"They wrote that about me?!"
On this page you will find newspaper and magazine articles about Kate
(some include pics).
I will be adding more articles from time to time, so check back.
If you have an older article you don't see posted here, and can provide it, please email me.
Quick Links to Articles:
"Mystery Machine-She is Kind of a True Heroine," Film Review Magazine, December 2000
"Kate Winslet Sets Sail Again," PlanetHollywood, November 2000
"I'm a Calmer, Softer Person," the UK Telegraph, November 20, 2000
"Riding Her Own Wave," New York Times Magazine, November 19, 2000
"A Heavenly Creature Who Breaks All The Formulas," Interview Magazine, November 2000
OK Magazine feature on the birth of Mia, October 27, 2000
Beth Winslet and Gareth Rhys Jones, Hello! magazine, October 17, 2000
"Keeping it in the Family," (Beth Winslet feature), The Mirror, October 8, 2000
"Life Support," The Observer, October 8, 2000 (features Beth and Roger Winslet)
"Life's Just Child's Play For Kate," Lineone, September 11, 2000
"Hugely Happy," The UK Times, September 11, 2000
Daily Mail Weekend Magazine, September 9, 2000
She magazine (Australia), August 2000
Globe (tabloid), July 11, 2000
Telltale Films / Intermedia Press Release, July 2000
Demi magazine article, May 2000
Press Association article, May 2000
"The World of Kate Winslet" - "Now" magazine, April 2000
No Smoke Without Fire, April 2000
Kate on Love and 'That' Scene, March 2000
Motherhood, Mick Jagger and Me, March 2000
Kate Gets Real, March 2000
The Adventures of Kate Winslet, March 2000
Interview with Stephen Thompson
Mademoiselle, February 2000
Life After Titanic, February 2000
A Very Frank Interview, February 2000
Winslet Jumps From Titanic, February 2000
Girls on Film Interview, February 2000
I Watched My New Film and Thought...
Holy Smoke - It's Kate Winslet, February 2000
I Want Three or Four Kids, January 2000
Kate Winslet Speaks Her Mind, January 2000
Yahoo Chat Transcript, January 2000
"Fearless Kate's Got Soul" - NY Daily News, December 99
Premiere, November 1999
"And The Winslet Is..." - Sunday Times, September 12, 1999
Interview with Prairie Miller, 1999
"Winslet's Own Story" - NY Daily News, April 1999
Los Angeles Times feature/interview, April 1999
Rolling Stone magazine, March 1998
Movieline magazine (Top 10 performances), March 1998
Movieline magazine (interview), March 1998
December 6: Thanks to my great pal Sylvia of Dougray Scott in Focus, here's a wonderful feature on Kate from Film Review magazine:
"Mystery Machine - She is kind of a true heroine," by James Mottram
She may have abandoned one sinking ship, but Kate Winslet isn't about to pull the same stunt on the British film industry. James Cameron's Titanic made her a huge star, but her subsequent refusal to ship out to Hollywood, preferring to perform in a number of home-grown movies, is to be commended. After Gilles McKinnon's Hideous Kinky -- via a brief sojourn to Oz to feature in Jane Campion's Holy Smoke -- comes Philip Kaufman's Marquis De Sade story Quills and Michael Apted's WWII code-breaking story, Enigma.
In the latter, Winslet plays Hester Wallace, a cog in the war effort to crack the German enigma code. With her character expanded considerably from Robert Harris' best-selling novel, Winslet sees her role as a central one. "In the film she is very much one of the sort of front runners. She is kind of a true heroine of the story as well at the end of the day because she's very much involved in the code breaking along with Tom Jericho [Dougray Scott]. And she is good. At Bletchley Park she is employed below her level of intelligence. She never actually gets to break any codes herself. Throughout the story of the film she gets involved with that."
Enigma, along with Quills, also continues Winslet's tradition of snagging plum period roles, a trait that kick-started her career after the triple-bill of Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet and Michael Winterbottom's Jude. In this time, Winslet has become an unwitting spokeswoman for contemporary women; this outspoken nature emerges when I ask if she believes the time period of Enigma was a better one for her own gender. "I think society was a lot nicer," she says. "And during this period, it was so attractive for women. The fashion, clothes, hair, were absolutely gorgeous. Society towards women and how women look or should look is completely screwed up now. The great advantage is that woman are now allowed to have big boobs. All women want big boobs, so it's like, finally they are realizing that we're supposed to have boobs. And beneath the large boobs, we're supposed to have stick thin bodies. This is driving me crazy."
Shot in England and Holland, the film was made while Winslet was pregnant with her first child with her husband, the director Jim Threapleton. The Reading-born actress admits life wasn't easy filming while undergoing changes to her body. "You get pregnant and you see nothing, then you get to four months. Then everything starts getting different. You don't have any kind of bump. You just look fatter in an odd way. You gain all the weight in the middle, your waist line goes in, you have no stomach muscles anymore. That's very difficult to dress." Since completing the movie, Winslet gave birth to a baby girl this October, which she named Mia.
Now 25, Winslet intends to spend the remainder of the year at home, bringing up baby, before she begins work on her next project, Therese Raquin, an adaptation of the Emile Zola novel. To be directed by David Leveaux, Winslet calls it "a wonderful, kind of bizarre crime-of-passion story", but is happy to admit that she partly took the role because it will be shot in Britain -- where she will be able to remain close to her new-born child. "I'm raised in the real belief that this is what women are meant to do," she says. "I do have two sisters and a brother and I think we're going to have more children."
November 28: Jeanne emailed me with the tip on this interview with Kate:
"Kate Winslet Sets Sail Again," Excluisve interview for Planethollywood.com by Special Correspondent Prairie Miller
Kate Winslet doesn't mind taking on a daring role now and then, but don't expect anything too depraved of her in Quills. Winslet once again plays with audience expectations as Madeleine, an innocent French washerwoman at the local insane asylum. She's enamored of the writings of its most famous inmate and aggressive aspiring suitor, Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis De Sade. But Madeleine instead has her eye on Joaquin Phoenix, the resident priest. Winslet talked about her own passionate preference for such unusual roles, and her prevailing career philosophy after Titanic that good things come in smaller packages.
Planet Hollywood: What got you excited about being in a movie about the Marquis De Sade?
Kate Winslet: I chose to do Quills because it was a fantastic script. It was unbelievable, I just loved it. And I loved the fact that it was an ensemble piece. Because they're heaps of fun you know, there's just so many people to play with and laugh with. So it wasn't a conscious decision to, you know, do a period movie, it was just something that really grabbed me.
PH: De Sade was a pretty bizarre figure. Will we be seeing anything really strange in Quills?
KW: It's not what you think, not really. The movie is based on a section of his life. And it's not as wild and sexually explicit as everyone is imagining it to be. It's about the man himself. And he was really quite an extraordinary individual.
PH: When you were in the research phase for the film, did you envelop yourself in all things De Sade?
KW: Yep, absolutely. I got right inside there. I read heaps of De Sade biographies. That's what I always do. And I found out as much about my character Madeleine as I could, because she had really existed. I found out all about the women and working classes of that time. I love delving into research like that. It can be so fascinating. And it enabled me to understand Madeleine. You know, what kind of life she has led, her hopes and desires, and the way she would express herself. I came across a picture of a French girl ironing, and that became a huge inspiration for me. And that led to me approach Madeleine as a girl from the lower classes with little education, but who has a mind of her own and very romantic notions of the world.
PH: Why would such a childlike young woman like Madeleine be fascinated by De Sade?
KW: Madeleine is an innocent girl who has clear ideas about right and wrong, and the Marquis has no choice but to accept that. And she looks up to him because he is so bright, and has a powerful imagination. But she isn't in love with him. The man she's really in love with is the Abbe, Joaquin's character. That's the real reason she won't leave the asylum, no matter what danger she might face by remaining there.
PH: It couldn't have been too hard to play someone who's got a huge crush on Joaquin Phoenix, even if his character is a priest.
KW: Absolutely. And Joaquin is amazing to work with, I think he's one of the most outstanding actors of my generation. He really lived in the skin of his character.
PH: You deflect very smartly the advances of Geoffrey Rush as De Sade in the movie. But what do you make of all the younger woman/older man attractions in movies, like you and Harvey Keitel in Holy Smoke?
KW: It isn't something I consider at all, or really think about. And it's interesting working with actors who are older than myself, because they've got so much experience under their belts, and they just have many things for me to learn. And I find that is terribly fascinating. But I wouldn't take a role that I didn't think was going to stretch me or challenge me in some way.
PH: Audiences may be surprised to see your washerwoman look in Quills, with that corset you wear. Is that the worst thing you've ever worn in a movie?
KW: Actually, it was probably that very nasty '50s underwear in Heavenly Creatures. There was a whole scene where we had to run through a forest wearing this funny underwear. It was frumpy, unflattering, uncomfortable. You name it, it was just very irritating. And it was difficult to sort of concentrate, because of this frustrating underwear!
PH: You seem to be really know who you are, and be comfortable with yourself. How do you relate to these female characters you tend to play, who are so confused and troubled?
KW: When I was about eighteen or nineteen, I thought that I was actually going mad. I mean, I was so confused by who I was. And I started acting and was loving it, but who was I? You know, what was my identity. And I pushed myself through that period going, I'll get through this lonely bit, this suicidal bit and I'll come out the other side and feel okay. It took a long time, but I knew that these were important things that I had to do.
PH: You fell in love and got married to Jim Threapleton on the set of Hideous Kinky. Was that as romantic as it seemed for you in Titanic?
KW: You know, I have to be honest and say that it really was love at first sight, actually, it was. All of a sudden he showed up on set, and my reaction was, oh no. Because I saw this wonderful person, and I just knew that something was going to happen.
And Jim told me when he first saw me that he actually turned his back. Because he could feel that something was going to happen, and he didn't want me to see his reaction on his face. So in fact the first view I had of my husband was his bum and his back! Which was nice... But it was pretty instantaneous, yeah, I would say.
PH: What's it like for Jim to be married to a woman who's much more famous than he is?
KW: It's not a problem at all. It's like, who wears the trousers in your relationship? And I say, we both wear one leg each! It's incredibly equal.
PH: How did Jim react when he caught sight of you nude on the screen with Harvey Keitel?
KW: Jim's opinion is the most important to me of anyone when it comes to deciding about a certain role. So he knew that all those things were there. But when we saw the film, we were both sort of taken aback. And I was more taken about it than he was, only because it's just out there. You know, it's a really bold film. And I knew that at the time when I read the script, but when I saw the final cut I was going, that isn't even me! And I didn't like her sometimes, she could be really manipulative. But I think ultimately you admire her, for being as ballsy as she is.
PH: Geoffrey Rush told me how uncomfortable nudity was for him in Quills. Is it liberating or exasperating for you to be naked on screen?
KW: I'd say the only time I ever felt really liberated about being naked was the first time I had to do it, which was in Jude. Because I was so petrified and I thought, no I can't do this. And Emma Thompson had said to me, look, you're fully liberated, you just go for it. And she was right, and I did. Nude scenes are hard to do, but at the end of the day they're no different than any other scene. Because you have to forget about yourself. You have to forget about your physicality, and you have to concentrate on the work that's involved. Otherwise, all kinds of my own paranoias would come into play and I wouldn't be embodying that character. So nudity is difficult to do. But a nude scene is a nude scene. You just go, oh well, it's part of the job. Although I'd never do a nude scene if it wasn't necessary. Because they are tough scenes to do. But there is a certain sense that, yes I did that, when you get to the other side.
PH: Is there anything at all that still scares you as an actress?
KW: No, no, I'm straight. But when you're in a movie, there are all kinds of fears that go on. You just think, I can't even act anymore. I may look like the back end of a horse. You know, you panic like crazy. But I don't know a single actor who doesn't do that. And I'd say that Holy Smoke almost changed any fears that I subconsciously had. Because I had to be really fearless and totally open to play that role. I had to be completely uninhibited and very free. And not afraid. And my character sort of dragged me there, kicking and screaming.
PH: Did you lose interest in big budget movies after Titanic?
KW: Yes and no. I mean I really love reading scripts, and I love acting, I absolutely love it. So for me, it's always exciting to read the different things. And that one can be small budget or huge, or whatever. And so after Titanic there were a lot of very big things that were coming in, really incredible ones. But I just thought no, actually, I just really want to do things that are just different and small. You know, almost like keeping it in the family, that kind of thing. I just wanted to really ground myself, because I knew that things were going to go bananas when Titanic was released. And everyone was saying to me, you know that this is going to completely change your life, and all of these things. And I thought, well actually I don't want my life to change. You know, I like me, and I like the way that things are, and I don't want to change myself. And I suppose I was a little bit kind of frightened of that, all the madness of Titanic that happened. But which was wonderful. I mean I'll never forget it as long as I live, and it still goes on. But yeah, I just wanted to bring things back to basics a little bit after that.
PH: How do you find being a celebrity? Punch Magazine said that you were the woman most British men would love to have an affair with.
KW: Really? I never read or heard that! I don't know how I could possibly comment on that! Especially now that I'm married. It's funny, really. Because I don't think of myself now as any kind of sex symbol, and I don't think I ever really have either.
I mean, you know you look at certain actresses, and they're all beautiful women who really are sex symbols. I just don't see myself as being one of those people. I don't know why, I mean maybe I'm completely stupid, but I just don't. So it's very flattering, but I don't know how I can really comment on that.
PH: You're still so young, and you're already a big star. Not to mention being a wife and mother. Do you ever look back and say, how did all of this happen to me so fast?
KW: Yeah I do, I do. I look back and I think wow, all these things that have happened to me. And I still find myself so lucky that I have the choice. You know, it's not just a case that I have work. I have the choice about the work that I do. And that is something that I just love, and I'm so appreciative of. Because there are so many actors that I know who are just really struggling to make ends meet, and never working. And desperate to work. You know, they love their jobs and they want to do that. So I do look back and I think, I can't believe it.
November 20: I found an interview with Kate in today's UK Telegraph. It is one of the many interviews she did just prior to the Quills premiere at the London Film Festival on November 3:
"I am a Calmer, Softer Person" -- As the final films she made before becoming a mother are released, Kate Winslet tells John Hiscock how much having a baby has changed her, and how her daughter will revolutionise the way she works
Kate Winslet was trying to concentrate, but her mind was elsewhere. Since giving birth to her daughter, Mia, this was her first separation, albeit a short one, from the baby. Our interview had been delayed for an hour because, just as Winslet was leaving her room at the London hotel where we had arranged to meet, Mia woke up and needed breast-feeding. Mia was now in the care of Winslet's husband of two years, Jim Threapleton. Even so, she found it hard to tear her mind away from her daughter. "Mia's teeny-weeny and she's not very far away," said Winslet when she finally emerged. "She's just gone for a little walk with her dad. Before I came down to talk to you I thought, how can I concentrate on what I am saying? My mind has been so much on her that it's bizarre to find myself re-engaging with the real world." She laughingly calls Mia "my most amazing production yet. She's absolutely gorgeous. She's transformed my world. We've been in this little baby cocoon since the day she was born. She is so precious that for the first few days we were worried about breaking her, and every nappy change would take 30 minutes. Now it takes 30 seconds. We're getting quicker at these things and realising babies are not as fragile as we think. Jim is brilliant with her and there are times when I look at him with her and wish I could be as good as he is."
In a way, the 25-year-old Winslet has Titanic - the filming of which was not a happy experience for her - to thank for the fact that she is now a contented, married mother. When James Cameron's blockbuster finally finished filming in Mexico, she vowed that she had had enough of epics. "I was so tired and I wanted to do a film that was totally different and small," she says. "When I did Titanic there were thousands of people at work every day and it was difficult to remember who everyone was. I wanted to be able to go to work and know everyone's name."
So she chose Hideous Kinky, filmed in Morocco, which was where she met Threapleton. "I was the leading lady and he was the third assistant director, so we had to be a little bit careful. But to be honest I didn't really care," she laughs. "I just thought, this is the man for me and I'm going to go for it. I think it's a tribute to our professionalism that when we got to the end of the shoot, everyone knew that we'd got it together except for Gilles McKinnon, the director."
They were married in November 1998, but Winslet soon went off to film Holy Smoke in India and Australia. [Actually, HS was filmed before the wedding.] "I felt a lot more fulfilled after doing those two films," she says, "because part of me had always wanted to take a year out and travel, but it never happened because I was working. It was luck that they were shot in such beautiful places."
She returned to England to film Quills and then the Mick Jagger-produced Second World War thrilled Enigma (released here next year), which called for some clever camera work because she was five-and-a-half months pregnant. "Rather than have me shoot for a 12-week period, they squashed all my stuff into four weeks, so that I didn't get too tired and so that I didn't get too big," she says.
Quills opens in the UK in January, but it will be a long time before she allows Mia to watch it, since it concerns the Marquis de Sade. Winslet plays a laundry maid at Charenton, the asylum where he was imprisoned. Geoffrey Rush is the Marquis, Joaquin Phoenix the priest in charge of the asylum and Michael Caine the callous government agent determined to put a stop to the Marquis's sexually explicit writings. The film contains scenes of torture and brutality, and Winslet has a sex scene with Phoenix. "That scene with Joaquin was the hardest for me to do, not just because it's a nude scene - and they're always hard to do - but because there was so much emotion in it," says Winslet. To prepare herself for the role she read some of the writings of the Marquis de Sade. "It's embarrassingly vile. I'm not easily shocked, but I was utterly outraged by it. I was so taken aback by this despicable writing but kind of amazed as well, because the Marquis wasn't just a madman, he was a troubled genius. When I read the script I thought some of the things were so disgusting they were funny."
Phoenix, Caine and Rush did their best to bring some levity to the set. "We had so much fun," she says. "It had to be like that, because if we hadn't had a laugh we'd have been bogged down with a black, heavy story." Winslet now plans to take six months off. She will go back to work next spring, to produce and star in Therese Raquin, an adaptation of the Zola novel directed by David Leveaux, to be filmed at Shepperton, 20 minutes from her home.
In fact, she doesn't expect to be travelling very far for the foreseeable future. "It's important to us that Mia isn't put into a bag and bundled off to film locations. I don't want to see her anywhere but at home for the next five years. Where a film is made has now become very important to us."
Since her birth on October 12, Mia has already had a profound effect on Winslet's character. "I'm a lot less hectic than I was," she says. "I've stopped smoking and I've become a much calmer, softer person. I'm becoming more squishy and vulnerable and emotional and I'm sure I'll find it easier to cry on screen." Having Mia has made her unsympathetic to those celebrities who sell photographs of their new-born babies to magazines for large sums. "I think it's pretty outrageous," she says. "There is a very fine line between satisfying the public's interest and selling your private life. At the end of the day you can only say that they needed the money. I would never do that. No matter how poor I was, my private life would always be the most important thing in the world. If I didn't have that I would just be a commodity."
November 19: Here's a great interview with Kate from today's New York Times:
|"Riding Her Own Wave -- After the success of 'Titanic,' Kate Winslet has charted an idiosyncratic course," by Lynn Hirschberg
When Kate Winslet told her agents that she wanted to follow her Oscar-nominated role in "Titanic," the most successful movie of all time, with a role in "Hideous Kinky," a small movie set in Morocco, they were not happy. "My agents were miserable," says Winslet, laughing at the memory. " 'O.K.,' they said, 'you're going to ride this enormous wave by making a tiny film in the desert. That's a real good idea.' But they know me. They know I make my own decisions, and I didn't want to get lost or confused by the hugeness of 'Titanic.' I deliberately did not do the whole Hollywood thing. I wanted to go to work every day and know everyone's name on the set. It sounds a little mystical, but I had to look after my soul."
Winslet, who is only 25 and has been acting professionally since she was a teenager, is none of the things you are supposed to be if you are an A-list actress. She is beautiful, but she is not twig-thin; she lives outside London rather than in Los Angeles; and most of all, she has turned down big-budget superstar roles in favor of idiosyncratic movies like "Holy Smoke," in which she played a woman under the sway of an Indian guru, or "Quills," her latest film, which opens on Nov. 22 and which chronicles the last days of the Marquis de Sade.
" 'Quills' was originally a play," Winslet says from London, while her 3-week-old baby, Mia Honey, sleeps in her lap. "The script was wild. It was genuinely shocking, and by that I mean it was everything vile and everything extreme and it was wonderful. I thought, It is incredibly brave for Fox Searchlight, a Hollywood studio, to make this movie. I thought, Bloody hell, they must believe in it. And I signed on."
As the first star to commit to "Quills," Winslet, because of her clout from "Titanic," was able to get the film going. "She was my first choice," says Philip Kaufman, who directed "Quills" and is best known for directing "The Right Stuff" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." "Kate has the proper hierarchy of values. She has none of that movie-star stuff at all, which shouldn't be unusual, but it is. Everyone else is busy being piggies, but Kate rejects all that. She is unafraid. She looks soft, but she's not fragile. At all. And Kate has that face -- that face is better than the ship that sunk."
"Quills" is set in an insane asylum where the Marquis de Sade has been imprisoned. Punished in 1801 for publishing pornographic novels and plays, the Marquis (played by Geoffrey Rush) lives out his days in isolated splendor, his writings smuggled out by Madeleine (Winslet), a laundress with romantic dreams. Scandalized by "Justine," Sade's latest work, France's emperor, Napoleon, sends Dr. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine) to discipline the marquis. His presence incites the entire asylum, including a priest, Abbe Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix, in a breakthrough performance), who is in love with Madeleine.
" 'Quills' was risky," explains Winslet, whose father and two sisters are also actors. "In general, I don't think about consequences, my marketability, my overseas potential and all that. I'm looking to have some fun -- an adventure -- and this character had integrity. But there were moments. . . . " Winslet laughs again. What she is referring to is a long, very affecting passage in "Quills" that involves necrophilia. "And, well," Winslet continues, "that's a hard type of scene to do. I mean, sex with a corpse -- that's a bit much. And then you add in that it's a priest having sex with a corpse, in church. You couldn't get more controversial if you tried."
Although she is the naked corpse, the imminent protests seem to delight Winslet. "Lying on a slab with no clothes on was hard," she says, "but the scene was not gratuitous. Everyone always asks me about nudity because I guess I've taken my clothes off in almost every movie I've done. But, in each case, the nudity has been there for a reason. Frankly, I hate every second. But I can't stand seeing a film and thinking: Why is that woman having sex in all her clothes? She should be naked."
Winslet's voluptuousness is a throwback to less aerobicized times, which may be why she is so perfect in period films like "Quills" or "Sense and Sensibility," for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. During "Titanic," Leonardo DiCaprio predicted that Winslet's weight would become a topic of discussion. Winslet recalls: "I'd complain to him: 'My bum is fat. I'm naked in this movie, and my bum is fat.' And he'd say, 'You'll be hailed for having a great shape.' He'd tell me: 'You're gorgeous. Stop worrying.' And he's a sensible boy."
He wasn't quite right, Winslet admits. "After 'Titanic,' the press wrote endlessly about my weight. So, for a while, I thought I had to conform, and I dieted and I got really thin and then I realized, I don't have to starve. I thought, Hell, 'Titanic' is a huge hit, I've been nominated for two Academy Awards, and my message to young women out there is, You don't have to be skinny skinny skinny to be successful." She pauses. "I'm so bored of myself saying this."
The baby starts to cry, and Winslet picks her up. "You know, I don't really have enormous confidence," she says, comforting Mia. "It's all a front, believe me. I have my moments when I cower in a corner and wish the world would swallow me up." The baby is starting to howl, and Winslet's husband, the director Jim Threapleton, takes her into another room. "But I am determined to be honest. I don't want to be distracted by success. I'd rather listen to my baby scream."
Kate was the cover girl for the November 2000 issue of Interview Magazine. The very nice interview and great pics are posted on a separate page.
October 27: I have posted on another page the great feature article on Kate and the birth of Mia from OK! Magazine (great pics). GO!
October 19: Here's the full text of the interview with Beth Winslet and Gareth Rhys Jones from the October issue 17 of Hello! magazine - and all the pics!
Beth Winslet and Gareth Rhys Jones tell of their romance and of their baby due in November, two months after that of her 'Titanic' sister Kate
Interview: Richard Barber; Photos: Nicky Johnston
Photographed amid the grandeur of Kenwood House in north London.
Beth Winslet is the third daughter of actor Roger Winslet and his wife Sally, and the third of their children to enter the acting profession.
The middle daughter Kate, 24, is of course an internationally recognised name following her performance as Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, the most successful film of all time.
The oldest, Anna, 27, and her husband Edmund Harcourt spent the summer living on a canal boat touring Britain's waterways and, along with two other actors, performing shows at pubs en route.
And then there's Beth, 22, whose first major television credit was playing Trudie Styler's daughter in The Scold's Bridle. And she is soon to be seen on the big screen in Bodywork, a contemporary thriller that opens across Britain on Friday October 20.
Working on the film proved to be more than a professional turning point for the young actress. Director Gareth Rhys Jones, 37, who also wrote the script, clearly made a lasting impression on Beth. After filming finished, the two of them met up again, eventually began living together and are now expecting their first child at the end of November, two months after Kate's first baby.
These are happy days indeed. So when did you both notice each other for the first time?
Gareth: "The first time I set eyes on Beth was in Spotlight, the manual that shows photographs of members of Equity, the actors' union. I'd been living in Switzerland in the early Nineties and, when I returned to the UK, I had the huge advantage of not knowing any of the current names and faces. I'd just about hear of Kate because of Titanic, but mostly I went about casting the main roles for Bodywork without any preconceptions."
And, you, Beth?
"I literally didn't notice Gareth at all when I went in to pick up the script from the casting director. And Gareth tells me that he saw me again soon afterwards, when both of us were shopping in Marks & Spencer. But he didn't want to reveal himself, apparently, for fear that I would think he was a stalker!"
Filming took seven weeks and that might have been that.
G: "It might, except that we both independently found that we were missing each other."
Beth: "I'd thought he was a lovely guy but I'd never entertained the idea he might mean anything more to me, for the good reason that making a film is a rather artificial process so it's hard to separate your real feelings from what's happening around you. Emotions run really high on a film set."
So how did you meet up again?
B: "Gareth had a birthday party and invited me. Then we saw each other again and it sort of grew from that. We finally moved in together when Kate got engaged to Jim [Threapleton]. Kate and I had been living in the same flat in north London and obviously it wasn't ideal for me to be hanging around big sister and new fiancé."
G: "It was just a temporary measure. I had a spare room and Beth turned up with one little bag, her pyjamas and a toothbrush. We were seeing each other by then, but it was very early days. I don't think either of us had any idea it would develop in the way it did."
When did you realise that yours was a significant relationship?
G: "I was a little nervous when Beth first moved in. I was used to living on my own. At the risk of sounding a complete lad, I'm a big football fan. I remember there was a very important match being shown on television. I was really looking forward to getting back from work, hooking a can of beer out of the fridge and watching the game. But what would Beth say?
"Anyway, I got home, opened the living room door and there was Beth, on the sofa with a can of beer. 'You all right?' I asked. 'Shut up,' she said, 'I'm watching the football.' I thought to myself, 'This is it. I'm in love!'"
B: "Until I met Gareth I didn't have a London team, but now I support Spurs like him."
Was it a conscious decision to start a family?
G: "We absolutely decided we wanted to have children, yes."
B: "I needed no persuading. I know I'm quite young to be a mum, but all I can say is that it feels like the right time. I believe in fate and fate seems to have brought us together."
Have you and Kate swapped notes about your pregnancies?
"A bit. She's been two months ahead of me, so we've always been at different stages, but we've both been lucky. Kate felt a little squiffy at the beginning, but we've each had a pretty smooth ride. Our parents are almost more excited than either of us. I think they're looking forward to Christmas when they'll have not one but two new grandchildren."
Your sister's pregnancy has been well-documented by the press. Is it a relief to you that you're not hounded at every step?
"I'm very grateful, of course. And not just now - I'd hate it at any time. I've been very careful to choose what I do. There could be ways of catapulting myself to fame of a sort. Equally, there are ways that mean I can get on with my life and not have the press camped outside my front door. But, quite honestly, I don't think I'm interesting enough to merit that sort of attention. Anyway, I'm simply not the type of person who would go to a premiere wearing next to nothing. Some people enjoy that - and good luck to them. It's just not my style. I've never sought out celebrity status."
How do you think you would react, Gareth, if Beth were to become as big a star as Kate?
"Depends if I got my Jaguar or not! Seriously, as long as Beth was happy it wouldn't bother me at all. I'd obviously be there to support her, but I wouldn't want to get caught up in all the public appearances. But then I know she wouldn't expect that. As it happens, I get the impression Bethie will develop into a tremendously talented character actress."
Beth, do you think your surname has ever worked against you?
"I suppose the easy answer to that is that I've never had another one. Winslet is my name. It's who I am. I've never considered calling myself something else. Obviously it links me to Kate, but Kate's my sister and she was my sister long before anyone had ever hear of her."
Does it unbalance a family to have one member who's become so famous?
"Possibly some families, but not ours. We were always treated equally, and friends of the family knew all of us before Kate's fame."
Do you think it was inevitable that you would become an actress?
"I suppose so, yes. Both my sisters act, although my younger brother Josh has no interest in acting. He's keen on languages and particularly Italian. My mum's parents ran their own theatre company and my dad had aunties who were in a vaudeville troupe. My uncle, Robert Bridges, was an actor. He gave over 2,000 performances as Mr. Bumble in the original stage version of Oliver! In the West End."
Did your parents ever try to dissuade their children from going into acting?
"Never. But they never tried to make us do anything we didn't want to. Looking back, I realise it was an idyllic childhood. Now Gareth has got to know them all he sometimes says what a laugh it must have been for all of us growing up together. And it was. It was lovely."
G: "When you're with them it's like being part of a big tribe. The secret is that they all genuinely like each other."
The family resemblance is obvious between Beth and Titanic star Kate.
Beth is the youngest Winslet girl (in the centre) and her famous older sister is on the left of the picture.
Acting, it seems, is not your only pursuit, Beth.
"That's right. I shall have to give up soon because of the baby, but for some time now I've been working three days a week as a classroom assistant in a Rudolph Steiner school. I think it's good to have more than one passion in life. I love acting, but it's not the only thing I enjoy. It's healthy to be involved in something else. It keeps your feet on the ground.
"The idea of the Steiner approach is to develop the creative side of the children's brains. I deal with children under the age of six. And the school is very understanding. If I'm called to an audition they're happy for me to have time off. I could never give up acting altogether."
How do you both like to relax away from work?
G: "We're real stop-at-homes, we're not great party animals. We like walking. We go to see Beth's parents in Reading quite often and we've got some good friends in Somerset. I play the guitar with them."
B: "We've always been like that. We haven't changed because of the baby. Gareth looked at me one day and said that we won't really be able to go out when the baby arrives. And then we both laughed. It'll be just like now, in fact."
Do you think you'll work together again?
G: "Not at the moment, no. My next project is a religious thriller. As it happens, there isn't a part in it for Beth."
B: "If we weren't a couple it would be fantastic. He's just so good to work with. But we are a couple and I don't in anyway want a career on the back of Gareth's. I also think it's important to do separate things. We have our life together. To work together as well might be a bit claustrophobic."
G: "This will sound schmaltzy, but what more creative thing could we do together than bring a baby into the world? That will be the best production ever."
So, is this the best time?
B: "Oh yes, My relationship with Gareth is so good and now we're having a baby. It couldn't get much better, really."
G: "Well, Spurs could win the championship
Beth used to share a flat with her older sister, but moved in with Gareth once Kate got engaged. "It was a temporary measure. I don't think either of us had any idea it would develop in the way it did," says Gareth.
October 12: Karen emailed me the text of this article on Beth Winslet from the Sunday Mirror (Oct 8):
"Keeping it in the Family" - Beth Winslet is due to have her first baby just weeks after her famous sister Kate. She and partner Gareth Rhys Jones talk to Ivan Waterman --
It should be a momentous occasion in any actor's career - starring in a big film for the first time. But Beth Winslet's new movie Bodywork, a comedy with TV favourite Lynda Bellingham and Four Wedding's Charlotte Coleman, has taken second billing to another forthcoming production - that of her first child. With her neat little bump (due for release in November - one month after the movie,) and the affectionate smiles she swaps with her film director boyfriend Gareth Rhys Jones during our meeting, it's clear that she couldn't be happier - even if there is a touch of deja vu about the whole thing.
Beth announced that she was pregnant just weeks after her older sister, Titanic star Kate Winslet told the world she was having a baby with her film director husband Jim Threapleton. "It's just a crazy coincidence, like some sort of Walt Disney story," says Beth. "But it's odd how this kind of thing happens with sisters or close friends. Everyone gets pregnant together." Hers is due a month or so after Kate's. "I expect I shall pick up a few tips from her, but I haven't even started buying baby stuff yet. Our parents are thrilled to bits. They are looking forward to Christmas and having lots of babies in the house. It will be funny with the two of us wheeling our prams around together. But it will be quite a special time for the whole family." She and Gareth are both delighted that they will be soon be parents. "It's great," says Beth. "It was planned this way and it's happening. Why now? I wanted a baby and so did Gareth. The main reason is that I have worked with children, helping in a kindergarten, and have always wanted them. I wouldn't want to leave it too late. I like the idea of having a large family. In fact, my greatest fear would be not being able to have children. When I am young, fit and healthy and there is somebody I want to do that with, it sounds good enough for me." At 22, there's plenty of time ahead for her to have a whole regiment of little ones, but she also wants to leave some gaps to pursue her promising career.
Beth is a real chip off the Winslet block. Tall like her eldest sister Anna, at a fraction under 5ft 9ins, Beth has beautiful porcelain skin and a fine bone structure. According to those who know her best, what you see is what you get. She's unpretentious and undressy - she prefers denim and sweatshirts to diamante and silk dresses, allowing her natural beauty to shine through. "Yes, I'm a lucky guy," says Gareth, who at 37 is 15 years her senior. "I do get a buzz when we walk into a bar and heads turn. I sit there and think, 'What is she doing with me?' She is just so natural. Unworldly is also a good word. She deals superbly with her sexuality. She is pretty perfect - annoying isn't it? She has her ups and downs, but the downs don't last. The only irritating thing about her is when we rush home to watch something on the television and the moment it comes on she goes off into the kitchen. "When we talked about having children, I told her she had time. There was no rush. But she didn't want to wait."
Beth is the Winslet clan's youngest female member. And her relationship with Gareth makes a hat trick of on-set love matches for the three sisters. Kate, 24, met husband Jim while filming, and Anna, 28, met actor Edmund Harcourt, 31, while performing with canal-based Mikron Theatre Company. Brother Josh, 19, who has just finished his A-levels, is the only sibling not interested in acting. "We do different things and we are different people," says Beth. "Actually, I think the best thing I've seen Kate do wasn't Titanic but Jude with Christopher Eccleston. I thought that was just breathtaking. Yes, our parents are proud, but they're also very proud of Josh. In fact, personality-wise, I am closest to him. We both find things hilarious that nobody else can understand."
