners themselves.
Won Best Female Actor, Helpmann Award for her performance in "Hedda Gabler". 
Appeared next to Hugo Weaving in 9 different projects: Bordertown (1995), Drama School (2000), Little Fish (2005), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (2004), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Making of 'The Lord of the Rings' (2002), Quest for the Ring (2001).
Her father, Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Jr., was born in Texas, to a family that had been based in the American South for many generations. Her grandfather, Robert DeWitt Blanchett, Sr., was born in 1905 in Arkansas, where he was also buried in 1989. Her paternal grandmother, Merle Jenevieve (King), was born in Oklahoma. Her maternal grandparents were Horace Thomas Gamble and Rosalie Jean Wood. Cate's father was of distant French descent; much of Cate's other ancestry from both of her parents is British Isles: English, Scottish, and some Cornish and Northern Irish.
In "The Lord of the Rings", she worked with Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, who played "Frodo" and "Sam", respectively. Also appearing with her in those films, as well as in The Aviator (2004), was Ian Holm, who played "Frodo" in the BBC radio series. In Notes on a Scandal (2006), she worked with Bill Nighy, who played "Sam" in the BBC radio series. In Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), she worked with Samantha Morton, who is engaged to Ian Holm's son, Harry Holm.
She appeared in 7 films nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, four of them in a row: Elizabeth (1998), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Aviator (2004), Babel (2006), and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).
In Bandits (2001), she works with Troy Garity. In The Aviator (2004), she plays Katharine Hepburn, who appeared with Garity's mother, Jane Fonda and grandfather, Henry Fonda, in On Golden Pond (1981).
Was considered for the role of Jane Smith in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).
15th February 2005: Attended the 2005 Elle Style Awards held at London's trendy Spitalfields Market. Posed for photos with fellow Australian Kylie Minogue, who was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her Texan father, Robert Blanchett, met her mother, June, in Melbourne, Australia. He decided to marry her and relocate to Australia and raise a family.
Was officially in the BAFTA longlist (Equivalently, the semi-finals) for Best Actress in a Leading Role, for her role in Notes on a Scandal (2006) (unlike the Oscars, where she was competing for Supporting Role), which consisted of 15 finalists for each category (except Animated Film). However, she was eliminated in the next round, which the five official nominees were selected. 
She and her The Shipping News (2001) and Notes on a Scandal (2006) co-star Judi Dench both received Oscar-nominations for playing Queen Elizabeth I in 1999. Dench won for her supporting role in Shakespeare in Love (1998) while Blanchett was nominated for Elizabeth (1998).
Was Steven Spielberg's first choice for the role or Agatha in Minority Report (2002). After the death of Stanley Kubrick, he made Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001) his first priority, and she moved on to other projects. She was later able to work with Spielberg in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Dec. 2007 - Ranked #45 on EW's The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood.
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#31). .
In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated her earnings for the year at million.
Along with Fay Bainter, Teresa Wright, Barry Fitzgerald, Jessica Lange, Sigourney Weaver, Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Emma Thompson, Julianne Moore and Jamie Foxx, she is one of only eleven actors to receive Academy Award nominations in two acting categories in the same year. She was nominated for Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) and Best Supporting Actress for I'm Not There (2007) at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008.
She, Linda Hunt and Felicity Huffman are the only performers to be nominated for an Oscar for playing a member of the opposite sex.
She is only one of six performers (and the only female) to be nominated for an Oscar twice for playing the same role in two separate films. She was nominated as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). The other five are Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley in Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), Peter O'Toole as Henry II in Becket (1964) and Leeuw in de winter (1968), Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974), Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986), and Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Rocky (1976) and Creed (2015).
Was listed as a potential nominee for the 2008 Razzies (but did not make the final ballot) for her performance as "Queen Elizabeth I" in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), a performance that earned her another Oscar nomination. Had she earned a Razzie nod, she would have been one of the few actors to have a Razzie and Oscar nomination for the same performance.
Good friends with actress Nicole Kidman.
Got the role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) after Rachel Weisz backed out, because of scheduling problems.
Lives in Hunters Hill, Sydney, Australia.
Did not return to work until six months after giving birth to her son Ignatius in order to take to the stage for a Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire", where she portrayed Blanche DuBois.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Picture at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on December 5, 2008.
She was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in the 2001 Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to acting and Australian society.
Was originally cast as Mrs. Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), but was later replaced by Meryl Streep.
Her portrayal of Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) is director Steven Spielberg's favorite villain in the Indiana Jones series.
Was originally cast as Izzi Creo in The Fountain (2006), but was forced to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts with Little Fish (2005). Rachel Weisz was then cast instead.
She was on set for only 8 days to shoot her scenes for De Hobbit: Een onverwachte reis (2012) and the two follow-ups.
Performing in "The War Of The Roses" in Sydney, Australia. [January 2009]
New York, NY: It was announced that she, as well as Ralph Fiennes, will be honored by gala tributes (separately) in October by the Film Society of Lincoln Center during its annual film festival. [August 2013]
Sydney Theatre Company announced that husband and wife Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton would become artistic directors, beginning in 2008. [November 2006]
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival in 2018.
Washington, D.C: Performing in Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" at The Kennedy Center with her and husband Andrew Upton's group, the Sydney Theatre Company. [August 2011]
Grew up in the suburb of Eaglemont, part of the Greater Melbourne area.
Five directors cast her more than once in their films: Gillian Armstrong, Shekhar Kapur, Steven Soderbergh, Todd Haynes, and Peter Jackson.
Her older brother Bob is smart but has a mild form of cerebral palsy. When they were growing up, Cate always stuck up for him when the other children made fun of him. Later, when she gave birth to her second child Roman, she gave him the middle name of Bob, named after Cate's brother. (Bob is also her father and her grandfather's names.) And when she won the Academy Award as Best Actress for Blue Jasmine (2013), she thanked him in her acceptance speech.
In 2008, although she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), she publicly declared that she had voted for Marion Cotillard in La môme (2007), and described her performance as Édith Piaf as "astonishing and inspiring". When Cotillard was announced as the winner, Blanchett was visibly happy for her win. In 2012, Blanchett wrote an op-ed for Variety praising Cotillard's performance in De rouille et d'os (2012).
She said the pronunciation of her last name accustomed to is BLAN-chett, as opposed to Blan-CHETT.
Holds the record as the only Australian actress to win two Academy Awards.
The longest she has gone without an Oscar nomination is the 6 years between both Elizabeth (1998) and The Aviator (2004) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), I'm Not There (2007) and Blue Jasmine (2013).
Is only the sixth actress to win both leading and supporting actress Oscars. The other five are Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Helen Hayes and Ingrid Bergman.
The only actor to be nominated and win Oscars for both of the iconoclast New York directors Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen.
Was the 126th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Aviator (2004) at The 77th Annual Academy Awards (2005) on February 27, 2005.
Shaved her head at 15 and as a result was almost fired from her job at a nursing home.
Dedicated her 2014 BAFTA Award to Philip Seymour Hoffman who had recently passed away.
Is one of 13 actresses to have won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same performance. The others in chronological order are Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich (2000), Renée Zellweger for Cold Mountain (2003), Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line (2005), Helen Mirren for The Queen (2006), Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls (2006), Kate Winslet for The Reader (2008), Mo'Nique for Precious (2009), Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010), Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011), Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012), Patricia Arquette for Boyhood (2014) and Julianne Moore for Still Alice (2014).
Holds the record for largest "Best Actress" award sweep (42 wins) for her performance as Jasmine French in Blue Jasmine (2013), followed by Helen Mirren (40 wins) for her performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006) and Natalie Portman (38 wins) for her performance as Nina Sayers in Black Swan (2010).
Her first Oscar nomination was for playing Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth (1998), the same year that Judi Dench won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing that same role in Shakespeare in Love (1998). She went on to win her first Oscar for playing another Oscar winner: Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator (2004).
Along with Ian McKellen, she is one of only two actors to appear in all six of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), De Hobbit: Een onverwachte reis (2012), De Hobbit: de Woestenij van Smaug (2013) and De Hobbit: De Slag van Vijf Legers (2014).
She has made seven films with Peter Jackson: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Hot Fuzz (2007), De Hobbit: Een onverwachte reis (2012), De Hobbit: de Woestenij van Smaug (2013) and De Hobbit: De Slag van Vijf Legers (2014). Hot Fuzz (2007) is the only one that Jackson did not direct.
In 2014, during the Press Conference of Hoe Tem Je Een Draak 2 (2014) at the Cannes Film Festival, a journalist asked Blanchett who's better between her and Marion Cotillard, she answered saying that Cotillard is better and praised her performances in La môme (2007) and De rouille et d'os (2012) and also said that she couldn't wait to see Cotillard as Lady Macbeth [in Macbeth (2015)].
