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"The Ruthless Reinvention of Kate Winslet"

The Daily Mail

January 21, 2002

 

 

By Alison Boshoff

 

She’s legally gagged her ex-husband, forced her publicist and made powerful new friends. How our favourite young actress got tough on the pursuit of
A-list stardom.

When Kate Winslet arrived at the premiere of Iris, her lips painted the perfect shade of rose and her complexion camera-ready, there was no doubt the star had landed on the red carpet. Utterly composed in her gravity-defying Dolce & Gabbana jacket, she walked through the storm of attention with true Hollywood aplomb.

With Cherie Blair she exchanged girlish social banter about the 't** tape' Kate was wearing to keep herself inside her jacket, making the Prime Minister’s wife roar with laughter with her risqué descriptions of her underwear.

It was heady stuff for the young woman who left stage school at 16, complaining that she was not one of its most popular members. Here she was, at only 26, granting an audience with one of the most powerful women in the country.

And no one could help but notice that they were obviously conversing on the ready terms of friends. Kate has clearly privately entered a powerful circle
of influence – and it is one in which she moves with complete self-assurance.

Last night she was on star duty again, mixing with the likes of Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in Los
Angeles, having been nominated for best supporting actress in Iris.

Those who know Winslet say her experience last year of shedding a husband and gaining an Oscar-winning boyfriend have 'completely transformed' her,
contributing to a more focused – even ruthless – new Kate.

Of course, she likes to tell the world that she is still just an ordinary girl from Reading, Berkshire, but she has indulged in some behaviour which is certainly the preserve of A-list talent.

And about this you will not find a word in all the thousands she has publicly uttered about her 'little mate', daughter Mia, now 15 months old, and about how the end of her marriage was just one of those things that sometimes happens.

Since the split, she has quietly fired her New York publicist and exchanged him for another, this time higher up the Hollywood food chain. I n classic style, Robert Garlock was told by Kate’s agent that his services were no longer required, rather than being let down in person.

She is now looked after by Simon Halls, of Huvane Baum Halls, the most powerful PR agency in showbusiness. No coincidence, surely, that Halls is also her boyfriend Sam Mendes’s media protector. The company look after a Hollywood Who’s Who, including Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt.

Meanwhile, her ex, Jim Threapleton, in whose ordinariness she used to glory, and the man whom she married in a heart-warming ceremony followed by bangers and mash at the local pub – has been gagged.

It’s the kind of legal agreement which has previously stopped hundreds of cast-aside lovers, sacked butlers, chauffeurs and other celebrity acolytes from having their say about the flip side of household names.

Kate evidently wanted a confidentiality clause as part of their divorce agreement. It is understood to be a quid pro quo for a generous financial settlement of more than £500,000, which Kate has paid for by selling their homes in Surrey and Cornwall.

Should Jim wish to discuss what went wrong with their three-year marriage, he will find his way has been blocked. 'As far as the marriage and why it broke down goes,' says Threapleton, 'any personal stuff is simply out of bounds.'

Miss Winslet, it seems, wanted three main points from her divorce: for it to be quick, look clean, and be forgotten as soon as possible. The gagging clause – and new publicist – will certainly help with that.

And while Jim is required to play strong and silent and is only ever seen holding the baby, Kate is free to give her version of the events, which led to the end of the marriage.

A cynic would say she has seized the opportunity to try to reclaim her status as the nation’s sweetheart. In an interview with Elle magazine, she asserted her credentials as Mia’s mother in a way which helped to erase those images of Jim left holding the baby. It was she who saw Mia’s first steps, not Jim - because he wasn’t there, she said. Talking about making the film The Life Of David Gale, which took Kate and Mia to Texas this winter, she says she got up early to make bottles for the baby every day.

But the article omits the rather embarrassing episode in which Kate was watched collecting her new lover Sam Mendes from the airport and taking him to the hotel room she shared with Mia for a couple of nights of passion.

So is this spring-cleaning of her image all part of Kate’s new master plan? One person who has known her since she was a teenager believes so.

He said: 'She has become very tough. She’s started really going after what she wants, whether in terms of films, or public profile or her personal life. It’s as if she has woken up to who she is and what she needs to make her happy.'

Another friend says: 'Some of the changes you are seeing in Kate come because she was alarmed by the bad press over Jim. She had no idea that people would think the worse of her for dumping him.'

But what was it that made Kate tear up what she said was a perfect life, in order to start again? Some say she developed an unwillingness to compromise after Mia came along. 'Becoming a mother made her look again at her life, and she decided she didn’t want Jim to be part of it,' says one friend. Threapleton’s manner, old friends say, could be chauvinistic at times. His lack of material success, thrown into sharp relief by her continued stardom, probably stung him into some of the rows that they had.

She was sometimes exasperated by this and the perception developed that he was holding her back. 'It was not working, and had not been working for some time,' Kate has offered. But another friend remembers it differently: 'She DOTED ON Jim. She was always trying to get him work. She worried about him so much.'

On the set of Iris last April he brought Mia to play with her in the lunch hours, and there was no sign of a gathering storm. She sighed at the time: 'I’m so worried about Jim,' like any wife wishing her husband was prospering.

This is when another theory emerges: that Jim was the guilty party as far as the break down of the marriage goes. Some friends suggest there was some cataclysmic discovery in the summer, causing sudden and complete rupture in their relationship.

This would certainly explain Kate’s willingness to flaunt new love Mendes almost indecently quickly after the split. Jim denies suggestions of a liaison with Karen Bishko, the attractive brunette Tie Rack heiress who has been a friend since university and with whom he has been pictured. 'It is simply not true to say Karen and I are anything but friends,' he insists.

So what of Kate’s liaison with 35-year-old Mendes? Britain’s new A-list pairing seem to have little in common. She has had just two big loves, TV scriptwriter Stephen Tredre, who died of cancer, and Threapleton. Sam can tick off numerous romances, including Rachel Weisz, Calista Flockhart and Jane Horrocks.

There can be no doubt Kate and Sam’s romance is intense and passionate. Sam has more the look of a Greek waiter than a Greek god, but one who has enjoyed a flirtation with him calls him 'devastatingly charismatic: a very sexy man indeed.'

Even though they have been officially together for only five months, some in their circle are predicting they will have a baby this year. They are even house-hunting together in North London. Mendes of course, offers Kate an entrée into the big time. He is friends with Kevin Spacey, whom he directed in American Beauty, and is part of a powerful London/Hollywood axis of influence which encompasses the Old Vic’s Sally Greene and her good friends Tony and Cherie Blair and Peter Mandelson.

Four years after Titanic, Kate Winslet is ready to assume her place on the A-list. She was looking forward to last night’s Golden Globes, and the Oscar race also holds no fears.

'I feel as though I can achieve anything,' she said recently. When asked if she thought this might be her year to go home with a statuette, she paused and then proffered her broadest smile: 'Third time lucky?' she mused. 'You never know.'

 

 

A big THANK YOU to Allan for sending me the article!