When she was 12, Beth appeared in a Sugar Puffs commercial for which she was paid the princely sum of £40. She was already treading the boards in shows such as Annie with her sisters at Star Maker stage school in Reading, Berkshire - where her actor father Roger and mother Sally still live. She made her real TV debut at 19 in the critically acclaimed BBC drama The Scold's Bridle, playing a drug addict's daughter opposite Miranda Richardson. Then two years ago she auditioned for the low-budget comedy Bodywork - and met Gareth. "I was called to go and collect the script from a casting director and Gareth happened to be there at the time. I looked so crappy. I thought, 'I don't want him to see me looking this way.' I was such a mess. But I went ahead and read the script and loved it."
The story centres on highflyer Virgil Guppy, played by Hans Matheson, whose career and life go off the rails when he buys a dodgy car with a dead body in the boot. It was written by Gareth - then an unknown, fresh from a six-year spell directing commercials in Switzerland - and loosely based on one of his own terrible car-buying experiences. He once bought a car from an Arthur Daley type and it blew up three miles down the road - though there was no body! Beth plays Matheson's girlfriend Fiona Money, a hard-nosed go-getter - "nothing like me, quite frosty and much more manipulative than I could ever be." Beth spent seven weeks filming with Gareth and although both sensed "definite chemistry," there was no romance until later. "You don't allow that kind of thing to get in the way," says Beth. "You are concentrating on your job. I was thinking, 'Get a grip...you may see him in a different light and may not be interested at all. But later, we met up for a drink a few times and it went from there. I wanted to stay in touch because he was such a great guy. I admired the way he worked and dealt with everyone in the same way. He is so down to Earth. He never lost his temper once. People like that don't come into your life every day." They now share his modest booklined flat close to Hampstead Heath in North London, where they like to take long walks and hurl a frisbee. Holidays are spent camping in the Lake District. Their tastes are similar in most things, although he devours biographies while she's just read the latest Harry Potter. "I missed him like mad when we didn't see each other. After a week we decided I should stay at his flat and I have been there for two years. The only thing which annoys me about him is his collection of T-shirts. There are hundreds of them everywhere. He won't get rid of them. Instead, he buys more!"
Gareth, an engineer's son who worked as a carpenter and social worker before moving into films says: "I knew it must be love because I'm a mad Spurs soccer fan and I came home one night boringly thinking, 'Oh, oh' because I wanted to watch the soccer highlights. But when I got in she already had the set turned on and said, 'Sit yourself down...it's football...Spurs'. I mean, it doesn't get much better than that! Kate may be awesome, one of the finest actresses of her generation, but both Beth and Anna also have their own special talents. Beth is fresh, she has this eccentricity. I think she will become an accomplished character actress."
Beth says: "When your surname is known, there is an instant interest I suppose. But if people ask me what I do, I say I'm Beth and I work in a kindergarten and that is usually the end of the conversation. If you say you're an actress they want to know everything about you. But I don't feel the pressure of being Kate's sister or a 'Winslet.' Kate has handled the fame thing well. If I saw Kate crumbling into a wreck, I would probably want to work in a kindergarten for the rest of my life. But she hasn't. She is very positive about it. But I don't really want that kind of fame. I am ambitious in lots of areas. I really enjoy acting, but I'm not aiming for that Oscar. There have to be other things in your life outside work." Beth is planning a career break once the baby is born. Will there be wedding bells too? "It would be a nice thing to do. We shall see," says Beth. "Gareth is a very decent person. He is kind and considerate. He is also very funny and never brings his work home, which is a great quality. We are very, very happy and we're having a baby. What more can I ask for?"
Tamara of Dougray Net emailed me the text of this interview with Beth and Roger Winslet, published in The Observer on October 8:
HEADLINE: "Life support" -- Kate's not the only member of the Winslet clan to earn a living as a performer. Her father Roger and sister Beth have also developed a taste for the limelight. But any talk of a British 'acting dynasty' is, they say, ridiculous
BYLINE: Stephanie Dennison
Beth Winslet: We grew up in a small terraced house on a main road in Reading. It wasn't a wealthy upbringing, but we were really happy. Dad was always entertaining. He'd take me, Mum, my elder sisters Anna and Kate, and my younger brother Josh on holidays to the seaside. One of my earliest memories is being at the beach on the Isle of Wight and Dad doing a moonie. And just as he did it a lady walked past with a baby in a buggy. And we all rolled around laughing.
At home there was always lots of singing and putting on plays. We'd tap dance in the kitchen and get told off and have to scrub the floor. And we went to see Dad's plays. He was like the majority of actors: often out of work or doing tiny bit parts like Snug the Joiner, or a baker who was shut in his own oven. Kate is an extreme example of success, and being her sister hasn't made me think it's any more achievable. People say: 'Well, if your sister's doing it, so can you.' But she's a rare talent and most people aren't that fortunate.
I joined an amateur dramatics group when I was 10 and did lots of plays. At school, I had the mickey taken out of me because I had big Mick Jagger lips and the hugest mouth. After leaving school at 17, I joined the National Youth Theatre, got an agent and did a BBC drama, The Scold's Bride . The following year I made the film Bodywork (opens nationwide on 20 October) and met Gareth (Rhys Jones) who wrote and directed it. We're expecting a baby next month. I've always been family oriented and I'd found Gareth, so it seemed like the right time to start a family.
Dad has sat back and let each of us make our own way, go down our own paths and make our own mistakes. But he's been there when we've needed him. I went through a bout of illness when I was 17 and Dad was the one who took me seriously. Mum told me to take a paracetemol and lie down. I ended up in hospital needing an operation.
To call the Winslets an 'acting dynasty' is ridiculous. Although, I guess it does run in the family: Dad's aunts were in a vaudeville troupe, my uncle was an actor, and my grandparents founded a theatre company. Maybe if acting hadn't been around me I might have done something different. But I am pursuing other things in between acting: I've been working at a Rudolph Steiner school, which I love, and I'm about to start assisting a silversmith. And after years of hanging in there with acting, Dad is now gigging as a singer with his own songs.
Roger Winslet: I was kind of surprised that Beth and her sisters have all pursued acting. At the end of the day they have done what they wanted to do. I don't think there is any rivalry between them. That would smack of competition. They all accept their natural gifts as individuals. Kate's success hasn't been a strain or a problem. You try to take things in your stride and not let the family unit change.
I always felt that I could be an actor, but didn't get any breaks in the professional world. It's a bit of a sad way of life if you aren't getting the work to sustain you. It is a great life when you do get a job, experiencing the camaraderie of working with other actors. But I always had long periods between acting jobs, and these downtimes have been particularly difficult periods in my life. All my children have been sympathetic in a constructive way. In between I'd do casual unskilled jobs, such as construction work.
I do see elements of myself in Beth. She's stubborn, like I can be. We think similarly. I think she conceals her feelings sometimes, whereas I'm probably a bit more open and volatile. They all have a tremendous sense of fun, and relish the chance to come up with a dry comment every now and then. None of them wanted to be great scholars, they've educated themselves.
It was during a fairly traumatic time in my life when I felt what it was to have a strong family around me. I was in a boat accident and needed reconstructive surgery on my foot. Two years later, when I was finally out of plaster and moving about - although still with great difficulty - I went back on the boat for a three-week trip. I had to go back to stop dreaming about it. Now, when I look back, I realise the accident could have been a lot worse. I could've lost my leg.
I didn't get married until I was 28, then didn't start having children for another four years. I think it's wonderful that Beth and Kate are pregnant. We are as close as most families and try to get together on Sundays, if possible, and at Easter, Christmas and on birthdays.
I don't think I'm a very wise person. I'm pretty dumb at times. I wanted the girls to be as honest as they can to other people and themselves. And to be aware of what a tough business the acting game is. Success doesn't come easy. As youngsters they seem to have made their own way, and long may it continue.
September 11: I found this interview with Kate in Lineone News:
"Life's Just Child's Play For Kate," By Georgina Pattinson -
9:40 Monday 11 September 2000
||The Enchanted Wood (audio) by Enid Blyton will be published by Chorion IP Ltd on October 2, priced £14.99. The rest of the series will be published in 2001.
As an actress who has bummed around the desert in one role and kissed Leonardo DiCaprio in another, impending motherhood certainly seems to have changed Kate Winslet. Because her latest project is reading the children's tale The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton for a new audio book. The Oscar-nominated actress adored the tales as a youngster and contacted the company to offer to read the books for children.
So here she is, heavily pregnant, glowing with vitality and promoting the books that she says enchanted her as a child. "It was a particular favourite," she smiles, "They're all just great, great books. I could read them endlessly. And I will be reading them to the new arrival. I love talking books - on our honeymoon, Jim and I listened endlessly to one. Talking books are so fantastic, they are so relaxing and they're particularly great on long car journeys - especially if you've got children."
The 24-year-old mother-to-be and her husband Jim Threapleton are looking forward to their new arrival and Winslet is even enjoying her pregnancy - although she admits she's having problems moving around as she gets bigger. She laughs: "I have started to waddle. If I'm lying down I have to roll on to my side first before getting up. And I positively can't get out of the bath on my own. I sit there, going, 'Jim!' 'What?' 'I'm stuck!' 'What are you doing?' 'Well, I'm in the bath!"'
Winslet has worked hard since shooting to fame with the watery epic Titanic for which she received her second Oscar nomination - the first being for Sense And Sensibility. But currently she's relaxing. Her new film Quills, about the Marquis de Sade will be released later this year and she has just finished shooting Enigma, a film based on the Robert Harris novel about code-crackers in Bletchley Park during World War Two.
"I haven't worked since May and I won't be working until next April," she says firmly, adding: "But I suppose it will hardly seem as though I've gone anywhere because what with Quills and then Enigma coming out - it probably won't look as though I've taken a break at all, even though I will have taken about a year off."
The baby is due in October. Of course, Winslet and her husband recognise that motherhood will mean all sorts of changes. But will it change her? "God knows. I think that's one of those unanswerable questions, I've no idea. You have to play so much of it by ear. A lot of people have been saying to me, 'Do you have a particular plan for the birth?' And I don't think you can have a plan. Yes, I hope to be able to have a completely natural birth but if I'm having any problems, I'm not going to say no to gas or anything. You have to hope that your instincts will guide you."
Of course choosing challenging parts may be important as an actress, but may not sit so well with her new role as a mother. However, Winslet is confident she will be able to marry the two. "I've always been very cautious over any form of nudity. I've never had a problem with nudity in films - some people just absolutely won't do it - but often it's necessary for the story. People do take their clothes off, you can't avoid that. And films are about creating a sense of reality so often it can't be avoided. I think being married made me more cautious about being sure that those scenes were absolutely right. But further than that, my life has always come first even before I met Jim and got married and even more so now with having the baby. Family will always absolutely come first. It is a struggle to maintain a sense of reality and normality and I do always find that hard, but it's so important.
"Earlier in the year, we had to fly to Los Angeles and Jim could just not stand the idea of us being picked up in yet another bloody stretch limousine. And I said, 'Well, sod it, we'll get a hire car and we'll pick the hire car up from the airport and we'll drive ourselves'. It's so much easier and actually it takes the attention away from the fact you're arriving at LA airport and there's usually loads of people waiting for autographs and pictures. We just went through like Joe Bloggs and his wife and picked up our luggage, picked up the keys to the car and just drove to the hotel. And just did it in as normal a way as possible."
From anyone else, such comments could sound conceited - after all, the rest of us wouldn't mind swanning into Los Angeles in a limo, but Winslet is famously down to earth. Her wedding in November 1998 was pure Kate - rather than sell the day to a magazine for an inflated sum, she and Jim enjoyed a simple ceremony and reception near her home in Reading. "That was absolutely our day and I can honestly say it was exactly what we wanted it to be," she says.
Still, as an internationally renowned movie star, Winslet knows that the new arrival will be in the spotlight. "I know that Jim and I will be quite vigilant about privacy around the child. We won't launch it into the public eye - and hope that the little thing decides to become a doctor. But it will probably end up acting in some way, I'm sure. We'll certainly try and bring the baby up as normally as possible."
She says it is her own upbringing which has ensured this attitude. "The fact that I come from a very normal stable background has often been my kind of saviour because it's reminded me where I came from and what is most important. And I did come from a family of actors who didn't necessarily get work all the time so I was very aware of the fact that they were doing it because they loved it and for no other reason at all, so that's always been the attitude that I've had. And I've just been incredibly lucky along the way."
Luck may have played its part in Winslet's happiness, but talent has certainly propelled her to the superstardom she now inhabits. She admits that she looks back and wonders at the speed of events - in fact, it has all happened so fast that she sometimes still wonders why people stop and stare at her in the street. She says: "We were having dinner with some friends a couple of nights ago, and they were saying, 'God, I don't envy you,' and I sat there saying, 'Actually I have a really nice time. It's not a hardship'. Obviously around the time of our baby being born we'll be a little bit invaded for a while but it doesn't matter, that's not reality. It can be a bit irritating. I guess reminding yourself to take deep breaths now and then is the thing to do."
September 11: I found this new interview in today's UK Times:
"Hugely Happy" -
Britain's leading female export to Hollywood is expecting her first child next month. For once, she tells Moira Petty, she is delighted to put on weight -
The gap between the public perception of stars and what they're really like - once you have fought your way through the clouds of obfuscation emitted by publicists and agents - is often revealing. In the case of Kate Winslet, Britain's leading female export to Hollywood, the received wisdom is that she is unspoilt.
Yet the publicity machine that cranked into place around this interview, and the reverential tone in which requests for more than the strictly allotted time were turned down - "she is pregnant, you know" - suggested otherwise.
A white stretch limousine sat outside the London hotel where we met: had Kate arrived in it? No chance, I decided within seconds of meeting her. She heaved herself to her feet to greet me, with none of the lofty indifference of some stars. There was only one point when she spoke like one. "Everyone's having babies," she said. "Who?" I asked, assuming she meant her sisters or friends. "Catherine and Emma have just had theirs, and Zoë, Kirsty, Philippa and Ulrika are expecting," she said. So she meant celebrity sisters: Zeta-Jones, Noble, Ball, Young, Forrester and Jonsson.
This, and a reluctance to reveal when her baby is due, was the only sign that Kate, 24, moves in stratospheric circles. But even for an actress as down-to-earth as Kate, fame has had its downside. Early in 1998, it was reported that she was being stalked. "He was everywhere I turned," she said at the time. The man, a photographer, was arrested and formally warned by police. This summer, she received threats from a female e-mail stalker who said she wanted to "rape, kill and hit" the actress. Still, she tries to lead as normal a life as possible. "I haven't barricaded myself behind high fences and security systems," she says.
In fact, Kate, with her hair pulled back and her unmade-up face glowing, seemed friendly, and keen to engage in girlie chat about the baby ("due the first week in October," a publicist said later) and to tell how her husband, Jim Threapleton, 25, has been assisting her now that she can no longer comfortably touch her feet. "Jim's been fantastic. He's painted my toenails," she says, wiggling her one touch of glamour. "He bought me a kids' paddling pool and I've been sitting in it in the garden. It's a little inflatable one with fish around it. In the hot weather he fills it up with freezing cold water and I sit there looking like a whale."
She grins happily, unconcerned by any loss of mystique. "It's meant to be the most sexy time of your life, but I've not felt that at all. I felt very hot and sat watching my feet swell up. There's a lot of pressure to bond with your unborn child, to visualise your child and to find this the most joyful experience. So if you've just wanted to lie in bed and cry all day long, as I did at first, you feel awful. "Some days I wanted to throw Jim through the window, and I'd get angry so easily, which is not my way at all. It took a while to understand myself as a pregnant person, because you do change. I had morning sickness all day long, and even when that started to ease off I felt very tired. I felt really cynical about how you're meant to bloom, but I let myself relax and in the past ten weeks I felt really well."
The couple were married in November 1998 after meeting in Marrakech on the set of Hideous Kinky, based on Esther Freud's book about her hippy childhood. Kate had formerly had one serious relationship, with a fellow actor, Stephen Tredre; she broke up with him while filming Sense and Sensibility. He was to die of cancer in 1997, aged 34. "Marriage has given me an underlying security," she says.
She clearly yearned for stability in her personal life. She may be the youngest person to have been nominated for two Oscars (for Titanic and Sense and Sensibility), but she regards her career as having begun as a child, when she appeared in a TV ad for Sugar Puffs. Years of training, putting up with the bitchiness of girls at stage school and the much-chronicled struggles with her weight followed.
Settling down with Threapleton has come as a relief. "I found it so wonderful to think 'This is it now'. I can relax as a person now and know that he completely accepts me for who I am. Marriage has made us closer and more appreciative of each other and it's made me much calmer."
Kate now uses her maiden name for work only. "It's absolutely Mrs. Threapleton the rest of the time. I love it. I spent weeks and weeks practising my new signature. I felt honoured to take Jim's name, although I didn't promise to obey him during the wedding vows." Kate then revealed how, with the same single-mindedness with which she pursued the role of Rose in Titanic (besieging the director, James Cameron, with phone calls), she chased Jim. "He didn't join the shoot of Hideous Kinky for two weeks, and when he did I immediately spotted him. I thought 'Oh, my God'. I'd always been so cynical about looking at a person across a crowded room and falling for them but he was drop-dead gorgeous. He has blond hair, blue eyes and an open face, really smiley and honest. I didn't know anything about him or his life. If he had been in a relationship, I wouldn't have gone near him. It began as a friendship but the connection was made quite quickly. We fancied the pants off each other and thought we'd better get it together, which we did, early on in that shoot. Everyone on the set knew and they were all chuffed to bits. I don't like all that cloak and dagger stuff."
As the third assistant director on Hideous Kinky, Threapleton was in a lowly position compared with Kate, its star. "I can't stand the divide between actors and the crew, as if they are the poor relations. There are some actors, although none I've worked with, who refuse to come out of their trailers between takes. It isn't surprising that people approach well-known actors as if they were from another planet. It's daft to be standoffish. I feel it's up to me on a film set to introduce myself. That was a small film, with 70 people working on it, and I knew them all by name. The atmosphere meant that it wasn't difficult for Jim to get to know me and, anyway, I'm not shy in coming forward.
"It's lovely to have been together for three years. Every day I can still look at him and say 'I really fancy him'. A lot of men think women are a different breed entirely and that we're always saying one thing one minute and another the next, and we do have a tendency to do that. But Jim really understands women. He still goes off and does his boys' things, thank God, while I do my girls' things."
Kate will give birth in a private hospital but "not one that uses agency nurses", she says. "I can't stand the thought of our baby being delivered by someone I don't know." She plans a natural, drugs-free labour. "It's what we're designed to do, so we should bloody well get on with it. I'm stoical and have a pretty high pain threshold. I've had a good training for labour with some of my film roles, especially Titanic, when I was immersed for days in freezing tanks of water. If I need any help during the labour, we'll ring my acupuncturist. I've used acupuncture to help to balance my emotions and for my bad back. I've had a protruding disc for 18 months now and I was really worried that my back would become weak with the pregnancy, but it seems fine."
Kate had not planned to have a baby yet. "Some people need to plan when to have their baby for financial reasons but that wasn't necessary. We were thinking roughly of having a baby soon and then it happened and we thought it was great."
She had been contracted to film Zola's novel Thérèse Raquin this year. Such is her clout that when she announced her pregnancy the producers happily postponed until next year. She did, however, film Robert Harris's book Enigma, about the wartime codebreakers at Bletchley, opposite Dougray Scott, which will be released next year.
Apart from Enigma, her only other project this year has arisen out of her pregnancy. As a child, Kate had loved Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree series. She approached Chorion Intellectual Properties, which holds the rights, and the result is The Enchanted Wood, the first in a series of three six-hour audio books read by Kate. "They are magical stories, slightly dark and ominous. Kids are now brought up on computers and mobile phones. Many would rather play a video game than read a book. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, I think that the kind of magic in these books is important to a child's imagination."
Kate had a happy family. Her father Roger is an actor, as are her sisters, Anna, 28, and Beth, 21 (her brother Josh, 18, has just sat his A levels). Her mother was a nanny but her maternal grandparents were actors. Kate's mother's brother, Robert Bridges, was also an actor. "He was a large man and died in his early fifties after a tragic accident. He knocked his head on something, passed out and fell over a banister, breaking his back. My uncle was an extraordinary man. He was known as Fatty Bridges. We were all fat in our family, a strapping bunch. We all love our food and my mother's a brilliant cook."
By her mid-teens, Kate weighed 13st and went through a difficult time at Redroofs Stage School in Maidenhead. "A lot of the girls were awful, very catty. It was a competitive environment that I didn't really like. You have no idea of the anorexia I saw around me there. One lunchtime, a girl in my class ate a chocolate bar and then said: 'It's so annoying. I can feel it's gone straight on to my thighs.' I said: 'How can it be on your thighs? It's still in your stomach, love'."
The one thing Kate liked about stage school was that it operated as an agency for the pupils. By the age of 16, though, her weight was affecting the roles she was winning. "My Mum had a dream of me being a beautiful Alice in Wonderland. I would have more likely played the back of a bus. I weighed as much then as I do now, towards the end of my pregnancy. I knew I was losing out so I went to Weight Watchers and got down to 10st. Then I started getting film roles and by the age of 18 or 19, I wanted to lose more weight. I'd have an apple, raw carrots and black coffee. For a while I couldn't eat at all and felt faint and tired all the time. I got down to 8st and at 5ft 7in, though I never looked really emaciated, I wondered why I kept bruising my hip bones. It was because they were sticking out so much. My bones are a certain width and I can't do anything about that."
Kate and Threapleton who now works as a director and writer, set up their own production company, Telltale Films, earlier this year. "We're going to take it in turns to work and the baby will come with us. I had a great childhood without pots of money and we're determined not to spoil our child. I've been to dinner parties where the children are jumping all over the table with no respect for their elders. I was taught table manners, discipline and courtesy by my parents and Jim was by his. I have the utmost respect for my parents; I hope to bring the same attitude to bringing up our child."
The Enchanted Wood audio book is published by Chorion IP Limited on October 2; it costs £12.99, including p&p (RRP £14.99); 08701 608080. © 2000 Enid Blyton Limited.
September 9: Madeleine emailed me this article; she transcribed it from today's Daily Mail Weekend Magazine:
||[Sorry for the bad scan; Matthew found the above pic on ebay.]
"Kate Confesses - Love at first sight, hating Hollywood and her Darkest Moments," by Wendy Leigh -
Kate Expectations- At 24, actress Kate Winslet is looking forward to bringing up her first child. Here, Britain's most bankable star talks about love, impending motherhood and the self-doubts that can make her feel a fraud.
Last month, when she was seven months pregnant, Kate Winslet had the first pedicure of her life. Her husband, Jim Threapleton, whom she married in November 1998, painstakingly applied gold Tommy Hilfiger polish onto Kate's toes. She displays the results proudly. "I had it done for the first time ever because I feel so dumpy and whale-like. And Jim did it because I can't reach my toenails anymore," she says.
Pregnancy suits her. Her skin is clear, her eyes are a sparkling greyish-green. Seemingly unaffected and untrammelled by fame, she talks easily about ramifications of the birth of her first child, due the end of September. Instead of dwelling on what the pregnancy means for her career [postponing the filming of Therese Raquin, her next project], she elaborates on the earthier subjects. "I was sick at first, but now I'm fine. At the beginning, I craved fizzy cola bottle sweets and fruit. I couldn't get enough of them. Then, at about 12 weeks, all the cravings wore off, except for oranges. I couldn't get enough oranges. At the moment I don't have much of an appetite. I am retaining a lot of water and expanding. I've got swollen ankles and my backside looks like a cauliflower. I've completely exploded. I knew I would and I've loved every minute of it."
As Kate has twice been nominated for an Oscar, first for Sense and Sensibility and then for Titanic- the biggest grossing film in history- as well as becoming Britain's most bankable star, it seems reasonable to suggest that, at the tender age of 24, she has already lived a charmed life. She first bursts out laughing, then crosses her arms defensively. "I wouldn't say it was entirely charmed," she says. "I am just like every other pregnant mother. I really hope I've been a symbol to other pregnant women. I am not a celebrity person who has walked through this pregnancy with a designer bump. I've had all the usual anxieties-over what to wear, if I can really do this and whether or not I am too selfish to be a good mother. I sometimes wonder if I am too wrapped up in my own life and won't have space for someone else's little life. But, of course, that isn't going to be the case. Jim will be there during the birth. I'd like and certainly hope to have a natural birth, without pain relief. By doing a lot of the right breathing you can handle the pain. But if I'm in agony or if there are any complications, Ill have whatever I'm told to have. I don't have any fixed plans. It's all very exciting."
Kate acting talent was nurtured within an artistic family background. One of four children [her siblings are Anna, now 28, Beth, 21 and Josh, 19], the Winslets had acting in their blood. On her father's side, there were twin sisters who were part of a Vaudeville troupe. Her maternal grandparents ran the Reading Repertory theatre. Her grandfather also practiced as a dentist, conducting surgery in the back garden. Her Father, Roger Winslet, was an actor, and while Kate says she remembers her childhood as secure, there was always an undercurrent of worry regarding his career. "There was an atmosphere of 'where's my next job coming from?'" she remembers. "My dad would wander round saying 'oh, my god, I don't know what is going to happen next.' When he was out of work, he did everything from being a postman to working for the Tarmac firm, to working for the National Trust."
Her awareness of the instability inherit in the acting profession didn't deter her from pursuing her childhood ambition to become an actress. At 11, she went to Redroofs theatre school in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and, at the age of 12, appeared in a Sugar Puffs commercial. Drama school, however, proved to be a disappointment. She was big-boned and voluptuous, and was bullied by malicious children who dubbed her 'blubber.' Despite her own success, she is adamant that she would never send her own child to a drama school. "It very competitive, very unreal and you have to be very strong. I missed out on a lot of education. Then, when I was 16, I walked straight into a job." This was the film Heavenly Creatures. Kate could have gone to university [and had nine GCSE's to prove it], but couldn't resist the siren song of acting.
After Heavenly Creatures, she was out of work for two and a half years, and still hasn't obliterated the anguish. "I've memories of the awful cattle call auditions when I would think, `I'm never going to get this! They're all prettier than me, thinner than me, I am rubbish, I am going to forget my lines.' I had to go off and work in a deli. But I would do the same thing again. And if our child wants to be an actor, my advice will be `do it because you love it, and for no other reason."
When she was 15, she fell in love with actor and writer Stephen Tredre. They were together for four-and-a-half years, but broke up around the time she made Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson. Asked who taught her most about acting, she answers, "Emma Thompson has probably been the most influential person in my life. Acting has never been the most important thing to her. She's always put her family first and that's what I've always done."
She is still indignant about a 1996 article which claimed her sister, Anna, also an actress, was bitterly jealous of her. Nor does she want to sobriquet 'Hollywood star.' During the making of Titanic, when there was a strong feeling that the film would be a blockbuster, she railed against the suggestion that success would radically transform her life. "I was so angry when people asked me how I would cope when my life changed. Of course it did and I just had to accept it. But it never changed me. And I could never live in Hollywood, not in a million years. I can't stand Hollywood because it's claustrophobic and everybody's acting and it's so bloody clean. It's like Toy Town. There's no centre to it."
Her distaste for stardom and Hollywood notwithstanding, after her break-up with Stephen, she did go on another date with an actor, Rufus Sewell. She was still not well versed in the ways of superstardom. One night, she and Rufus were staked out by paparazzi. At the time, she was unaware they were being followed. But, to her horror, pictures of her and Rufus kissing uninhibitedly in a shop doorway appeared in a newspaper the next morning. "That happened when I was 20," she says blithely, making it sound as if it happened 30 years ago. She goes on, "I didn't know we were being followed and I found it so shocking because it was the first time it happened to me. Then I got used to it. Jim and I don't make allowances for anything. We don't avoid doing things because we think it might put us in the public eye. We do exactly what we want to do. We just go about our lives in a normal way."
She met Jim on the set of Hideous Kinky in Morocco and fell in love with him at first sight. He was third assistant director, and she was the star, but the attraction was instantaneous. When she remembers their first meeting, she gushes like a love struck teenager. "He is so much fun. He provides me with constant laughter, with joy. We fell in love at first sight. Completely, disgustingly. It is like one of those stories I used to hear. People would say, 'I just saw him across the room and I knew he was the man I was going to marry.' I would say 'yeah right! That doesn't happen.' I was Miss Cynical. But then it happened to me. I saw Jim across the room and I just thought 'Oh, my god, what am I going to do now?' I was working and I didn't want to have a relationship or get involved with anybody. But I just knew he was right. I don't know whether it was an animal thing, a chemical thing, or god knows what. I think it was a combination of all those things. I just knew he was right for me."
They should have lived happily ever after. But just a month after Kate first met Jim, Stephen Tredre dies of cancer. "Stephen and I had been apart for 18 months," says Kate, "It was horrendous. Jim was very supportive and amazingly understanding, which was very hard for him, I think. There was me, mourning over someone whom I'd been incredibly close to, whom he didn't know. He must have been thinking 'Hang on, was she still in love with him?' I was grieving. But it wasn't as if I had just walked out of the relationship. Stephen was my first love, of course he was. But I didn't feel guilty about having split from him. The relationship didn't have a future. I knew it wasn't right."
After Titanic, she turned her back on Hollywood and made Jane Campion's Holy Smoke, in India. While researching the part, in which she plays a girl who joins a cult, she interviewed a guru there. "I was very freaked out," she says, "I didn't want someone asking me so many questions. That's what they do. They want to know about you, get inside you, because they think you've got problems. I just wanted to know what gurus were about for Holy Smoke. I was feeling sorted out. I was marrying Jim and I was doing the film. I felt very controlled as a person. Afterwards, I felt uncomfortable. I walked away thinking 'Hang on a minute, I feel as though I have been pulled apart.' He was asking me so many in depth questions about myself and I didn't want to be questioned like that by a stranger. All I learned was, that kind of thing wasn't for me. I don't need guidance in my life. I don't need looking after, I don't need dissecting spiritually."
Her self-confidence is breathtaking. But ever the diplomat, and always aware of the impression she is making, she says, "I am not always so confident. I have my dark moments. Like everyone else. I have scared moments when I think 'Who am I? I can't do this anymore.' I always think, 'God, I can't act. Actually I'm a complete fraud and I am going to be found out sooner or later.' I am not a walking bubble of confidence all the time. Fame doesn't give you more confidence. It certainly doesn't make you think, 'Ha, I've made it, now I can be exactly who I like and fuck everybody else.' Not at all. I am still the same person."
Her past interviews have been liberally peppered with the f-word, but this is the first time she has used it with me. "I'm watching my language," she says. "Perhaps because there is a child coming and I can't keep saying fuck in front of a baby. Otherwise, by the age of two, the child will be walking around saying it. Having a child will probably stop me swearing for good. I think having a child profoundly changes you as a person. The baby can hear my voice. I say to it: 'What are you doing? What are you up to?' And I play music to it."
When the baby arrives it is highly unlikely that it will be turned into a media celebrity. When Kate and Jim got married, in 1998, it was to their credit that they rejected the blandishments of Hello! And OK! Magazines, both of whom offered vast sums of money to orchestrate and photograph their wedding. Instead, the couple married in Reading and had their reception at a local pub, the Crooked Billet, feasting on bangers and mash, Bakewell tart and custard.
She didn't stop working. Last year, Kate made Quills with Geoffrey Rush. The film focuses on the bizarre life and times of the Marquis de Sade and features a scene in which Kate is whipped. In the past, she has been known to get so involved in her film roles that she has actually fainted on set. So how did she cope with the whipping scene without being traumatised? "My character had done something wrong and was being punished, so it wasn't kinky. But it was hard. Those things are. But I've learned to walk away. You have to realise that when you go to work, your whole day isn't real. You have to make it believable, be as honest as you can, otherwise you can't convey that sense of reality to an audience. But you can't take it home with you, otherwise you never have a life."
So was her transformation from actress who was too involved in her role, to actress able to switch off at the end of the day, achieved by therapy? She looks genuinely appalled by the thought. "No, no, I've never had therapy. No, no, God, no!" she says.
Her guard may have been dropped for a moment, but when she talks about working with Mick Jagger- he is executive producer of her new film, Enigma, based on the Robert Harris book-her response is tailored for public consumption. "He's fantastic, he's a laugh, a great person. He is kind and not at all like a rock star. He is really down to earth. If it was windy and wet, he would turn up on set wearing Wellingtons."
She is taking a break from work until next April. For now, at least, all her thoughts are focused on the baby and on Jim. Although she has not planned the birth in every detail, and has deliberately tried not to find out the sex of the baby, Kate is determined that he or she will have an upbringing which will feed the imagination.
Earlier this year, she approached the Enid Blyton estate, asking whether she could record Blyton's the enchanted wood. The estate was delighted and the tape will be released next month. "We live in a world where, by the age of 13 or 14, most kids have mobile phones and computer games. I don't want to be old-fashioned - I'm not, but there's nothing like good, imaginative, magical stuff, which is what those books are and were for me as a child. I wanted to be involved in bringing them back to life. When I was eight, my teacher asked each of us to write a story. I wrote the Enchanted Wood in my own words. I thought I was going to get away with it, but my teacher said, 'I think we've all heard this story before and we know where it comes from.' I argued, 'But I made it up myself!' The teacher said, 'Even the names of the children?' I said 'yes', but she didn't believe me."
Enid Blyton's relatives are delighted at Kate's participation. Not only, says Gillian Baverstock, Blyton's eldest daughter, because of the actress's distinctive speaking voice, but also because Kate is known all over the world. "My mother would have been so pleased that she is making her books accessible to even more children."
For Kate, however, her own childhood seems long behind her. "I often say to people I have had about three lives," she says, "I had a life with Stephen from 15 to 19. I started working as an actress then. Then I had this chunk of mad single life when I had all this tremendous fun and did Sense and Sensibility and Titanic. Now my life is settled and it's happier than it has ever been, with Jim and having a baby. But I still have the same number of highs and lows. I still have great moments of joy and great moments of fear. But now that I've got Jim, I probably have far less fears then I have had in my life. He's there, he's the other part of me, so I never feel completely alone."
From "She" magazine (Australian edition), August 2000 -
Special thanks to Matthew of Starlett Express for allowing me to post the scans of the photos. Thanks also to Lorissa - I typed the article from her scans of the text.
"A Piece of Kate," By Holly Millea
Kate Winslet can be trapped in a corset or naked in the outback and still act her way through a role with ease. But rather than being everybody's darling, what she wants now is to please herself.
Since she's become Mrs. Threapleton, the movies' latest mum-to-be has changed her priorities. "I used to be attracted to possessions, but now the only things I'm attached to are my husband and my wedding ring." Oh, and her mobile phone. "When I'm at work during the day, I'll call Jim five or six times or her calls me. I hate being away from him. It's terrible, I'm counting the hours until I can go home. It's sickening really, isn't it? But it's fantastic." Her face bursts into a big smile - unlike a few moments ago, when she was in floods of tears.
In this first interview, Winslet, 24, is on the set of Quills, the steamy flick that's due for release in early 2001. She plays Madeleine LeClerc, a laundress working in the asylum where the Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) is locked up, and in this scene she's saying a painful goodbye to the young priest, Abbe de Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix). Their love unspoken and unfulfilled, Coulmier is sending Madeleine away to remove her from the temptations of the Marquis, whose confidante she's become. "Any friend of the Marquis," says Winslet, "is going to pick up on his naughtiness."