Returned to work 6 months after giving birth to her son Roman in order to begin filming Little Fish (2005).
Gave birth to her 2nd child at age 34, a son named Roman Robert Upton on April 23, 2004. Child's father is her husband, Andrew Upton.
Was 3 months pregnant with her son Ignatius when she completed filming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Gave birth to her 3rd child at age 38, a son named Ignatius Martin Upton on April 13, 2008. Child's father is her husband, Andrew Upton.
Returned to work 7 months after giving birth to her son Dashiell in order to begin filming Veronica Guerin (2003).
Was unknowingly pregnant with her son Roman while portraying the pregnant journalist in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).
Gave birth to her 1st child at age 32, a son named Dashiell John Upton on December 3, 2001. He was named after her husband's favourite author Dashiell Hammett. Child's father is her husband, Andrew Upton.
(March 6, 2015) Adopted her 4th child, a daughter named Edith Vivian Patricia Upton, with her husband Andrew Upton.
(December 29, 1997) Married her boyfriend of a year Andrew Upton. They met in 1996 on the set of a TV show. The wedding took place in the National Park "Blue Mountains" in New South Wales. She claimed that they didn't take any photographs, because they couldn't afford a photographer, even though she was already a working actress, and in fact, shortly after the wedding, she started filming the title role in Elizabeth (1998).
Was Ridley Scott's original choice for the role of Commander Lewis in The Martian (2015), but turned it down due to a scheduling conflict.
Was the original choice for the role of Marianne in A Bigger Splash (2015). The part eventually went to Tilda Swinton.
Eddie Redmayne starred with Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). In 2015, Blanchett presented him the Oscar for Best Actor for The Theory of Everything (2014), having won the Best Actress Oscar one year before for Blue Jasmine (2013).
An avid fan of the horror genre, her particular favorites were the Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone, The Scarlet Claw (1944) being especially memorable. Also includes among her favorites Burnt Offerings (1976) and the "Halloween" series of films.
Is one of 9 actresses who have received an Academy Award nomination for portraying a real-life queen. The others in chronological order are Norma Shearer for Marie Antoinette (1938), Katharine Hepburn for Leeuw in de winter (1968), Geneviève Bujold for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Vanessa Redgrave for Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Janet Suzman for Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Helen Mirren for The Madness of King George (1994) and The Queen (2006), Judi Dench for Mrs Brown (1997) and Shakespeare in Love (1998), and Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010).
In 2009, she was among four Oscar-winning Australian actors to be immortalized onto postage stamps in their home country. Each of the actors has two stamps, showing them both in and out of character.
Is the 4th youngest actress (at age 46) to have received 7 Academy Award nominations; those younger are Bette Davis (at age 36), Meryl Streep (at age 38) and Kate Winslet (at age 40).
Blanchett and Kate Winslet have both received their seventh Academy Award nomination in 2016. Winslet for Best Supporting Actress for Steve Jobs (2015), and Blanchett for Best Actress for Carol (2015).
Has American citizenship due to her father being American.
Blanchett and her The Aviator (2004) co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, have been nominated for Oscars in the same year four times: in 2005 both of them were nominated for The Aviator; in 2007 for Blood Diamond (2006) (DiCaprio) and Notes on a Scandal (2006) (Blanchett); in 2014 for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) (DiCaprio) and Blue Jasmine (2013) (Blanchett), and in 2016 for The Revenant (2015) (DiCaprio) and Carol (2015) (Blanchett).
Shared the cover of Vanity Fair magazine's 2016 Hollywood issue with, Jane Fonda, Viola Davis, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlotte Rampling, Rachel Weisz, Lupita Nyong'o, Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Helen Mirren, Diane Keaton and Saoirse Ronan. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
She has worked with 9 directors who have won a Best Director Oscar: Anthony Minghella, Barry Levinson, Peter Jackson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Steven Spielberg, and Woody Allen.
Her acting hero is Judy Davis, Wendy Hughes and Geoffrey Rush.
Turned down the role of Agatha in Steven Spielberg's film Minority Report (2002) (2002). The role eventually went to Samantha Morton who co-starred alongside her in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).
She attended Methodist Ladies College. Her drama teacher Felicity Donnoli met the then 12-year-old Cate in 1981 and saw something special in her, since she became a house drama captain in her first year at the school. Then, she directed a production of interpretive movement involving 30 girls. She later directed the senior school play They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) six years later, adapting the film script into a stage play and held auditions and chose the cast, designed the set and even lobbied the vice-principal of the school to get a budget to get the set built. Mrs. Donnoli remembered Blanchett as a sweet-natured and happy girl. After school, Blanchett studied economics and fine arts at Melbourne University - never graduating - and threw herself into the theatrical world on campus. Blanchett, with two members of the Melbourne University law revue, was on Hey Hey It's Saturday (1971) in 1987 on the Red Faces segment titled "Kate and Simon", but they didn't win the contest. Afterwards, she was accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney and started her long and prestigious career.
Eighth highest paid actress of 2017 with million.
Has played a man three times as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There (2007), Manifesto (2015) and as Richard II on stage with the Sydney Theatre Company.
Has worked twice with Helena Bonham Carter: Cinderella (2015) and Ocean's Eight (2018).
Personal Quotes (38)
If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously!
When asked what colour her hair is: "Look, it's one of the great mysteries of the world, I cannot answer that question. I think I'm vaguely blonde. To be perfectly frank, I don't know."
When asked if she has ever appeared in Neighbours (1985): "Absolutely not. I'm an actress."
[on the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy] I had never done anything with blue screen before, or prosthetics, or anything like that. Lord of the Rings was like stepping into a videogame for me. It was another world completely. But, to be honest, I basically did it so that I could have the ears. I thought they would really work with my bare head.
If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life - that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment - that would be the perfect state.
It's part of my job. You can't play Veronica Guerin [puts on heavy Strine] sounding like this. It just wouldn't wash. But what I find fascinating about doing an accent - unless it's a farce - is that it's not slapped on. [on doing many accents]
[on working with Ron Howard in The Missing (2003)] I loved making it, I had a ball - cowboys and Indians. This is the thing, I love doing things which I'd never envisaged before. And so getting me on the back of a horse, with Tommy Lee Jones and shooting guns and chasing Indians, it's just not something that I would have expected myself to be doing.
The more you do it, the more you learn to concentrate, as a child does, incredibly intensively and then you sort of have to relax. I remember the first film I did, the lead actor would in between scenes be reading a newspaper or sleeping and I'd think, "How can you do that?"
[SAG acceptance speech Feb. 5, 2005] Thank you. I so didn't expected this. I wore a really tight dress that's very ungracious walking up those stairs. Thank you very much, I sort of don't know where to begin. Playing Katharine Hepburn, I absolutely did not expect to be standing here in front of you all. But Hepburn aside, I actually would like to say, as an actor coming from another country to this country, I am so astounded and amazed, and grateful, at the power of the SAG union and what it does for its members. And I hope that other countries, mine own included, you know, is inspired by that - I think it's incredible.
[on the pressures women face regarding plastic surgery] It's not just women on film, 18-year-old girls feel pressure to do preventative injecting. I see someone's face, someone's body who'd had children and I think they're the song lines of your experience, and why would you want to eradicate that? I look at people sort of entombing themselves and all you see is their little pin holes of terror... and you think, just live your life, death is not going to be any easier just because your face can't move.
I'm one of those strange beasts who really likes a corset.
You know, when you see yourself on a big screen, I tend to watch from behind my hands. There is absolutely the regret. You always get that at the end of every project. That's what's great about theater: at least every night you get the chance to go out and re-offend. I'm endlessly disappointed, which is what propels me into the next project, probably, not to repair the damage but to kind of hopefully keep developing. Otherwise there's no reason to keep doing it, is there?
There's this sense that of course you want to be famous. When you're a performer, of course you want an audience, but it's very, very different from courting fame.
[on her first Oscar loss, in 1999] Sometimes I think it's so good not to win those things. And, anyway, who wants to peak when they're 28?
Of course one worries about getting older--we're all fearful of death, let's not kid ourselves. I'm simply not panicking as my laugh lines grow deeper. Who wants a face with no history, no sense of humor?
Don't you think like most things, like comedy, like sex, like anything, it's about timing? I think [my husband and I] collided with each other at what turned out to be the perfect time. We knew each other socially and we didn't get on and we played poker one night and I don't know how we ended up kissing but we did and he asked me to marry him about three weeks later and we got together in the same spirit. . . . Maybe I've got a lack of consequence, a healthy lack of consequence.
