Cate Blanchett says starring opposite Sir Ian McKellen was the ''highlight'' of her career.

The 43-year-old actress worked very closely with the British legend in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' and revealed she harbours a secret crush on him, as well as thinking he is one of the best actors in history.

Cate told Empire magazine: ''What was extraordinary for me was getting to work with Ian McKellen. I only briefly worked with him in 'Lord Of The Rings' and in my very small part in 'The Hobbit' it was mainly with him.

''He's just a god amongst men. It's a highlight of my career getting to act with him. He's a wonderful man and one of the most extraordinary actors. I honestly think he's one of the best of all time.

''I'm smitten. If only he were straight ... In another life. Maybe in some different universe we're blissfully happy together.''

The blonde beauty returns to Middle-Earth as Galadriel in Peter Jackson's long-awaited epic, and was relieved her part was so small because she needs to juggle family commitments with any acting job she takes on.

Cate added: ''I've got three children from four to ten and my husband and I are running the Sydney Theatre Company, so the only film jobs I've been able to do are the ones that can be done in the school holidays or in a small slot where I can fit it in.

''Ten days on 'The Hobbit' is an absolute godsend because it's brilliant fun and you know the results are going to be great and even though I'm only a small part of it, I'm very happy to be a wheel on that Tonka truck.''

The full interview appears in this month's special 3D Hobbit issue of Empire magazine, on sale on Thursday (25.10.12).