Her eyes are still red from crying (she says she's never had a problem conjuring up tears), but unlike some actors, Winslet doesn't cheat. "A lot of actors think of something sad," she says. "I can't do it that way - it's not completely honest with the character. I have to think about the situation. Otherwise, it's cheating."
Refusing to bypass the emotional life of her characters, however, can take its toll, especially as most of her roles have involved her either dying or going mad. Kenneth Branagh, who directed Winslet as Ophelia (who goes mad and dies) in Hamlet, says she has such a powerful imagination, it's dangerous. "When you engage the way she does, it's a bit scary. The other day, she called and said she was approaching a difficult scene in Quills. She said, 'I can't do this any more.'"
Her first starring role, in Heavenly Creatures, was a baptism of emotional fire, and a long way from the Sugar Puffs advertisement that was her acting debut. The film was based on the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, who bludgeoned Pauline's mother to death in New Zealand. It was shot in exactly the same place the girls had committed the crime in 1954. When Winslet flew out to New Zealand to shoot it, she was only 17; co-star Melanie Lynskey was just 15.
Looking back, says Winslet, "The movie was an incredible experience, but it was also traumatising, especially as it was true. There were lots of harrowing scenes." Lynskey recalls one as particularly disturbing: "It was the first scene. We run up the hill screaming and we're covered in blood. After the final take, Kate and I looked at each other, drenched in this blood, and we literally didn't know what to do. We were both crying and we went and had a shower in the actual shower where the girls washed the blood off."
That was a long way from Winslet's own happy, easy-going childhood. Brought up in Reading, England, she was the second child of four (Anna is older, Beth and Joss are younger). Her father was also an actor, and her parents, she says, were "old hippies. We used to go to Reading Rock Festival and run around with no shoes on. Holidays were always a case of throwing everything in the back of the car, going camping, driving through France - really last minute - but we had a fabulous time. We never had any money and it was such a laugh."
Winslet knew she wanted to act from the age of five. Her moment of realisation came when she was sitting in her school hall 19 years ago, nervously waiting to hear if she'd been cast as Mary in the nativity play. She was.
By the time she landed her first big-budget film part, as the passionately romantic Marianne Dashwood in Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility, Winslet had her own real-life trauma to draw from, having just broken up with her first love, Stephen Tredre, with whom she'd been living for four years. "There were a lot of similarities between Marianne and me," she explains. "There were the same feelings of love and confusion, believing that that person is right for you and then suddenly questioning it and changing within yourself."
She threw herself into the part - literally - and refused to let a stunt person do a scene that had her falling down a hill in the rain. After three days of getting completely drenched, she collapsed and fainted. It was her co-star and subsequent close friend, Emma Thompson, who made Winslet start looking after herself. "I wasn't eating properly and Emma said, 'If you dare lose weight for this job, I'll be furious with you.'"
When Winslet was 16, she'd been a happy but overweight teenager (83kg) and had only lost weight to become an actress. She'd already shed 22kg when a director insisted she lose another four and a half in 10 days. "I got it into my head that weight loss was part of being an actor," she says. But by the time Heavenly Creatures had come out, she was down to 50kg.
Winslet claims she doesn't know what she weighs now and says it's the "most boring subject in the world" to her. The public, however, find it fascinating. After Titanic in 1997, the film that catapulted her on to the A-list, there was more interest in her apparent weight gain than in her nomination for an Oscar. "I'm not skinny, I'm not a stick," she says. "I have a normal woman's body and I like having a good pair of tits on me and a good arse. If I didn't, I don't think I'd feel attractive."
In Holy Smoke, the film that followed, there was an act of incredible bravery by Winslet: her character, Ruth seduces the man who kidnapped her (Harvey Keitel) by walking towards him in the desert, naked and urinating on herself. "I was rigged with a saline-drip bag at the centre of my back with this tube wedged up my bum. I wanted to do a take where it was actually me weeing, but it just goes down the side of your leg, and you need to get it down the middle." Despite being paranoid about what she looked like, Winslet says she felt fine about the nudity when she saw herself on screen. "I was like, 'Shit, I look good!'" Harvey Keitel has gone so far as to say she's the icon of a generation.
Indeed, after the success of Titanic, directors were indeed queuing up at Winslet's door with scripts. "People were saying to me, 'Cash in on this. Get your pay day.' Well, I'd go mad if I did that - and I didn't want my fellow Brit actors to think I was going to go off to Hollywood and just do big films."
Then the screenplay for the low-budget film, Hideous Kinky, came her way. "I thought, 'I really, really want to do this.'" She'd read the Ester Freud novel on which the film is based in 1992. Stephen Tredre had bought it for her and she'd loved it: "no narrative, just this hippie, funky mother trotting about Morocco. She reminded me of my mother."
But Winslet was also being seduced by a much bigger project. "I was torn between the two," she says, refusing to name the other - although she did turn down Shakespeare in Love around this time. She called Tredre, who was still a close friend, for advice. "He said, 'You bloody do it, girl. This is for you.'" She phoned LA and broke the news. "I just thought, 'There's a reason I should do this movie.'"
There was. Just before filming started, Tredre died tragically from cancer, aged only 34. Devastated, Winslet missed the Hollywood premiere of Titanic to go to his funeral and swore she's remain single. She went to the set in Morocco determined only "to enjoy [herself] and get a suntan". However, she says, two weeks into the filming, '"this beautiful thing arrived".
The "thing" was Jim Threapleton, 26, who was an assistant director on the project. "I stepped outside the car, saw Jim and thought, 'Oh no, oh God - that's it then.' I knew something major was going to happen between us very quickly."
It did - in six months he'd proposed, and in November 1998 they were married in very unshowbizzy style, turning down several magazine offers to cover their wedding. The only celebrity guests were Emma Thompson and her boyfriend, Greg Wise.
In fact, Winslet has never been seduced by celebrity life. The only star she's been linked to is actor Rufus Sewell, whom she was snapped kissing in 1996. That's why she never spends more time in Hollywood than is necessary. "I find it suffocating," she says.
Marriage and impending motherhood (she's due next month) certainly haven't stifled her. Throughout her pregnancy, Winslet's been working on Enigma (filmed in Amsterdam), in which she conveniently plays a pregnant woman. Healthy and positively glowing, she's full of praise for her supportive husband. "I love being married. We're a good team. He makes me laugh my head off."
"Titanic Kate Stalked by E-mail Sicko" -
|July 9: I purchased a copy of the Globe tabloid (ugh!) last night, scanned the pic and typed up the article this morning.
The story is about the "stalker" ordeal.
Thanks to Jeanne for the tip!
Kate Winslet's Internet fan site has been bombarded by sick E-mail messages from a female stalker who's threatening to hunt down and murder the pregnant Titanic star!
Identifying herself as "Dina," the wacko woman says she wants to "rape her, kill her and just hit her" and vows to go to London, where the 24-year-old actress lives, very soon. The menacing messages were left on Kate's fan club website kwfc.com, and sources reveal they originate from the literature department at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. One urgent E-mail fired off to the star's representative Adam Martin warned chillingly, "There could be harm for Kate."
Now, the British beauty is on high alert. "Kate is very aware there are people who have an unhealthy interest in what she does," says a source. "She says that is an unfortunate aspect of her life. Sadly, there are weirdoes out there. The Net allows them to acquire considerable information so they can pursue their own sick ends."
The sinister fan even mentioned Kate's new home in one message that read, "That flat sounds cool
I can get her (address) then!! Hahaaaaaa." The fan club has since removed any information from the site that might inadvertently point to the pregnant actress's whereabouts.
Kate recently returned home after wrapping up work on the romantic wartime thriller Enigma, due out next year. She is married to 26-year-old film director Jim Threapleton, and the couple expects their first child in September.
This isn't the first time the star has been hounded by wacko fans. Two years ago, she said she was stalked by a man claiming to be a photographer. "I'd be in the supermarket and this man would be there," Kate revealed at the time. "I'd be swimming and he'd be there. I'd look out of my window and he'd be there. He was everywhere I turned. It got so that in the mornings I'd open the curtains and he'd be there, sitting in his gray Saab."
The stalker was arrested, warned to leave Kate alone, then freed. But the brave beauty refuses to hide herself away. "I haven't barricaded myself behind high fences and security systems," she says. "I try to lead my life as normally as possible."
July 4: Here's the official press release from Intermediafilm about Kate's and Jim's production company joining forces with Intermedia (complete coverage of Telltale Films is on the "Spotlight" page):
LONDON, England, July 5, 2000 Intermedia and Telltale Films, Kate Winslet and Jim Threapleton¹s production company, announced today that they have entered into an agreement whereby Intermedia will have an exclusive first look development and production deal for Telltale¹s films. Intermedia will handle worldwide distribution of the films.
Based at Shepperton Studios, Telltale Films Limited was formed in mid-1999 by Kate Winslet and husband Jim Threapleton to develop and produce UK and European based films. Telltale aims to have its first film start production in 2001.
Kate Winslet said: "We are both enjoying exploring the exciting depth of writing on offer in the UK and believe we have a number of strong ideas that, with work, will make powerful films. The structure at Intermedia means we are able to get straight to the source of the kind of films we want to produce."
Jim Threapleton said: "Working together with Intermedia¹s development team is a very energetic experience. They are passionate about film for all the right reasons and we are looking forward to working together for the next few years."
Intermedia¹s co-chairman, Guy East, said "We have developed a close working relationship with Kate on Enigma and Therese Raquin and we are delighted to extend this to a more formal production arrangement with Jim and Telltale Films. This will help us work more closely with the wealth of young British and European writing, directing and acting talent."
Winslet who has been nominated twice for best actress Academy Awards - in 1995 for Sense and Sensibility and in 1997 for Titanic - has just completed filming on Intermedia¹s thriller Enigma, directed by Michael Apted. She will also star in and act as executive producer on Intermedia¹s Therese Raquin, scheduled to start filming next spring.
After an early career as an assistant director on feature films in the UK and US, Jim Threapleton has spent the last eighteen months laying the foundations for Telltale Films, and more personally has developed a portfolio as a writer/director.
Telltale Films is represented by Hilda Queally and Cassian Elwes at William Morris in Los Angeles and Dallas Smith of Peters Fraser Dunlop in London. Intermedia is a diversified entertainment investment company with offices in London, Los Angeles and Munich, which develops, finances and distributes motion pictures in collaboration with leading producing partners. Its parent company, IM Internationalmedia AG, is listed on the Frankfurt Neuer Markt stock exchange. Intermedia's films include Sliding Doors, Small Time Crooks, Hilary and Jackie, Playing By Heart, Sweet and Lowdown, Love's Labour's Lost, Where the Heart Is and Where The Money Is as well as such forthcoming titles as Nurse Betty, Enigma, Blow Dry and The Wedding Planner.
Juliet translated the following article from the May issue of Demi magazine and posted on the Kate Winslet Fan Club mb [I have edited a bit]:
Winslet has survived from the craze [t]hat Titanic caused. The sweet actress has done many sympathetic small films after the blockbuster - at the moment Holy Smoke is playing at the cinema - and has become a producer. Kate has also found the balance in her private life. Two years ago she got married and the marriage is blooming. Not only that, she's expecting her first child.
Winslet is making a grand comeback to the cinemas in Jane Campion's latest film Holy Smoke. In Holy Smoke Kate plays Ruth, a young, beautiful Aussie girl who heads for India in the hope of finding her self and the meaning of life. According to Kate, the biggest challenge in Holy Smoke was that she had to play a young girl. Normally, she has [played] women older than her. Kate describes Ruth as [Joan of Arc] of the modern day who really fights for her opinions and doesn't care what the others think. As the story goes on, the selfish Ruth starts taking notice of the other people's feelings and opinions, and understands her own power.
Q: What attracted you [to] the role of Ruth?
A: Right after I had read the script, I knew I had to start getting ready for the role. She's really different than I really am. On the other hand, she's very naive and a lost little girl who is desperately looking answers for the big questions. And on the other hand, she's quite brave and mature. The role was really difficult because I had to be able to express all Ruth's personalities and keep my own personality away from it.
Q: After Titanic you could have directed your career into any direction you would have wanted. Why have you chosen these rather small films?
A: I really never chose it and never made my mind that I wouldn't do big Hollywood films. Though I decided to prove [to] people that I haven't forgotten the English films. That's why I kept my eye on the English scripts after Titanic. And so I found Hideous Kinky. But I have never planned my career beforehand like, 'now I will do a legendary film, then a huge American film, and something totally different.' If the script is interesting and challenging, I will do it. The type of the movie isn't that important.
Q: How have you improved yourself as an actress in the past few years?
A: Oh God, I really wish that I am making progress and learning something new all the time. An actor can never be finished or perfect. I love acting but it's a very difficult profession. You need lots of life experience, information and skills because sometimes you have to draw on the characters yourself. Someone has asked me have I been acting young women who are searching their selves because I am doing that, too? No. I enjoy life and am quite a thinker, but I have never been searching for myself, for example, with different religions. Though playing Ruth has made me a little more free as an actress.
Q: Your Holy Smoke costar Harvey Keitel said that you don't look like an ordinary actress. What kind of feedback do you get from young women?
A: I've got some splendid letters. For example, some mothers who write that their daughter had anorexia, but now, because of my example, they are doing a lot better. That kind of feedback is the best reward that I can get. Sometimes I'm afraid that I will look like a bitter, chubby girl who would like to be thin in the reality, but that is not the way it goes. Some women - models or actresses - are naturally very thin, everyone's different. My message is: Look how far I have got with this body. No one has to starve [them]selves to get some love of fame. Too many people think that beauty and happiness mean being skinny. That's one of the most stupid thoughts in this world. I would love to do something to change that thought, but now I realise that it's really hard.
Q: How can young people identify [them]selves with Ruth?
A: I believe that they identify [them]selves with Ruth's confusion and restlessness, and then they will realise that they're not alone with those feelings. I, myself, remember being quite confused when I was under 20. One day I knew exactly what I wanted and the next day everything was so messy again. Ruth is living the big time of feelings. She's open and very exposed to new things. In the script of Holy Smoke [what] fascinated me [was] the fact that the story is progressing all the time. Ruth finds an answer, but later she realises that it's not the only answer and she continues searching.
Q: How were you searching for your self when you were young?
A: When I was confused about my life and the direction of my life, I remember just thinking that I have to go through this, dare to feel lonely and confused, and then you'll find your way out. I never relied myself in to some gurus or churches. I just let the feelings come and things happen. I am lucky because I've always had a lovely family and a bunch of great friends close to me. They have brought love and balance to my life. I never was desperate with my confusion. I knew that most people have the same kind of feelings.
Q: Where do you get power from? How do you freshen up?
A: By sleeping.
Q: Any other things? For example, are you into traveling?
A: I would love to travel. Actually, I was just thinking how I've never taken a year off and traveled around the world like many other people have done. My job has taken me to so incredible places and I don't feel like exploring the world that much. Traveling is nice, but between the shoots I just want to live a peaceful life...walk around in warm-up trousers and enjoy the ordinary day. My home city London is wonderful but an exhausting place. We try to get away from London as often as we can. We like going to the seaside. I can think clear and relax there.
Q: Do you like shooting films abroad?
A: It's great to get to know new places and cultures, but I hate being away from my husband!
Q: You just have finished filming "Quills". Tell me something about it.
A: Quills is about [the] Marquis de Sade's life, but it's not an erotic story. I enjoyed making the film so much. The director, Phil Kaufman, is a wonderful person, and my co-stars Geoffrey Rush, Michael Caine and Joaquin Phoenix are excellent. My character is Madeleine leClerc, a young girl who has an affair with the marquis. She is [the] marquis's best friend.
Q: You have also started producing...
A: Yes, in Therese Raquin film. It was an accident, actually. I've always tried to avoid the job of a producer. Producing is such a trendy job nowadays, and I like being different. I read the Therese book when I was 17, and it was overwhelming! I read it again right away and then gave it to my sisters, mum and friends to read. When I got the script, I was absolutely excited about [it] and insisted to meet the director. We talked about the story, and then I realised that I love the book so much, and want to make a wonderful film about it, and that I am ready to do something else than acting in it too. I admit using my reputation when looking for the financing. But it was nice to help a team which has tried to get financing for the film for such a long time. I am so excited because I could be there when they chose the filming places, actors and other staff. As the years have rolled, I've met so many wonderful people who are marvellous in the film business, and I want to invite them to this project. I believe that the good atmosphere will show in the result, too.
Q: What is Therese about?
A: It's a historical story of a French woman who is living with her husband and mother. She has put down her feelings. For example she doesn't say a thing in the first 30 pages of the book. Then she gets involved with her husband's best friend and love makes them do a horrible crime. That's all I can tell.
Q: Was there something specifically nice in Holy Smoke? Something different after your previous films?
A: Yes! I got rid of my corset! I was so excited, just like a little kid in a candy shop. I got to run around without shoes on and it took about 20 minutes to do my hair and make-up. In a film like Titanic, having your make-up finished took about two hours or so.
Q: Had you already forgotten what it is like to act in a movie which is set in this day?
A: Sort of. I had forgotten how freely I can speak in a film like this. In a historical film the speech, words and expressions have to be suitable for the era. You have to remember your lines, there's no space for improvisation. You have to be careful that you won't sound too up-to-date. But now I got to speak the way I wanted and it felt great.
Q: You took part in one of the most famous movies in the world. Has it been a trouble at all?
A: The only trouble is that I've lost my privacy. But with a good sense of humour you'll survive quite well.
Q: Has Titanic changed Leonardo Di Caprio?
A: Leo will certainly always be himself. At some point I was worried about the fuss around him, but now I know that everything's all right and Leo is OK.
Kate Elizabeth Winslet -
*Born on 5th of October 1975 in Reading, England. Lives in London.
*Follows the family tradition: both her mum and dad are actors and two sisters are actresses (her brother has passed this tradition) and her grandparents had their own theatre.
*Performed in theatre and in telly before her film career.
*Rose in the fame when 17 in the movie Heavenly Creatures (1994). After that she has showed up in movies "Sense and Sensibility", "Jude", "Hamlet", "" and "Hideous Kinky".
*Met the one, director Jim Threapleton in the set of Hideous Kinky. They got married in 1998.
*Before giving birth in autumn will finish "Enigma", the movie about The Second World War.
*Became friends with Leonardo Di Caprio when filming and says it's a pity that because of their busy lives they can't keep that much contact.
*Doesn't say no to the idea of 's sequel, "Rose's life after".
*Favourite movies "The silence of the lambs", "Piano" and "Reservoir dogs".
*Likes music by The Verve, Oasis and Portishead.
*Has been nominated for the academy award two times.
From "Event Selector" - Press Association, Ltd. (thanks to Janalynn for the tip):
"Kate's Going to be Huge" -
She's taken on some tough roles in her career - spending hours up to her neck in freezing cold water for Titanic or playing a young psychotic murderess in Heavenly Creatures. But actress Kate Winslet reckons her latest part was the most testing of all. And it wasn't because she had to do anything particularly gruelling either.
The real reason the 25-year-old star found her new film Holy Smoke difficult to do was because it came along at a time in her life when she was blissfully happy.
In the movie, which opens across the UK this week, Winslet plays Ruth, a mixed up, depressed young woman who is desperate to find the meaning of life and in her search becomes swept along by a charismatic cult leader. But, as she explains, this was the last thing she was looking for in real life, although she met a real guru as part of her research for the role. "I sat with him for a day and went with an open mind, but at the time that I met him I was really happy. I knew that I was marrying Jim, I felt really sorted out in my life so it wasn't right for me. But he was a wonderful man and I could see how for some people it would be absolutely right."
"Jim" is Jim Threapleton, her husband of one year, whom she met on the set of her previous film, Hideous Kinky. The pair, who were married in a low key ceremony in her home town of Reading, are now expecting their first baby in September, and the ever effervescent star can barely contain her excitement.
But the impending birth of her first child has not stopped her from being as busy as ever. She has been shooting Enigma, based on the bestseller by Robert Harris about Britain's wartime code-breakers at Bletchley Park, which is being filmed before Winslet's pregnancy is too noticeable. The film is being produced by Mick Jagger, who impressed the cast by making up a CD compilation of 1940s music to get them into the spirit of World War Two Britain.
Winslet is also in two more big budget films - Quills, where she stars opposite Michael Caine and Geoffrey Rush, and Therese Raquin where she makes her debut as a producer as well as taking the title role. Filming will start next year after her baby is born. The actress believes that marriage and pregnancy have given her a new perspective on the type of roles she would take on in the future. In the past she has never shied away from stripping off for the camera but now says she would have to think twice. "Since being married these scenes are even harder to do and I'm being much more particular, which is just something from inside myself," she muses. "It's nothing to do with Jim, who is even more relaxed about those scenes than I am."
So what of the notorious and much talked about scene in Holy Smoke, in which Winslet has to stand in front of co-star Harvey Keitel and urinate? It's enough to make even the most hardened performer balk, but in her typical no-nonsense fashion Winslet merely shrugs it off as something she "had to get on with and do. I was thinking, 'oh well as wonderful as that is, somebody else will be doing that, it won't really be me'," she explains. "Then I came down to have to do it and thank God the urinating contraption which was rigged up for me was so hilarious that I was able to laugh and keep myself going in that way. I also had to keep focused on the fact that that scene is really disturbing and when I first read the script it was the most powerful scene I've ever read in any script ever. You just try and stay focused on the fact that those scenes are there for a reason, you've agreed to do them for a reason.
"I'm pretty strict in terms of scenes like that," she adds, nodding vigorously. "I want to see everything they've shot once they've shot it, not because I don't think I will look nice or anything like that, but because sometimes they can shoot a little bit too much if they think they can get away with it. But I'm the first to say no."
Despite this determination to stay in control Winslet hasn't always been in the driving seat. Surprisingly, she admits one of the most insecure episodes in her career came after the phenomenal success of the film Titanic almost three years ago. "So much was expected of me," she says. "I was terrified people would think I had changed because of it. I lost my rhyme and reason." She managed to get back on track by choosing to make smaller budget movies instead of the obvious Hollywood route. "I know for a fact that if I'd gone to Hollywood I'd have been depressed. I'd have lost myself," she reveals.
The decision clearly hasn't adversely affected her career. Her next three films look set to be huge and she is one of the most bankable stars in the world, but right now there's only one production on her mind. "I'm reading a couple of books on the subject," she says of her pregnancy. "I'm not diving in too deep, just to find out the basics - like eat this and don't eat that. We haven't even started thinking of names yet though," she smiles. "When we do it will probably be Jim getting his own way instead of me."
June 18: Tamara scanned for us the following article from "Now" magazine (April 2000 issue). Wasn't that nice of her to take the time to do this? Thanks, Tamara!
OK, I can't resist commenting on that last sentence, LOL. Notice grandma made the comment "when Kate found fame." Does that refer to the release of "Heavenly Creatures?" If so, I can understand. Perhaps her feelings are a bit different now. ? I feel that Kate's "body of work" is evidence that she is the most gifted film actress working today. I'm sure that Anna's stage work is excellent, as well. I'd love to see her perform!
From The Irish Times, April 2000:
"No Smoke Without Fire," interview with Penelope Dening:
Acting is all about being confrontational and taking risks, believes Kate Winslet - and she does both in her latest film, Holy Smoke. She talks about her role, the price of success - and kissing:
"I was on the tube just before Christmas, and this girl turned round to me and said, 'Are you Kate Winslet?' And I said, 'Well, yes, I am actually'. And she said, 'And you're getting the tube?' And I said, 'Yes'. And she said, 'Don't you have a big car that drives you around?' And I said, 'No'. And she was absolutely stunned that I wasn't being driven round in some flash car all the time. It was ludicrous."
Kate Winslet performs both parts: the incredulous straphanger and the defensive one-of-the-people celebrity. Face and body language change as the familiar head turns, swiveling in her chair, letting the dialogue tell the story, as she does with every anecdote she relates. While others might parade their ordinariness as some kind of PR tool, Winslet is simply telling the truth. She is the girl next door, albeit one who got very lucky. The job she loves has brought her both critical and financial success, making her, at 24, one of the richest women in Britain, which means she can do what she wants. No tacky telly. No just-for-money-Hollywood. Just interesting movies. Risks. Kate Winslet is big on risks. She has just finished shooting "Quills" - out later this year - about the last days of the Marquis de Sade, a bursting-out of-corset affair that would give Jane Austen an attack of the vapours.
After hitting the button in "Titanic", Winslet could have done anything. She chose to do the low-budget "Hideous Kinky", an autobiographical first novel by Bella Freud, set in Morocco, which she invested in and co-produced. This was followed by another risky venture, "Holy Smoke", written and directed by the New Zealand director of "The Piano", Jane Campion, though here the risks are of quite a different order.
We're sitting in a smart London hotel room, all magnolia blossoms and sardine packed tulips, very different from the corner of the Soho office where I interviewed Winslet shortly after her emotional intensity and fresh-faced beauty had netted her an Oscar nomination for "Sense and Sensibility". So, how has she changed in the last four years? The all-black biker gear has given way to short, tight lizard-print skirt topped by black denim jacket with red stitching. In short, the street uniform of her contemporaries, both then and now. This time her face is veiled in a gossamer shimmer of make-up. Not that she needs it: Kate Winslet has the skin of a new-picked peach and a mouth so perfectly shaped, flawlessly full and symmetrical that it's hard not to stare. Four years ago she was a gangling girl. Now she is a woman of startling luminous beauty, not unconnected, she insists, with her three-months-in pregnancy. Her sickness is pretty much over and now it's glow, glow, glow all the way.
Although hardly an obvious career move, "Hideous Kinky" proved pivotal because it was on location in Morocco that she met Jim Threapleton, then assistant director, now adored husband and father of baby-to-be. (No bump visible - "First scan next week and I'm just desperate for it.") Yet it is in "Holy Smoke" that you find echoes of the journey Winslet herself has made from gangling girl to blooming young woman. Ruth, a surface-tough 20-year-old Australian falls under the spell of an Indian guru while on the backpacking trail. Her horrified parents employ the services of an American "cult-buster" to bring her back to earth. Played with toe-curling macho-verve by veteran Harvey Keitel, their subsequent coupling proves life-shattering to both.
Winslet's performance is about as brave as any I can remember. In addition to no-imagination-required sex, the script has her stand naked in the desert and pee, a scene not intended to be erotic (nor is it) but representing a psychological crisis. Had she realized what would be demanded of her? "I knew it was really radical before doing it. The script was so bizarre. I would read it and read it and I would get to the end and I'd think, 'now hang on a minute, what is it about?' And that's what I really loved about it, because it did offer so many different things. And yes, I did know that it was out there and confrontational and risky but, you know, acting is about taking risks really. And it's about the ultimate challenge. And "Holy Smoke" was the ultimate challenge for me."
If the urinating scene was bad enough, kissing Harvey Keitel - old enough to be her grandfather - can't have been much fun either, I suggest. She makes a face. "You just have to get on with it because it's part of the job." Nor was it simply because Keitel is hardly love's young dream. Kissing anyone you don't fancy is difficult, she explains, including her Titanic costar, the screen's biggest heart throb since Valentino.
"There were times when I really didn't like kissing Leo. I'd think, 'ugh - you've got to brush your teeth'. And people say to me all the time 'What was it like kissing Leonardo diCaprio?' When I'm asked that question, I get really irritated and say, 'Look, I'm married now'. I'm hardly going to say 'Oh, it was really great.' Also, it wasn't really great. He was just a bloke."
"Holy Smoke", however, called on Winslet to do more than kiss just a bloke. A critical scene involved her kissing a Garbo-esque woman. "Oh my God," she shivers. "Kissing girls, now that is totally weird. That actually, makes me feel totally, arghgguuh." And for a few seconds the lovely Winslet mouth is transformed into a tongue-protruding gargoyle. It was the most difficult thing she has ever had to do on film, she says. "I felt myself pulling back from that, really quite violently pulling back. But it is shocking. I thought it was a great scene and that's why it had to be there, but it doesn't make it any easier on me. I mean, even the urinating scene. God that was so urghgh, urgh, ooorgh." More girlish gargoyling. "I loved that scene. It was so amazing. It was the most important scene in the film, because it was such a turning point. But God. Doing it. There was a version where you saw the whole shebang, which was not very pleasant really. You sort of go, 'Hmm. I don't really know about that'."
In April, she has got four weeks shooting on "Enigma", a film adapted by Tom Stoppard from Robert Harris's novel about the British code-breaking team at Bletchley Park during the second World War. Then nothing until the baby is six months old, when filming begins on an adaptation of "Therese Raquin", from the novel by Zola in which she takes the lead. After which it'll be Jim's turn. A normal life for the baby is more important than anything else, she says, and they plan to take it in turns to work. "I don't want to be one of these mothers who cart their kid around and I'm photographed getting off a plane with the baby in a pack on the front and heaps of bags and sunglasses on. It would just be vile, vile."
Since we last met, she believes she has learnt to slow down, to stop "rushing around so much. I know some actors just go back to back but I could never do that. Largely because I know that for me life is much more important than work, and also as an actor I believe you must stop so you can live, so you can have real life experiences and stuff to draw from. Because if you don't have that, you're just regurgitating stuff and pretending basically." It's the reason she never watches rushes these days. A mistake she made while shooting her first film, Heavenly Creatures, shot in New Zealand when she was barely 17. "It was a really bad move because when I was watching it I was going, 'Hmmm, I don't know if I like that, so I won't do that again'. And actually I stopped the character taking on its own life, because I was watching myself and I wasn't liking myself up on the screen, and that's not right."
Not liking what she looked like led to severe dieting that, fortunately, she says, never developed into full anorexia, although she did stop having periods for four years. "It was around about the time I was doing "Jude". I wasn't so thin people would noticeably go, 'Oh my God, that girl should eat something'. But we have a slow metabolism in my family and we can't eat lots and lots because we all put on weight really easily. But to lose weight we have to eat virtually nothing. Which was outrageous. I initially thought I ought to be thinner than I am. What's so cruel about this f***ing eating disorder is that you get so seduced by the weight that you're losing, and you feel your bones sticking out, and you think, 'ooh, just a couple more pounds'." Winslet, acting out the scene, wriggles with delight. "I remember getting on the scales and being 8 stone 7, then getting on and being 8 stone 2 and when I got to 8 stone I decided I would stop. But of course I didn't."
The hurtful press that Winslet has suffered over her career concerning her weight is now just water off a duck's back. "Being married you're allowed to stop questioning who you are. You're allowed to stop analyzing yourself, judging yourself. And it's such a relief that Jim and I, we're doing it together and we're going through this life thing together and it's such a huge adventure."
Holy Smoke opened in the Screen, Dublin and the Kino, Cork on March 31st.
From Associated Newspapers (UK), March 30:
"Kate on Love and 'That' Scene," By Shane Watson -
Is Kate Winslet - 24, the youngest actress to be twice nominated for an Oscar, married, three months pregnant, glowing despite having been up at dawn for the Big Breakfast - very self-disciplined? "It's not that I'm necessarily disciplined, it's just that, I mean, for example, The Ivy restaurant? I can't stand it. I've got a real thing about it, it's a celebrity hangout and I cannot stand celebrity hangouts." She's deadpan, big blue eyes unblinking in that strong, creamy face. "It's like my doctor said recently: 'Maybe you should think about where you'd like to have the baby', and I said: 'Not The Portland.' It's a celebrity baby factory (she giggles mischievously). I'm sorry, but it is."
This is how Kate Winslet is. Funny, irrepressible, down-to-earth and more than happy to talk about her life: "I'm not smoking now, of course, but I love a drink and I love a party, but with my mates and Jim's. I'm not one for hanging out at the Met Bar and being photographed coming out all skewy-eyed. I've never been one for drugs, they never came my way when I was a teenager and by the time they did, I'd grown up a bit too much." This is the way she talks, openly, unstoppably. It's often interpreted by interviewers as honesty and enthusiasm, and there is that too, but really (because no one is going to bare their soul in a 30-minute interview) Kate Winslet is a consummate and generous professional. She wants to give you something to take away. She is driven to give you her best.
Everyone identifies with Kate Winslet - or at least the characters she plays. The latest is Ruth, a headstrong young Australian, whom we see in the opening frames of Holy Smoke wearing a white sari, gone native in Delhi, because, she says, "this is some of the real stuff". Everyone wants to be like Kate, and not Kate's suburban friend who calls after her "but we'll miss the Rajasthani buffet". As if a Kate character would ever go for the Rajasthani buffet. She's always diving in, looking for the real stuff, pushing at boundaries, whether as Marianne Dashwood the passionate idealist in Sense and Sensibility or Sue Whitehead, the unmarried mother in Jude, the rebellious Rose in Titanic or the hippie mum in Hideous Kinky.
If you're an adult, you think that, at the very least, she's an impressive talent. If you're an adolescent girl, you think she is unbelievably cool (she says bloody and f****** a lot and has starred in the biggest grossing movie of all time). If you're female, over the age of 12 and not built like a scarecrow, then Kate has made a crucial difference to your self-image, putting curves (at a glance, I'd say a size 12 on top, 14 on the bottom) back on the screen, in the arms of Leonardo di Caprio no less. And if you're any of the above and English, you can't help but see her as a kind of walking advertisement for down-to-earth, get on and muck in English spirit (she served bangers and mash at her wedding reception in the Crooked Billet pub in Reading and honeymooned in Scotland in November. How's that for unponcey?)
On our behalf, Kate Winslet has given two fingers to the skinny Gwynnies and moaning Winonas. Everything she does both in her work and private life is strong and beefy (she turned down the Gwynnie part in Shakespeare in Love on the grounds that it wasn't enough of "a stretch"). So it's astonishing to discover that the old Kate has been shed somewhere in the Australian desert and that, in fact, we ain't seen nothing yet.
Holy Smoke is the big one, not in terms of Oscars or even Golden Globes, both of which seem to have been scared off by the subject matter; but in the Kate Winslet oeuvre, it's the one that demonstrates her talent at its most fearless and mature. It's the story of Ruth who falls under the influence of a charismatic Indian guru, is lured home to be "deprogrammed" by a Cuban-heeled exit counselor, played by Harvey Keitel, and the complex struggle that ensues (his smooth, professional expertise versus her lack of inhibition and self-confidence). Keitel's strong performance, even the moments when he's trussed up in a dress pleading for sexual favours (Winslet: "So what are you?" Keitel: "A dirty old man"), is eclipsed by hers. There's a point where she stands naked in the desert and urinates involuntarily on the sand between her legs. You can't imagine anyone else having pulled it off. Was anyone else considered for the part? "Yeah, I heard that Jane [Campion] met 600 people," says Winslet, and laughs.
Everything up until now has been, she says, mere training for the ordeal that was Holy Smoke. "Acting is about taking risks and this was just so risky. The intimacy of the scenes was "really difficult. It was like 'woah, hang on a minute'. I am very in touch with who I am and I think that, without wanting to sound mushy, that is to do with being married."