[In 2012, on collaborating with husband Andrew Upton]: We've had some doozies and we've had some stinkers. No one sets out to have a stinker.
[I have] this strange, probably unachievable fantasy about performing in German in Berlin. [But] I don't speak German.
[on being directed by Woody Allen in Blue Jasmine (2013)] I found him forthcoming, generous and refreshingly honest. It can be brutal when people are honest, but I much prefer to know if it's not working, because you can do something with it - rather than people who go, 'Oh, we'll fix it up in post [-production].' There is no post in a Woody Allen movie. If it doesn't happen then, it doesn't happen at all.
I love Brighton. We lived in Lewes Crescent and it was the genesis of the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland; so magical.
No one is ever who they purport to be. And I suppose I'm most interested in the gap between who we project socially and who we really are.
I don't know if I ever really wanted to be an actor. I'm an active person - the thought of waiting for the phone to ring wasn't something that sat happily with me. But I kept doing it, trying not to do it, and then doing it. There's such a blessed unrest that you feel all the time, but maybe that's what keeps you going.
I can be a real pessimist. You know that when you win an Oscar and you walk offstage and your first thought is: "Oh God, I've peaked."
I've done a lot of talking over the past six years. My husband and I have been running the Sydney Theatre Company and it's been magic - my kids have been able to see so many of those transient moments between acting and real life behind the scenes. But now that I've given it up I'm looking forward to being a bit quieter. I'm very conscious of that. There have been times when I've heard myself in the past and thought: "Aw, just shut up."
You don't ever really get to know Woody Allen. He's not the sort of person where you can knock on his door and say: "I've got this really interesting idea." You just have to hope that he's written your name on a little scrap of paper somewhere and that one day he will call and say: "I've got a script I want you to read."
Working with Woody [Allen] is like an emotional strip club without the cash.
[on winning her 2nd Oscar for Blue Jasmine (2013)] Sit down. You're too old to be standing. Thank you, Mr. Day-Lewis, from you it exacerbates this honor to and it blows it right out of the ballpark. Thank you so much to the Academy. As random and as subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year of extraordinary, yet again, extraordinary performances by women. Amy Adams, everything you do, but your performance in American Hustle blew my mind. And Meryl, what can I say? Sandra [Bullock], I could watch that performance to the end of time, and I sort of felt like I had. Julia [Roberts], #suckit. You know what I mean? And Judi Dench, I mean what a career. She's not here tonight because at the age of 79, her film was so successful that she's in India doing a sequel. I mean what a career that is, if I could hope. And me, I'm here accepting an award in an extraordinary screenplay by Woody Allen. Thank you so much, Woody, for casting me. I truly appreciate it. I'm so very proud that Blue Jasmine stayed in the cinemas for as long as it did. And thank you to Sony Classics, to Michael and Tom for their extraordinary support. For so bravely and intelligently distributing the film and to the audiences who went to see it and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people. Thank you to my mum, to my sister, to my brother, to my three glorious sons. I would not be standing here without you. To my husband, Andrew, you are a legend. Thank you to my agent, Hylda Queally, you're behind the pillar somewhere up there. You are a goddess. To my agent in Australia, Robyn Gardiner, I love you so very much. To my publicist Lisa Kasteler. To the sublime Sally Hawkins. And to the extraordinary cast of Blue Jasmine. I don't know how to do this without other actors and this I share with you. To the hair and makeup people who sweat-ed me up and tried to make me look attractive. Thank you for the attempt. To Carla Meyer for getting Sally and I together and for incredible support. To Helen Robin. To everyone involved in Blue Jasmine, I thank you so much. And finally, I would like to thank every single member of the Sydney Theatre Company, one of the great theater companies in the world. For me, working on Blue Jasmine, it was a real synthesis of my work in the theater and on film. And not only working with you for the last six years has been the most enormous privilege of my career but it's made me a better actress. There is so much talent in Australia and Michael Wilkinson and C.M. and I are just tonight's tip of the iceberg. Thank you so much. Thank you.
[on who's the best between her and Marion Cotillard - Cannes Film Festival, 2014] There is no competition. Marion, hands down. I think she is one of the world's greatest actresses. From the first few frames of La môme (2007), I just thought that I'd never seen anything like it. To see her in comic roles, and I was blown away again in De rouille et d'os (2012). We share the same agent at CAA, much to my chagrin. I think she's a genius. I can't wait to see her Lady Macbeth.
[on if she get fed up with being asked how she handles motherhood and her career] That question is only directed toward women: "How do you have it all?" I think we live in a world where there's still not equal pay for equal work. I still don't understand how in 2014 why that's not the case. I'm not necessarily talking about the industry in which we work. It's every industry. I think the things that have been said about women not only in African countries but also the English-speaking world is absolutely appalling. I think sometimes we're back in the Middle Ages. But I'm an actress at a film festival [Cannes 2014]. I can cope with those questions, but it's still surprising that we're still asking those questions.
[on why she got involved with Hoe Tem Je Een Draak 2 (2014)] It's a gift to be a part of a project like this. My children and I adored the first. And so when Dean [DeBlois, writer/director of "How to Train Your Dragon 2"] ambushed me a few years ago at an awards ceremony, I was intrigued. As an actor, you're used to using your body, your face, everything you can to communicate stuff. And when you have to only do it through your voice, and you're doing it in tandem with the most extraordinary, state-of-the-art animation, I found it an intriguing ride over the last three-and-a-half, four years to watch the character evolve quite separate from me, and how you can enhance and work with what the animators are doing. I didn't actually get to work with the other actors. I acted opposite Dean most of the time. It was very interesting.
I always remember something that Michelle Pfeiffer said a few years ago, which is that if you put a dollar in a jar every time you screw up with your children, then by the time they're grown you'll have saved enough to pay for their therapy. And I think that's true - although with inflation it's probably gone up to five dollars by now!
[on her reaction when her father died when she was 10 years old] I was playing the piano. He walked past the window. I waved goodbye [but didn't hug or kiss him]. He was going off to work. He had a heart attack that day. He was only forty. I developed this ritual where I couldn't leave the house until I could actually physically say goodbye to everyone.
[on Blue Jasmine (2013)] Every day on set I'd tell myself: don't screw up. It wasn't born out of anxiety, it was just pragmatic. You've been given a really great opportunity - it's my job to make it jump off the page. Not to make it less than Woody's offering. But I say that to myself every time. I'm not particularly needy and I'm not particularly anxious. I don't look for a director to tell me I'm doing a good job, or that I'm great. I don't need to be stroked. It's more my own yardstick.
For me it felt less about the period and more about the gaze. If the cigarette was held in a certain way and perceived by the camera in a certain way, it was because it was viewed through the prism of someone's desire, rather than the prism of the period.
[on working with Sally Hawkins on Blue Jasmine (2013):] Sally's got the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. I clung to her like a life raft.
[on meeting her The Aviator (2004) costar] My father died when I was young. And Alan Alda looked just like my father. And I would watch MASH (1972) five days a week, just to imbibe him and say hello. So when I eventually met him, my God, he must have thought I was some sort of mad person. I ran up to him as though I was seeing my dad.
[on Sarah Paulson] When I first met her, on the set of 'Carol', I was floored by her buoyancy, her irreverence, her left-field sense of humor and her devotion to her craft. She brings with her, in work as in life, the sense that anything is possible. Anything.
Perhaps in another life, if Wizards and Elves could procreate...
|Little Fish (2005)||0,000|
|Robin Hood (2010)||.000.000|
The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning
On a gray morning this spring, Chelsea Manning climbed into the back seat of a black S.U.V. and directed her security guard to drive her to the nearest Starbucks. A storm was settling over Manhattan, and Manning was prepared for the weather, in chunky black Doc Martens with an umbrella and a form-fitting black dress. Her legs were bare, her eyes gray blue. She wore little makeup: a spot of eyeliner, a smudge of pink lip gloss.
At Starbucks, she ordered a white-chocolate mocha and retreated to a nearby stool. Manning has always been small (5 foot 4), but in her last few months at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, she jogged religiously, outside in the prison yard and around the track of the prison gym, and her body had taken on a lithe sharpness, apparent in the definition of her arms and cheekbones. She looked healthy and fit, if a little uneasy, as people who have served long spells in prison often do.
She had been released only eight days earlier, after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence. Her crime, even in hindsight, was an astonishing one: handing WikiLeaks approximately 250,000 American diplomatic cables and roughly 480,000 Army reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Collectively the largest leak of classified records in American history, the disclosures cleared a path for Edward Snowden and elevated the profile of Julian Assange, then little known outside hacker circles. “Without Chelsea Manning,” P.J. Crowley, an assistant secretary of state from 2009 to 2011, told me recently, “Julian Assange is just another fringe actor who resents what he sees as American hegemonic hubris.” To an extraordinary extent, Manning’s actions, in the words of Denver Nicks, the author of a book on her case, represented the “beginning of the information age exploding upon itself”: a new era in which leaks were a weapon, data security was of paramount importance and privacy felt illusory.