But nothing compared to the arduous mental preparation: "Jane is pretty brutal. She'll come up to you and say [switching into a languid Australian accent]: 'Er, Kate, that was really baaaad.' She makes you explore sides of yourself and sometimes you don't like to have to admit certain things. She'd say: 'You have a real thing about people liking you, don't you?,' and I'd say: 'Well, not really... but on the other hand', and she'd say, 'Make up your mind, you're contradicting yourself.' She demands total honesty."
The liking thing is interesting. Winslet has a reputation for team-spiritedness, for being best friends with the make-up girl and the props boys and she's keen to demonstrate her normality ("I'm dying for a pee" is the first thing I hear her say). She was bullied at school for being overweight in her teens and you can't help but connect this with her subsequent unwavering determination to be the most popular, in-demand, actress of her generation.
Along the way she has acquired a reputation for becoming intensely, even dangerously, involved in her parts. "I'm always fainting and going to hospital, honestly." She collapsed on the set of Sense and Sensibility. Was that corsets or emotion? "Corsets, emotion and rain" she replies, but her sanity was not as at risk then as it was making her first film, Heavenly Creatures. "I came home from that film and I had no idea who I was and I was really frightened. It taught me to protect myself and with Holy Smoke I had to apply those lessons." When she finally saw the end product she was shocked at what she had created. "It had taken on this bigger life and I just thought, that is not me at all. I was like, 'who the hell are you?'"
She says she doesn't recognise herself but the characterisation feels very like the Kate we all think we know. "Well, I really enjoyed being Ruth. I loved the costumes [saris and hippie gear] and running around with no shoes on. That's completely me. And a lot of Ruth's morals, sticking up for what you believe in and being honest and headstrong, that's very much me. Playing her I realised that she was a lot younger mentally. I had to take myself right back [Ruth is about 20, Winslet was 23 at the time of filming]. When I was 20 I thought: 'Yeah, I know exactly who I am. I absolutely know what I want from my life.' Cut to me four years later and I am a drastically different person."
It's probably hard for Winslet to appreciate that most of us had little idea of who we were at 20, or were anything like as self-assured at 24, let alone so far into a career (besides starring in the film of Robert Harris's Enigma and another film about the Marquis de Sade, she will coproduce on her next project, the film of Thérèse Raquin). By her own admission she was an early starter, sorting out her own affairs, looking after her work interests in order to "protect" her parents. She made her first film at 17. At 19 she was nominated for her first Oscar for Sense and Sensibility, the same year she was on the phone to James Cameron lobbying for a part in Titanic. Is it true that she shouted "I am Rose" down the phone at him until he relented? "Not quite. But I did phone him up and I said (serious nanny voice): 'Look, you really do need to cast me in this role,' and he laughed and I said, 'Laugh all you like but if you don't, you're going to regret it.' Actually I was the first person they cast which, looking back on it, was bloody brave of them." The finger episode, when Rose makes a decidedly late 20th century gesture as she escapes in the lift, was presumably a bit of ballsy Winsletian improvisation? "That was actually Jim Cameron's idea, which we had a row about - I said it feels too contemporary."
It's the old overlap again, assuming that Kate is this gutsy force who refuses to conform to type. "That is pretty true of me, actually. Jim [Threapleton] was saying the other day: 'You know you should really treat yourself to something,' because I'm not very good at saying 'well, I've got a bit of money now, so I'll buy myself something nice' [although she has bought her parents a house]. He said: 'Maybe we should get you a little sports car' and I went 'EyuuurK!'" She lurches forward, tongue out, eyes bulging. "He said, 'You know, you are allowed to have some of the superstar things' and I said, 'No I'm not, you see, because I refuse to do what people expect me to do. That's very much who I am, so I'm much happier driving around in our little green Mini, thank you.'" (trilly laughter).
She married Jim Threapleton, third assistant director on Hideous Kinky, four months after filming Holy Smoke. There's no doubt that it is her coming-of-age film, she is beautiful in it, luminous. The slightly whiney girlishness that sometimes surfaced unintentionally has been replaced by a confident womanliness, and for the first time you are aware of her extraordinary sexual power. "Well, I like that. That's really good. I am very in touch with who I am and I think that, without wanting to sound mushy, that is to do with being married and being with Jim, because there's no one out there to question me any more. He just loves me for me and vice versa and that is really grounding." Did she feel that Holy Smoke was like a rite of passage? "Yeah, I did. When it was over, I had this overwhelming feeling of 'oh my God, I've just closed a chapter of my life'. It felt like I was exorcising sides of myself."
Maybe some of those demons were to do with her much-discussed body image (at the age of 16 she was 13 stone, then became dangerously thin, and ever since her figure has been the subject of press scrutiny). Did she love the way she looked, naked in the desert? "I have to say I was quite chuffed because it was a bloody hard scene to do and I was racked with paranoia as I always am with every nude scene. Not that I wasn't eating several packets of crisps before that scene. But yes, I was pleased." Now she says she can't wait to get a proper bump to show off. But she's not ready to stay at home with the family yet. "My feeling about why I like making films is you can come away from a film feeling so changed and touched. I really love that, the thought that I could be giving people a lot."
From the Telegraph (UK), March 16, 2000:
Kate Winslet, dazzling in her new film, tells David Gritten about the even greater adventure she faces - having a baby:
"Motherhood, Mick Jagger and Me" -
Kate Winslet has a contented, relaxed look these days. In the past I have seen her looking tired and tense as she struggled to maintain her rigorous filming schedule. On one occasion, we met just after she finished shooting Titanic, when she was angry at director James Cameron's tyrannical excesses.
It's amazing what marriage and pregnancy can do. Eighteen months after she married filmmaker Jim Threapleton, her sense of familial bliss seems undimmed, and she is happily expecting a baby later this year.
Winslet has been meaning to ring me for the last three days, but it has simply slipped her mind. "This has turned me into the most crap person in the world," she tells me good-naturedly. "I didn't know a symptom of early pregnancy was absent-mindedness. But it's true in my case, and it's been true with friends of mine too.
I'm feeling a bit nauseous in the mornings, but honestly we're so thrilled," she goes on, her words spilling out with her enthusiasm. "And it's such an important thing - the most wonderful thing two people can do together. When it happens, it happens, and everything else has to fit in around it, not the other way round."
Indeed. Quite apart from these happy events, Winslet now looks like a young woman in control of her destiny, someone who calls the shots. Before Titanic she was an actress in a hurry, eager to stake a claim for herself and throwing herself into continuous work - Heavenly Creatures, Sense and Sensibility, Jude, Hamlet. One sensed she was being run by her career. Then Titanic, the highest-grossing film ever, made her the world's most visible young actress. She could do whatever she wanted. Hollywood studios brandished fat cheques and jostled to sign her up. "I was offered everything under the sun," she says, with a wry smile. And what did she do? Something very sane. Staying away from Hollywood, she made two quirky, independent, modestly budgeted films: one, Hideous Kinky, in Morocco; the other, Holy Smoke, in Australia and India. "After Titanic I made a decision to do something smaller," she explains. "I needed to remind myself I was doing this job for a reason - because I love it. I could have done a lot of big films, raked in the cash and forgotten that it's not about being a film star, but trying to do good work."
Success has not changed Winslet. She retains her common sense, effervescence and stubborn streak. She chatters incessantly, swears with confidence and laughs like a drain. She's a good egg and a terrific role model for a generation of British women. Although she has received two Oscar nominations (for Sense and Sensibility and Titanic) she is still only 24, and it says much for her grounded world-view that she retreated from the public eye in the wake of Titanic's huge success. Her Moroccan film, Hideous Kinky, was amiable if hardly memorable (she herself calls it "a little road movie"), but it paid unexpected dividends: on set she met Threapleton, then an assistant director. She credits him with giving stability and direction to her life. "For me, Jim's the person who sees through all the bull**** and keeps you real. Those are things I've fought for for myself, and to have found somebody else who does that with me, honestly, it's great."
Threapleton's career has now moved up a few notches. "He's not an AD at all any more," Winslet reports. "He has directed a couple of short films, on a low-key level," Winslet says. "I'm not allowed to be in any of them, which drives me mad. But it all seems to be going well. Jim's just pleased he's not running around any more making cups of tea for people like me."
Winslet too moves into headier territory with her new film, Holy Smoke, released here on March 31. Directed by formidable New Zealander Jane Campion (The Piano), it offers Winslet the most complex role of her career. She plays Ruth, a headstrong, exasperating young Australian who takes the hippie trail to India and falls under the spell of a guru with a less than spiritual interest in his female devotees. Ruth's family hoodwink her into returning home, and hire an American cult deprogrammer called PJ Waters (played by Harvey Keitel) to sort her out. He drags her off to the Australian outback for an intense one-on-one session to reverse her brainwashing. Ruth seems insecure, while Waters boasts that he has returned 180 cult victims to normality, yet it is soon clear that she is more than his equal in sexual terms and in strength of character. They embark on a frenzied affair, and she undermines his arrogance at every turn.
Holy Smoke has polarised opinion sharply. But even those critics who are uneasy about its inconsistent tone concede that Winslet has turned in the performance of her career. However, the film proved too rich for the palates of Oscar and Golden Globes voters, who overlooked her. There were also signs that Miramax, the company that made Holy Smoke, distanced itself from it when it opened to indifferent business in America. Certainly the company has not marketed the film with its normal verve, and Campion has canceled a publicity trip to Britain, apparently in despair. "It's a brilliant story, and of all the films I've done it's the one I care about most," says Winslet defiantly. "It was a real challenge for me. It is by no means a masterpiece, but it's a really interesting movie. I've read articles about it and it sounds as if we've made this steamy, erotic film, but it's not that at all. It's about a young girl on a journey to find her heart."
The role of Ruth is arduous, physically and emotionally. Intriguingly Winslet found it hardest to play innocuous scenes with two of Ruth's young Australian girlfriends. "Those actresses were very girly," she says. "I was 22 when I shot the film, but I felt at least 25 - older, wiser. I thought, God, I don't know how to be young any more." In a sense she never did. Winslet, who comes from a theatrical family, has made a living from acting since the age of 13. She began work on BBC sitcom Get Back days after completing her GCSEs, and won her first Oscar nomination just after her 20th birthday. "I've always said I've never missed being teenage and girly and silly," she says, "but when I did those scenes in Holy Smoke, I realised that I'd skipped that beat. I never did that going-out-to-clubs thing. I've always related to people 10 years older or more."
That category includes her friend Emma Thompson, who wrote and costarred with Winslet in Sense and Sensibility, and Campion, with whom she bonded on set. "I used to get annoyed with Jane, who'd always be saying [adopts a Kiwi accent], 'We're all on an important part of our journey.' And I'd think, 'Shut up about the f***ing journey - I just want to get on with it.' But when I saw the film, she was right. It was an unbelievable journey. "Playing Ruth was intense. Every day was the equivalent of doing a nude scene. As an actor I like being pushed to extreme places. Well, Jane will drag you there kicking and screaming." Campion certainly needed to for one scene. Winslet has disrobed in most of her films with apparent unconcern, but one unsettling moment in Holy Smoke might have deterred the most confident actress. After a bruising encounter between Ruth and Waters, she stands naked before him in the desert's gathering gloom and urinates - a sign of the extent of her emotional breakdown and fatigue. "I laughed my head off when I read the scene. Then I had to face the reality of doing it," she says. "We had this hilarious contraption, and lots of giggly girls in a toilet trying it out. There was a saline drip on my back with food colouring in it. I had to wedge a tube in the appropriate place and squeeze. I was helped by the content of the scene. If it was meant to be about seduction, it would have been harder."
As she tells it, she has virtually no inhibitions these days: "The experience of working with Jane altered my attitudes. I don't care any more. I think a lot of women don't get to that point until they've had a baby or reached their mid-thirties. I almost cringe when I mention this, but the topic of my weight - it doesn't bother me any more." Ah yes, her weight. After Titanic she was judged harshly by more shrewish elements of the media for putting on a few pounds. Winslet is unforgiving and indignant. "At first all that stuff was pretty hurtful. No one has the right to judge like that. Why slag off my physicality? Because actually I want that to be a good thing, I want it to help young people who are completely messed up. It breaks my heart - I get letters from mothers of young girls who were anorexic and no longer are, because they've read articles and things that I've said."
Winslet's pregnancy has made her delay making her debut as a film producer on Thérèse Raquin, an adaptation of the Zola novel, in which she also takes the title role. She was due to start filming in May, but will now begin it next year. She won't produce every film she makes from now on. "But I like to be hands-on, and I love that whole team thing, keeping the team happy." The attachment of her name to a project has another advantage since these days Winslet is a money magnet. Once she commits to starring in a film, investors automatically start sniffing around. She did it with Hideous Kinky, she's doing it with Thérèse Raquin, and last year she added to the star lustre of Quills, a film about the last days of the Marquis de Sade, which pits her against Michael Caine, Geoffrey Rush and Joaquin Phoenix.
But next she will play a role in Enigma, a film adapted by Tom Stoppard from Robert Harris's novel about the Second World War code-breakers at Bletchley Park. The film's executive producer is none other than Mick Jagger, who impressed cast members by taking them up to Bletchley last week, and showing them around. He has real enthusiasm for the subject. "I suppose I shouldn't say this," says Winslet, who goes on and says it anyway, "but when I heard about Mick, I thought, huh, wonder why he's so interested in producing films? But he was terrific. And he did something very sweet. He made up compilation CDs of 1940s music for all the cast, which really impressed me. That's just the kind of thing actors like as a way to think themselves into a period. And most executive producers, you think of them sitting in offices, taking money decisions. You don't expect them to be hands-on. So Mick impressed me." In Enigma, she plays a key code-breaker called Hester: "I'll work for four weeks in April before I get too big." And then? "I'll be lying flat on my back," she says with a laugh. "Those people who slagged me off over my weight can have a real go at me then. I'm fully intending to blow up like a real barrage balloon."
From the Guardian, March 12, 2000:
"Kate Gets Real," by Nicci Gerrard -
When Titanic launched Kate Winslet on to the Hollywood A-list, it seemed inevitable that she would start churning out big-budget blockbusters. But she escaped and made a series of imaginative, off-beat films - she's about to star in Jane Campion's Holy Smoke. Now, at 24, she's married, pregnant and couldn't give a stuff about fame, food and fat -
'I'm pregnant... I'm sick... I'm terribly excited... We're both terribly excited...We're incredibly happy... I'm forgetting everything, a fucking basket case, a lunatic... I'm over the moon... Listen to me waffling on...' There is a scene in Holy Smoke, after the film has started to unravel into a splendid derangement, when Kate Winslet stands naked in the Australian scrubland, a great sky behind her, and urinates on to the sand.
She wasn't actually urinating, she says; there was a saline drip attached behind her head. But she did insist on trying one take for real. 'And the problem is, of course, that the wee dribbles down one leg.' There is something very Kate Winslet about this scene, and her candid describing of it: there she stands, naked and voluptuous in the bare light, with her soft and even features, her steady gaze, her strong and shapely body, her feet planted very firmly on the ground. Nudity is not an act of narcissism here; she does not become an object modelling for the camera lens, a skinny starved star. Rather, it is as if she is saying: 'Take me as you find me, this is me.'
'This is me' is a constant refrain from Kate Winslet. Her conversation - slung about with swear words, breaking down into laughter, interrupted by self-mocking insults ('Listen to me, I sound like a hippy idiot... a wanker...'), continually going off on engaging detours ('Fucking waffle, ah well, that's me') - always comes back to this resolution to remain herself: when she calls a spade a spade (or a 'fucking' spade, more like). When she talks about her period or, now, of course, her morning sickness. When she describes meeting Winona Ryder when her left tit was hanging out, or when she was introduced to Emma Thompson and was exultant because the older, admired actress talked about needing a pee. When she says her idea of romance isn't a sentimental Valentine's Day card but, say, a man she fancies sending her his smelly socks. When she refuses to be a 'stick insect', a 'fucking model' and tucks into chocolate cake with the gusto of an over-excited birthday girl. When she insists on attending the funeral of a beloved friend rather than the premiere of Titanic. When she marries film director Jim Threapleton at a tiny church surrounded by her non-celebrity friends and eats bangers and mash afterwards. And when she becomes pregnant at the age of 24 with no anxieties about interrupting her blossoming, triumphant career because, as she tells me, 'acting for me has always come second'.
'This is me,' she insists: not thin, not delicate, not refined, not beautiful (oh but she is, for all her claims of 'my bum's massive, my breasts are saggy, my back's spotty, how can I do this job?'), not spoilt, not in thrall to success and the alluring image up there on the screen; but free, happy, girlish, lucky, in love, and having such fun. This is me, she is saying as she kicks off her shoes and curls up on the sofa and insults herself - this is sane Kate: dottily, recklessly sane, valiantly ordinary, going full tilt for difficult normality.
For, of course, Kate Winslet's life so far has not been ordinary at all. She has always known she would be an actress. She grew up in a theatrical family in Reading, the middle one of three sisters, and she remembers the early passion she brought to the role of Mary in her school's Nativity play. She was famous before she reached adulthood. A lot of her growing up was done in the public eye and it is almost as if her outward show of emphatic youthfulness and unworldliness comes from not having had a real girlhood. Her triumphs and her mistakes were seen, discussed, the stuff of gossip columns: that kiss, that comment, that dress, the weight gained or lost under the speculative gaze of the camera.
She was only 17 when she starred in Heavenly Creatures, the film based on the true story of two girls who murdered the mother of one of them - a slightly perverse, intense, just short of over-the-top performance that won the admiration of the critics. Since then, she has been in Ang Lee's beautiful version of Sense and Sensibility (Lee called Winslet a bold, raw talent; Winslet fainted on set several times, so immersed was she in the masochistic, intense romanticism of her character, Marianne); in Jude (as Sue Bridehead opposite Christopher Eccleston's moody Jude); as Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet.
She didn't just fall into the parts by luck, she went after them with the determination of a Rottweiler. When she auditioned for Sense and Sensibility, for instance, she was supposed to be reading the minor role of Lucy but thought, 'fuck this'. She went for Marianne instead, sweeping all objections aside. Later, she besieged director James Cameron with her passionate desire to play Rose in Titanic.
Titanic was a blockbuster which would have sunk a less buoyant, resolute actress than herself. As Rose, you can sense her fighting her corner in the film, lustrously beautiful and strong and unafraid (distressed by, yet scornful of the critics who called her 'too fleshy'). And so she looked set to become part of the Hollywood machine - another star collecting her millions from the big-budget monsters. She broke free, to the alarm of advisers, turning down scripts from America and choosing instead to star in a modest British film, Hideous Kinky.
Now Holy Smoke, Jane Campion's film, is about to be released. Kate Winslet plays Ruth, a young woman who goes to India with a friend and there meets a guru (as Anthony Lane in The New Yorker comments, the movie 'has a strong smell of the 1970s about it'). She is enthralled. 'Something amazing has happened to me,' she says, and refuses to return from Delhi to her suburban home in Sydney. Her mother flies in to rescue her, and eventually lures her back under the pretence that her father is dying. She returns, wearing her Eastern robes and her third eye, to find him playing golf. The family fork out thousands of dollars to hire the 'Number One exit counsellor in America', PJ Waters.
Enter Harvey Keitel, and the film becomes a frenetic two-hander between feisty, enlightened, uninhibited, bitchy, enraged, mad, sane Ruth, and shrewd, patronising, sinister, controlling Waters. The duel starts as a discussion about reality and truth, but quickly becomes wilder. Kate steals the show, extraordinary in the power and range of her performance. Jane Campion, when casting Holy Smoke, says that she needed to find an actress who could be equal to Keitel, and with Winslet she more than succeeds. She's a young woman, with a blatantly girlish vocabulary, but as an actress she is remarkably grown-up.
The first time I talk to Kate Winslet she is casual, bare-footed and chatty on a sofa in a London hotel at the end of a long day, slugging vodka (this was pre-pregnancy), munching crisps, rolling cigarettes. Conversation with her is rather like a high-spirited pyjama party - ask a question and she charges off, anecdotal, digressional, giggly, complicit, deliberately uncool. She says that the experience of making Holy Smoke was 'fucking unbelievable. When I saw it for the first time, saw what I'd made of Ruth, I thought to myself: "Oh my God, I've created a bitch; Frankenstein's monster." But I loved it; I loved her. Such a fucking little cow - although she was even more vile in the script. I read the script, and I knew I had to give weight to this girl, to justify her and to make her into someone that the audience can understand. I had to be over-the-top and yet put a lid on her and make her believable. I have to say that I could have found the whole thing really hard. Jane Campion is a tough director.' She waves her roll-up in the air, scattering shreds of tobacco, glugs from her chunky tumbler, pushes hair off her face. 'She's gorgeous, wonderful, but bloody hard. She's mad; she's a self-confessed mad person. Plus, she's humane and honest and intuitive, and she pushes her actors, challenges them. She asks us to be as revealing as possible, as open as you can be; to transfer the whole of your self on to the character that you are playing.'
With Ruth, Kate Winslet felt that the director 'wanted a clone of a younger version of Jane herself. She kind of embodied this vision she's had. And I knew she had to let go; she wasn't letting go of Ruth and giving her to me. In the end I said: "I can't do everything you're telling me to do. It's me up there, not you. It's got to be what I want her to do, otherwise I promise you, I'll just give you a crap performance." And she was thrilled with that. Thrilled. She thrives on honesty. After, I gave myself one hundred fucking per cent to the film. I still can't believe what I did. It was a journey. I'm no longer so scared what people think of me. Jane would say: "Do you think Ruth cares what people think of her?" "No, of course not; she is unashamed and won't be judged." "And do you?" "No, no, though of course I want people to like me." "Ah, so you do care then." It changed me. It opened me up, made me less afraid. If I'm afraid of something, it's like, "See a mountain, Kate, and you climb it girl, or what's the point?" To back away from fear is the worst thing you can do. Fear shows.'
She was very fearful after Titanic and her hurtle into stardom. 'I never had a plan to be a big star. I wanted to do things that were more "Kate". After Titanic - and it was the number one blockbuster, the sums were huge, oh-so-fucking huge, and what the stars were earning was enough to feed all the families in Brixton for the rest of their lives - I lost my intuition. I lost my rhyme and reason. I had a loose hold on things. So much was expected of me. I was terrified people would think I had changed because of it. I remember afterwards when I was walking along a road and I saw this old friend I'd been at school with coming towards me and I was terrified. I panicked. I thought: "She's going to think I'm different." But it was all exactly the same: chat chat chat. And then she said, "You must have been so scared." And I was. I knew I'd be deeply unhappy if I did another film like that. I needed to affirm my faith in myself. It had all been too much. I told myself, "What you believe in is at stake. Your happiness is at stake." I knew that for a fact. If I'd gone to Hollywood, lived there, bought into the system, I'd have been so depressed. I'd have lost myself. I really do have a big problem with the film-star thing. I don't think of me like that and I don't want to. And Jim doesn't think of me like that. He met me before Titanic came out, he hadn't really seen me in anything. He met me. Kate. He loved me for me. Plus, things are only expected of you if you allow them to be. And it's a fight but I am not going to be beaten on this one.'
She will not be a star: her schoolgirl language and her contempt for what Hollywood represents is all about asserting the 'real' Kate. 'It always seems unreal to me, pretty unbelievable. I say: "Kate, how has this happened?" But it would seem more unreal if I lived in Malibu and had three cars. I saw Leo [Leonardo DiCaprio to us] the other day. I was at a party for Quills [the film about the Marquis de Sade she has recently finished filming]. Me and Jim were leaning up against the bar and this posse of boys came in wearing masks and Halloween gear. I recognised him from the way he walked. He ripped his mask off. He hadn't changed a bit. Of course, he's famous, one of the most famous actors in the world. But he's the same person and I'd been so worried about him. He still does care about everything he does. He hasn't just become some bullshit film star. I hate all of that crap. I won't do it. I still go to a public gym in north London, not some private fucking place. I love it. Families go there for days out. People who've known me all my life say, "How you doing Kate?" and I love all of that - normal relationships, normal life. If I'm going to change, my life and experiences should change me for the wiser and more profound.'
She is emphatic that her fame has not altered her relationship with her family, and when I suggest it must be hard for her two sisters, who are also actresses and inevitably labouring in her shadows, she simply praises their abilities and tells me how happy she was that she and her elder sister got married within five weeks of each other. Of course, it is easy for her to be generous, harder for them. Easier for her - the deservedly lucky and luminously fair - to talk about luck and unfairness.
About her marriage to Jim Threapleton, she is characteristically immoderate. They met while filming Hideous Kinky in Morocco. She says that she took one look at him and 'just knew... I thought fuck fuck fuck.' She wasn't expecting a serious romance. She was recovering from the Titanic experience. Moreover, she had recently attended the funeral of her one-time lover and best friend, Stephen Tredre, who died of the cancer that had been diagnosed shortly after they broke up. She was in Morocco to act and to get a suntan and be carefree at last. But she saw Jim Threapleton and that was it. They married in November 1998, honeymooned in the wilds of Scotland, and spend as much time as possible together in their home in north London. Now she says that 'marriage has made me safer. I have become much less worried about pleasing other people. There is nothing in my life that is more important than my relationship with Jim.' She stops dead and glares wildly. 'Oh fuck, listen to me, I'm trying very hard to make us sound less schmaltzy, slushy. We're just an ordinary couple. We have rows. We're both opinionated. It's not as if we're a domestic, supersonic couple. I don't just cook him meals. We eat...' - she waves her drink in the air - 'takeaways!'
Food has become a symbol of the Winslet way. Her bangers-and-mash lifestyle is not a simple matter. Her weight, subject of a great deal of media attention over the years, has also in the past obsessed her. When she was a girl, she was known as 'Blubber'. When she was a teenager, she weighed 13 stone, and was bullied at school. She became anorexic, fasted and binged. When I tell her about a survey I had just seen, showing that the majority of teenage girls, however skinny they are, feel that they are overweight, she opens her mouth, starts to say something, then bursts into tears. 'Awful', she keeps saying. 'Awful.'
'I was like that', she says. 'I was like all those girls. Fuck. An unstoppable feeling. I starved myself. So seductive - all my bones sticking out. I was that child, looking at the images of models in films, magazines, fashion shows. This is what girls are brought up to believe, that to be thin is to be loved, adored, perfect. That's how they'll get a boyfriend - by becoming like a stick insect. Look at Marilyn Monroe, though - size 16 and gorgeous. Look at Barbra Streisand, a gorgeous big bum on her. We don't see people like her any more, we just see these perfect thin people. I was huge at 16, I ate like a pig. I was not happy. And when I was thin, I was so boring about food; all I could think about was what I'd eaten. I wasn't happy then either. I don't believe in diets. It's about how you are in yourself. I hate the way all this has fucked up young girls. When there was all that press comment about my weight after Titanic, I wasn't angry so much as disappointed. I was so disappointed. But then I thought, "Well, fuck you, I'm the youngest person to be nominated for the Academy Awards, and that wasn't for being a skeleton." And I thought I had a way of helping people here, by not getting sucked in to that again. I'll not do that. I've had lots of letters from mothers who have anorexic daughters, thanking me for the things I've said. That's gratifying.'
Kate Winslet is not a simple woman - the unthreatening and garrulous 'our Kate', who wears Gap jumpers and swears like a teenage trooper. She's determinedly simple, but it's against the odds - a wilful, complicated kind of naturalness. After the news of her pregnancy, when I talked to Kate Winslet again, she said that her habit of speaking her mind and being open was not a strategy, but it was certainly a decision she had made: her way of surviving. 'I have always been myself. In the early days of Heavenly Creatures and Sense and Sensibility, I was myself, but trying to sound really intelligent and alert, as if I understood Shakespeare and Jane Austen, when I mean, fuck it, I'd hardly even heard of Jane Austen. I was trying to be terribly grown-up and yet a real girl - it was an odd mixture and I think it exhausted me. Since then, and especially since meeting Jim, I feel I am brave enough to be me. He allows me to be me. I have confidence in myself in a way that I didn't before. Being open, vulnerable, well it is not a tactic but I would say that I have been stung sometimes, and I'd also say it's something I will not be beaten on. I will not be changed because of what some stupid newspaper wants to say. I don't read stuff about me, but I did see a little thing about me in Hello! recently, and it described how Jim had proposed to me by going down on one knee. Crap. He didn't. But I'm never going to tell anyone how it happened, because that's between us and nobody else. So maybe I've learnt how to be less open. To protect what is precious.'
She is reluctant to speak too much about her pregnancy - she is not yet past the crucial first trimester, and feels 'superstitious' about making plans. She will say that she has been feeling 'very very sick'. They confirmed she was pregnant on Valentine's Day; and yes, they had planned it ('Well, at least we hadn't been not trying...'). 'We knew it would cause all kind of work hiccups - although actually as it turns out, everything has worked out very well.' Therese Raquin (a film she will produce) has been postponed until next year, but that's 'a blessing in disguise, because it means that one of the actors we really want will be available'. Anyway, she feels 'no fear' about her career. 'I've never been one for changing what is real in order to make my career buzz. My career comes second. I love it, but if I'm not working all the time I am happy. There are some actors who do back-to-back jobs and are anxious when others are in the limelight. That's not me. So I'm just happy, excited. But we're going to take it as it comes. We just want to apply the fun we have together and apply it to our baby.'
'I go hook, line and sinker' for things, says Kate Winslet. For relationships, in work. She tells me that when she takes a role, the first thing that she does is ask that new character the Proust Questionnaire, so she can 'find out how the character will respond to things; it gets you right in there; all the way in'. So before we finish, I ask her a few of the questions on the questionnaire:
What are you most scared of? 'Oh, not many things you know. Let's think. Well, until I went on holiday recently I had a real fear of being in deep water. Of what was below the surface. I'd always have to turn round and go back. So I learnt to scuba dive - I have to face my fears - and now I feel fine and in control down there. I'm still scared of being on the surface, with all the depth under me. It's like a thin-ice thing I suppose.'
What is the trait you most dislike in your self? 'There should be lots of things. God, tricky. I think I do have a tendency to come up with lots of ideas about life and plans - wouldn't it be great if... - and then I don't get round to doing them. They're sometimes such good ideas too, I think: "God, you're clever to think of that." A procrastinator when it comes to life, though not with work.'
And the trait you most like in yourself? She replies at once: 'I am a good listener. I do listen to people and hear their problems, when friends have their knickers in a twist...'
What is your idea of heaven? 'Probably something really basic. I know - breakfast in bed, after a really long lie-in. Oh God, I love it all. Croissants and toast and scrambled eggs, I adore scrambled eggs.'
And favourite smell? 'I have to say it is when I'm in the countryside and there's been rain, a storm. And the grass and earth smell so fresh, that's it, and now I sound like a hippy idiot again.'
Later that evening she rings me to say that she knows what her really really favourite smell is: the smell of wood smoke. 'I don't know why, but it reminds me of my childhood. It makes me feel young again. It makes me feel happy.'
From CNN.com, March 1, 2000:
"The Adventures of Kate Winslet - 'Titanic' Star Gets Down and Dirty in the Desert," by Donna Freydkin
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Her "Titanic" character barely escaped a cold, underwater fate. In real life, Kate Winslet says, she tries to be just as adventurous as that young woman who risked all for love in the 1997 blockbuster.
"I've always wanted to kind of adventure around the world," she says, "but with my work, I haven't had the opportunity to do that." So, says Winslet, she goes adventuring on film, portraying lives on the edge, characters in turmoil.
Her "Titanic" costar, Leonardo DiCaprio, chose a different tactic. He secluded himself professionally, meticulously reviewing an ideal return vehicle. DiCaprio finally settled on the critically and commercially disappointing thriller "The Beach."
Winslet, meanwhile, threw herself into oddball, shadowy projects not normally associated with an actress nominated for two Academy Awards. For example, who remembers 1998's "Hideous Kinky," in which Winslet played a mother dragging her two children through Morocco?
In her latest film, "Holy Smoke," Winslet bares all, physically and emotionally. She plays Ruth, a young Aussie lass who falls under the spell of an Indian cult leader and whose family sends her to an American cult deprogrammer played by Harvey Keitel. She manages to out-act him, in spite of a scene where Keitel slogs through the barren desert in a tight red dress, wearing lipstick and one cowboy boot.
Such adventuring has paid off handsomely for Winslet. She met her husband, film director Jim Threapleton, on the set of "Hideous Kinky," and they married in 1998. They are expecting their first child, according to Winslet's spokeswoman. Perhaps in preparation for motherhood, Winslet last week took home a Grammy for "Listen to the Storyteller," judged the year's best spoken-word children's' album.
No regrets - In person, Winslet is every bit as sanguine and assured as she is on the screen, and why not? She's had plenty of opportunity to perfect her poise. At 24, Winslet has already starred in the top-grossing film ever -- "Titanic," for those who have not been near a marquee in the past three years. She's flaunted her nude body three times ("Titanic," 1996's "Jude" and "Holy Smoke," released last year).
Off-screen, she hosted her 1998 wedding reception, not in a chi-chi hotel, but in her favorite local English pub. Winslet's also said to have passed on the Oscar-winning role in "Shakespeare in Love" that ultimately went to Gwyneth Paltrow, a rumor that she refuses to confirm outright. "I have no regrets," says Winslet. "[If] you regret things, [then] you're sort of stepping backwards. I'm a believer in going forwards."
That meant pursuing acting, which was hardly a surprise: Her grandparents ran a local theater in England, and her uncle and father were actors. Performing, she decided, was in her blood. Winslet started building her resume at an early age, appearing in a cereal commercial at age 11, snagging bit parts in various British sitcoms as a teenager, and, at 17, starring in "Heavenly Creatures." It was her first feature film. Then, in 1995, Winslet depicted the romantic Marianne Dashwood in "Sense and Sensibility." Suddenly, she was on Hollywood's A-list.
Like most successful actresses, Winslet insists she never set out with a career plan and professes to be stunned at her success. But for some reason -- her obvious joi de vivre, perhaps, or her willingness even now to appear in small films usually shown in half-full movie houses -- Winslet's cliched statements ring true.
"I don't know what major ambitions I ever had," she says. "I never even thought about doing films. I come from a family of actors, but they rarely did films and if they did, it was small roles. When I was sent the script for 'Heavenly Creatures,' I was 16 at the time ... and I remember saying to my dad, 'This is for a film. I have a meeting for a film and I can't believe it.' And he says to me, 'You go for it, girl.' And I just went for it. Suddenly, I was doing film and I couldn't believe it," she says. "Still, to this day, I can't believe it."
Naked eye - Dressed in a sleek black suit and tight burgundy top, Winslet appears at home in her skin -- an accomplishment for someone known as "Blubber" in high school because of her weight, and who later dropped some 50 pounds. But even "Corset Kate," a nickname she earned in period dramas, admits some trepidation the first time she shed her clothes on the screen. "The only time I felt really liberated about being naked was the first time I had to do it, which was in 'Jude' because I was so petrified," she says. "But ever since then, nude scenes are [still] hard to do, but at the end of the day, they're sort of no different from any other scenes because you have to forget about yourself and concentrate on the work involved."
Her husband, says the actress, handles her screen nudity with aplomb -- a point he made clear in "Holy Smoke." "Jim's opinion is the most important to me of anyone when it comes to deciding about the role, so he knew all those things [the movie's nudity requirements] were there," she says. "But when we both saw the film, we were both really sort of taken aback... He's pretty proud." He's also an equal partner in the household, says Winslet. "One question that's asked to celebrities a lot in London is, 'Who wears the trousers in your relationship?' and I say, 'We both wear one leg each.'"