In January 2017, after being locked up at five different facilities, in conditions a United Nations expert called “cruel” and “inhumane,” Manning had received a surprise commutation by President Barack Obama. Four months later, she was free, trying to adjust to life in a world she helped shape. Finishing her coffee, she fished her iPhone out of her purse and asked her security guard for a lift back to the apartment where she was staying while in Manhattan. The one-bedroom was furnished sparsely, with a wide glass table and a tan couch, opposite which Manning had set up an Xbox One video-game console. The art was of the anodyne motel variety — an old-masters-esque tableau, a canvas of a zebra standing in a forest. We were many floors up, suspended in the storm clouds, and through the window, I could see the spires of the skyscrapers on the other side of the Hudson River.
Manning, who is 29, tapped an unplugged microwave next to the door and asked me to place my laptop inside: The Faraday cage in the microwave would block radio waves, she explained. But the unplugged microwave was already full of devices, including two Xbox controllers. “You can put it in the kitchen microwave,” Manning said; then, intuiting the strangeness of the request, she added with a shrug, “You can’t be too careful.”
She recalled that she last gave an in-person, on-the-record interview to a journalist in 2008, on the occasion of a marriage-equality march in New York. For almost a decade after that, barred by prison officials from communicating directly with the public, she remained silent as her story was told in books, an opera, an Off Broadway play and countless magazine articles, almost all of them written before Manning had come out as transgender. “It wasn’t the whole story,” she told me, “my whole story.”
Absent her own voice, a pair of dueling narratives had emerged. One had Manning, in the words of President Donald Trump, as an “ungrateful traitor.” The other positioned her as transgender icon and champion of transparency — a “secular martyr,” as Chase Madar, a former attorney and the author of a book on her case, recently put it to me. But in Manning’s presence, both narratives feel like impossible simplifications, not least because Manning herself is clearly still grappling with the meaning of what she did seven years ago. When I asked her to draw lessons from her journey, she grew uneasy. “I don’t have. ... ” she started. “Like, I’ve been so busy trying to survive for the past seven years that I haven’t focused on that at all.”
But surely, I pressed, she must have some sense of the impact she had on the world. “From my perspective,” she responded, “the world’s shaped me more than anything else. It’s a feedback loop.”
As far back as Chelsea Manning can remember, to her earliest days in Crescent, on the far edge of the Oklahoma City metro area, she suffered from a feeling of intense dislocation, something constant and psychic that she struggled to define to herself, much less to her older sister, Casey, or her parents, Brian and Susan. During one of our interviews, I mentioned that I heard a clinical psychologist compare gender dysphoria to a “giant, cosmic toothache.” Manning flushed. That was it exactly, she agreed: “Morning, evening, breakfast, lunch, dinner, wherever you are. It’s everywhere you go.”
At the age of 5, Manning recalled, she approached her father, an I.T. manager for Hertz, and confessed that she wanted to be a girl, “to do girl things.” Brian responded with a lengthy and awkward speech on the essential differences in “plumbing.” But Manning told me, “I didn’t understand how that had anything to do with what you wore or how you behaved.” Soon she was sneaking into her sister’s bedroom and donning Casey’s acid-washed jeans and denim jackets. Seated at the mirror, she would apply lipstick and blush, frantically scrubbing off the makeup at the slightest stirring from downstairs.
“I wanted to be like [Casey] and live like her,” Manning said.
When she was still in elementary school, she came out as gay to a straight male friend. The friend was understanding; the other kids at school, less so. Manning tried, unsuccessfully, to retract her confession, but the teasing continued. “I would come home crying some days, and if my dad was there, he’d say: ‘Just quit crying and man up. Like, go back there and punch that kid in the face,’ ” she said. It was the late 1990s, when the trans movement was very much on the fringes of American society. “The closest I came to knowing anything was from the portrayal of drag-queen-style cross-dressing on sensational TV shows” like Jerry Springer’s, Manning told me. She spent more time inside, on the computers that her father was always bringing home, playing video games and dabbling in basic code.
Her parents had issues of their own. When Manning was about 12, Susan swallowed an entire bottle of Valium. Casey called 911, only to be told that the nearest ambulance was a half-hour away. Casey loaded her mother into the car; Brian, who Manning says was too drunk to drive, sat shotgun, leaving a terrified Chelsea in the back to make sure her mother kept breathing. She told me the incident was formational. “I grew up very quickly after that,” she said. (Brian could not be reached for comment.)
In Susan’s native Wales, where Manning moved with her in 2001 after her parents split, Chelsea says she took over full control of the household, paying bills and handling much of the shopping. There was freedom there, too: She could buy her own makeup at the convenience store, wear it for a few hours in public and jam it into a waste bin on her way home. She passed many evenings on her computer, in L.G.B.T. chat rooms. Her worldview shifted. While in Crescent, Manning had imbibed her father’s conservative politics — “I questioned nothing,” she told me. But at Tasker Milward, a school in the town of Haverfordwest, she studied the civil rights movement, the Red Scare, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. In a term paper for a history class, she expressed skepticism about the rationale for the American invasion of Iraq.
When Manning returned to the United States in 2005 to live with Brian and his new wife in Oklahoma City, she was a changed person, if not a wholly transformed one: She wore eyeliner and grew out her hair and dyed it black. “I thought, Maybe I want to just eradicate this gender thing and be gender neutral, like androgynous,” she told me. She found a job at an internet start-up and, through a matchmaking site, met her first boyfriend, who lived 70 miles away in the town of Duncan. But her stepmother, Manning said, forbade her from setting foot in the kitchen: “She felt that I was unclean.”
Manning confided to no one what she was increasingly coming to understand: that she wasn’t gay, wasn’t a cross-dresser. She was a woman. In the summer of 2006, she and her boyfriend parted ways, and she lit out from Oklahoma for good, all her belongings piled high in the cab of her red Nissan pickup truck. A spell of itinerancy followed — out to Tulsa, Okla., to work at a pizza parlor; up to Chicago to work at Guitar Center; east to the suburbs of Washington to live with her aunt, with whom she enjoyed a connection she never shared with her parents. She did four sessions with a psychologist, but got no closer to unburdening herself than she had with friends or family members. “I was scared,” Manning said. “I didn’t know that life could be better.”
Brian Manning had often fondly recounted for Chelsea his days in the military: It had given him structure and grounding, he said. Manning hadn’t been ready to listen then. Now she was. Enlisting might be the thing to “man her up,” to rid her of the ache. Besides, while her ideas about American foreign policy had become more nuanced, she still considered herself a patriot — in the Army, she could use her analytical skills to help her country. “I remember sitting in the summer of 2007 and just every single day turning on the TV” and seeing the news from Iraq, she told me. “The surge, the surge, the surge. Terrorist attacks. Insurgents. ... I just felt like maybe I could make a difference.”
That fall, Manning reported for basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks; within a few days, she had suffered injuries to her arm. “The drill sergeants were acting like I was malingering or something,” she said. “But I was like: ‘No, I’m not trying to get out of anything. I just really can’t feel my right hand.’ ” A soldier who spent time with Manning in Missouri later recalled for The Guardian that Manning was routinely called a “faggot.” “The guy took it from every side. He couldn’t please anyone. And he tried. He really did,” the soldier said.
The Army, in need of more bodies to fight the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq, allowed Manning another shot at boot camp. In 2008, she graduated to intelligence school at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, which to her felt like a kind of community college. There, she was trained to sort what the military terms “SigActs,” or significant actions — the written reports, photos and videos of the confrontations, explosions and firefights that form the mosaic of modern war. Manning told me she fit in well with the intelligence types at Fort Huachuca, who shared her intrinsic geekiness. “There were more like-minded people there,” she said, adding, “It wasn’t ‘Rah, rah, you need to do this.’ They encouraged us to speak up. They encouraged us to have opinions, to make our own decisions.”
At her first official duty station, Fort Drum in upstate New York, Manning was charged in part with helping to build a digital tool that would automatically track and sort SigActs from Afghanistan, where Manning’s unit initially expected to be deployed. For hours a day, she watched spectral night-vision video and read reports from distant battlefields. Already, she was being exposed to the bloodshed that would serve as inspiration for her leaks. But she was handling the material at a spatial and emotional reserve: She remained, she told me, “eager” to get to the front lines. “I was hungry.”