Winslet's next planned role is in "Quills," a drama about the notorious French writer Marquis de Sade (played by Geoffrey Rush). Winslet is to portray his laundress. She also is to be the star and executive producer of "Therese Raquin," the film adaptation of Emile Zola's 1867 tale of love, murder and betrayal. "I love the novel," she says. "I read it when I was 17 years old, read it twice and told all my friends to read it." In the novel, the character Winslet is to portray kills her husband and marries her lover. Their love, in time, turns into something deadly.
If that's not portraying a life lived on the edge, what is?
Interview with Stephen Thompson:
In 'Holy Smoke', Kate Winslet tackles her most challenging role yet as a headstrong girl whose family suspects she's been brainwashed by an Indian cult. 6degrees got the low-down on gurus as the actress regaled the press with tales cross-dressing, urinating contraptions and impending motherhood.
Question - When you saw the script what did you think?
Kate Winslet - The script seemed slightly mad, confronting and very bold. But also it was full of tremendous honesty and love and all of those things made me really want to be involved in it. Actually I have to say the key things were Jane Campion and Harvey Keitel, and after that was this brilliant girl's part. I couldn't believe it; she was so "out there".
Question - I know Jane was thinking of the project as far back as 1994. Was Keitel already locked in when you came on board?
KW - Yes, he was. Jane says they really wrote 'Holy Smoke' for Harvey and as the writing developed she realised just how much she loved Ruth and how much there was of herself as a young woman in Ruth. She realised it was evolving more into a story about the girl's journey as opposed to PJ's [Keitels'] journey, which I find interesting.
Question - Did the script change much from when you first saw it to when you finally started shooting? Were you allowed to change it?
KW - Yes, Harvey and I could always improvise because it's something he's really keen on and something I haven't done since I was at school, so it was great to do that with him. A lot of the improvising we did ended up in the film but script-wise it was very much the same as the one I'd initially read.
Question - Did you talk to any cult members or exiters?
KW - I didn't talk to any exiters. I sat with a guru for a day in India and I did meet with a lot of cult members who were all completely sane, I have to say. I didn't for one minute think they'd been brainwashed into something that was kind of beyond their control. In fact if anything they were some of the most wonderful people I'd ever met. The irony of the film is it's not her who has to be de-programmed and made to think that there are problems with her life; it's everybody else in the film, including her family, including PJ and everybody else who hasn't been as woken up as she has.
Question - How did the guru affect you?
KW - The guru affected me in an odd way. I thought I'd go into this with an open mind and I was really excited to be meet this guru. I felt quite freaked out by it because he was very questioning of me as a person, not judgmental at all, but I was being questioned in a way that I didn't want to discuss. I didn't want to talk about my inner self and really deep stuff because at the time I met him I was really happy and I knew I was marrying Jim and I felt very sorted out in my life. But he as a wonderful man and I could see how for some people it would be absolutely right.
Question - It's undoubtedly the bravest step in your career. I wonder how you faced up to certain scenes, like the nudity scene. How did you handle that and how did you cope when you saw it screened?
KW - Nude scenes are never easy to do and I always try to pretend they'll go away and I won't have to do them. It was particularly like that with the famous urinating scene and thank God when the day came the urinating contraption that was rigged up to me was so hilarious that I was able to laugh and keep myself going in that way. Also I had to keep focussed on the fact that that scene was so disturbing that when I'd first read the script it was the most powerful scene I'd ever read in any film script ever. You try to stay focussed on the fact that those scenes are there for a reason and you've agreed to do them for a reason. I'm also pretty tough when it comes to scenes like that. I'll want to see everything as soon as I've shot it and say, 'No, I don't think that's right' or whatever, not because I don't look nice but because sometimes they can shoot a little bit too much if they feel they can get away with it. When I finally came to see the film I was literally sitting there cringing.
Question - Does having a female director help in those sorts of scenes?
KW - No, I have to say it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. I always seek solace when doing scenes like that because they're difficult whoever the director is. I always seek solace in the make-up artists, who by that point have become my mates, and they're wonderful and want to make sure you're all right and feeling comfortable.
Question - Your last few roles have taken you to some exotic locations. Do you have any wanderlust yourself?
KW - With 'Hideous Kinky' and 'Holy Smoke' I've been off to Morocco and India and the Australian outback. It has fulfilled a subconscious part of myself that wanted to take a year out and go travelling. Obviously I never did that because I was working. Now knowing we're having a baby I feel so lucky and so blessed that I've been to all these very exotic places - and at the beginning of the year Jim and I went off to Fiji and that was lovely - so it's really been very satisfying for me.
Question - Have you ever been susceptible to the bad points of any of the characters you've played?
KW - No I'm too cynical and I know my mind too well. When I met these cult members I was able to talk to them on a completely normal level because I was prepared to understand why they were doing it.
Question - Has the fact that you're going to be a mother influenced the roles you take and things like nude scenes?
KW - This baby is yet to arrive [due in September] and I'd say that since getting married nude scenes are even harder to do and I'm being much more particular about them. That's just something that comes from me because Jim is even more relaxed about it than I am. In terms of locations, I would have thought that when the baby comes along it will influence my choice of where I go, yes.
Question - The character of Ruth is the most unsympathetic character you've played
KW - It's interesting a man would say that. I don't mean that in an accusatory way, it's just that 'Holy Smoke' has provoked such different reactions from men and women. After Jim and I first saw it I sat there and I was really chuffed. As much as there were sides of Ruth I didn't like I still understood her and sympathised with her and Jim said as a man you just hate her.
but I was wondering if this is a sign of your maturing as a actress and having the confidence to play a part the audience might not necessarily like?
KW - Yes, you'd be right about that. I've always tried to make my characters likeable and with 'Holy Smoke' Jane Campion was pushing me and saying: 'She doesn't have to be nice all the time, Kate. You might want her to be but Ruth's not like that, she really doesn't care.' So I did have to give into that and it was a turning point for me as an actress.
Question - How did you get on with Jane Campion?
KW - Great. Jane is a really extraordinary woman and she's funny and wild. In the first week of rehearsal she said, 'Kate you should really know this, I'm really mad' and I said, 'Oh Jane don't be silly' and she said was so serious about it. But she's wonderfully mad, as is Anna. They sort of live in this bizarre world of heightened emotion and reality. I love Jane and I'd have to say there were very few differences in terms of working with a male director, other than that Jane always wanted to borrow my lipstick, but nothing particularly profound. She's a determined one, as well. Of all the other directors I've worked with I'd say she's probably most like James Cameron because she really goes for what she wants. There were times when she'd tell me to do a take again because I was really terrible. Sometimes that was the perfect direction, because I'd panic so much and it would throw me into the correct state.
Question - Will this be a hard act to follow?
KW - People said that about 'Titanic' and I know what you mean in terms of it being a brilliant script and being very diverse and confronting. Yes, it will be hard to find anything like that again but I'm not one for doing anything obvious or similar to what I've done before so in a way I hope I won't find anything like that again. Last year I did 'Quills' that's coming out in October with Geoffrey Rush and Michael Caine and it's based on the Marquis de Sade - not his writings but a section of his life and it's not sort of wild and sexually explicit as everyone expects it to be. While his writings are despicable the man was really quite extraordinary. In April I'm going to do 'Enigma', which is based on the Robert Harris novel and the breaking of the Enigma codes in the Second World War and next year I'm doing 'Therese Raquin'.
Question - How hard was it to persuade Harvey to wear a dress?
KW - Very easy! I remember the costume fitting for that dress and we were both trying on costumes that day and a red dress came in and Jane looked at Harvey and said, 'I love it, you're so gorgeous!' and Harvey said 'Ja-aayne! Okay, so this me and I have to wear a dress.'
Question - Can you tell us a bit more about his way of working?
KW - He's great. Harvey is a very driven man, incredibly professional and really dedicated to his work. I was really grateful to have Harvey because it's easy for actors to go home, have a glass of wine, fall asleep, wake up and go to work the next day. Harvey would go home, exercise, not eat and he was always ready to go. He loves improvising, too, and he was so brave with that. I always wondered what he was going to do next; there was so much mystery there. But he's a lovely man and he's also very funny.
Question - I think Ruth's character's more likeable than PJ, who is a pathetic man. How much thought went into what he wears, because there are certain men of a certain age who wear that stuff - the cowboy boot and the shades.
KW - [Whoops with glee] A lot of thought went into that. Harvey lost a lot of weight on purpose because he wanted to look trim and that kind of thing. It worked: he looked hilarious.
Question - Since 'Titanic' you've made it quite clear you want to resist the blockbuster route. Have those kind of offers stopped coming in?
KW - No they haven't. I'd like to think I'd never have to do one for the money. I would never say 'never', it's just that after 'Titanic' whatever I do will never be as big as that. I love the scripts that I've chosen to do over all the other ones I've read. I'm lucky to be able to make artistic decisions about my career.
Question - Tell us more about 'Therese Raquin'.
KW - I'm executive producing it next year, which has come about purely because I'd heard somebody had written a script for it and no-one was doing anything about it, which I thought was crazy. I'd read the novel when I was 17 and loved it and have always wanted to play that role. I got in touch with the director David Leveaux (who is a theatre director and this will be his first feature) and we decided to go for it. He asked me to do it and I said I'd love to.
Question - How else are you preparing for motherhood?
KW - At the moment it's still early days and I just want to get the first couple of scans out of the way.
Question - Are you sorting out the books of names and pretending to involve Jim in this and then you'll make the decision for him anyway?
KW - [Laughs] We haven't even started thinking about that yet!
Mademoiselle Cover Story, February 2000:
"Holy Smoke! It's Kate Winslet" -
"A Complete load of shit!" splutters Kate Winslet.
She's debunking a rumor, one of many that has surfaced since her fame has grown to titanic proportions. "Bloody hell!" It seems that an item printed in Liz Smith's gossip column-about the curvy actress subsisting on brussels sprouts to slim down for a nude scene in this month's HolySmoke is, well, a crock.
"I can tell you how that happened," offers Winslet, and if you've ever wondered how celebrity rumors are born, you'd better pull up a chair. Because when Winslet launches into a story, it can take a while: "While we were filming in Australia, we moved to a location that was a long, long way - about a five-hour drive - from any city. A group of us decided to do this drive, and on the way we saw this huge supermarket. We had to stop - we were in the outback and there was nothing. I went in, I saw brussels sprouts - they were massive - and I just really wanted them - I was far from home, I wanted some comforts. So I bought them. We arrived at our final destination, and there was a café. We went in to have lunch, and I said, 'Do you mind cooking these up?' And they did. A month later, a local radio station went in asking questions: 'What's Kate Iike? What's Harvey [Keitel, her costar in Holy Smoke] Iike?' The owner of the cafe said, 'Oh,yeah, Kate's a great girl, she really loves her veggies, we cooked her up some brussels sprouts once.' That was it. All around the world went this brussels-sprouts-diet story. And I don't even go on diets! I don't believe in them!"
All this said on no more breath than Winslet can inhale from several drags of a hand-rolled Golden Virginia cigarette. Winslet is a true chatterbox. No mincing sound bites here. Any remark I manage to interject gets instantly engulfed by a stream of anecdotes: How Winslet felt overjoyed at celebrating her one-year anniversary with her husband, 25-year-old director Jim Threapleton (she made him a lamb-and-vegetable stew from her mum's recipe). How extraordinary it was to film in India (where Jane Campion directed part of Holy Smoke, in which Winslet plays a teenage Australian cult follower). How difficult it can be to play a 19-year-old when she'd just turned 24 (on October 5).
BIGGER (AND BETTER)THAN LIFE
Sitting in Patisserie Valerie, one of her favorite breakfast nooks in London, she eats buttery croissants for breakfast without a moment of caloric consideration. We down three cups of coffee each in 90 minutes while Winslet chain-smokes. She tells me that even though it's eye-wateringly cold in London, she sleeps with the windows open. Dan - her hairstylist, who stayed over at her house wearing thermals, a sweater and a blanket- thought she was "absolutely mad." And in a very wonderful way, she is. She's generous, not a little manic, expansive, lush. And I'm not just talking about her healthy, size-8 figure, which is one of two basic reasons, I'm sure, that women everywhere pray for more Kate Winslets to descend upon Hollywood.
The other reason? She's grit and guts, wrapped in a gorgeous package. Pure girl-TNT. Not only does Winslet bring blood and rebellion to the cheeks of her socially-constrained characters in Sense and Sensibility, Jude and Hamlet, she makes anachronisms look cool. Giving the finger and hocking loogies? Not done in 1912, not even on the world's most luxurious ocean liner. Winslet herself may not be fully aware of how powerful her screen presence is. When queried, she vaguely theorizes that "when a relationship is the focus of a story, you can't have the woman be weaker than the man, otherwise the dynamic will suffer." Whatever -her fans get the message: Be fearless.Just do it. Ask questions later.
"Sometimes I don't think. I just do stuff and say, 'Oh, I shouldn't have done that,'" says Winslet, not the least bit ruefully. "My dad said in the speech he gave at our wedding, 'Anybody who's known Kate for a long time, like I have, knows she doesn't stand back from things. If she sees something she wants to do, she just goes and does it.'" And how. Exhibit A: Winslet's full-frontal birthing scene in Jude. (Yes, there was a prosthetic involved.) Exhibits B through F: her naturalistic love scenes in Heavenly Creatures, Titanic, Jude, Hamlet and Hideous Kinky, at a time when many actresses insist on I'm-a-serious-thespian-now, no-nudity clauses in movie contracts. And finally, Exhibit G: the taboo-breaking golden-showers scene in Holy Smoke, in which her character, Ruth, stands naked in the Australian desert and loses control of her bladder (semiotics majors know that this symbolizes losing control of the soul) in front of a domineering cult deprogrammer (Keitel), whom she later outwits and twists to her will. "I laughed out loud when I first read that scene. I thought, God, how much further is Jane going to go?" (Seems Winslet will go even further: Next she stars in Quills as a maid who won't do the Marquis de Sade's unspeakably dirty laundry.)
Winslet's fearlessness has served her well in her career. It has saved her from the fate of such chronically corseted actresses as Helena Bonham Carter, whose contemporary characters' drugging and screwing fails to sully a Merchant Ivory image. (Not that Winslet isn't afraid of being pigeon-holed: "I'd love to play a single mother in a Ken Loach [an English director] movie, but I worry that those really raw directors think l'm just this classical period-film babe.") It's a known industry fact that before the Big Boat Movie, Winslet relentlessly lobbied directors for roles. She could easily teach a course on How to Ask for What You Want: "Ultimately, you just have one life. You never know unless you try. And you never get anywhere unless you ask." Even as Winslet rolls out the clichés, her fervor and flashing blue eyes are irresistible, and I actually find myself inspired.
KATE, ON THIN ICE?
"'You mad English bitch.'" Winslet is gaily recounting Titanic costar DiCaprio's reaction to her request not to heat the water in which they floundered for many months of filming. "He used to make me laugh so much. I wanted it to be cold, because I needed to have that sensation of fear for my character. Leo couldn't stand the water." Winslet smiles at me wickedly. "He was more of a girl about that water than I was.''
But who's more of a man in the coping-with-fame department? Let's do a tally, shall we? Resisting fame's pleasure perks: one for Kate, zero for Leo, whose compulsive model-scamming has been obsessively chronicled in gossip columns. Coping without the crutch of excessive food or drink consumption: Winslet,one, DiCaprio,zip, as in: Can he still zip up those skinny pants over that beer paunch? Living pretension-free: While Leo may not have seen anything other than the inside of a VIP room for months," I just do whatever and don't really give a shit," says Winslet, who comes and goes in the regular world like anybody else."l'm sure part of the time I look like a complete bag lady, but I just put on sweatpants and go to the grocery store." And to the ATM. Without sunglasses. Okay, so Winslet passes the Civilian Life test. Yet she must find it strange that most people know what she wore on her wedding day (a cream-colored Givenchy gown) and what she ate at her reception (bangers and mash). "Yes, that is strange," says Winslet. "But actually, no one really knows how Jim and I are together, no one really knows my family. And those are the things that are true about my life.
While living small does wonders for Winslet's sanity, it doesn't protect her against tabloids lobbing cheap shots. Like calling her fat. What can they be thinking? "I have absolutely no idea," says Winslet, dismissively." Maybe they want to sell newspapers - people get sick of saying only nice things. It becomes boring. If after Titanic I had done another huge movie, it would have been a flop, I'm sure of it." Winslet seems unperturbed by personal attacks, but very much disturbed by society's obsession with thinness: "Look, I have the same paranoias as any other woman. But they're not obsessions. I've seen too many people become ill, mentally depressed, just terrible things, because of not eating properly. This whole weight thing shouldn't be up for discussion. I just feel it's wrong that society thinks that way. I feel it's wrong that so many young girls think that to be beautiful, successful and loved, they have to be thin. That is just morally wrong."
NORMAL IS AS NORMAL DOES
There's this idea that being brought up by a family of working actors is like being raised by a tribe of wild chimps. But the Winslets - from the dentist/actor grandfather to Kate's sister, who does theater for disabled children - are a practical kind of acting family. Raised in Reading, England, "a large town surrounded by stunning countryside," Winslet carried on the family tradition in a low-key way - at first. She attended Redroofs Theatre School in nearby Maidenhead, then dropped out: "I started working when I was 16,and I was exactly like every other jobbing actor. Before Heavenly Creatures, I had 15 months when I did not get one single job. I worked in a delicatessen. I had absolutely no bloody money."
But since her career-making performance as a real-life teenage murderess in Creatures, Winslet has been working nonstop. Most actresses would be dropping big bucks at Prada without a second thought, but Winslet says she always feels "really guilty, l don't know why. I give to charities and stuff like that, but I feel like that isn't enough. I should be giving something back for all this luck and joy I'm having, for all this success. I mean, why is this all happening to me?"
Modesty is a middle-class virtue. And Winslet, for all her costumed characters' upper-crusty airs, is the kind of girl your mother would like - she values family, she loves love, she seems as if she'd make a ballsy yet loyal friend. To wit, her just-say-no attitude toward drugs: "I would be in bars in Mexico [during the filming of Titanic] and people would come up to me, grab my hands and examine what I was smoking. I'd get really offended because I don't smoke any pot or take any drugs. Never have," says Winslet as she takes a long drag off her cig. On the virtues of marriage: "People always say marriage doesn't change anything, but it does. Jim is away at the moment, and we were just speaking yesterday. I said, 'lt's horrible being away from you, but I feel secure and safe knowing that you're happy and that we're communicating even though we're miles apart.' I really think there's something about marriage that just seals all of that."
Not that Winslet's above divine intervention, should a little come her way. "This is going to sound like I'm a total wack, but when I was in India, one of my ankles was extremely swollen - full of fluid because it had been bitten by some bug. You know those stories about how Ganges water can cure all, because it's sacred? Well, I was standing in the water, watching this festival that celebrates the god Shiva. Five minutes later, my ankle wasn't swollen anymore. I'm absolutely serious - I put my shoes back on and the one that had been incredibly tight now fit me. Can you believe it?" Why not? It seems miracles can happen, even to those who don't need it. Even for gorgeous, go-for-it, movie-star girls.
Caption: Stress and the city: Winslet walks tall in front of a (fake) Manhattan skyline, but has some choice words for her own town: "London makes me pissed off. It's such a great city, but to live here is crazy. I've been known to have fits of road rage and things like that."
From Rough Cut, February 23, 2000:
"Life After 'Titanic,'" With David Poland -
She could have fallen in on-screen love with a playwright and poet or the King of Siam, but instead Kate Winslet chose to challenge herself and her audience opposite a man twice her age, and oozing with baggage, in Holy Smoke. The youngest actress to garner two Oscar® nominations (Titanic and Sense and Sensibility), Winslet has a remarkably un-Hollywood sense of priorities. As she tells us here, her relationship with her husband (aspiring director James Threapleton) and selecting roles for their challenges (see Heavenly Creatures if you don't believe us) take utmost importance in the mind of this talented British beauty. So, too, it seems, is a sense of humor.
DP: Have you deliberately been doing artier films since Titanic?
KW: There's actually no real reason. Ever since the beginning, I've gone for the ones that have fired me up. When Titanic came along, that's what happened. I was fired up by it and I loved the role. Wanted to be with Jim Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio and that's why that whole thing kicked off, not having any idea that it was going to become the film that it became. And so after the fact, there's no reason to apply any new rules to this. That's why I did Hideous Kinky and then Holy Smoke. With Hideous Kinky, a part of me was feeling that I didn't want to ignore British film, because it is important to me, because that's where I'm from. And I loved the script. It's nothing like me trying to find myself or anything like that.
DP: Do you regret not taking the roles in Anna and the King or Shakespeare in Love?
KW: Nope. I hate for them to go into all the details about that, 'cause some of it's true and some of it's completely untrue. But at the same time, I have absolutely no regrets in my life at all. I don't believe in having any. You've only got one life. I've really learned so much from all the roles that I've played and the things that I've worked on.
DP: How do you balance between the script and the director? How much of this, for instance, was wanting to work with Jane Campion?
KW: Oh, I loved that it was that. I'd met Jane in Cannes, many years before. I was about 20 or something at the dinner where I'd been introduced to her. Someone had said to me, "She has got a script, and a role for young women." I thought it would be nice if she sent it to me because I loved The Piano and all her other works. And then quite a few years later I was sent this script. I was obviously really thrilled. That was a huge contributing factor.
DP: Is it fun doing a film that's this intimate, versus a big one like Titanic?
KW: That was fun. They've all been fun. I'm so lucky, but I think the fact that I'm in a position where I have a choice about what I do is the greatest thing. I would hope that I never take it for granted. I'm also lucky because of the difference in all these experiences because of the location, the director, the cast and the crew. I'm a big believer in finding excitement in a cardboard box. I make the best of any situation, even if the odds are stacked against you.
DP: Now that you're married, how do you balance a professional career with your personal life? Is that more of a challenge?
KW: Oh, no. It's not a challenge at the moment. That's likely because my marriage and my own life are far more important to me than any job, and it always has been that way. It's very hard for a lot of young actors when you're successful and you have heaps of offers coming your way and paychecks being flashed before your eyes. I think it's very difficult to forget that you must hang on to who you are because, otherwise, you have no soul. You haven't anything to give to this job that we're all trying to do. I'm a big believer in not working back to back and all the time or whatever. Then, it would become my life. I make sure that there's a divide. I work sometimes and then I have my life. In the first year of our marriage, we had one night apart. I was working, and he's been working as well, and even that was only three days before our first anniversary. I thought that was pretty cool.
DP: What are some of the tougher things about married life?
KW: I guess, absolutely everything, you know? It's really great, just nice to know that that's your soul mate and that that person, perhaps, is never going to go away. That's the feeling, that that person is always there, who knows you inside out. I no longer have to be so confused about who I am anymore. Because if there are things that I don't know, the opposite ego does. It's fantastic.
DP: What sort of preparation did you do for this role?
KW: Masses and masses. It was the only thing I did that year and I couldn't think about doing anything else or starting anything else. I found it really hard to read other scripts. I knew I couldn't play this role unless I went to India, so that's what I did. I went for a few weeks by myself, which is pretty scary. I sat with a guru and met a lot of Westerners and devotees of certain groups. Then when I went to Australia, I focused on the youth culture there. It's so different from my own. I didn't know what it was like to be a young girl from the suburbs of Sydney, desperate to go on new adventures. I did a lot of intensive reading and the same old stuff that I always do. It was certainly the most research that I'd ever had to do, going to India. I made a small trip before, but it was not actually going to an ashram and really understanding what happens. I had no idea what happened there, and it was really wonderful. I never thought that anyone there was manipulated into situations that were out of their control. They were really cool and happy, and really comfortable talking about it, too. So, I'm really grateful for that, because I think it's a very private and personal thing.
DP: What was the most challenging aspect of playing Ruth and do you feel that you related to that character at all?
KW: She was just the hugest challenge. It was the hardest role I've ever, ever had to play. Everything about her was tough. The thing that I related to the most was this need as a young woman to have all the answers. I remember being 19, 20, and one day I'd say, "Yeah, I've got this all sorted, I know exactly who I am, I'm so happy." And the next day I'd be suicidal. It's a very erratic time, emotionally, for young women and young men. And that was the thing that I had to take myself back to. I had to really remember those experiences. Other than that, there was nothing about her that was similar to me, at all. There is a part of me that would love to have been like Ruth, in her rebellious honesty. In the way that she just said what she wants to say. I'm a little bit like that. She would do it to the point of being really rude to people, but I don't put up with that.
DP: The conflict is between Ruth and her family, who thinks that she's being manipulated in her pursuit of something spiritual. She obviously doesn't. Whose side do you come down on?
KW: I never went into it thinking that Ruth was manipulated, that she was part of some wacky cult. She was a really, really influencible young woman. And I think that's very typical of most young women, unless they have got some kind of miracle in their body and they just know who they are from the age of nine. That's really difficult. I've always said that she could have gone to India and fallen in love with Brad Pitt, you know what I mean? She could have found something else. I don't think it was that she truly understood all the facets of what being a devotee to Baba really, really meant. I don't think that's true at all. And that's why when I read the script, I thought it was terribly clever. Because if the whole thing had been about her believing in Baba all the way through, it probably would have got quite boring and you would have just wanted to slap her and say, "Look, if you believe that much, just go back there." Because people to that extent would do anything. They'd murder. About halfway through the movie, she just doesn't talk about Baba anymore. And she finds out who she is in her subconscious through PJ, because he's empowering her. I really do believe that. At the beginning of the story, she's so naïve and vulnerable and totally lost, and really just wants to know who she is; though she just doesn't know it yet. Very unaware of her feminine side. She's confronted with this human being who demands answers from her about things that she doesn't necessarily know or understand, and that's a lot of the attraction for her. It's not until towards the end, when she says, "Are you fu**ed up?" when she realizes how powerful she's become.
DP: It's transitional.
KW: Yes. Very transitional. It's really difficult to describe because it was such a personal experience, for all of us that worked on it, including me and particularly Jane and Harvey. It's an unbelievable journey. You think you're going to see a film about a young girl on this spiritual journey, and it ends up something totally different. That is one of its most interesting virtues.
DP: How comfortable were you with revealing your own personal side, with the nudity and the urination?
KW: It was difficult. Nude scenes are really hard to do. I never enjoy them and that they're there. But sometimes, they're there for a really good reason. I loved that scene when I first read it. I found it funny, amusing and weird. Shocking. I thought, "Could I really do that?" All the way through the shoot, I was thinking, "I'm going to have to do that scene at some point." I was dreading it and trying to put it out of my mind. And then suddenly the day came and I really had to focus on what is going on in that scene, because I was actually going a little bit mad. She's frightened. Really frightened. One of the things that is hardest to do as an actor is to act mad. It's so easy to stand there and bang yourself on the head and rock back and forth--we've all seen it a thousand times before. So I wanted to find something that was very, very honest. Very real and young. That was the hardest thing, the youth side of her. I was only two years older than the playing age, but that was enough to make it really tough to kind of get back there. I feel much more comfortable playing older people. I knew that I had to nail that madness, and that enabled me to forget about any sort of physicality, because as soon as you start thinking about your own stuff, and your own paranoias, then you're not doing the job that someone is paying you to do.
DP: You are remarkably focused in the scene, regardless of what the camera's doing.
KW: That's my job.
DP: Is it harder to play younger because it was such an insecure time and it's hard to go back to those emotions?
KW: It was hard in the sense that I had to keep reminding myself over and over, every single day, how old she is. The way in which I argue or discuss something with somebody is actually quite reasoned. I don't get angry. It really doesn't get you anywhere. So, it was hard being the angry Ruth, and being naïve with that too, because of her incredible complexity. She was this woman who wanted to be politically active, true to herself, and yet was so confused about who she was. I took myself back to what that process was, because each process is very different. I observed the body language of people that were slightly younger than me, and I observed my younger sister because at the time that we made the film, she was 19. Of course, she was a terribly mature 19. So it was quite difficult. But certainly a lot of her friends are like that, just for the silly things that they do. The games they play.
DP: So, does being a young woman in Hollywood prepare you for dealing with an older man trying to seduce you?
KW: Oh my God! What a question. No, absolutely not. I've never been seduced by any older nasty men. If ever I was in a situation like that, I'm afraid I am just too bright and I would see it coming and I'd say, "Aha!" I'm afraid I was acting out the fool.
DP: What are you working on now?
KW: A movie called Quills, which is based on the Marquis de Sade, but it is not eroticism. And it is not pornography. It is his life. There's a section of his life when he's the Charenton asylum in France. The marquis is played by Geoffrey Rush, who is fantastic. And I'm doing a movie called Therese Raquin, which is another version of Emile Zola's novel.
DP: Which you're also producing. Are you lining up more projects to produce, or do you want to?
KW: Talk to me in about eight month's time and I'll either be bored and thin and withered, or very glowing, very happy. The results will be in my face. We shall see. I don't know. We'll see how this goes. I was really nervous about it, because lots of people are executive producing and sometimes you feel that person did it for the wrong reason. I've avoided it for a long time because of the whole trend of it. But I'm doing it because I read this book when I was 17 years old and it rocked my world. Changed everything for me. I told all my girlfriends to read it, my mum, my sisters, whoever. When I stumbled across the screenplay, I thought, "My God, I've got to be in this." He is a first time director who is just a truly a magnificent man. Of course, David Leveaux is from England. I thought I would love to see this get there. I'd love to see us get the funding, be involved with the casting of the other actors, and I've met so many great crew members over the last few years. I was determined to get nice people working on it. Good people. We'd have a good time and a hardworking time, and it's just nice to see this thing growing. Fantastic.
DP: What inspires you? Music or movies or anything that inspires you as an actor?
KW: Music is incredibly powerful in films. I have watched dailies of stuff I've done and I've just gone, "Oh, please." Because you panic and you think it's nothing - it's soulless. And music does give it everything. It pulls emotions out of you that you have no control over.
DP: What do you watch or listen to at home?
KW: I love Fat Boy Slim, Green Day. Oasis is pretty cool. At the moment I'm into Macy Gray. She is killer. And some of her stuff gets on movie soundtracks.
A Very Frank, if Super-8, Interview with Holy Smoke's Take-no-prisoners Actress Kate Winslet, by Pamela Harland and Paul Zimmerman -
Kate Winslet's ship may have sailed but her success stays afloat with quirky, art house faire such as Hideous Kinky and the newly released Jane Campion (The Piano) film Holy Smoke. Winslet plays Ruth, a yearning free spirit, who goes to India on vacation only to be brainwashed by a Guru who convinces her to leave her Australian family and live amongst his followers. Tricking her into returning home, Ruth's parents fight to save their daughter by importing a slick spiritual deprogrammer from America (Harvey Keitel) who finds he has his work cut out for him. A kind of battle of the sexes in the Outback, Holy Smoke is Campion's loosest film since her audacious debut Sweetie.
As Ruth, Winslet goes completely balls out, sweating, swearing, screwing, smoking and in the film's most notorious scene goes into a trance, strips and then urinates in front of an increasingly befuddled and aroused Keitel. This is an ocean away from her character in Titanic, when she shyly bared her bosom to her true love Jack (Leonardo diCaprio). An obviously, liberating role for Winslet she pulls out all the stops emotionally. One might say she was unclothed spiritually as well as physically.
This voluptuous beauty is so intriguing to watch she has even the likes of Winona Ryder in awe. Ryder recently admitted on Late Night With Conan O'Brien that she thought Winslet was, "...one of the most talented and captivating actresses ever to grace the screen." And Ryder went on to say, "... there's just something about her that I am in love with."
So what keeps this mega-talent a star besides the once in a lifetime role she had in Titanic? Well, I'll tell you what doesn't: her beauty secrets, the Hollywood party scene and the ability to say no when offered a fag (a cigarette for you non-Brits). Winslet sat down with iF to talk mostly about what she doesn't like but also what she admires about her costar Keitel, her first American director Peter Jackson about whom she says, "I would work with that man at the drop of a hat," and her lack of inhibitions when it comes to taking it all off.
1) ON HAVING BEAUTY SECRETS... "I don't have any. I really don't. It's really boring. I'm afraid I'm not a good example because I smoke. I do drink a lot of water. But I, half the time, fall asleep with my makeup on. One thing I don't believe in is all these bloody products that are so expensive. What if you are unemployed and you haven't got very much money and really want to take care of your skin and you just can't afford to these days. I am just a believer of simple - simple - simple everything. I take some herbal stuff which is literally a hormone balancer. A friend told me about it. I think it balances my skin out. I used to break out [on] my chin. I don't seem to get any sort of break outs since I've been taking it, but that's it really."
2) ON HER WORKING HABITS... "After Titanic I did Hideous Kinky, and that happened seven months later. I really don't work all the time because I don't believe in it. Absolutely not. I hate traveling by myself because I get quite nervous. But for the most part Jim (her assistant director husband) comes with me if he's not working or there's always people to meet me. Actually, I cannot stand it if there's a whole gang of people. Like going to the premiere last night (Holy Smoke). That was pretty tame, though, but sometimes there's just the whole gang there. The entourage - they're all there. They're all great people but you can see that it's an entourage."
3) ON THE PAPARAZZI ATTENTION BOTH SHE AND LEO GET... "It comes and it goes. About every two months they decide I am pregnant. But that's nothing new. Other than that it's really OK. I think that's because we keep a really low profile. I mean we don't enjoy going to celebrity bars and hangouts and stuff. I don't enjoy going to celebrity parties cause people put you in the whole celebrity Brit pack. I don't like it. I'd rather keep myself away. Another thing is the more the public knows about me as a person the less interesting my work is going to become because - and I really think this is true - they are going to know me too well. They're gonna go, 'oh she doesn't seem that different from herself.' So I like to try and keep a low profile.
Certainly, surrounding our wedding (in 1998) there was a lot of stuff going on, but actually with the British press - because we didn't try and run away and we didn't try and hide and we were happy to come out of that church and stand and smile - they sort of respected us for doing that. They then actually really did leave us alone. We went on our honeymoon to Scotland and there were some long lens photos of us riding our bikes, which I thought was quite funny. But accompanying the photo it said, 'don't worry, Kate and Jim, we won't tell anybody where you are.' I thought that was really cool and really sort of showed that they finally totally respected our privacy.
I do think about poor Leo (diCaprio) and I think, bloody hell, how does he survive? He can't do anything without somebody writing about it or criticizing it. He's OK. I saw him recently and he's fine. He can handle it - he really can. He has a lot of really good friends and I think that helps him. Wherever he goes a lot of his mates go with him. And I think that's a good thing."
4) ON WHAT ATTRACTED HER TO HOLY SMOKE AND HER EXPERIENCE ON SET... "When I read the script I just totally loved it. I thought, 'this is daring and shocking and moving' and so many things. And the fact that Jane Campion wanted me to do it and was directing it was just incredible to me. And Harvey Keitel - I grew up with his stuff and always have been a huge fan.