Through a gay dating site, she met a bookish Brandeis student named Tyler Watkins. She started driving to visit Watkins in the Boston area, where she became a regular at Pika, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology co-op, and visited Boston University’s Builds, a hub of the local hacking community. At the Pika gatherings, she found friends that approached coding the same way she did: as outlet, pastime and calling. She often stayed up late into the night talking. Yan Zhu, then an undergraduate student at M.I.T., remembers Manning as “obviously intelligent,” if “nervous.” It was clear to Zhu that Manning was “haunted by something.” But she never had a chance to find out what: That fall, Manning’s unit was deployed to Iraq.
In October 2009, Manning hopped a Black Hawk from Baghdad to Forward Operating Base Hammer, 30 miles east of the city. In the cabin, strapped into the chopper’s jump seats, she began putting names to places that had long been digital abstractions. “I had seen imagery for nine or 10 months prior,” Manning recalled, “I knew the landscape so well from the air that I recognized these neighborhoods, and it woke me up to see people walking around and to see people driving and to see the buildings and the trees below.”
Ringed by desert, the low-slung buildings of F.O.B. Hammer baked in the summer and coursed with mud in the fall. Every night, Manning rose from her bunk at 9 p.m., dressed in standard-issue visual camouflage and grabbed her rifle. After quickly eating dinner for breakfast, she walked to a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, to report for duty. Manning’s SCIF was a glorified “plywood box” with lousy airflow, situated on a basketball court. She sat at the free-throw line, in a reclining office chair, where she spent her overnight shift facing three laptop computers. Manning’s isolation took on a new form: Hidden away in the darkened SCIF, she would work for eight hours at a stretch, sifting through reports filed securely by American troops in the field, making sense of the raw data for senior-level intelligence officers. She remained sealed off from actual conflict, though she could hear the shudder of car bombs and sometimes ran into soldiers, dazed and dusty, on their way back from a firefight.
At that early juncture, Manning told me, she was too busy to give much thought to the larger import of what she was seeing. “Doing my job, you couldn’t even really read all the files,” she said. “You have to skim, get a sense of what’s relevant and what’s not.” Still, to an extraordinary extent, she had a more comprehensive view of America’s role in Iraq than the infantry in the field did — often, literally, a sky-level view — and as October ground into November, she found herself increasingly dismayed by a lack of public awareness about what seemed to be a futile, ceaselessly bloody war. “At a certain point,” she told me, “I stopped seeing records and started seeing people”: bloody American soldiers, bullet-ridden Iraqi civilians.
On rare reprieves from the SCIF, Manning accompanied senior officers to meetings with the Iraqi military and the Iraqi federal police, sit-downs that further entrenched her disillusionment. “There would be these tea sessions, where you’ve got the Iraqi federal police in their blue uniforms, you’ve got Iraqi Army in, like, the old chocolate-chip camouflage and the Americans in our smeared green digital camouflage,” Manning said — everyone speaking in different languages, frequently at cross-purposes. “I’d come in thinking things would be black and white. They weren’t.”
Manning told me she heard the name WikiLeaks for the first time in 2008, at a computer security training course at Fort Huachuca. By the end of 2009, she had started logging on to internet relay chat conversations devoted to the site. (I.R.C., a semisecure protocol, was then the preferred method of communication for hackers.) Initially, she was an observer: She was intrigued by the work that Julian Assange and his team were doing, if not quite ready to endorse their argument for total transparency. She told me that she believed then, and believes now, that “there are plenty of things that should be kept secret.” “Let’s protect sensitive sources. Let’s protect troop movements. Let’s protect nuclear information. Let’s not hide missteps. Let’s not hide misguided policies. Let’s not hide history. Let’s not hide who we are and what we are doing.”
She was edging closer to acting but said nothing about the I.R.C. channel to her friends at F.O.B. Hammer, nor about her own personal tumult. She was now fighting to keep what amounted to two life-altering secrets. She couldn’t discuss her identity openly: The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was still in effect, and it would be years before transgender people were allowed to openly enlist. “I binge watched TV shows on the internet,” she said. “I was smoking heavily. I was drinking an enormous amount of caffeine. I was going to the dining facility and eating as much as I could. Just any little tiny escape or way to feel like I’m not there anymore.” Her boyfriend was little help: Manning could feel him slipping away. “I was in denial about it, but I had a sense ... that I was being forgotten,” she told me.
Manning had a two-week leave coming up. She planned to spend time in Boston, trying to patch things up with Watkins, and in the suburbs of Washington with her aunt. She dreamed about using the occasion to come out to her family and friends as trans. “I kept having this moment in my head,” she told me, “where I just yell it at the top of my lungs.” But she knew, in her heart, that she’d never be able to go through with it.
Before leaving F.O.B. Hammer, Manning downloaded, from the government’s Combined Information Data Network Exchange, almost every SigActs report from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and burned a compressed version of the data onto CD-RW discs, one of which was labeled “Lady Gaga.” She did it in full view of her fellow soldiers. But what she did next violated the most important precepts she was taught at Fort Huachuca, along with the Oath of Enlistment she swore in 2007: She uploaded the contents of the discs onto the personal laptop she planned to take home to the United States. She had not decided what she would do with the data.
Days later, Manning put on a blond wig and ran in a low crouch from the side door of her aunt’s house, out of view of the neighbors, and drove to the train station. She wore a dark coat and, under it, business-casual woman’s wear she bought at a local department store; she claimed it was for her friend who needed it for a job interview. In Washington, she went to a Starbucks, ate lunch at a busy restaurant and wandered through the aisles of a bookstore; later, she climbed back on the Metro and rode it aimlessly around. She took great pleasure in being seen as she knew she was and comfort in how easily she passed — rarely did anyone give her a second glance.
“Before I deployed, I didn’t have the guts,” Manning, who was then privately referring to herself as Brianna, told me. But her time in Iraq was changing her. “Being exposed to so much death on a daily basis makes you grapple with your own mortality,” she went on. She no longer wanted to hide.
The expedition was the high point of a disappointing two-week leave. The Army had bumped up her departure from F.O.B. Hammer, and her family hadn’t had time to readjust their schedules: Manning’s aunt was on a trip abroad, and her sister had just had her first child — it would be tricky to carve out time for Chelsea. Manning took a train up to see Watkins at his home in Waltham, in Massachusetts, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t really want her there, so she cut her stay short by three days.
At that point, it would have been possible for Manning to return to Iraq with the files unshared — her actions had been illegal, if reversible. But Manning told me that being in the United States had prompted an epiphany. At home, she says, she realized how invisible the wars had become to most civilians, whose awareness of Iraq extended as far as the occasional newspaper article or chyron on cable news. “There were two worlds,” she said. “The world in America, and the world I was seeing [in Iraq],” She went on, “I wanted people to see what I was seeing.”
A blizzard hit Washington. Manning’s aunt still wasn’t back from vacation. Alone, Manning transferred parts of the files to a small memory card and prepared an anonymous text file she wanted to accompany the information. “This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare,” she wrote. “Have a good day.”
Manning told me her decision to provide the information to WikiLeaks was a practical one: She originally planned to deliver the data to The New York Times or The Washington Post, and for the last week of her leave, she dodged from public phone to public phone, calling the main office lines for both papers, leaving a message for the public editor at The Times and engaging in a frustrating conversation with a Post writer, who said she would have to know more about the files before her editor would sign off on an article. A hastily arranged meeting with Politico, where she hoped to introduce herself to the site’s security bloggers, was scrapped because of bad weather. “I wanted to try to establish a contact in a way that it couldn’t be traced to me,” Manning told me. But she was running out of time. She describes a clearheaded sense of purpose coming over her: “I needed to do something,” she told me. “And I didn’t want anything to stop that.”
On Feb. 3, 2010, Manning signed onto her laptop and, using a secure file-transfer protocol, sent the files to WikiLeaks.
Back at F.O.B. Hammer, time sped up; everything seemed to be happening at once. Manning had been away two full weeks, and there was a lot to catch up on — “I had to triple my work,” Manning told me. There had been no sign that WikiLeaks received her files, nor any indication that the Army knew anything was amiss. She remembers being in a perpetual state of heightened anxiety. She slept less, smoked more.
In mid-February, on break from the SCIF, she noticed an interesting thread on the WikiLeaks I.R.C. channel, where participants were discussing the financial crisis in Iceland — a collapse that Manning, reading through the library of secure diplomatic cables available to her as an analyst, concluded was roiling onward because of the inaction of the United States and what she described as diplomatic bullying by the Netherlands and Britain. “From my perspective, it appeared that we were not getting involved due to the lack of long-term geopolitical benefit to do so,” she would later testify. Following the same steps as before, she leaked several diplomatic cables pertaining to the Iceland crisis to WikiLeaks; this time, within hours, WikiLeaks published the documents. Manning was thrilled: If the cables had reached WikiLeaks, the much larger leak of SigActs had almost certainly made it, too.