'Jane is such an honest person and she gives you herself and she tells you sort of how it is all the time. And as an actor it kinda forces you to want to give the same back. I have never been so open as an actress as I was in HOLY SMOKE. I was like, I got to really become this girl. There was nothing about her that was anything like me at all. When I finally saw the film I just went, 'I don't actually like you.' I was really surprised by what I had created. And I am not saying that I thought I was absolutely brilliant or anything like that because I believe I will always be sort of criticizing my own stuff. But I was, 'God who is she?'
'On the one hand that was satisfying because as an actor that's what you are always aiming to do - create someone who is totally different from who you are. And I really thought I had done that but it was weird because I hadn't realized just how open I had been until I came to see the final cut a year later. I had to be that open to be Ruth because she is so honest and I just couldn't be afraid as an actor. I had to just give everything I had and that's why it drained me so much. It was exhausting."
5) ON HOLY SMOKE'S REHEARSAL PROCESS... "Oh here we go - the rehearsal process. We had two weeks of rehearsal that was extraordinary. Jane was getting very into it and I was getting into it at the time. I actually thought of it quite helpful to sort of keep me balanced while we were doing the film. And sort of keep me calm. If you are playing someone that is so erratic you have to hang onto some sort of inner calm - you just get really scared. We would just rehearse flat out the whole entire day. Sometimes we wouldn't even leave the room until about eight o'clock at night.
"And it was just me, Jane and Harvey - three people playing totally different roles - Harvey and I for obvious reasons, but also Jane. It was really difficult, but it was brilliant because we had this foundation. When it came time to shoot the movie, Harvey likes to improvise, which is scary when you are doing it on the screen and then you watch the film and you see some of that improvising in there and you think, 'God we were quite impressive, weren't we?' You get sort of pleased with yourself. But I knew I had to match Harvey's wit. I knew I had to match his sort of level of brilliance and strength because he is a very strong actor and a very strong character himself - Harvey the man. And it was crucial to these roles."
6) ON HER INHIBITIONS TO GET NAKED AND REVEAL HERSELF... [Jumping up from her seat and posing in front of an imaginary mirror] "I'm not a believer as you know in diets and all that shit. It's a load of rubbish and they don't work anyway. I've done my fair share. When I watch myself completely naked on screen I just go, 'oh my!' It's like watching a horror film. You know everyone is watching it too and you think this is really embarrassing. It's like me saying to you, 'get naked and stand on this table in front of all these people.' It's horrible.
"But you know those things are there for a reason. I really felt for her - Ruth - when I read that scene. Poor little thing. All her defenses are down. She doesn't know who she is. That's the moment in the movie where she has no idea where she's going or who she is or who loves her and she feels like no one does. That's a really lonely place to be. I just knew I had to sort of get to that level. I realized that I had to be really honest and play it in a very real way and because I was concentrating on that so much I was able to forget about the fact that I was completely naked which really helped."
7) ON HER FEELINGS ABOUT THE INTERNET... "I am completely confused and computer illiterate. I can't stand the Internet. But I have very good reasons for not liking it. The only thing that [husband] Jim and I really like the Internet for is checking the surf report. But other than that things like websites and the whole thing freak me out because I looked at one once because someone had done something about me and I was just stunned. Some of it was true and some of it was completely untrue. It was things about my school, my best friend who lives in Scotland - things I've never told anybody and so that's what I don't like."
8) ON PERFORMANCE AND ADVICE TO THOSE ASPIRING FOR SUCCESS... "If I'm giving one hundred percent and I don't feel as though my heart is about to bleed into my mouth then I start beating myself over with a stick. But I think I have to have it, otherwise I get very emotional and if I am not getting it out properly I think that has to do with passion. It's nothing to do with egos. It's all to do with passion. I think sometimes passion and ego can get confused. My advice would be to never give up and just stay passionate because we all get there in the end. You really will get there in the end if you believe in yourself."
From the San Jose Mercury News, February 10, 2000:
"Winslet Jumps From Titanic to Low-budget Holy Smoke," By Alan Riding (NY Times) -
(LONDON) - Kate Winslet likes to say that she is not one for planning ahead -- which is probably a good thing, since she could hardly have expected to land a lead role in the biggest money-spinner of all time just four years into her screen career. On the other hand, once "Titanic'' thrust global fame upon her when she was all of 21, it was soon apparent that this strong-willed young Englishwoman was not about to allow stardom to dictate her life.
"Maybe I'm an exception because I really didn't let it get to me,'' she said. "Before 'Titanic,' yes, I had done some things and, yes, I had been nominated for an Academy Award, but I had never been sort of world-famous. And I suppose, yes, I am really famous now. But I feel embarrassed to say that because it's just a bit daft for me. When I thought about becoming an actress, I never had fantasies about being a movie star.''
So it is not that surprising that Winslet has not surrendered to Hollywood. Her first film released after "Titanic'' -- Gillies MacKinnon's hippie romance, "Hideous Kinky,'' shot on location in Morocco -- was in fact made before the blockbuster was released. But last year, when she was already a household name from Mexico to Manila, she again opted for a low-budget movie, in order to work with the Australian director Jane Campion ("The Piano,'' "The Portrait of a Lady'') and Harvey Keitel. The movie, "Holy Smoke,'' opens Friday in San Jose. "I loved the script, I loved the character, I admired Jane Campion, I wanted to do it with Harvey Keitel, and fundamentally I thought the story was incredibly interesting and really, really brave,'' she explained. "I think more and more people these days go for the safe option in filmmaking. 'Holy Smoke' is very brave because I don't think it's easy to watch.''
In the movie, co-written by Campion and her sister, Anna, Winslet plays Ruth Barron, a 20-year-old Australian who has joined a cult in India headed by a guru called Baba. When her parents discover this, they bring her back to Australia under the pretense that her father is dying and then recruit an American religious deprogrammer, P.J. Waters, to talk her back to "normality.'' P.J., played by Keitel, insists on working with her in isolation, so the location moves to the Australian outback, with the eccentric Barron family ensconced in a nearby ranch house while Ruth and P.J. go mano a mano in the so-called Half-Way Hut. Deprogrammer meets his match.
Still wearing a white sari and unhappy to have been hoodwinked into returning home, Ruth is in no mood to exchange Baba's wisdom for that of a 60-year-old American macho man with dyed black hair. The ever-confident P.J., though, believes he needs just three days to execute his cure, and the arguing begins. While Campion spoofs her compatriots through the Barrons' comic turns, the struggle between Ruth and P.J. quickly intensifies to the point that they end up making love. As the film turns darker, it becomes apparent that P.J. has met his match in Ruth.
"I think 'Holy Smoke' is the type of film that some people are going to love and some are going to go, 'What is this all about?' '' Winslet said. "It's a deep psychological story in the sense that you have to understand what's going on inside these people's heads as well as the relationship they are starting to form. I think Ruth wants to give him the reality check that he wants to give her. There are times when you think, 'God, you manipulative cow.' At the same time, you sort of love her.''
Campion said she had Winslet in mind for the role early on, but she first looked for an unknown Australian actress with the necessary strength and energy to be able to duel with Keitel's P.J. When none appeared, she called Winslet. "I felt pretty clearly as soon as I saw her that she was the right girl,'' Campion said in a telephone interview from Australia. "Kate was very determined. She had done her homework. She had already worked on her Australian accent, she knew the lines for her audition. She wanted to do it, that's what I felt. She knew the girl. In her heart, she felt she knew Ruth.'' Keitel, whom the Campion sisters imagined as P.J. from the beginning (he had starred in "The Piano''), said he was impressed that Winslet was willing to audition for the role of Ruth.
"She just came off 'Titanic,' '' Keitel said in a telephone interview from New York, "and I'm sure she was offered many, many lucrative roles for which she would not have had to go through the auditioning process, which for actors is a dreadful business. It's an ordeal. So, right away before meeting her, I had a great deal of respect for her. After 'Titanic,' she chose to go where the work excited her. 'Hideous Kinky' and our project were not paydays. I think she sets a wonderful example for young actors today. She chose the work over the money.''
Born and raised in Reading, 40 miles west of London, Winslet was only 11 when she decided to become an actress. With her maternal grandparents (Oliver and Linda Bridges), father (Roger Winslet) and uncle (Robert Bridges) all in the theater, she was carrying on a family tradition, one that her elder sister, Anna, and her younger sister, Beth, have also followed. At 16, Kate won her first movie role as one of two teenage murderesses in Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures.'' Her career began to take off with Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility'' in 1995, where she appeared with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant and was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress. She followed almost immediately with two other adaptations of literary classics: Michael Winterbottom's screen version of Thomas Hardy's ``Jude the Obscure'' (the movie was called only "Jude'') and Kenneth Branagh's full-length "Hamlet,'' in which she played Ophelia. Then came James Cameron's "Titanic,'' with Leonardo DiCaprio.
"'Titanic' was totally different and nothing could have prepared me for it,'' she recalled. "I was in a terrible state when we got to Mexico because I was exhausted and I was panicking. Leo was, too. We were really scared about the whole adventure. It was such a hard job because we couldn't let the film be just about a sinking ship. We had to get that love story in there. Jim is a perfectionist, a real genius at making movies. But there was all this bad press before 'Titanic' came out, and that was really upsetting.''
After the film's release, of course, everything changed. When the location for "Holy Smoke'' moved to India, for example, it was "the star of 'Titanic' '' who had local paparazzi in a tizzy. Even in Winslet's home country, everything from her boyfriends to her fluctuating weight became fodder for local tabloids. Winslet is currently in London shooting Philip Kaufman's "Quills'' in which she appears with Geoffrey Rush, Michael Caine and Joaquin Phoenix in an adaptation of Doug Wright's Obie Award-winning play about the Marquis de Sade. After that? Her immediate concern is to find work that will not separate her from her husband, director Jim Threapleton.
Still, for a young actress not given to detailed career planning, she has a surprisingly good idea of where she would like to be decades hence. "I want to end up like Judi Dench,'' she said with a look of delight on her face. "I want to have nice, consistent work, doing lovely things, no matter how big or small they might be. I'd like to turn into a wise old thing.'' Perhaps a wise old dame, like Dame Judi, it was suggested. "A wise old dame,'' she mused. "That would be nice. To be a dame.''
From Girls on Film, February 2000:
Kate Winslet's voice is the kind that makes men melt and makes women lean in a little closer. Though the 24-year-old British actress is best known for her scorching performances in costume dramas like SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, HAMLET, and, of course, TITANIC, her characters' accents have routinely belied her Reading, England inflections. She speaks with a proper Old World cadence in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, then with a dose of New World refinery in TITANIC, and now, in HOLY SMOKE, she unearths the Australian twang she debuted in her first movie, the delightful HEAVENLY CREATURES. After seeing Kate bound up in so many corsets for her roles, it's a real treat to watch her in HOLY SMOKE, where she lets it all hang out-literally and figuratively. And to hear Kate speak as a modern-day Brit bird, her speech brimming with frankness and dry wit, is to understand the "je ne sais quoi" that makes her so damn appealing no matter what she is (or isn't) wearing.
ROSALITA: After doing so many period dramas, what made you finally decide to take on the tale of a present-day girl in HOLY SMOKE?
KATE WINSLET: The fact that I didn't have to wear a corset this time actually had relatively little to do with why I chose the role. I loved the fact that Jane [Campion, the director] was asking me to play a woman who was very real and very now and very bold. I was very flattered to be asked to do that. And I just loved the script. So it was the script, Jane Campion, the character and [costar] Harvey Keitel that really lured me in.
ROSALIA: There are rumors that you turned down Gwyneth Paltrow's role in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and Jodie Foster's role in ANNA AND THE KING, in part because you wanted to take on this character. Do you regret turning those down?
KATE WINSLET: I have no regrets. I always hate to get down to specifics-and there's some truth in what you said about those other movies, and some not-truth-but I don't have any regrets. I don't believe in having regrets in life because I'm still growing. To have regrets is to go backwards in life and I believe in going forward and having fun. I have no regrets in my life at all.
ROSALITA: Your character in HOLY SMOKE, like the last character you played in HIDEOUS KINKY, is a young woman looking to find herself by going off and traveling in a foreign country. Have you ever been struck by that urge, to just drop out of your life and go run off somewhere?
KATE WINSLET: People ask me that a lot, actually: "Have you ever had these dreams to go traveling?" and such. And my answer to that has always been, "No." I suppose I have always wanted to sort of have adventures around the world, but I've been able to do that with my work. So unlike most young people I never wanted to take a year off to go around the world. Also, I would never advise any young woman to do it unless they're traveling with a friend or really know the lay of the land, even though neither of my characters in HOLY SMOKE and HIDEOUS KINKY follow those guidelines.
ROSALITA: So you've never had that sort of need to "go find yourself"?
KATE WINSLET: Well, sort of. When I was about 18 or 19, I was so confused by who I was. What was my identity? So I thought to myself, "I'll go through this loneliness I'll come out the other side and I'll feel OK." I knew that these were really important things that I had to do. And I was lucky that I had a really stable upbringing and that gave me the security to do that. That's very typical of how young people feel, but for me, it was also because I was getting a lot of acting work and so I didn't always have a chance to just be myself. And also, like a lot of young woman, I suppose I was looking for their partner in life and couldn't find him. And it was exactly when I gave up that I met Jim [Threapleton, her husband].
ROSALITA: In HOLY SMOKE, you do a lot of nude scenes. How did you psyche yourself up for that?
KATE WINSLET: Well, I'd done a nude scene once before, for JUDE. And my friend [Oscar-winning British actress] Emma Thompson told me "Oh, don't worry, nude scenes are very liberating and you'll enjoy it." And she was right. But nude scenes are still most hard to do because you have to forget about yourself and concentrate about the work involved. My paranoias can't come into play if the character isn't paranoid.
ROSALITA: And how did Jim feel about it?
KATE WINSLET: Jim's opinion is the most important to me of anyone. But he knew that all those things, the nudity and sex and whatnot, were there in the movie before I started making it. But when we both first saw the film, we were both really taken aback, and I think I was even more taken aback than Jim was. I mean, it's out there, it's a really bold film. I knew that at the time and when I read the script. But still, when I actually saw the film, I thought, "That can't be me!"
ROSALITA: Is the fact that you're famous a factor in your marriage?
KATE WINSLET: No, it's not a problem at all. One question that's asked a lot to celebrities back in London is "Oh, who wears the trousers in your relationship?" And I say, "We both wear one leg each."
[I'm sorry, I don't know the source of this article. If you do, let me know, so I can give the proper credit.]
"I Watched My New Film and Thought: 'Oh My God, It's Porn' - Kate Winslet's Sexiest Scene Yet Shocked Even Her" -
It is, by her own admission, a risky career move. And when Kate Winslet went to a screening of her erotic new film even she was shocked. "When my husband Jim and I saw it we were totally stunned for about 24 hours afterwards," she says. "It was almost like we had a terrible hangover that wouldn't go away. We were in a sort of daze - 'Oh my God, we've made a porn film.'"
Holy Smoke is the story of a cult member and the man sent to save her. But Kate says it was the intensity of the sex scenes rather than the sight of herself walking around naked in the desert that made her blush. In her refreshing way, Kate, 24, says she hadn't bothered to weigh herself for four years, even with the nude scenes looming. Speaking before her pregnancy was announced - she and film director Jim Threapleton are expecting their first child in September - the actress said she finally went on the scales out of curiosity after repeated questions about whether she had lost any pounds. She said, "At first I'm like, 'Bloody scales. Throw them out of the window.' Then I got on them, and I'm nine-and-a-half stone, for God's sake. It's like, duh! And then I forgot about it. Honestly, it's not something I could give the tiniest f**k about. Everyone keeps coming up to me and saying: 'Have you lost weight? Have you been working out?' I find that really rude. Actually, I think I have lost weight but I haven't done anything. I haven't done a stitch of exercise, because I've got a slipped disc. It's strange," she muses, "because I've been eating and drinking everything in sight, just like normal. I was quite chuffed when I saw the film. I thought: 'All right, I look quite nice.'"
Pee - The hardest challenge the Reading-born actress faced was having to pee while standing naked in front of the film crew. She says the scene was filmed outside - "In the red-sand desert. At three o'clock in the morning. Freezing. It was an unbelievably difficult scene: walking about absolutely stark bollock naked. I mean, it's scary. It was the most petrifying thing in my life. It's like me saying to you: 'Stand up naked in front of all these people you don't even know.' Terrifying."
Jane Campion's film is about an Australian girl, Ruth Barron (Kate), who is bewitched by an Indian guru. Her horrified family hire PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel) to lure her away from the cult. The scenes where Ruth sexually humiliates PJ are, in Kate's view, somewhere between "blackly hilarious" and "too ugly to watch. We tried to keep a sense of humour about it," she says. "When you're doing a scene like that, you have the most bizarre creations covering up your bits and bobs. He had a little covering and I had a little covering and we both had a laugh, because we looked really stupid. You watch scenes like that and you wonder, 'Are they really doing it?' And now I know - the actors are wearing little coverings, like socks."
Keitel is seen in a cocktail dress, writhing in the sand and begging for "sexual healing". Kate explains, "Ruth did it to degrade him. It is pretty hideous, but it's bloody funny as well. I had a wonderful time saying: 'Just look at you in that dress.' I think all of us, as women, would love to be like Ruth. I just loved playing her."
Marriage - But Kate has found nude scenes hard to do since her marriage to Jim, 26, whom she met on the set of Hideous Kinky in 1997. She admits, "It's always me that has the problem with it. Oh, God - I don't want everybody to see my body. It's private, it's as simple as that. It's just that sometimes it's really necessary and that scene was vital. I'd never do anything that had gratuitous sex in it. I'd never do anything that involved rape. I wouldn't do a film that had women being treated badly."
Has she ever fallen for one of her costars? "None of them," she says, thoughtfully. "I loved Leo DiCaprio like a brother, but I never fancied him. He's great, but he's so silly, a real boy. He needed a lot of looking after."
Kate is a contented girl these days, and puts it down to marriage. "I think it is love. I really think it is," she says. "Plus my hormones, which change like mad, are calming down a bit. When I met Jim they were like, Raaaargh." She adds: "I love caring about someone that much. It's gorgeous." They were apart for four months while she shot Holy Smoke, and she says: "I just refuse to be apart from him for that long ever again. "I do worry that I'm turning into a creature of habit, because usually in the evening, after we've had dinner or whatever, I'll say to Jim: 'Ooh, can I put my dressing gown on now?' And I'm in that dressing gown and I love it. I'm all for comfort and being cosy. The day Jim and I are ever labeled a celebrity couple, I'll just vomit."
From Beatboxbetty, February 2000:
"Holy Smoke - It's Kate Winslet!"
Not long ago she was smooching a freeze- dried Leonardo DiCaprio on a wooden plank in the middle of the ocean. Now she's wearing a Sari and shagging Harvey Keitel. What's up with that? In the uber dark romantic comedy Holy Smoke, Kate plays Ruth - an impressionable young woman who leaves her family in Sydney, Australia for the dense squalor of Dehli, India, where she's touched (literally and figuratively) by a local Guru. Ruth's blissed-out devotion horrifies her family, and faster than you can say "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo" her mother plucks her from India and the two return home, where America's most successful cult deprogrammer, PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel) awaits. Of course, this boot-wearin', cocky bundle of testosterone thinks he'll easily win her respect then break her down - but you know from the get-go that Ruth's deprogramming is not going to be a walk in the park. Instead, the two battle wits to see who's soul will crumble first. Deep, huh? Recently, I caught up with lovely Kate. Here, be a fly on the wall...
BBB: Why did you take on the role of Ruth?
Kate: I just totally loved the script. I thought it was brilliant, shocking, profound and moving. The fact that Jane Campion (The Piano) was directing it and wanted me to do it was just incredible, and Harvey Keitel - well, I grew up on his stuff and I've always been a huge admirer of his work. I really learned a lot. I learned more about myself as an actress than on any other film.
BBB: Looking at yourself naked in the mirror is hard enough at home. What was it like seeing yourself totally nude on a giant screen?
Kate: I have days when I look in the mirror and worry, and I also have days when I go, "Hey, you look great!" I think all women do. I'm not a believer - as you all know - in diets and all this shit. It's a load of rubbish and they don't work anyway. When you see yourself completely naked on-screen, it's like watching a horror film because you know that everyone's watching it too! It's like me saying to you, "Right. Get naked and stand on the table in front of all of these people." Oh - it's absolutely horrible! But those scenes are there for a reason and I really felt it was moving...I really felt for her when I read that scene.
BBB: Did you and Harvey get much time to rehearse before shooting?
Kate: Oh, here we go...the rehearsal period. Fuck me. We had two weeks of rehearsal that were [PAUSE] extraordinary. I remember going home thinking, "Please God. Don't let the shoot be as hard as the rehearsals, because I just won't survive." We started at 8AM every morning...then we rehearsed flat-out all day long until 8PM. Sometimes we wouldn't even leave the room. It was just me, Jane and Harvey. It was difficult, but brilliant.
BBB: Hate to sound like such a girly-girl, but you really look amazing. But do you have any beauty secrets?
Kate: Why, thank you dahling! You know what? I don't have any. [LIGHTING UP A CIGARETTE] I really don't. I'm afraid I'm not a very good example because I smoke. I do drink a lot of water though, but half the time I fall asleep with my makeup on because I can't remember to take it off. One thing I don't believe in are all these bloody products that are so expensive. What if you don't have much money and you really want to take care of your skin? You can't afford to these days - so I am a real believer in being simple.
BBB: Damn you. Do you do anything?
Kate: I take some herbal stuff which is actually a hormone balancer. It's called Mexican Wild Yam. I was feeling a bit like a 'nutter and a friend told me about it. I used to break out on my chin - which is the hormonal area by the way - and I haven't had any breakouts since I've started using it.
BBB: Do you have an entourage?
Kate: Absolutely not. I can't stand it if there's a whole gang of people. I'm not into the whole entourage thing at all.
BBB: When you and Jim Threapleton got married, the press went nuts. Are you still getting hounded?
Kate: No. It comes and goes. About every two months they decide that I'm pregnant, but that's nothing new. Other than that, it's okay. We keep a really low profile and don't go to celebrity parties much. As far as our wedding - because we didn't try to run away or hide or surround ourselves with entouragy-bodyguardy people, they respected us. Knock on wood. [SHE KNOCKS ON THE TABLE]
BBB: If only the press could leave Leo alone.
Kate: I do think about poor old Leo and I think bloody hell, how does he survive? I don't think that guy can do anything without someone writing about it or criticizing it. And he's a really great guy. I mean, he's fine and he's having a blast.
BBB: But he can handle it?
Kate: Yeah, he can handle it. He surrounds himself with a lot of really good friends and I think that helps him. A lot of his mates go everywhere he goes and I think that's a good thing because it keeps him grounded. I have Jim to keep me grounded and he has his mates.
BBB: I've enjoyed you in so many movies, but my favorite has to be Heavenly Creatures. Do you have a favorite?
Kate: Heavenly Creatures will always have a really, really special place in my heart because it was the first thing I'd ever done, and because Peter Jackson...I would work with that man again at the drop of a hat. He's just the most darling human being and a brilliant director. I went to make that film as a girl and I absolutely came back a woman. I learned so much. What am I the proudest of? Holy Smoke. Because she [Ruth] is just so different. To sit there and go, "That's not even me!" That's the feeling that I've been looking for all my life.
From Woman magazine, January 2000:
"I Want Three or Four Kids" -
Life has changed dramatically for Kate Winslet since she shot to fame two years ago in Titanic. The 24-year-old, who had already made a name in Heavenly Creatures and won a BAFTA for Sense and Sensibility, is now a fully-fledged international celebrity, a married woman and soon, she hopes, she'll also be a mum. But Kate insists that fame hasn't altered her that much. She's still essentially the same girl who grew up in a terraced house near Reading Football Club ground with her parents, two sisters and brother - all performers, although none as famous as Kate. "It's a job to them," she says of acting. "So they don't put me on a pedestal. There are four kids and we're all treated the same - I honestly don't know where I'd be without them."
It's just over a year since Kate married Jim Threapleton, 25, and without a doubt, she's broody already. "I want three or four kids," she confides. "I adore babies and children and can't wait to be a mum. I'm determined to become a young mother because my own experiences of being a child and teenager will be fresh. I want to be able to share that with my children and have more of a friendship as opposed to a parent/child relationship. Then when I reach 45 or so, my child will be about 20 and be able to go off and start their own life and I'll go off and have a great time all over again."
Kate met Jim, an assistant movie director, on the set of Hideous Kinky, which was filmed in Morocco."It was instant chemistry," she says. "It was so sudden - I had no doubts about him. Well, hardly any. When I first saw him with his blue eyes and fair hair, I thought of Lawrence of Arabia. He makes me laugh my head off. But we haven't had enough privacy." They're now decorating Kate's flat in Holloway, north London. Their only separation to date was for four months while she was working on her latest film, Holy Smoke, in India and Australia. "Yes, the parting was hard to bare! We phoned all day and all night. I'd love to repeat the Paul and Linda McCartney situation where they spent, I think, about three nights apart over a 20-year period. It's a pity, but we're never going to be able to do that."
She admits that marriage has definitely been good for her. "I think if anything I've chilled out because of my wonderful husband. I used to worry so much and think 'Oh God, I need a full face of make-up on in case there's a photographer outside.' But I now accept me as me, and Jim loves me for me - it's brilliant." As a teenager, Kate went through many a crisis over her weight, which wasn't helped by unkind criticism in the press. "Kate's put on weight!" and "Winslet's weighty problems" are just some of the tabloid headlines she's had to put up with. "It's sad that a lot has been written about my weight. If I'm seen as fat, what are girls who are the same size going to think? They'll start starving themselves. I'm healthy and I'm proud of how I look. I'll never be a stick insect and I wouldn't want to be either, because a lot of very thin people are just unhappy."
Although at ease with herself nowadays, in her teens Kate admits she went "to hell and back" over her weight. At secondary school her nickname was "Blubber". "I was a very chubby child, like a tank, and I got much fatter in my teens. I was bullied for it - lots of children were mentally cruel and I couldn't handle it by 13 st., which at 5ft, 6in is a lot of weight to carry." Kate eventually joined Weight Watchers and slimmed down to 9 and a half stone within a year. But then she took it further. "Looking back I know I was bordering on anorexia. The feeling was so seductive. I remember lying in bed at night not having eaten anything since the morning, feeling really pleased that my stomach was rumbling and getting some kind of thrill out of feeling my bones sticking out. I was lying there thinking, 'I'm concave, how lovely.'" But Kate says she doesn't starve and binge anymore. She admits Weight Watchers has been invaluable in helping her eat properly and lose weight sensibly. "Believe me, it's still a thrill to be able to sit in front of the telly without hugging my stomach."
Kate isn't a vain person, nor is she neurotic over her image. In fact, she's been accused of dressing like a bag lady. "I couldn't give a hoot how I look. I'm not the kind of person who spends ages doing their hair and make-up - I get up and out I go." Kate also makes a virtue out of her ordinariness, refusing to join private gyms, for example. "I prefer public baths - where I can swim in granny snot and toddlers' wee. Sometimes I think I should be going out getting drunk and doing drugs, but that's not me either. I do feel much older than I am."
In Holy Smoke, released next month, she plays a girl who falls for the leader of a cult. She stars opposite Harvey Keitel, with whom she shared a love scene. "We had a real laugh doing it," she smiles. "The director Jane Campion and I rehearsed it first, Jane playing Harvey's role. Then Harvey and I rehearsed it wearing track suits, after which we got down to it in three takes. Jim and I had been apart for four months, but he arrived in Australia in the same week I did that scene. It didn't bother him in the least - we could smile about it. The point is, a marriage is based on trust and if you have that, then you have everything."
From the Los Angeles Daily News, January 21, 2000:
"Kate Winslet Speaks Her Mind - And Then Some," by Marla Matzer Rose -
Say "feminist filmmaker," and Jane Campion immediately comes to mind. From "Sweetie" to "The Piano" to her latest, "Holy Smoke!" she's explored the politics of male-female relationships, focusing on strong women. So one of the last things you'd expect to hear from the eager star of a Campion film is: "One thing that really sort of irritates me is feminism. It drives me mad."
But when you're dealing with Kate Winslet - the outspoken star of "Holy Smoke!" - all bets are off. Winslet elaborates, "I'm sick of women saying, 'Oh, it should be equal rights, blah, blah blah' ... Well, actually, it is pretty equal now. You know, stop saying that. In the acting world, people say, 'Oh, the male actors make more money.' Well, so what? It doesn't really matter. Often it is the male actor who's going to pull in the box office."
It's not that she thinks actresses are bimbos - quite the opposite. Explains Winslet, "I don't think that many female actresses are pin-ups. It's usually the men like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. It's models who are pin ups as women. That's just the way that it seems to be. I'd certainly never say that I have thought of myself, or even felt that people think of me, as a sex symbol."
It's clearly not a stretch for Kate Winslet to play a beautiful, strong-willed young woman in Campion's "Holy Smoke!" She is those things, in addition to being a fine actress who's already garnered two Oscar nominations at the age of 24. In her latest role, Winslet is a young Australian woman who faces off with a man more than twice her age. He's been hired by her family to "deprogram" her from her newfound Hindu faith. The two characters end up learning about themselves in an intense several days together in the Australian outback.
Winslet's directness doesn't seem to have hurt her relationship with her director and costars. She gives a long, warm embrace to Campion when she enters the room, and seems to have a mutual admiration club with costar Harvey Keitel. She also stays in touch with such past costars as Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic) and Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility). "I do have many acting friends. We often ring each other up and say, 'Oh, God, I just did this scene today, and I didn't think it was that good. How would you have done it?,"' said Winslet, in Los Angeles to promote "Holy Smoke!" With her no-fuss makeup and curvy figure, dressed in black slacks and a black jean jacket, she could be mistaken for any other 20-something woman - that is, if most of the world didn't know her face from the biggest-grossing movie of all time, "Titanic". No one can accuse Winslet of taking the typical Hollywood route after starring in that blockbuster. Her follow-ups have been two smaller, offbeat pictures, "Hideous Kinky" and "Holy Smoke!" Her next on-screen appearance will be as Geoffrey Rush's costar in "Quills", a picture about the Marquis de Sade due in the Spring.
Says Keitel warmly, "I have a particular admiration for Kate that, after the success of 'Titanic', she didn't take roles for the sake of financial gain. She's a great role model. I told my 14-year-old daughter, 'She didn't go for the money."' In "Holy Smoke!" Keitel plays a cocky deprogrammer whose affectations, from his dyed hair to his eye for young women, are expertly torn down by Ruth, Winslet's character. It's a sometimes shocking, often maddening and always surprising relationship.
Winslet insists she hasn't set out to do "indie" films, even though she's turned down such sought-after parts as the Gwyneth Paltrow role in "Shakespeare in Love" and Anna in "Anna and the King" (that one went to Jodie Foster). Both parts were judged too predictable by Winslet. "People say to me, 'You seem to have made this conscious decision to do independent films,"' Winslet remarks. "In reality, I really haven't. After each movie, I always think, how different can I possibly be? I make a decision based not on how much money I get paid or how much exposure I would get, but based on, is this going to challenge me, is this going to inspire me, and is this going to make me love my job more than I already do?"
Winslet's attitude is the luxury of someone who is not just young and pretty, but talented and well-grounded. Her grandparents, father and uncle have been active in the theater in England; Kate was in her first television commercial at age 11 and launched her film career with her astonishing turn as a homicidal teen in "Heavenly Creatures". Ever since Creatures, Winslet has done a lot of sexy scenes. She, to say nothing of costar Keitel, has gotten a reputation for disrobing on film.
Keitel bristles at the subject. "Actors don't do 'nude scenes.' Actors tell a story, we do what is demanded in the theater (apparently his term for acting in any medium). If we were to do a 'nude scene,' that would be disgusting," Keitel says passionately. He then adds, with a wink and a wicked laugh, "Besides, I've had some of my best sex with my clothes on."
Winslet admits that nude - er, scenes without clothes - aren't easy to do. But she too balks at the suggestion that the number and types of such scenes she's done is extraordinary. "Really, there are so few actresses who go through their careers never having to take their clothes off in a movie," said Winslet. "In almost every movie script that I'm asked to read, there's almost always at least one nude scene. But I'd honestly say that I've never committed to a script feeling that there's nudity involved that is gratuitous or unnecessary."
Winslet points to a scene in "Holy Smoke!" as a case in point. In it, she finally seems to break under Keitel's deprogramming in a very raw, emotional and totally nude scene. Adding to her appearance of complete vulnerability, Winslet's character urinates on herself. "It's such an important turning point for that character in her whole journey," said Winslet. "She's really naked emotionally, as well as physically."
It hasn't always been easy for the actress to laugh about her body. As a chubby adolescent, she was tagged with the cruel nickname of Blubber. Even after dropping several dozen pounds she still isn't skinny, as so many actresses are. "I used to be so hung up about it," admits Winslet. "I'd get up in the morning and I'd say, 'Oh, God, I'm such a pig.' I'd lift up my top and I'd be looking at my waist and I'd be panicking. I finally realized that I was spending about 90 percent of my day thinking about my body, and I thought, 'This is just so boring!'" Winslet says she was also jolted by an experience about six years ago, when she temporarily lost her sight and went into a "coma-like state" after having not eaten for 24 hours. "That was a real wake-up call," she said.
Though she calls the subject of weight "boring," it's also obvious that it hits close to home for Winslet. "I don't want to sound like this woman who's critical of people who are skinny," Winslet says, her words tumbling out impulsively, as they often do. "But it does bother me that film and magazines are affecting young women's minds to the point they feel they have to be thin to be successful, to be beautiful, to be loved. Every nude scene that I've done, it's a ton of body makeup. I have stretch marks like everyone else, I have bits I don't like. There isn't any such thing as perfect."
Winslet seems to have found perfect happiness, though, with her husband of a little more than a year. She met 25-year-old assistant director Jim Threapleton on the set of "Hideous Kinky". Winslet is obviously in love, phoning him and talking of him often when her work takes her halfway around the world from their London home. "When it comes to making decisions about roles, ultimately, that's my decision," Winslet says confidently. "But Jim reads scripts after I read them. His opinion is more important to me than anyone else's. He's so supportive."
Winslet also credits Threapleton with helping to ground her in her personal life. "I identify with Ruth (her character in "Holy Smoke!") because she's working out issues that all young women face," Winslet says. "When I was 19 or 20, one minute I thought I had it all sorted out and knew who I was. The next minute I could be suicidal and confused. It's scary being young," she adds, with more self-awareness than most 24-year-olds. "I can't tell you, the relief to be 24 and not 22 anymore. ... It's just brilliant."
Transcript of "Yahoo! Chat with Kate Winslet," January 13, 2000 - [I have edited due to many 'typos' in the original text] -
A luminous blonde, Winslet made an impressive feature debut as Juliet Hulme, an intelligent, spoiled and sickly teenager who helps murder her best girlfriends' mother in Peter Jackson's acclaimed "Heavenly Creatures" (1994). A third-generation thespian, the Reading, England native began studying drama at the age of eleven. Winslet began her career almost immediately when she was cast as a spokesperson for a cereal in British TV commercials. Stage roles followed, including the female leads in a musical version of "Adrian Mole" and "Peter Pan". She made her TV debut in the drama "Shrinks" and worked extensively in British TV, including a recurring stint on the sitcom "Get Back." Winslet landed the role of Juliet in "Heavenly Creatures" after an impressive audition. She was riveting as the tubercular, highly intelligent teen who develops a strong rapport with a fellow student. The two create a fantasy world and, when threatened with separation, conspire to commit murder.