Around this time, Manning had several I.R.C. conversations with a person whom Manning identified in her online address book as “Nathaniel Frank,” after the author of the book “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America.” Frank was almost certainly Assange, although Manning declined to discuss the matter with me — the bulk of the chats are classified and could be used in future legal actions against Assange.
Manning followed the transmissions of the SigActs and the Iceland cables with a leak that was harder to ignore. Published by WikiLeaks under the title “Collateral Murder,” the three-year-old video, captured by a camera mounted on an American helicopter, showed two gunships approaching a group of men in an area where there had been reports of small-arms fire. The helicopter crew repeatedly requests permission to engage — “Let us shoot!” a voice is heard saying — before receiving it and opening fire. In total, at least a dozen people were killed in the 2007 strike, including several civilians and two staff members of the Reuters news agency. Manning says she knew that Reuters, under the Freedom of Information Act, had asked the United States government for a copy of the video but never received it. This was symptomatic, she said, of the worst impulses of a government obsessed with blanket classification. “It makes sense to keep some information secret for a few days, maybe a few years,” she told me. “The problem is, more and more, everything is secret by default.”
In long chat threads, Manning’s relationship with Nathaniel Frank deepened. She warmed to the role of truth-teller, handing over a small library of Detainee Assessment Briefs, or D.A.B.s, from the American holding facility at Guantánamo Bay. “Living such an opaque life, has forced me never to take transparency, openness and honesty for granted,” she wrote the former hacker Adrian Lamo, whom Manning had reached out to as a confessor and who was, unknown to Manning, already working with government investigators.
Privately, however, she was coming apart. Army investigators looking into her case would later detail several episodes of what they termed “bizarre behavior,” including blank stares and an incident in which Manning was found on the floor of a supply room, having carved the words “I WANT” into a nearby chair. She recalled that the unit, as a whole, was “on edge,” breaking out into verbal arguments and brawls. Their deployment was coming to an end, “and that’s when people start getting sick of each other and the personal animosity breaks out.”
In April, Manning emailed an Army superior a photo of her as Brianna that she took in Washington while on leave. “Now I knew who I was,” Manning told me. “But the people I’m around the most didn’t.” She titled the email “My Problem.” The issue of her gender identity was “not going away,” she wrote. “Now, the consequences of it are dire.” (Manning said her captain confirmed receipt of the email but “swept it under the rug.”)
Manning told me that she had resolved, in May, to go public with her role as whistle-blower, even as she was wrestling with how to express her gender identity. She was never able to settle on an approach. At the end of May, she was summoned to a conference room, where two agents from the Army Criminal Investigation Division were waiting. Manning was terrified, but she tried not to show it: “I was focused inward at that time: who I am, what my values are,” she recalled. She retreated “inside [her] head.” Days later, she was shackled, flown to Camp Arfijan in Kuwait and locked in a large steel cage. Kneeling down, she read the engraved words on the bars: Made in Fort Wayne.
Seven years later, it remains difficult to overstate the impact of the Afghan and Iraq war logs, or the later publication of the diplomatic cables. “The material touched on virtually every relationship the United States had around the world,” Crowley, the former State Department official, says of the cables. Repercussions came swiftly: Carlos Pascual, the United States ambassador to Mexico, resigned over cables in which he cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Mexican war on drugs, a revelation that poisoned Pascual’s relationship with the Mexican president. Ambassador Gene Cretz was recalled from Libya after his cables detailed the peculiar workings of the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, including a squad of female Ukrainian bodyguards. The release of cables regarding the Tunisian strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali are often credited with helping to inspire the uprising in that country.
The Afghan and Iraq documents brought home, in exactly the way that Manning had hoped, the messiness of the two conflicts. The Guardian wrote in an introduction that the release of the material from Afghanistan revealed a war in stark contrast with the “tidied up and sanitized ‘public’ war, as glimpsed through official communiqués as well as the necessarily limited snapshots of embedded reporting.”
American officials, caught off guard by the leaks, were furious. Elizabeth Dibble, a State Department official, later testified that the release of the cables prompted “horror and disbelief that our diplomatic communications had been released and were available on public websites for the world to see.”
The issue of whether American interests had been adversely affected by the release of the cables remains a charged one. In the full text of the Afghan war logs that appeared on the WikiLeaks site, Julian Assange made only partial redactions, leaving intact the names of some of the Afghans who had collaborated with coalition forces. (He showed what CNN later described as a “much heavier hand in redacting” names from the Iraq war logs.) In 2010, Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said that “we know for a fact that people will likely be killed because of this information being disclosed.” Subsequent reviews by The Associated Press and McClatchy found this risk to be “overstated,” and at Manning’s sentencing, government witnesses testified that no American deaths could be attributed to the leaks. Still, Crowley said, a lack of evidence of fatalities was not the same thing as a lack of damage: “She burned a number of intelligence sources,” he said. “She placed Afghans in danger who were telling us what the Taliban was doing in their villages.”
In her cage in Kuwait, Manning registered none of the fallout. “I was completely isolated,” she said. At a certain point, she concluded, “I’ve been forgotten about, and I’ve just disappeared.” She figured that Lamo had turned her in, but she wasn’t sure if word of her involvement in the leaks had been made public. It was the start of the hot season in Kuwait, and dust swirled in from outside, lodging in her teeth. Her only human contact was with the guards who brought her meals. “I had told the detention center when I got there that I was trans,” Manning told me. “ ‘I’m a woman,’ I said matter-of-factly. They laughed.” In utter isolation, Manning found herself consumed with rage and sadness. Officials observed what Manning’s attorney called an episode of “yelling uncontrollably, screaming, shaking, babbling, banging your head against your cell and mumbling.”
Manning told me: “I was afraid I was going to be in that little cell or something like that little cell for the rest of my life. And that bad things were going to happen to me.” After a week, she fashioned a noose from bedclothes and made what she told me was a “halfhearted attempt” at suicide. “I kind of knew it wasn’t going to work.” It got the staff’s attention, and according to a medical evaluation later obtained by Manning’s legal team, a military doctor would diagnose anxiety, depression and “probable gender identity disorder.” She was given an antidepressant, which made her nose bleed and caused serious nausea. She couldn’t eat. Her skin eventually turned sallow. In late July, four days after the Afghan logs appeared in The Guardian and other papers, Manning was shackled and loaded onto a chartered military flight. She said that previously, guards had told her she would be “whisked away to a Navy cruiser” for months; now her escorts said she was going to Guantánamo. Halfway through the flight, the story changed a final time: She was going to the brig at the Marine base at Quantico, in Virginia.
It was there, on arrival, that she learned the world knew who she was. “So you’re Manning!” a heavyset Marine said with unnerving enthusiasm. Manning was all over Fox News, he added. In transferring Manning to Quantico, the government said it was providing Manning with facilities better suited to her fractured mental state. But a 2011 military investigation, undertaken in part as a response to Manning’s treatment, would reveal the opposite: At Quantico, Manning spent 23 hours a day in a 6-by-8-foot cell, for nearly nine months, much of it on Prevention of Injury, or P.O.I., status, in conditions that a United Nations special rapporteur later said could qualify as torture. While on P.O.I. watch, Manning wore what’s known as a “suicide smock,” a white nylon garment that is all but impossible to twist or rip into a noose. She had no pillow, no sheets. She was required to give regular verbal confirmation during the day that she was O.K. (After the investigation, the military ordered that Quantico’s whole pretrial confinement area be shut down.)
When I asked Manning this spring to describe those conditions, she answered in the present tense. “Emotions can be more intense,” she said. “There isn’t any release for them. A mean comment by a guard” — commonly a gibe about her gender — “can set you off. Completely off. I know I have stood in a cell at times, locked down with nowhere to go, pacing with anger and frustration. It just stews inside of you, and you’re helpless,” she went on. “I just start yelling, at no one in particular, or singing at the top of my lungs.”
But Manning could occasionally receive outside visitors, and her aunt came to the brig. “Even though it was behind a Plexiglas window and we couldn’t talk without recording equipment around,” Manning told me, “it was one of the most powerful meetings I’d ever had.” They whispered to each other. “We love you,” her aunt told her. “We miss you.” They made plans to hire an independent attorney, eventually selecting David Coombs, a forceful lawyer in his early 40s who had served more than a decade in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Word of Manning’s treatment in Kuwait and Quantico had begun to filter out, reaching legal eminences like Laurence Tribe and Kwame Anthony Appiah, who signed an open letter criticizing what they described as “conditions that are illegal and immoral.” In the spring of 2011, the government transferred Manning again, this time to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth. In Kansas, she was released into general population; it was, Manning recalled, “an utter shock to the system, because I had been in shackles everywhere I went or in a small room or a cage.”
At the facility, inmates weren’t required to work, so she spent her time in the library, helping Coombs and his assistants prepare her case. She faced a staggering number of violations, 22 in all, from circumventing security mechanisms to aiding the enemy, an offense that carried with it the possibility of life in prison. For two months that spring, with Manning moved to a civilian prison outside Fort Meade, in Maryland, Coombs sparred with government lawyers, highlighting what he termed the general “lawlessness” of Manning’s unit and the poor security protocols in place in her SCIF. He eventually argued that Manning’s gender dysphoria — and the inability of the Army to provide treatment — might have affected Manning’s mental capacity and judgment. A few days later, the judge found Manning guilty on all but two counts. Manning was spared a conviction for aiding the enemy and avoided a life sentence. Manning told me that she was relieved, and not only for the obvious reasons: She worried that an aiding-the-enemy charge would set a frightening precedent for the prosecution of whistle-blowers. “I still worry about how that charge can be misused,” Manning said.
She herself had resolved not to make her own gender identity public during the court-martial, worried that it would complicate an already unwieldy trial. But listening to the testimony of Lauren McNamara, a transgender friend who testified at the sentencing hearing, she found she had reached a breaking point. “I was tired of pretending,” she told me. She wrote a statement identifying herself as Chelsea, a name she used as a child for her handle on the Sims video game. On Aug. 22, David Coombs appeared on NBC’s “Today” show. The co-host Savannah Guthrie read from the statement: “As I transition into the next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am female.” Manning didn’t see the segment or the reaction to it. She was on a plane, on her way to the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
The U.S.D.B. lies at the far northern end of Fort Leavenworth, not far from the headquarters of the 40th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion. The maximum-security complex, with its 515 beds, is reserved for the military prisoners serving the longest sentences, housing offenders like Robert Bales, the Army staff sergeant convicted in 2013 of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians. For almost the entirety of her time there, Manning lived on the second floor. Her cell was narrow and small; there was a cot, a toilet, a mirror and a sink. The one window faced north, affording her a view of the surrounding landscape. In the vacuum of prison, the weather became theater: The snow that piled up against the cyclone fencing. The forked lightning that spidered the sky, sending deer and rabbits skittering for cover.
At Manning’s court-martial, Coombs had introduced as evidence the photo his client emailed to a superior in 2010. The image was later distributed to the news media, and by the fall of 2013, it had appeared alongside hundreds of articles on Manning’s transition. To Manning, the idea that it should come to define her was painful. “It was just so far from her experience at Leavenworth,” Evan Greer, a trans activist and friend, told me. “And I think some people saw that image, that luscious wig, and figured she was given that kind of freedom behind bars.”
In reality, every aspect of Manning’s appearance was being governed by Army rules, from her briefs to her hair, which she was required to wear, per Section 670-1 of Army regulations, in a “neat and conservative style.” Manning was in a position that can be difficult for non-trans people to understand: She had come out as female but was still being addressed and treated as if she were male — often pointedly, by the Leavenworth staff. Vincent Ward, one of Manning’s attorneys, recalls observing the way the prison guards treated his client. Ward, a former military lawyer, said he knew “who these people were. I knew the personality types. From the minute that you walked in, you could sense the bullying, the smirks, the comments.” It is a kind of isolation that can induce drastic action: Clinical psychologists who work with trans prisoners have documented high levels of suicide and depression in inmates not given appropriate medical treatment. In worst-case scenarios, prisoners have tried to alter their own genitalia by hand.
To friends and the members of her legal team, Manning spoke regularly, and with despair, of feeling “poisoned” by the testosterone in her body and of a ghostlike invisibility: If people couldn’t see her as she actually was, what use was living? On entering the U.S.D.B. in 2013, Manning requested access to the regimen of estrogen and anti-androgen drugs prescribed to people undergoing a male-to-female transition. She was refused: The Army did not yet sanction hormone therapy for soldiers, let alone for prisoners. Manning’s treatment would be limited to antidepressants and counseling sessions with a psychotherapist. “Permitting Mr. Manning to live as female, much less begin to feminize his body, will create operational challenges as the inmate population respond to these changes,” prison administrators wrote in an internal memo later obtained by the A.C.L.U.
The prison was unbending in its stance for nearly a year. Meanwhile, one of Manning’s lawyers — Chase Strangio, who himself is trans — grew increasingly worried that his client might try to hurt herself again; eventually, he filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense. The suit cited a clinical evaluation from the psychologist Randi Ettner and said Manning was “experiencing significant distress and is at high risk for serious medical consequences, including self-castration and suicide.” In the summer of 2014, the Army agreed to send women’s underwear to Manning’s cell — a first for any branch of the military. (A civilian judge in Leavenworth County had granted Manning’s request to change the name on her birth certificate to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.) Hormone therapy followed in early 2015, with the drugs distributed in pill form from a medical dispensary near the cafeteria.
To Manning, the early stages of hormone therapy were deeply fulfilling: her skin softened, her body hair thinned. But with the welcome physical changes came unnerving intellectual ones. “I’d built all these defenses and walls around my emotions over the years, since being a teenager,” Manning told me. “When my testosterone levels plummeted, I suddenly became more vulnerable emotionally. I could no longer just hide my emotions: I had to deal with them, usually right there and then.” And the emotions often came faster than Manning could process: “Good ones, like confidence, and a sense of connection with my friends, mixed in with a lot of bad ones, like doubt, loneliness, uncertainty and loss.” For support, Manning spoke regularly to others in the trans community: Strangio and Annie Danger, a trans artist and activist. Danger listened as Manning experimented with her voice, “putting it in different pitches in an effort to find out what felt right,” Danger told me. “I tried to talk her through that searching process, that evolutionary process, which can be so important. You’re literally finding your voice.”
At the U.S.D.B., Manning’s days took on a mundane, lulling rhythm. Most mornings, she woke up at 4:30 a.m. and, shrugging off the green sheets, dressed in the light of the bare bulb that hung above her bed: the white sports bra; the oversize prison uniform that hung, scarecrow-like, off her thin frame; the Army-issue boots. “O.K.,” she would say, examining herself in the mirror. “You can do this.” After a quick breakfast in the cafeteria, it was down to the prison wood shop, where she and a crew of inmates built, from scratch, the furniture sold at the base commissary. On the invitation of another prisoner, she joined a weekly Dungeons & Dragons game, playing as Esvele Dundragon, a female noble.
Manning told me that even as she transitioned, she never felt physically threatened by the other prisoners, as she did the staff. “Of all the people in my entire experience” in government custody, she said, the ones “who have been consistently good to me were the other inmates — like, I’m not saying they were excited or happy or approved of me or anything.” Manning says she counted a handful of inmates among her close friends, among them Clint Lorance, an Army platoon leader convicted of second-degree murder for ordering his men to open fire on three unarmed Afghan civilians. “Remember that all these folks were active military before they were incarcerated,” David Hammond, a lawyer assigned to Manning by the Army’s Defense Appellate Division, said in describing the dynamic to me. “The discipline carries over.”
In April 2014, the Army denied Manning’s clemency application, choosing to uphold, in full, her 35-year sentence. There remained the distant possibility of a presidential pardon or commutation, but Manning had no reason to expect one: The White House had condemned the leaks, as had the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. The best option, Manning knew, lay in the formal appeal. But Manning’s fight with the prison authorities was grinding into its third year, and she was tired. Her hair was still being cut to male standards. The guards were relentless. “If you were trying to get them to be more gender neutral, they would make a point of being very gender specific,” Manning said. And a request for gender reassignment surgery had been met with silence. (According to Manning’s lawyers, the Army approved the surgery last September, but set no timeline for its completion.) The U.S.D.B., in her mind, was “creating, often deliberately and knowingly, situations that cause high levels of stress on any given number of people. This breaks people down. Good people break down.”
In July 2016, one of Manning’s closest friends at the U.S.D.B., Anthony Raby, was seated at a bench in the embroidery shop, sewing name tapes for Army recruits, when a fellow prisoner dropped a note onto his table. “It’s from your girlfriend,” the man said. Raby didn’t have to ask who the man was referring to.
A former Army specialist serving three decades for the rape of a young child, Raby had first met Manning in 2013, shortly after her arrival at the U.S.D.B. It was his first encounter with a transgender person; he recalls thinking Manning resembled a “sad, strange little man.” In a letter from the U.S.D.B., Raby wrote: “The idea that someone could believe they were a gender other than what they were born was akin to believing a chicken was a hat. I just didn’t understand. However, as a Christian, I fully believe in showing everyone love and compassion, so we talked.”