Winslet then played a princess in Disney's "A Kid in King Arthur's Court" (1995). She won raves and an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her subtle performance as the spirited Marianne Dashwood in Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility" (also 1995). Winslet continued to appear in period pieces with "Jude" (1996). Adapted from "Jude the Obscure" by Thomas Hardy, the film featured Winslet as Sue, the title character's unconventional cousin whose mercurial nature creates problems. Later that year, she was Ophelia to Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet," in the actor-director's all-star feature version of the Shakespeare classic. The following year, Winslet adopted an American accent as a Philadelphia socialite who finds unlikely romance with a lower-class artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) in James Cameron's spectacular "Titanic," for which she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Kate Winslet knew she wanted to become an actress at a very early age. "Being cast as the Virgin Mary was my first acting buzz, if you like," Kate says. "I was only five years old but I took it very, very seriously. I remember really, really being Mary. Really, really feeling it." Kate was born on October 5, 1975, in Reading, England. Her family was of theatrical heritage; this practically made her an actress. When Kate was 11, she attended the Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, which she would eventually leave at the age of 16. When she left Maidenhead, she landed a role on the British television sitcom Get Back, just eight days after completing her examinations.
Kate's big break would eventually come when she was cast as Juliet Hulme in the critically-acclaimed ('Not many have seen, but much discussed') movie Heavenly Creatures (1994). She was working behind the counter of the Traiteur Pagnol delicatessen in Primrose Hill, London when her life changed. "I was making pastrami and dill sandwiches when I received the call telling me I had the role in Heavenly Creatures," Kate said. Her debut won her international recognition and awards (New Zealand Film and Television Award, Toronto Film Festival Award, and Empire Magazine Award), along with movie scripts from Hollywood in abundance.
While Kate was busily promoting Heavenly Creatures in the U.S., an American representative from the William Morris agency came to see her at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York at 11 o'clock one evening and signed her. She would follow up her debut with an unexpected role as Princess Sarah in A Kid in King Arthur's Court (1995). Many reviewers simply dismiss the movie, but later the same year Kate would redeem herself by appearing in the heart-warming, Oscar-nominated role of Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995), having convinced producer Lindsay Doran that she was right for the part by out-reading everyone at her audition.
The next year, Kate returned to the silver screen with back-to-back performances as Sue Bridehead in Jude (1996) and Ophelia in Hamlet (1996). These two roles were very well-received by critics but passed over for Academy Award nominations.
At the present, Kate is one of the most talented, up-and-coming young actresses working in Hollywood. She has recently been featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in the company of Cameron Diaz, Claire Danes, and other actresses with brilliant careers ahead of them. Los Angeles magazine has put her on their "The 40 Most Important People Under 40 List," and People magazine has declared Kate one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in the world.
So far, Kate's rise to stardom (acquiring such titles as 'English Rose' and 'Starlet Express') has given her a resume consisting entirely of period films, thus earning her the nickname 'Corset Kate'. Kate has expressed her desire to do a modern film to break this stereotype and "throw away the corset. I really want to be a Valley Girl in a feel-good American movie," she says. I'd love to do some big action number."
Kate is perhaps best known for her lead role in Titanic (1997), playing Rose Dewitt Bukater, an upper-class Philadelphian aboard the ill-fated ocean line. ocean liner. In 1999 Kate starred in Hideous Kinky, a film about escapism and enlightenment.
In her newest project, "Holy Smoke," Kate plays a character who ventures to India and is touched by a spiritual guru from whom her family feels she must be rescued with the help of a spiritual expert played by Harvey Keitel. The idea for Holy Smoke first struck Jane Campion mid-air on a long flight back from India: A young Australian beauty travels to India in search of the exotic. When her family hears that she is following a Guru, they imagine the worst. The hire a top American expert to lure her back to sanity. The young explorer and spiritual pro find themselves in the middle of nowhere in a place where rules don't apply and anything can happen. This was the skeleton of a story that would allow Jame to continue to explore some of the themes resonant in all her films; spiritual struggle, sexual politics and unconventional intimacies. The film also takes an irreverent, sometimes comic and often startling look at the phenomenon of seduction between a powerful older man and a young woman.
BigStar_Host: Welcome to the chat, thanks for joining us!
BigStar_Celeb: Hi Chatters! Great to be here!
Q: How do you choose your roles? You've gone from TITANTIC to HOLY SMOKE!, mainstream to art house film...
KW: There is no real reason. I - ever since the beginning, from Heavenly Creatures onward - have read every script that I am scent and really have gone for the ones that fired me up. When Titanic came along that's what happened and I was fired up by it. I loved the role, wanted to work with James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio. I had no idea the film was going to become the film that it became. After Titanic I thought, there's no reason to apply any new rules to this. That's why I did Hideous Kinky and then Holy Smoke. With Hideous Kinky a part of me was feeling that I didn't want to ignore British films. It is important to me because that's where I am from. I was keeping my eyes open for something English, if it came along. Hideous Kinky was exactly that and I just loved the script. It has nothing to do with me trying to find myself, or any spiritual kind of thing, or anything like that.
Q: Didn't you meet your husband on the set of Hideous Kinky?
KW: Yes. Before Hideous Kinky I said, 'I'm just going to play this role and go to Morocco and have a great time.' I was looking forward to working with a kid because I hadn't done that before. I said that I was going to a new country, get a sun tan and I am going to be single and free, blah blah blah. This was my huge plan. I saw Jim and I literally went "oh f**k" because it was pretty instant.
Q: What was it like to work with Jane Campion?
KW: I met Jane in Cannes many years before when I was about 20 or 19 at a dinner where I was introduced to her. Somebody told me that she had a script for a young woman and I thought it would be nice if she sent it to me because I loved The Piano and all her other works and then sure enough, many years later I received the script. I was really thrilled. I did think that it would be great to work with her.
Q: How did you prepare for your role in Holy Smoke?
KW: I did masses and masses of preparation. It was the only thing I did that year. I found it really hard to read other scripts. I couldn't think about doing anything else. I knew I couldn't play this role unless I went to India so that's what I did. I went to India for 2 weeks by myself, which was pretty scary. I just visited ashrams and sat with a guru. I met a lot of westerners and devotees of certain groups just to ask them what they found and had they come to India looking for that. That really was the bulk of what I needed. When I did go to Australia, we had 2 weeks of really intense rehearsals, and during that time I was very observant of the youth culture there because it was so different from my own. And I just knew I had to understand what it was like to be a young girl in the suburbs of Sidney, desperate to go on new adventures. I did lots of reading, thinking, and writing things down. The same old stuff that I always do. It certainly was the most wowing research that I've ever had to do. Going to India was something that before now I never really felt the need to do. In Hideous Kinky I did make a small trip to Morocco beforehand, but it wasn't really the same as going to an ashram and really understanding what happens in those places. I had no idea what happened there. It wasn't freaky or anything. I never felt like anyone there was being manipulated into situations that were out of their control. They were all really happy and comfortable talking about that. I'm really grateful for that because I think it's a very private and personal thing because they were telling me a lot of stuff. That was really valuable.
Q: Any regrets about not taking a cool role and seeing someone else succeed?
KW: Nope. I hate to sort of go into the details of all that, but at the same time I have absolutely no regrets in my life at all. I don't really believe in having any regrets. You only have one life and if you regret something, then you sort of beat yourself up over it. I've really learned so much from all the roles that I have taken and the things that I have worked on. That makes me very happy.
Q: Was it more fun doing HOLY SMOKE or TITANTIC?
KW: They have all been fun. They have all been completely different and I think that's why I find myself saying that I'm so lucky very often. The fact that I'm in a position where I have a choice of what I do is the greatest thing that I hope I never will take for granted. I am also lucky because of the differences in these experiences. They have all been fun and different for many reasons, because of the location, because of the director, because of the cast and crew. I'm a big believer in finding excitement in a card board box. So I always tend to make the best of any situation.
Q: What are your thoughts about the movie?
KW: Holy Smoke is so many things.
BigStar_Celeb: On one hand it is very difficult to describe because it was such a personal experience for all of us who worked on it. On the other, it's just so much. It starts out as a journey. It's an unbelievable journey and starts being about a journey and ends up as something totally different.
Q: Was it hard to do the nude scenes?
KW: Nude scenes are really hard to do. I never like them and hate the fact that they are there. But sometimes they are there for a really good reason. In this movie, I loved the nude scene. I found it funny, and moving, and weird, and just so shocking. I thought, 'could I really do that?' All throughout the shooting I'm thinking, 'God, I have to do that scene at some point.' Finally, that day came and I just had to get on with it. I really had to focus on what was going on in that scene because she is actually going a little mad and is really frightened. I've always said this: One of the things that's really hard to do as an actor is to act mad. It's so easy to bang yourself on the head and rock back and forth. We've all seen that a thousand times before. I wanted to find something that was very, very honest and real and young. That was the hardest thing, the youth side of her. I was only 2 years older than her but that was enough to make it tough to get back there. I feel much more comfortable playing older people. I love playing young people, it's just a tougher thing to do. It was incredibly difficult, but I knew that I had to nail the madness first. That enabled me to forget any physicality. As soon as you start thinking about your own stuff, your own paranoias, then you're basically not doing the job that someone is in fact paying you to do. That's my job!
Q: Ruth seems to be a very intriguing, complex character. What aspects of this character, if any, are like you?
KW: Ruth was just the hugest challenge. It was the hardest role I've ever ever had to play. Everything about her was tough. The thing I related to the most was this sort of need as a young woman to have all the answers. I remember when I was 19 or 20 thinking that I've got this all sorted, knew exactly who I was and was really happy. Then, the next day I'd be suicidal. It's a very erratic time emotionally for young women and young man. That's the sort of thing I had to take myself back to. I had to really remember those experiences. Other than that, there was nothing similar to me at all. There is a part of me that would love to have been like Ruth in her sort of rebelliousness and honesty in that she just said what she wanted to say. I'm a little like that, but she did it to the point of being really rude to people. I just think that would be fun to do that.
Q: How do you balance your work as an actress with your married life?
KW: It's not a challenge, at the moment. My marriage and my own life is far more important to me than any job. It always been that way. It's very hard for a lot of young actors when you're successful and you have heaps of offers coming your way and you have pay checks being flashed before your eyes. I think it's very difficult to forget that you must hang onto who you are. Otherwise, you have no soul and you have nothing to give to this job that we are all trying to do. So, I'm a big believer in not working back to back and all the time because it would then become my life. I do really make an effort to make sure that there is a divide. I work sometimes and then I have my life. In the first year of our marriage - we had our anniversary in November - we had one night apart in that first year. I was working, did a movie, Jim was working as well, and even so that one night was only 3 days before our first anniversary.
Q: How do like being married?
KW: It's great. It's really great. It's great to know that that's your soul mate and that they are never going to go away. That feeling there's always that person who is there and they know you inside and out. I no longer have to be confused about who am I anymore because if there are things that I don't know the answer to he does. It's fantastic.
Q: What are you working on currently?
KW: Last year I did a film called Quills, which is based on the Marquis de Sade. It is not eroticism and it is not pornography. It's life. It's a section of his life. The Marquis is played by Geoffrey Rush, and also stars Joaquim Phoenix, and was directed by Phillip Kaufman. It was fantastic. This year I'm doing the movie of Therese Raquin, which is an adaptation of Emile Zola's novel, and I'm also executive producing it, which I'm really excited about.
BigStar_Host: Thanks for being with us!
KW: You're so welcome. I enjoyed it very much!
From the New York Daily News, December 2, 1999:
"Fearless Kate's Got Soul," by Nancy Mills -
She's just 24, but Kate Winslet has confidence to burn. In interviews, the two-time Oscar nominee will tell you straight out what's on her mind, no matter what the question is. "If I needed to lie, I don't think I could do it," Winslet says. "I can't hide anything." And she sure doesn't hide anything in her new movie, Holy Smoke, opening tomorrow for one week to make the Academy Awards deadline. Winslet plays an Australian caught up in a cult in India who's being pursued by a deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel).
During the course of their strange onscreen relationship, Winslet has a raw and daring scene that's sure to be one of the season's most talked-about movie moments. After fleeing in the middle of the night, a naked and emotionally wrecked Winslet is found by Keitel in the desert. Confused and defenseless after the rigorous and relentless deprogramming, Winslet loses control and wets herself. "It's probably the most shocking thing I've ever done onscreen," she says. "I hope people will be shocked, surprised and moved. Holy Smoke is very confronting because it's so real and very honest. It deals with things people don't necessarily deal with in films. It makes you think about spirituality and the gender gap. I think films should be inspiring in some way."
Staring at her cell phone in a Beverly Hills hotel - she's expecting a call from her husband - Winslet says, "If I'm ever bothered by what people think, it's only momentary. I was always a wayward child, very passionate and very determined. If I made up my mind to do something, there was no stopping me."
And where did this attitude come from? Winslet takes a sip of peppermint tea and looks puzzled. "Maybe it's something to do with the way I grew up, which was totally normal," she says of her early life in Reading, about 40 miles outside London, as one of four children in a theatrical family. "My parents disciplined us, but they brought us up as little independent individuals. When you're allowed to find your way at the beginning of your life, I think it enforces a certain level of confidence. My dad always says: 'I love you, babe. Watch your back. And don't ever let anyone tell you what to do.'"
Winslet took the advice. So instead of following her agents' recommendations to make Shakespeare in Love or Anna and the King, she signed up for a small British film, Hideous Kinky, where she met her future husband, Jim Threapleton. Then came Holy Smoke and Quills, a sure-to-be controversial film about the Marquis de Sade, co-starring Geoffrey Rush, Michael Caine and Joaquin Phoenix, to be released next year. In March, she begins working on a film version of Therese Raquin, based on the Emile Zola novel.
There isn't a mainstream movie among them - and they're about as far from Titanic as an actor can get.
"I knew that if I'd done another 'Titanic'-type picture immediately afterward, I'd have been deeply unhappy," Winslet says. "I was so tired and it was such a huge thing. Nothing could have topped it. And I wanted everyone in England to know that British films were important to me. Also, I wanted to make sure I was making a movie because I loved acting, not because I was becoming a movie star."
In fact, Winslet says she doesn't think of herself as a movie star. "It's so hilarious and bizarre, and I don't know how it happened," she says with the gee-whiz tone of a 10-year-old. "I still get fascinated by situations like going to movie premieres and the Academy Awards" (she was nominated for Titanic and Sense and Sensibility).
Also, unlike many of her fellow actors, Winslet says she's not obsessed with big salaries. "Money is a total bonus," she says. "I get to do the thing I love most, and I get paid. Now that I'm married, money becomes important. We can think about our future, when we have children. It's nice to have security. But I'm not a person who needs wealth, fabulous jewels, three houses and six cars. If I got $20 million [as did her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio for his next film, The Beach], I'd be giving it away."
Winslet says she'd rather be challenged than well-paid. "When I was filming 'Holy Smoke,' I'd come home with my eyes feeling like someone had just scrubbed them with sandpaper, desperate to go to sleep," she recalls happily. "I'd walk in the door, get straight into my bathrobe, look at my script, think, write things down and go to bed."
She wouldn't have it any other way. "Standing up and looking pretty is something I hate," she says. "I hate being on show in any way. I'm more than happy to be in a film with no makeup on. I didn't have a scrap of makeup on in Ophelia's mad scene in 'Hamlet,' and my hair was shoved up underneath a skullcap with a buckle under my chin. Not a pretty sight."
Winslet rails against the current Hollywood preference for skinny women. "Someone told me the other day that seven out of 10 girls under 14 are watching their weight and skipping meals," she says in a shocked voice. "That's really scary. It's society, the fashion industry and the movie industry. There's so much emphasis on perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect makeup. That's such a load of crap. No one is perfect. I want to get the message across that these 'perfect bodies' are covered with tons of makeup and hair extensions. In order to be happy and be loved, you don't have to be a size 2."
Winslet, who stands 5-foot-7, is not a size 2 or even a size 4 - and she doesn't want to be. "This whole weight thing is nonsense," she says. "I'm not really, really skinny, but I'm definitely not fat or overweight.
"I'm incredibly happy and very lucky," she adds as the cell phone finally comes to life. "Oh my God, it's going! It's going," she shrieks. She answers it, leaps up and runs away for some privacy.
Eventually, she returns - with a big smile on her face.
If Winslet ever gets an Oscar, everyone will know exactly how she feels.
Premiere Cover Story, November 1999:
"As Kate Would Have It," By Holly Millea -
She survived Titanic, said no to Hollywood, said yes to marriage, and journeyed to the outback with Jane Campion. Welcome to Kate Winslet's brilliant career.
INTERIOR ST. MARY AND ALL SAINTS CHURCH OF ENGLAND PRIMARY SCHOOL - ASSEMBLY ROOM - MORNING
In black and white: SUBTITLE reads: ALL DIALOGUE REPORTED VERBATIM. Small CHILDREN in school uniforms buzz about finding seats, their voices excited, echoing. Camera parts through them, pulling in close on LITTLE KATE ELIZABETH WINSLET sitting ramrod straight, hands clasped tight, eyes squeezed shut.
KATE WINSLET [VOICE-OVER]
I always had a very clear idea of what absolutely I was going to do with my life.
||I want to be Mary. I want to be Mary.
||I want to be Mary
||We were waiting to hear from the headmaster,
||who was going to announce who would be playing
||what parts in the school's nativity play,
Sound of heavy FOOTSTEPS approaching.
HEADMASTER enters into frame and walks to front of room holding a sheet of paper; stops, clears throat.
The CHILDREN fall silent. CLOSE-UP of LITTLE KATE, opening eyes, smiling confidently.
||And I knew that I was going to be playing Mary.
CUT TO: Flashcube exploding. Grinning parents, ROGER and SALLY WINSLET. ROGER snapping pictures. Through his Kodak camera viewfinder we see LITTLE KATE, head draped in sheet, cradling a bundle.
||They'd made a stage out of climbing blocks,
||and I remember sitting there with the
||plastic baby Jesus doll in my arms, and I was so into
||the moment, I seriously remember getting a lump in my throat.
CLOSE on LITTLE KATE, eyes teary, struggling to swallow lump in throat.
And I remember thinking...
(turning directly to camera)
that's very strange!
"I was five!" Winslet says in her mellifluous English accent. And that was when I knew I was going to act." Nineteen years, nine films, and several lumps later, the actress has another emotional moment, on the London set of Quills, in which she plays a laundress in an asylum housing the Marquis de Sade, whom she admires. Madeleine is the Marquis's muse and confidante. And any friend of the Marquis, Winslet will tell you, "is going to pick up on his naughtiness. He has a very wicked humor. He's very into sex." Which delights both the character and the actress: "I have that naughty, cheeky side of her nature."
Today the script calls for a goodbye of the painful sort. A goodbye weighted with love unrequited and unrelieved, between Madeleine and a young priest (Joaquin Phoenix), who is sending her away from the asylum, away from temptation, and, beyond that, away from the only life she has ever known. Lump-inducing, indeed.
Which is why Winslet, wearing an itchy wig and a bone-crushing corset, has red capillaries webbing the whites of her blue eyes and crimson blotches splashed across her dairy-queen complexion. "A lot of actors, when they have to do crying scenes, think of something sad," she says, recovering in the makeup trailer while having her hair removed. "I just can't do it that way - it's not completely honest with the character. I have to think about the situation. Otherwise, I really think it's cheating." And yet: "I've always somehow been able to cry."
"Kate has a terrifically powerful imagination - so powerful, it's dangerous," says Kenneth Branagh, who directed her as Ophelia in his Hamlet. "When you engage the way she does, it's a bit scary. It's not like, 'I remember when my pet tortoise died
' The other day she called and said that she was approaching a difficult scene in Quills. She said, 'I don't think I can do this anymore.'"
Refusing to cheat the emotional life of a character takes a higher personal toll than simply pulling painful memories from the Past Closet - particularly in Winslet's case, where "all my characters seem to go mad or die." (A checklist: Heavenly Creatures - goes mad; commits murder. A Kid in King Arthur's Court - did anybody see it? Sense and Sensibility - loves madly; nearly dies. Jude - loves cousin; goes mad. Hamlet - doesn't get to a nunnery; goes mad; dies. Titanic - almost dies. Hideous Kinky - dead at the box office. Holy Smoke - to be discussed.)
"Oh, watch!" Winslet says, looking in the mirror as the makeup woman peels back the fine, nearly invisible lace attaching the waist-length wig to Winslet's hairline. "This is going to look disgusting!" And it's off with her hair, unveiling the actress's own, shorter tresses beneath, matted close to her head. A few spritzes of water, a running-through of the fingers, and she's back in 1999, throwing on a black leather jacket, jumping into the back of a sedan, and rolling herself a cigarette. Her driver's name: John Hollywood.
"What did you think of Holy Smoke?" Winslet asks. In the film, directed by Jane Campion, Winslet plays Ruth, a disenchanted young woman who goes off to India, hooks up with a guru, and forsakes Western civilization, only to be kidnapped by her parents, who want her reprogrammed. "I thought nothing would get more challenging than Titanic," Winslet says, cracking her window before lighting up. "But I was completely wrong, because Holy Smoke is all about people in rooms." And, she adds, "I had no corset to suck me in, so I had to be fit for the whole film." Then there was the psychological journey. "Everyone was going on about the journey, the journey of the story," Winslet groans. "Jane would say, "This is really an important part of the journey.' And I would get sick of this word - journey. I'd go, 'Fuck off with the fucking journey. I just need to do this my way.' But seeing the film reminded me of how much of a journey it was."
Campion gets a kick out of this. "I'm just laughing at Kate," she says, calling from her home in Australia. "She was certainly attracting to doing it in the first place. And then I don't think we quite knew what we'd gotten ourselves into - until we were into it, you know? It was so funny when she'd get mad at me. And that wasn't very often. She's so scared to tell you that she wants to do this or that. And you just go, 'Kate, go on.' She never acted aggressive or angry with me. That's not her style at all. She would just say, 'Oh, I've been really worried
I've been really thinking
I've just got to talk to you about this
It helped that the actress explained her process to the director beforehand. Recalls Campion, "She said, 'What you're going to find about me is that I get really worked up about things, and then it just goes.' And then she'd do it, and I'd just say, 'Oh, here we go. This must be it.'"
And yes, the character does go a bit bonkers in the film. Or, as Winslet puts it, using the common British euphemism, "She loses the plot." The first clue? Ruth seduces her captor, played by Harvey Keitel, by walking toward him, buck-naked in the desert, urinating on herself. "It wasn't really me weeing," Winslet says. "I was rigged. It was so funny. What they did was rig a saline-drip fluid bag at the center of my back. And then there's this tube, which you wedge up your bum.
"I wanted to do one take where it actually was me weeing. But unfortunately, when you stand and wee yourself, it just all goes down one side of your leg. And you need to get it down the middle." Though Winslet was "completely paranoid - I didn't think I looked particularly good at the time" - when she saw herself onscreen, "I was like, Shit, I look good. I was really pleased."
She'd taken off ten pounds for the film, which leads to what Winslet considers "the most boring subject in the world to me": her weight. "There was all this stuff after Titanic, about how people thought I had put on weight, and I thought, Who cares? But the other thing is, when you wear a corset, you look skinny. It sucks everything in. So as soon as I'm allowed out of the corset, they decide to criticize me physically. And when that happened, I thought, I'm going to turn this into a good thing. I thought, Right, I've been nominated for two Academy Awards; I just played the lead in the highest-grossing film ever in the world. And guess what - I'm not skinny. I'm not a stick. It's not about being a stick insect.
"I honestly would describe myself physically as someone who is shapely but slim. I mean, look [she juts her ribs out] - it's an absolute joke! I have a normal woman's body. I like having a good pair of tits on me and a good ass. If I didn't, I don't think I'd feel attractive."
Winslet admits that there was a time - her first nude scene, in Jude - when her appearance had become an obsession. "I would spend 80 to 90 percent of my thoughts during each day thinking about my physicality." All such thoughts have since been banished. "I get pissed off when people ask me how her weight is," says Winslet's agent, Hylda Queally. "I don't tolerate it. I tell them to call a modeling agency. Do you want a great actress or a model? I say, 'Is the character supposed to be emaciated?'"
Confirming that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, the sinking of the Titanic sent the stars' stock soaring. While Leonardo DiCaprio was depositing $20 million for The Beach, Winslet was considering "a lot of big scripts. People were saying, 'Cash in on this. Get your payday! Blah, blah, blah
' Well, I'd go mad if I did that." Then, too, she says, "I didn't want my fellow Brit actors to think that I was going to go off to Hollywood and just do big films."
Years earlier, writer-actor Stephen Tredre, Winslet's friend and first love, had given her Esther Freud's 1992 novel, Hideous Kinky - "no narrative, just this hippie, funky mother trotting about Morocco; she reminded me of my mother, actually." When the screenplay happened her way, "I thought, I really, really want to do this. There's a reason I should do this movie."
Winslet was being seduced by a much bigger project at that time. "I was tied between the two," she says, refusing to name the other. "I called Stephen, and he said, 'What's your instinct?' And I said, 'Everyone's going to scream at me, but my instinct is to do Hideous Kinky.' And he said, 'Well, you bloody do it, girl, you bloody do it. This is for you.'" She called L.A. and broke the news: "I said, 'I'm doing Hideous Kinky and that's it. I don't want to hear any more about it.' Everyone's jaws dropped to the floor."
Among her rejections was Shakespeare in Love. "Kate has no regrets about not doing it," says Queally. "It was a huge decision for her to make, but she wasn't seeing it as a stretch." Ditto Anna and the King, an offer that Queally calls "very predictable". (Emma Thompson passed as well. The first American they went to - Jodie Foster - signed on for $15 million.) Winslet turned down Autumn in New York, too. (Enter Winona Ryder.)
Two weeks after Winslet began shooting Hideous Kinky, she met Jim Threapleton, 25, a third assistant director on the film. Six months later, he proposed. "Just before I met him, I said, 'I'm not getting into any relationships. I'm going to Morocco to do this movie and have a really great time. Then I saw him, and I thought, Oh, no. Oh, God. That's it then. I knew there was no going back."
In November, Winslet's primary-school teacher, Father John Mortiboys, pronounced then man and wife. "I used to be attached to possessions, but now the only things I'm attached to are my husband and my wedding rings," she declares. And her cell phone. Winslet says she is so in love that, "When I'm at work during the day, I'll call him five or six times or he calls me. I hate being away from Jim. It's terrible. I'm counting the hours until I can go home." She frowns, listening to herself. "It's sickening, really, isn't it? But it's fantastic. So fantastic." Her face blooms with a big smile.
There are moments when Winslet evokes a grown-up Alice in Wonderland. Her tone of voice is that of someone reading a children's book aloud - as if everything is exciting and new and "Oh, let's see what happens next!" She very often talks fast, mowing through commas, jumping periods, running STOP signs to get to the next sentence so when she does stop it's with a definite urrrch!
She can be flip-floppy with great conviction: "I do believe in God. Well, actually, I suppose I don't, really. If there is a God for me, it's in the elements - the fresh air, trees
some sort of elemental God." And she's one of the few who will admit that though being nominated for an award is flattering, "When I won, I was so fucking happy!" Among her nominations: two Oscars, two Golden Globes. Her wins: a BAFTA (the "British Oscar") and a Screen Actors Guild award for Sense and Sensibility. Tears shed during acceptance speeches: none. "I've already had my talking to," Winslet says. "Emma Thompson called me and said, 'If you ever fucking win any of those bloody awards and you get up there and cry, I will shoot you. I will never speak to you again!" Those ceremonies are such a riot. It's like, Who's got the nose job? Who's got the breast job? Very funny."
Winslet remembers when Winona Ryder ran up to her at the 1998 Oscars: "it was the first time I'd ever seen her, and she was like, 'Oh my God, it's you! I'm so glad to meet you!' With left breast hanging out of dress. First time we'd ever met - tit sticking out! And she said, 'Oh my God, I have to introduce Bruce Springsteen.' And I said, 'Well, you'd better tuck it back in.'"
As with a Seurat painting, the closer you get to Winslet, the more you lose sight of what you're observing. What she obviously seems to be dissolves into thousands of colorful dots. All the more reason for her breezy sincerity: "You can ask me anything you like," she says, waiting.
If you were cast as Kate Winslet in the movie of her life, this would be your character's backstory: Your father is an only child and an actor. Your mother is one of six and very shy. Your mother's mother is 92 and "getting a bit shaky." Your mother's father was an actor who ran Reading Rep, a 60-seat theater in Reading, 40 miles west of London (a town immortalized in Oscar Wilde's epic poem "Ballad of Reading Gaol" - which he penned while incarcerated there - and known for producing biscuits).
By the way, your mother's father was also a dentist, whose practice was in the four-story family home, at the top of which was his dental workshop. ("Bizarre," Winslet says. "So weird he used to make teeth up there.") Winslet herself has a chipped bottom tooth - chipped at the age of ten, at a campsite, in a swimming pool, doing a dolphin dive.
If you feel you must do this dive to embody the character, Winslet instructs, "Swim along and duck your head under, stick your bum up in the air, and dive down to the bottom." That's when, if you're a Robert De Niro, you clunk your teeth on the bottom, chipping your tooth too.
Speaking of her childhood, Winslet begins, "My parents would say I've always been
EXT. WINSLET FAMILY HOME - DAY
Her parents stand in front yard, holding hands.
Being thus-and-so, it came as no large surprise to her parents that their Kate, who was born after her sister Anna and before her other siblings, Beth and Joss, would become what she became. Even her schoolteacher, Father Mortiboys, could see it coming. "She was never overinterested in academic things," says the priest, who reports that while his nine-year-old charge was well-behaved, "she wasn't goody-goody. Kate has a wicked sense of humor, and so do I.
"A week before the wedding, she told me something I didn't know," he continues. "I always thought I had eyes in the back of my head and that I could see around corners, as teachers must. But Kate told me that she and a few friends used to follow me and get as close behind me as they could to get a whiff of my aftershave." He chuckles. Asked what kind he wore, Father Mortiboys replies, "Oh, I don't remember. You can make it up."
The BBC did a series of musical productions, Father Mortiboys recalls. "I have a vision of Kate pouring her heart into Jack and the Beanstalk, outshining everybody." He sighs. "No, there was never any doubt as to what she was going to do. Though we were all a little taken aback at just how far she went. When Titanic came out I was traveling through Poland, France, all these places - and everywhere I went, I kept meeting her face on billboards. An odd experience."
Winslet, as well, was taken aback.
EXT. READING ROOFTOP - NIGHT
City lights twinkling all around. Camera directly over WINSLET lying on her back as if looking up at the stars.
I never had a plan.
Just a certain, well, certainty. She debuted in a Sugar Puffs cereal commercial, graduating from there to two British TV series - Get Back and the sci-fi Dark Season. On the latter, Winslet, then 15, met and basically moved in with Stephen Tredre - 12 years her senior. The two were together for nearly five years and kept close until his death, from bone cancer, in 1997. Winslet missed the Hollywood premiere of Titanic to sing at his funeral.
At 16, Winslet hung up her school uniform and set out to be a great pretender. Within a year she held in her hands the catalyst - a film synopsis of Heavenly Creatures, based on the true story of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, who in 1954 New Zealand, became fantastically attached to each other and bludgeoned Pauline's mother to death. "I was reading it on the way home in the car. It was almost as though
CUT BACK TO: WINSLET lying on ROOFTOP, her point of view, FIREWORKS exploding in sky.
It was unbelievable! It was like,
Holy shit! And I said to my dad
CUT TO: INT. CAR - RAINY AFTERNOON, a TEENAGE KATE sitting in passenger seat, FATHER driving.
God, Dad, this treatment sounds amazing.
Do you think I'll get it?
You'll get it.
CLOSE-UP of rain-streaked window, with TEENAGE KATE's smiling reflection.
Yes, I will.
PAN across rainy window, which becomes a different rainy window, of a casting studio. Through the glass we see DIRECTOR PETER JACKSON and some others sitting in chairs, riveted by TEENAGE KATE, whose lips we see moving.
I was just really honest
The window opens magically, and the camera moves in.
(hands on hips)
Look, you have to fucking cast me in this role
Because you aren't going to ever find the right person.
I can play this role; I know I can play this role.
Winslet laughs. "I had to get that across. I had to let them know that they would be doing themselves a lot of favors if they cast me." She laughs harder still: "I mean, She Who Had No Experience at the Time. Nothing much, anyway.
"So they cast me, and off I go to New Zealand for four months, on my own at 17." Her costar, Melanie Lynskey, was 15 and had never acted before. The girls first met at the airport. "I was picking my luggage up," Lynskey says, "and I turned around and there she was. She looked like this vision. I said, 'Oh my God, you look like a movie star!' I was so in awe of her. And she had head shots! I'd never seen such a thing. She had these black-and-white photos with her hair blown back. And I said, 'What do you do with them?' And she said, 'Send them to fans.'"
Heavenly Creatures was shot in exactly the same places that Juliet and Pauline had lived their lives, gone to school, explored their friendship, and committed the crime. "So creepy," Lynskey says. "I remember the last shot we filmed. It was the first scene in the movie; we run up the hill screaming, and we're covered in blood. After the final take, we looked at each other, drenched in this blood, and we literally didn't know what to do." The two girls just stood there, while the movie world around them literally started coming down. "We were both crying, and we went and had a shower in the actual shower where the girls washed the blood off," Lynskey says. "It was such a strange day."
"The movie was an incredible experience," Winslet says, looking back. "I just loved it. But it was also really traumatizing - true story, lots of harrowing scenes."
INTER. WINSLET HOME - WEEKS LATER
WINSLET sits on sofa. PARENTS pace in front of her, looking anxious.
(to camera, impassively)
I completely freaked out when I came home.
No one had told me that when you finish a movie,
You can't just [snaps finger] get on with life again.
So I was really quiet. And I'm, like, never quiet,
So my family's going
PARENTS stop, turn to WINSLET
Well, I think I'm just realizing that, actually,
I have been traumatized.
CUT TO: EXT. PARIS - DAY. Aerial view of EIFFEL TOWER. Cheesy FRENCH MUSIC is playing.
(subtitled in French)
I went away for a week and got it out of my system.
There was one scene in which Winslet wasn't sure if she could conjure up the required tears. It was a big moment, in a big movie, on a big boat. It's the scene that makes everyone else cry when they see Titanic, "where Rose is being lowered in the safety boat," Winslet says. "And Jack is on the deck, and they're looking at each other. I was really worried I wasn't going to get it. It was rush, rush, rush. So many people around. It was hard to focus on just Leo. But he was so helpful." And she pulled through in the clutch.