Raby admired Manning’s intelligence, her wit, her unapologetic weirdness. “I’m all right with the weird,” Raby wrote. Manning visited his cell frequently to talk or vent or cry — taking care not to stay too long and violate the prison policy of one person to a unit. Raby, more than anyone else at the U.S.D.B., seemed to understand the toll that incarceration was taking on Manning. “Prison isn’t the best place for anyone who actually has actual emotions besides hate, anger, bitterness, apathy or indifference,” he wrote.
Now his worst fears were confirmed. Unfolding the note, which was folded and sealed shut with spare adhesive from a stamp book, Raby read the header: “Chelsea E. Manning, re: My Final Letter.” He scanned the first page. Manning wrote that she would kill herself after the base’s Fourth of July fireworks display came to a close. The fireworks had ended at 10 p.m. It was already 12:25 a.m.
Raby notified a guard in the embroidery shop and handed over Manning’s letter. “About 1 a.m., I heard an announcement over the guard’s radio about an alert in Manning’s housing unit,” Raby told me. “I was pacing like a madman, sure they had not gotten to her in time.” Not wanting to aggravate the staff, Raby struggled to keep his composure. Around 3:30 a.m., he was approached by an Army investigator: Manning was alive.
Officials have declined to provide details about the incident, and Manning told me she only remembers waking up in an ambulance. But people with knowledge of the situation said Manning tried to hang herself and was recovered by guards, breathing but unresponsive. Manning told me that in the days leading up to the suicide attempt, she felt unusually low and alone. She had been determined to push through to the end of the long weekend, when her psychologist would be back on base. “I didn’t make it,” she said.
In early September, she embarked on a hunger strike to protest what she called the “constant and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.” She ended the hunger strike when the prison vowed to provide her with gender-reassignment surgery, an unprecedented accommodation.
By the end of September, Manning was sentenced to an additional two weeks in solitary, with one week suspended. Her crime was conduct that threatens the orderly running of the barracks — her suicide attempt.
If prison, as Manning has said, made her feel like a ghost — alive in her supporters’ thoughts but unable to be with them physically — then her time in solitary was akin to erasure. Isolation “changes you; it makes you angry,” she said. “You start to forget about the world outside — it’s not relevant or relatable anymore. The darkest part of solitary confinement is that you start to forget about cars, and jobs, and families, and weather, and politicians, and all the things that make up a society.”
Manning again tried to kill herself, but a guard spotted her before she lost consciousness. A week later, she was returned to general population. She was beside herself with anger and fear. She was also, she told me, most likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — from Iraq, from Quantico.
It was during her second stretch in solitary that Manning experienced an episode that the Army has no record of, and that, on the heels of the suicide attempts, seems to be indicative of severe mental anguish. In a legal brief, Manning details a vivid kind of fever dream that she still puzzles over — hearing “several reports of suppressed or silenced shots from a pistol” and listening as a group of strangers described their plans to remove her from the U.S.D.B. She refused to leave her cell, she says, and the next morning, the staff carried on as if nothing had happened.
To Manning’s attorneys, it was obvious that their client was running out of time. “Chelsea needs help, and she’s not getting it,” Strangio told me this winter. He viewed a commutation application, filed in November, as Manning’s best hope. In the petition, Manning’s lawyers appended a letter from Manning. “I am not Bradley Manning,” she wrote. “I really never was. I am Chelsea Manning, a proud woman who is transgender and who, through this application, is respectfully requesting a first chance at life.”
On the afternoon of Jan. 17, Manning was in the prison workshop, covered head to toe in wood shavings. She remembers looking up to see a team of security personnel enter the room. “I’m like, Oh, God, I’m in a lot of trouble,” Manning told me. “I don’t even know what the hell I’ve done now.”’ The prison’s head of security told her to come with them.
“Am I coming back?” she asked. No, she was told.
She grabbed her belongings and followed the guards to the Special Housing Unit. Assuming she was going back to solitary, she started to take the shoelaces out of her boots. The lead officer shook his head: She was headed for Protective Custody. In the common area, a television was playing CNN. She saw the banner on the screen: Manning’s sentence commuted, it read.
Manning told me she went numb. She never let herself think about a commutation, lest she be thrown back into a deeper darkness. “It was so hard for me to process and deal with it,” Manning recalled. Obama later addressed the decision with an implicit rebuke to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. “Let’s be clear: Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence, so the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served,” he said.
Four months later, on the morning of May 17, Manning was marched out the front door of the U.S.D.B. and loaded into a Ford Explorer. The driver steered the S.U.V. up a short slope and onto the curved road that winds south, past the gates of the overgrown U.S.D.B. cemetery, where 14 executed German prisoners of war were buried in 1945. A constellation of brick buildings appeared in the distance. Close to 1 a.m., the Explorer drew to a halt in a parking lot, where Strangio and the veteran attorney Nancy Hollander were waiting. Manning was so eager to hug the two attorneys that she clocked Strangio in the face with her elbow.
The week I spent with Manning in New York felt like a moment of suspended animation: the days between all the chaos of her life before and whatever was going to come next. In her final months at the U.S.D.B., Manning put together 300 pages of memoir, and she’s acquired an agent to shop the draft around. This fall, she will appear in a documentary called “XY Chelsea,” produced by Laura Poitras. Her attorneys, meanwhile, continue to work on her appeal. Even if she is exonerated, it is hard to know how comfortable her life will be in the years to come, given that some of the nation will never likely reconcile itself to what she did.
But she is determined not to dwell on her reputation, and for that week in Manhattan, she seemed happy being free. We trudged, unnoticed, through busy city streets, ordered chicken nuggets at McDonald’s, ate in restaurants and cafes and went to a weekend screening of “Alien: Covenant.” On the way into the theater, the man collecting the tickets asked to check Manning’s bag. I held my breath, thinking she would be recognized. But kneeling, Manning unzipped the main compartment, revealing her laptop. She was waved through: The famous whistle-blower and former military prisoner had become just another Sunday evening theatergoer.
It occurred to me that if Manning sometimes seemed to have difficulty interpreting the effect her actions had on the world, it was in part a result of the extraordinary isolation she had experienced even before her arrest, in her childhood in Crescent, when she longed for a solution for her pain. Later, in solitary in Kuwait or Quantico, or in the special housing unit at the U.S.D.B., that isolation had been made physical: The “feedback loop” she had spoken of to me had been torn. Now she had the ability to live publicly and openly as she always knew she was, and she was adjusting to the idea, sinking into it as if it were a cold pond. More than once, as we walked the streets of New York, I felt I was in the presence of someone coming fully alive for the very first time. Manning told me she understood that her identity and the actions that led to her arrest have long been tangled up in the public imagination, sometimes in uncomfortable ways: An appellate brief filed last year by Manning’s legal team implied that the Army’s inability to treat Manning’s gender dysphoria was a contributing factor in the leaks. Manning didn’t want to discuss “hypotheticals,” what would have happened if circumstances were different, but she was adamant on one thing: “What I can tell you,” she said, “is that my values would have been the same. The things I care about would have been the same.”
One morning, at the end of an interview, Manning handed me a white envelope. Inside was a note from a 14-year-old trans boy. “I just wanted to say that I’m glad you’re gonna be free in a few months,” the boy had scrawled in pen, “and that I’m proud of you (is that weird thing to say?). You’re an inspiration.” Manning placed the note back in the envelope. If she was being honest, she said, she never particularly wanted to be a role model. I asked if Manning’s life would have been different if she’d had such a person. She stared down at her hands. “I don’t know how,” she said finally, “but it would have been better.”
A couple of days later, we spent an hour sitting on a park bench. The skies were bruised, but the air was warm and fragrant. A flock of pigeons nearby. Manning cooed at them. She told me that at Leavenworth, not long before she learned of her commutation, a robin had alighted at her window, a small messenger from the world outside. Hadn’t it been a sign? She had taken it as one.
Additional credits: Hair color: André Viveiros. Hair: Christiaan. Makeup: Fulvia Farolfi. Nails: Rieko Okusa. Clothes: Gabriela Hearst and Brandon Maxwell.
Matthew Shaer is a contributing writer for the magazine, based in Atlanta. He has written for Harper’s, Wired, The Atlantic and Smithsonian magazine, where he is a correspondent.
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Chelsea Manning Leaves Prison, Closing an Extraordinary Leak CaseMay 16, 2017
‘I Am a Female,’ Manning Announces, Asking Army for Hormone TherapyAug. 22, 2013