"Kate tamed the beast - tamed the ship, and all those able hands upon it," costar Billy Zane says, with obvious affection. "She set the tone." As if that weren't enough, according to producer Jon Landau, "She came up with suggestions almost on a daily basis." It was Winslet's idea to spit in Zane's face when his character insists she stay with him. The script had Rose pull a comb from her hair and stab him in the arm. But Winslet thought Rose should put to use the loogie lesson that Jack has already taught her. Thirty phlegm-flying takes later
"She was so kind about it," Zane says. "But beneath the apology I knew there was some sick pleasure being had."
And it was Winslet who came up with the heart-wringing line at the top of the sinking ship: "Jack, this is where we first met." Delivered with tears and a smile.
"It's interesting," Landau says. "She came into this movie needing to carry it - it's Rose's story. I'm not taking away from Leo's popularity, but one reason the movie succeeded is that so many women were able to identify with Kate and Kate's character - a woman who goes out there and saves the guy. She becomes an action hero."
Of course, in the end, overtaken by the elements, he does die. But not for her lack of love and trying. "Kate was the most macho person out there," Zane says, "braving the temperatures, wanting to be all to Method, wanting to feel the cold." He laughs. "The funniest announcement would come over the bullhorn: James Cameron would say, 'Leo, run more like Kate! Kate, run more like Leo!'"
And always water, water, everywhere. "Every day I worried someone would drown," Landau admits. "Honestly, every day. When we wrapped, the first thing I did - I called my wife and said, 'Nobody died.'"
Quills is a closed set, which means that no one other than those making the movie is allowed on. Since Winslet is working long hours, the first interview is to be conducted after she wraps for the day, in the car on her way home. No problem. Standing by. A car and driver, hired by Winslet are sent with instructions to hurry, as she will be finishing early. Hour drive. Stalled traffic. Rain. Anxiety. Security gates float open, as arrival is expected.
EXT. MANSION - 'QUILLS' SET - LATE AFTERNOON
A sedan pulls up the drive. JOURNALIST and DRIVER exit car. JOURNALIST looks relieved, as people are still about. A fortyish MAN, curly salt-and-pepper hair, in jeans, approaches.
Hi, I'm from PREMIERE.
(refusing handshake, angry)
What are you doing here? You're not
Supposed to be here. You know that.
But I was told -
(SMOKE coming out of ears)
This is a closed set. I know you know that.
But you insist on sneaking onto this set!
Sneaking? I should arrive on a float?
I can explain -
(turning to crew member)
Get her out of here. Now!
But he isn't finished. Before you can reach the car, the man approaches to deliver a second berating, as demeaning as the first. It is only later that you discover he is a producer of Quills, Peter Kaufman - the son of the film's director, Philip Kaufman. Nice to meet you.
"I wanted to slug him," says the driver, a Bob Hoskins type, as he parks down the drive. "That's wee-willy syndrome, there. I hope every plane in and out of London flies over that set. Have a cigarette, luv
" He shakes a Silk Cut from the pack. "You'll feel better."
"Peter's just fiercely protective of his actors," Winslet explains, days later, sitting bare-midriffed in a Soho eatery. As it turns out, planes had been interrupting the shoot that afternoon. "A Total nightmare," she says, rolling a cigarette. "We were doing this difficult scene - Madeleine's last day at the asylum - and we had planes going overhead every 30 seconds."
It had been a hell of a first week on the set of Quills - a full-moon, Mercury-in-retrograde kind of chaos. "I reckon I must have really powerful hormones," Winslet says. "Because I had this horrible [menstrual] period that began on Thursday. And I went to the catering bus in the morning and asked for some toast, and I said, 'Oh, my fucking period's come a week early.' And the woman said, 'Oh, you poor thing - me too!' And then my dresser - same thing. And the makeup artist got hers. They all got their periods early! And it's me, because I have these powerful hormones. I'm sure!" Winslet lights her cigarette, exhales, shakes her head. "It is so, so strange."
EXT. MANSION - 'QUILLS' SET - DAY
WINSLET in 18th-century costume, looks up at the sun, which is quickly covered by a cloud. A sudden THUNDERCLAP, and hundreds of TAMPONS shower down on her.
As if the curse hadn't been bad enough, on Saturday, Winslet was whipped with a cat-o'-nine-tails for letting the Marquis de Sade out of his cell. "And it really bloody hurt," she says. "We had a fake whip, but the guy had to use some force so it looked real. I'm really bad at saying, 'No, I'm not going to put myself in this position.' I did my usual, 'This is fine.' Ridiculous, but it helps to give some genuine reaction to being whipped." Winslet conducts a short tour of war wounds old and new.
She can cry and she can keep from crying. During a night shoot on the set of Jude, the actress tripped over a tree root while running through a dark forest and fell headlong. "A huge crash," director Michael Winterbottom recounts. "And I was like, 'Oh my God, what's happened? Everyone rushed up to her, and she said, 'No problem.' And carried on." It was only after wrapping that Winslet allowed an inspection of her injuries - and was taken to a hospital.
On the set, Winslet can't stand crybabying, even when she's the crybaby. "Actors think that they're the most important thing on a movie set," she says. "Well, I'm sorry - no. When I go to work, a crew member will say, 'How you doing?' And I'm like, 'God, I got up really early this morning
' And I go to myself, 'Kate, don't forget, this poor fucker was up an hour and a half before you, and actually won't go home until two hours after you. So you fuck off with the fucking I'm tired."
Now that she's brought up the subject of hard work, she adds, "I get to the end of a movie and think, 'Oh my God, why do I do this job? I constantly think about giving it up. It's madness. It's such a headache. Why do I put myself through these terrible emotional traumas, beat myself about the head: 'I'm crap. I look like a horse. I've got an ass the size of a barn.' Constantly doing all those things. But I absolutely love my job, and I'm very, very lucky to have a job that I adore doing."
Even one that's plagued by planes and cramps and corsets. Winslet arches an eyebrow, looks up from beneath her lashes. "In a masochistic kind of way, it's quite nice to be wearing corsets again," she says, smiling. Checking her watch, she jumps: "Oh, fuck! I'm late!"
EXT. SOHO STREET - NOON
WINSLET and JOURNALIST emerge from eatery and walk to street corner.
(smiling, face to the sky)
She shades her eyes and looks across the street.
You have to go into that sex shop over there.
She points to a store window filled with handcuffs, whips,
Studded collars, bondage-ware.
They have really quite nice underwear.
Camera zooms in on CROTCHLESS PANTIES. Through the glass a dark figure - THE MARQUIS DE SADE? - beckons with a smile.
And if you want other sex shops,
they're right down the road.
Kate has a wicked sense of humor
No! You must do!
Farewell KISSES on all cheeks and a PUSH in sin's direction. As Winslet walks away, she becomes clearer, all the dots connecting. If YOU were cast as KATE WINSLET in the story of her life, at the end of this scene you would look over your shoulder into camera, smile, and wave goodbye as the closing credits start to scroll.
From the UK Sunday Times, September 12, 1999:
"And the Winslet Is
" by Garth Pearce -
Hanging up her corset again, Kate Winslet is starring in a powerful new film, and should be perfecting her Oscar speech, says Garth Pearce.
If she lived in wartime, Kate Winslet would probably be known as Our Katie. She is beautiful, but does not threaten men or make women jealous. She is also British to the core and says and does things the way we think things should be said and done. When offered a queen's ransom by magazines for the inside story of her wedding to assistant director Jim Threapleton, she rejected every penny and went ahead in her local church, with a reception of family and genuine friends at a country pub. When fashion editors made sneering remarks about her healthy figure, she defiantly declared that she would never diet again. At 23, this is a woman who knows how to stick up two fingers without lifting a hand.
But her sheer audacity has captivated Hollywood, and it is about to do so again. Having given her an Oscar nomination for Sense and Sensibility three years ago and another for Titanic last year, it looks set to make her a winner at last for a compelling performance in a new film, Holy Smoke. It is by director Jane Campion, who manages to split views of critics on her skill. Was her film The Piano, which won Holly Hunter an Oscar for Best Actress in 1993, an artistic masterpiece or a bum-numbing two hours of old tripe? Did she entice Nicole Kidman to give one of her best performances in The Portrait of a Lady, or manage to make her look as if she was dying on her feet? Whatever the final verdict on the film itself, one thing is already clear: Winslet's performance is the best on screen from a woman this year.
She plays an irritating Australian girl, Ruth, who is entrapped by a religious cult in India. Her blue-collar parents are horrified and employ a bizarre black-clad American called PJ (Harvey Keitel), who boasts 180 successes so far in bringing back such brainwashed victims. He succeeds, after pretending that her father is dying. Then the real work begins in the Australian outback: getting Ruth to cut her mental and spiritual ties with her religious mentor.
But who is converting whom? Much of the film is dominated by an ever-changing relationship between the characters of the initially confident Keitel and the insecure Winslet; she delivers one jolting scene, standing naked in the desert, urinating in front of him as if all her defenses have been broken. His self-assurance, however, is slowly and eventually eroded and hers begins to be asserted. By the time she instructs him how to make love to her - leaving nothing to the imagination - it is she who is in charge. There is no clear message, apart from the fact that Winslet's Ruth goes through a powerful transformation to cure herself of dependence on both religion and men.
This is not going to take her on a tidal wave of adulation, like Titanic. But whereas the blockbuster film did not quite deliver her an Oscar, the seasoned marketeer Harvey Weinstein, chairman of Miramax, has spent this week at the Venice film festival renegotiating dates and times of release for Holy Smoke, to help secure Winslet the big prize. The film was originally set for a British release on October 15, followed by the United States a week later. While Winslet has been making headlines by sporting a quirky new hairstyle for the film's premiere, Weinstein has now been granted at least an extra month to build up a campaign in America - making sure it is released before the Christmas deadline for Oscar contenders. That pushes the British release back to the new year. Given his record, following seven Oscars for Shakespeare in Love at the Academy Awards in March, including one as Best Actress for Gwyneth Paltrow, anything is possible.
Winslet herself, who spent four frantic months filming last summer between Australia and India, is more than ready for the battle. "I really believe in the film," she says. "After Titanic, I felt nothing would be more challenging. But in this there were no special effects or computer graphics to fall back on. I just had to fill every moment and be Ruth, a girl I did not particularly like. She makes this sleazy old man, PJ, finally realise he is a sleazy old man. You start the movie by thinking she is crazy and f****ed up. But she has the ability to turn things around, even on her family members, and make them reassess their life." Of her own Oscar chances, she is circumspect: "It is too soon and I am too close to the whole thing to judge whether I'm any good."
She displays no such uncertainty about her most controversial scene: "I look at myself, standing naked, weeing and . . . well, f***, what was I thinking about?" she says. "I had a contraption attached to the back of my hair, a wire ran down my back and there was a saline drip with a bit of food colouring in it. I had to wedge this pipe in the appropriate place and squeeze. I worked very hard to make sure I was in shape. I did not want to lose weight, but just look fit. So I rented an exercise bike and some weights." On her emaciated-looking co-star, now approaching 60, she reports: "Harvey loves his food, but decided that he wanted to be very thin. So he bought a treadmill, weights, trampoline - the lot - and ate health food which looked like gravel. He kept on saying: 'I can't wait until the end of this movie so I can eat again.' "
On her sex scenes, she is equally straightforward: "Some of that stuff is quite embarrassing on set, standing there saying don't do this, do that," she says. "I am quite uninhibited, but there is a limit." There is also a scene in which she gets drunk at a dance and is discovered, partially naked, being pawed by two men: "I really was drunk for that one," she says. "I blame Rufus Sewell. I had seen him doing a really convincing drunken scene with Catherine McCormack in The Honest Courtesan, so I phoned him and asked how he did it. "He said: 'I got completely plastered.' I said: 'I cannot believe it. That is so unprofessional.' But he said: 'It's the best way.' So when we got to the scene, at night, I asked one of the assistant directors to get me a quarter bottle of vodka. I went through the lot and got very floppy. I had been off alcohol for 10 weeks, as part of my fitness drive, so it hit me even harder. At one point, I could not even walk or remember my lines. But I drank some water and by the time I had to do the scene, it felt perfect."
One of the joys of talking to Kate Winslet is that she chats and chats and chats. Apart from one personal anecdote, which she asked to be off the record, she gives a most forthright view of the craziness of filming. "I hardly got any sleep," she says. "I wanted to speak to Jim, who was working on The Mummy in Morocco, every day. There were no telephones in the Australian desert, so it meant renting a mobile the size of a laptop, driving for an hour from our base in a tiny town called Hawker and speaking to him during his lunchtime, which was my two o'clock in the morning. We're on the phone all the time. I've not seen him since 9:30 this morning [it is now 4:30pm] and we've spoken five times already." As if on cue, her mobile rings. It's Jim.
She would talk to him and about him until long after the cows come home. But since there have been many second-hand reports about how she met and married her 25-year-old husband, she asks to have the record put straight. They met on location in Morocco in August 1997 while she filmed Hideous Kinky, released earlier this year. He was third assistant director on this small-budget film; she was still relatively unknown, since Titanic was yet to be released. "We fell in love right away," she says. "I was doing the film for myself, to have a good time, to work with the two young girl actresses and to get a suntan. I did not need complications. Then, two weeks into the shoot, this beautiful thing arrives. I step outside a car, see him, and say: 'F***, f***, f***!' I knew that something major was going to happen very quickly. On the first day of him being on set, he was controlling one of the little girls and I was with the other. We were both chatting away and found it was the easiest conversation we've ever had with anybody. Ever. A few weeks after that, it was all happening between us."
About their wedding - on November 22 last year - she admits she was tempted by the huge fees offered by both Hello! and OK! magazines: "We thought, for one moment, about giving half to Jim's parents and half to mine," she says. "But it is the most private, personal day of your life, and I will do it only once. And I thought: no bloody way. All my friends will be under the table, drunk. Us, too, probably. So we sent out invitations for the wrong day, in case any went astray, then phoned everyone to give them the real date. We did not give them a venue, just told them to meet at Victoria coach station at 1pm and get on a yellow coach with a green stripe. We put champagne on the coach."
This particular magical mystery tour ended, via the church, at a pub in Oxfordshire, a few miles from Kate's family home in Reading, with the lone star guest being friend Emma Thompson and her actor boyfriend, Greg Wise. "It was not at all showbizzy. We had good food, an Irish fiddle band, beer kegs, mulled wine, fireworks and big drums of veg soup and chunks of bread to finish off at 11 o'clock."
She's not been apart from her husband since marriage, choosing her latest film, Quills, based on the imprisonment of the Marquis de Sade and co-starring Geoffrey Rush and Michael Caine, so she could travel back and forth to Pinewood Studios each day from home. "I am so scared to answer the question about whether I ever want to work abroad and be apart again." The scripts have come in like confetti, and her agent has had a firm offer a week from Hollywood. But she has turned them all down and won't move far from home. Even the film she has signed up for after Quills will be shot in Britain.
Winslet's family are still important players in her life. In typical style, she delivers the latest on them: father, Roger, great actor and unsung hero; mother, Sally, brilliant mum; older sister Anna, married five weeks before her, performing with disabled children with fellow actor husband Ed, in Reading; younger actress sister, Beth, in a small-budget movie; 18-year-old brother, Josh, just succeeded in his A-levels and about to take a year out before university. Winslet is not practising to deliver a dog's dinner of a speech like Paltrow, in which she cried her way through thanks to every member of her family, at the Oscars this year. But after her performance in Holy Smoke, she would do well to start rehearsing right away.
Here is an interview that KW did when Hideous Kinky was released. My pal Sylvia of Dougray Scott in Focus found it for us. It's one I hadn't read before. Hope it is "new" to you, too:
Hideous Kinky: Kate Winslet Interview, By Prairie Miller -
After all the huge success of Titanic, Kate Winslet wanted to think small for a change. Kate is currently starring in the indie Hideous Kinky, in which she plays a hippie mom who runs off to Morocco with her two children in the '60's to be a free spirit. The dazzling actress who confessed to fearing that the hype of Titanic would change her life, spoke to me on the other hand about her passion for Hideous Kinky, a movie about profound personal transformation.
PRAIRIE MILLER: That's a beautiful, very hideous kinky Middle Eastern kind of outfit you're wearing, but you know the weather is pretty cool out here today.
KATE WINSLET: Well, we were walking around, we walked and walked everywhere, which was brilliant, it was great. But typical of me, the sun comes out and I think, it's summer! So I was out there in all my, you know, lovely skimpy little clothes going, I'm freezing! It is really cold.
PM: Do you think people who loved you in Titanic will be surprised by your very different role in Hideous Kinky?
KW: Well, a lot of the younger ones obviously won't be able to see it because of the rating, which is a shame. There is a little bit of nudity. But yeah, I think people will be surprised. One thing I don't thing anybody is really hiding behind is the fact that I'm in this movie that is very small, and that is quite diverse in things. Hopefully people are going to see it more because of the success of Titanic and my connection with that. Which is great, because I want lots of people to see it because I really care about it so much. And you want people to respond to the story, and the way that I responded to it when I read it and everything.
So I think people probably will be kind of shocked, just because it's just so completely different, and it's such a completely different character. I'm playing someone who's a mother, which obviously I've never done before. Actually I did do that in Jude. But it's someone who's a mother of two relatively grown up children, in comparison to babies, which is what Jude was. So there's a big old difference there.
PM: What made you decide to do a small movie after Titanic?
KW: After Titanic, I did want to do something that was smaller. You know, just something that was completely different. Just totally different, you know, different everything. Different setup, different crew, different story, different character. And it was very important to me to let people know that after Titanic and all the success of that, that I wasn't just going to ride on the crest of the wave forever and just do lots and lots of Hollywood movies.
Because you know I am a Brit, and I didn't want any of my fellow Brits to go, oh yeah, well you know thanks to Kate Winslet for bypassing all the British movies and just going straight there. I didn't want that. And I wanted to be in a British movie because I hadn't really done that. I did kind of go around the outside and just go to the bigger things. So Hideous Kinky came in, and I had read the novel when I was seventeen and had absolutely loved it. It was one of those books where, you know, you tell everyone, you've just got to read this. It was one of those books. And then the script arrived, and I was like, oh my God, it's that novel, I can't believe it.
And I had always thought actually that it would make a good film. But how on earth would somebody script it? And I just loved the fact that it was very clear and rich and colorful. I was drawn to the character, and also the fact that it was small, and that I knew I could go to work each day and know everyone's name. You know because I always like to work as a team with people, I believe that an atmosphere like that on the set can really make for a better end product.
And I think it's really important to have a lot of togetherness and respect for the people that you're working for. And not just actors, but the crew as well. It was very much that kind of movie, and immensely rewarding. And kind of freeing as well. I knew everyone's name, it was brilliant!
PM: How did you react to the enormous movie that Titanic became?
KW: It doesn't matter, because a movie is a movie. And you can never sort of hope that your movie will have been the biggest one. That's just not a correct way to think of things, I don't think.
PM: You fell in love and got married to one of your directors on the set of Hideous Kinky. Is it as romantic as it seemed for you in Titanic?
KW: You know, I have to be honest and say that it really was love at first sight, actually. It was. All of a sudden he showed up on set, and my actual reaction was, oh no. Because I saw this wonderful person, and I just knew that something was going to happen. Now when we talk about it, he says he felt the same thing.
And he told me when he first saw me he actually turned his back, because he could feel that something was going to happen, and he didn't want me to see his reaction on his face. So in fact the first view I had of my husband was his bum and his back! Which was nice...But it was pretty instantaneous, yeah, I would say.
PM: After Titanic do you find yourself being offered a lot of roles in big budget movies that you're just not interested in?
KW: Yes and no. I mean I really love reading scripts, and I love acting, I absolutely love it. So for me, it's always exciting to read the different things, and that one can be small budget or huge, or whatever. And so after Titanic there were a lot of very big things that were coming in, really incredible ones. I just thought no, actually, I just really want to do something that's just different and small. You know, almost like keeping it in the family, that kind of thing.
I just wanted to really ground myself, because I knew that things were going to go bananas when Titanic was released, and everyone has said to me, you know that this is going to completely change your life, and all of these things. And I thought, well actually I don't want my life to change. You know, I like me, and I like the way that things are. And I don't want to change in myself. And I suppose I was a little bit kind of frightened of that.
But it was wonderful. I mean I'll never forget it as long as I live, and it still goes on. It was just on HBO, and I actually couldn't watch it because I've seen it so many times. But yeah, I just wanted to bring things back to basics a little bit after that.
PM: You're obviously too young to have lived through the '60's, and yet you seem to fit into it so naturally and knowingly in Hideous Kinky. How did that happen?
KW: Well, you just have to take yourself back in time! And you really have to delve in there, you know, and get into the nitty gritty of things. Not just the surface things, like what people wore and said, but how they were towards each other. Which is why I say I know that the whole hippie thing was very much about people watching out for each other. This was something I was finding out again and again, speaking to people who had been there and done that. My parents are of that generation, they were sort of those hippie type people. And so in a sense I suppose there was a fraction of Julia that I was almost modeling on my mom, and the way that I remembered her being with us. I just remember my mum having very long, straight hair with a part right down the middle. I even remember running my finger along the parting of my mother's hair. And those long one piece dress that she wore, she's still got some of them.
And one thing I did that I'm told is quite extraordinary for an actor to do, although I didn't see it as that, was that I went on location with them before they started shooting the movie. And I spent two weeks just trundling around in the back of a van in all the dustiness and heat of Morocco, just understanding what the culture is now, and nothing has changed.
PM: Do you feel like talking about your amebic dysentery, over there in Morocco?
KW: That was a funny thing that happened, you know, in hindsight! It was a very unpleasant experience. But the thing was, everybody got it. And so it was just like, oh there's another one down!
I got off the plane from Morocco at midnight, woke up the next day thinking, I don't feel right. I feel really hot and uncomfortable. Maybe I'm just hungry. So I had something to eat, and then I just felt terrible, I felt really awful. By the afternoon, the third doctor that I had seen - and I had no recollection of the other two because I was so out of it - this doctor came and he said, the hospital for you. So I was in the hospital drinking out of my arm and laid out for four days. But anyway!
PM: Did the girls come down with it too?
KW: No, they were fine, actually. They were completely fine. But it was really because their chaperone had brought them over lots of UK cookies and things. So they were eating mostly UK food all the time, toast and jam and things like that. But just about everybody went down with it in some way. So, it's part of the process!
PM: What was it like working with those two little girls?
KW: Right. Carrie Mullin, who plays Lucy, in rehearsals which were just brilliant, usually involved all three of us rolling about on the floor laughing and then playing with my hair, jumping all over me and hanging off my arms and things like that. I really had to explain to them that we were making a film, and that we were all in this film together.
What was funny was that at the beginning, they thought that the cameramen and the crew were all in the film too. And when they went to see the rushes, they kept expecting to see them. They couldn't understand how it was just us in the film, and that the others were helping us to make the film. And so explaining all of those things was sort of hard.
But I found it immensely rewarding actually, helping them to learn about filmmaking and acting. And in a sense all they had to do was really be who they were, you know. Because that's very much my motto, is 'don't act, be' kind of thing. Because when you act, sometimes it can be very much a performed thing, and not necessarily real or true, you know.
I always sort of aim for absolute reality somewhere in there. Which is why for an actor, life experience is, I believe, so important. Because you have to experience what grief feels like, you know. It's a horrible thing when people die, but that grief experience I know will end up being valuable to me in some way for my work at some point.
And just other things as well. You know, extreme lovers of happiness, or bewilderment, whatever they might be. And this was truly a great experience for the girls. I sort of came out of the other side thinking, you know, if something went horribly wrong and I couldn't work for however long, then I really would think about being a drama coach for kids or something, because I really did love that, actually.
We always had fun and they trusted me, they really trusted me. And I knew I had to get that from them for the story to work. You know, they'd call me mummy and they still will, actually, they still do. They arrive here today, and I know they're going to phone up and say, hello mummy! I know it. Bella, who plays Bea, she lives about fifteen minutes away from me back home. So I speak to her all the time. And Carrie, she's always phoning up and telling me what's going on and things.
PM: In Hideous Kinky and in your upcoming film Holy Smoke, your characters are on a spiritual search which sometimes hurts other people, like your children in Hideous Kinky. How did you feel about that?
KW: Hmm. I don't know that I necessarily agree that the spiritual sort of thing hurts other people, and I'll have to defend that point. I'll defend it only because I wouldn't have played somebody who didn't one hundred per cent more than anything else care about her children. She completely did. But you've got to remember that we're talking about something that happened in the late '60's and early '70's, when they were lots of hippies all looking out for each other. And the atmosphere was very much one of love and caring for your fellow man, and trusting other people. Probably a good deal more than actually maybe people should have done. She saw her daughter was having happiness with these people and she trusted these people, and felt comfortable to leave them there. So I wouldn't actually say that there was any kind of irresponsibility there. I think there was probably slight naive, because at the end of the day she was very young.
But in any case, talking about the spiritual path thing, I don't think I'm necessarily particularly drawn to those type of characters. I was thinking about this actually the other day. And I think that what it is, is when a character in a movie is searching for something and they are very determined to find what they're searching for, what comes with that is a great deal of strength.
And strong women, strong characters are something that I do instantly latch on to, because they're usually great roles. That's very much me as well, you know, kind of driven, determined, strong, and all that stuff. And beating everyone up in my way!
So I don't know, it's an interesting thing. But I certainly learned a lot about the sort of spiritual side of things. I mean, I learned a lot about Islam when doing Hideous Kinky, and a lot about the Hindu way doing Holy Smoke. Which are things I thought I'd never have to learn about or read about, or anything. And you know especially when I was a lot younger, I wasn't particularly interested in those types of things. So in a sense it's been almost another kind of education that I've had there. And that's been a fascinating thing actually.
One of the things that really drew me to the film was that, here was this woman who had been so courageous in leaving everything that she had in London and going out there with absolutely nothing. And yet she gave these girls this wonderful upbringing where they were so happy, and they were really their own little people. And they just had amazing adventures, and she had nothing. So I just think that there's a lot to be said for the fact that you can have children and have no money, and be able to bring them up just on love. You know, that it isn't about the clothing allowance and all of those things. And I just really love that ethic.
PM: What's next for you?
KW: Well, there's Holy Smoke, the Jane Campion film that I did with Harvey Keitel. And I am doing something else soon, but I'm not allowed to talk about it yet! But it's a good one, and it's another completely different role for me.
PM: It wasn't too long ago that you were working in a deli making sandwiches...
KW: That was six years ago!
PM: Well, do you ever look back and say, my God, look where I am now?
KW: Yeah I do, I do. I look back and I think wow, all these things that have happened to me. And I still find myself so lucky that I have the choice. You know, it's not just a case that I have work. I have the choice about the work that I do. And that is something that I just love, and I'm so appreciative of. Because there are so many actors that I know who are just really struggling to make ends meet, and never working. And desperate to work. You know, they love their jobs and they want to do that. So I do look back and I think, I can't believe it.
PM: Has that deli named a sandwich after you?
KW: No! Not just yet.
PM: You have nude scenes in Titanic, and also in Hideous Kinky. Are you ever uncomfortable taking off your clothes for a movie?
KW: You know, a nude scene is a nude scene. At the end of the day you just go, oh well, it's part of the job. Although I'd never do a nude scene if it wasn't necessary.
PM: How do you find being a celebrity? Like Punch Magazine said that you were the woman most British men would love to have an affair with!
KW: Really? I never read or heard that! I don't know how I could possibly comment on that! Especially now that I'm married. It's funny, really. Because I don't think of myself as any kind of sex symbol, and I don't think I ever really have either. I mean, you know you look at people like, who can I say, I suppose Sandra Bullock, and people like that. And they're all beautiful women who really are sex symbols. I just don't see myself as being one of those people. I don't know why, I mean maybe I'm completely stupid, but I just don't. So it's very flattering, but I don't know how I can really comment on that.
From New York Daily News, Sunday, April 18, 1999:
"Winslet's Own Story" By Matthew McCann Fenton
Unlike title of her new movie, her life since 'Titanic' is neither 'Hideous' nor 'Kinky'
When you bump into Kate Winslet in the lobby of a New York hotel, the first thing you notice about her are all the things you don't notice: No entourage, no bodyguards and a lot less of the young lady herself than you've been led to expect. "When they meet me, people are always expecting to see this sort of large person," she says with a laugh, "and I'm not. I'm completely normal."
And so she is, in more ways than one. Winslet is in town to talk about her new movie, "Hideous Kinky" (don't get your hopes up - although there is a brief nude scene, the movie is surprisingly wholesome). But she can't resist holding forth on everything from her figure to fame to falling in love and getting married. And not necessarily in that order.
Ask Winslet what it's like to walk around with a face that has been seen by more people than just about any other on the planet, and she answers: "I became very well known in a film that is going to go down in history. That was a real gift." She pauses a second before adding impetuously - "and screw awards!"
And the changes it has brought to her life? "The bad change is the occasional - and I mean very occasional - invasion of privacy. But I don't think that anyone becomes public property without their consent. "If you're going to play the film-star part - you know, running for your life and trying to evade paparazzi - that just leads to unhappiness, if you ask me." The other thing that has taken some getting used to is the fascination she holds for crowds. "Sometimes it would get me down where, 'Look, I only want to go to the corner shop and get a bottle of water and I'm being hounded all the way.' "
Two Different Worlds - Whenever the hounding gets to be too much, Winslet recalls the reaction of fans a world away. When she was in India, working on her next film, "Holy Smoke" (which will be released in the fall), "I saw people who live in the mountains and who have no money, journeying for five hours to come to the nearest city, then queue for 10 hours to see 'Titanic.' " When she learned that most of them were illiterate, and couldn't read the Hindi subtitles, "I just wanted to weep. The good change is that I understand myself much better," Winslet says. Sensing that she may be sounding a tad metaphysical, Winslet winces and asks, "That sounds a bit wanky, doesn't it? But it's true," she continues. "I know much more who I am now. I've always had a very kind of willful streak in my personality. And I realized after 'Titanic' that I never want to do that Hollywood kind of back-to-back movie thing - I'd burn out. I think I would end up an alcoholic and falling asleep under the table if I just did endless 'Titanic'-type movies."
And "Hideous Kinky," which opened here on Friday, is about as far as you can get from a "Titanic"-type movie. It's based on the novel by English author Esther Freud, recalling the years she spent as a young girl with her hippie mother in Morocco. "I read it when I was 17," Winslet recalls. "It was a Christmas gift from a friend."
Love and Death - This sounds slightly mysterious, and after a bit of prodding, Winslet opens up. The book was given to her by her then-lover, Stephen Tredre, who died of cancer in December 1997. "Even after we had broken up, Stephen and I remained very close," she recalls. "Then this script landed in front of me, and I knew the title sounded very familiar." Winslet felt that "there was something pulling me to do 'Hideous Kinky,'" but she was unsure whether a small, independent film was the right project to follow "Titanic." "I phoned Stephen and asked him, 'what do you think I should do?' He said, 'You trust your gut, girl; you do that film.' And I did."
Tredre died while "Hideous Kinky" was shooting and just as "Titanic" premiered in Los Angeles. Without hesitating (and under quite a bit of pressure to do the contrary), Winslet skipped the premiere to attend Tredre's funeral. "Everyone was saying to me, 'Don't you think Stephen would have wanted you to have your day and be a princess?' And I said, 'Bull--!' "Apart from the fact that being a princess is just not me anyway, no - he would have wanted me to be at his funeral and say goodbye. How could I have gone to L.A. and attended a party, knowing what was going on that day?" Winslet's voice softens as she recalls the days after saying goodbye to Tredre. "I still had to get through the last three weeks of the shoot on 'Hideous Kinky.' The way I got to the end was I thought, 'This is my gift to Stephen. I'm doing this for him.'"
Tredre's last gift to Winslet came on the set of 'Hideous Kinky.' Working under the Moroccan sun one afternoon, her eyes met those of third assistant director Jim Threapleton. "I'll never forget it. I just saw him, and actually my feeling was, 'Oh, s-t!' It was like, 'Oh, my God; here we go. This is major.' I just knew at that second - immediately - that it was going to happen. And a week later it was happening and then we came home together. And three months later he asked me to marry him, and I just went, 'Yesssss!' If Stephen hadn't given me that book and then recommended that I do the film
" Winslet's voice trails off as she imagines never having met her husband. "It just grounds me so much more," is how Winslet describes being married. "The first time I ever came to New York, I was on my own and, actually, times were pretty lonely. I was thinking, God, I'm in this big city and I've got no one to share it with."
Now she does. "The other day, I was just looking [at Threapleton as they stood together on a Manhattan corner], thinking, 'Now I'm here with somebody, and you're my husband.' How great is that? Knowing that you get to spend every day for the rest of your life with your best friend."
Winslet also has a refreshing instinct for cutting to the chase. When an interviewer begins tiptoeing toward the issue of what she calls "physicality," Winslet interrupts: "Okay, so you're talking about size, right?" Right. So Winslet launches full throttle into her take on what for some actresses might be a touchy subject. "When I was making 'Titanic,' I was just surrounded by people who were telling me, 'Oh, you're so beautiful and so voluptuous and this is going to be the new thing.' As if being me were somehow clever or calculated. And it became something that was just taking away from myself. So I eventually asked people I worked with, 'Please don't comment on that, because its just who I am.'"
Which might make you think that she doesn't want to talk anymore about what has made her a hero to the legions of women who suffer under the tyranny of svelteness. But you'd be wrong. "I don't want to sound preachy or anything," she continues, "but there are young girls out there whose minds are very naive and very, very vulnerable who have been completely screwed up by this whole thing. So when 'Titanic' came out, I thought, 'Right, I'm going to go for this - I've done it, I've gotten there and I'm not a rake and I'm never going to be a rake. I'm going to say that this doesn't matter. I've been in the starvation camp," Winslet recalls of her years as a teenage actress, "and I was very unhappy. I made myself ill - to the point where I was fainting. Now, I'm very happy being me."
As Winslet's lone assistant signals that they're running late for an appointment, she waves away all this self-examination by saying, "I mean, if I'm going to be myself, I had better start doing it now." But then it seems to occur to Winslet that maybe it's possible to be a bit too much herself. So as she dashes off to God-knows-where, she calls out one last request: "Do me a favor? Take out all the swear words? My mum always reads these pieces and says, 'Darling, you always swear so much,' and I say, 'No I don't. They're just making it up.' "
Consider it done.
The following feature story on Kate appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 17, 1999:
Winslet Sets a New Course - By John Clark
Actress follows "Titanic" with "Hideous Kinky", marriage and an independent outlook on life.
The last time audiences saw Kate Winslet onscreen, she was huddled on the deck of the Carpathia, in 1912, hiding from the anxious gaze of her fiancé and a life of upper-class smugness and boredom. The film was - need we even say? - "Titanic".
Now Winslet returns as a young mother on the loose in '70s Morocco with her two children in "Hideous Kinky", a small independent film that opened in Los Angeles and New York on Friday. If "Titanic" was a luxury liner, "Kinky" is a broken-down bus. And Winslet is enjoying the ride.
A lot has changed for Winslet between these two movies. She's become an international star. She lost a close friend to cancer. She's gotten married and says her marriage, to Jim Threapleton, has helped her deal with what's happened to her in the last year-and-a-half. "I think if anything I've kind of chilled out a hell of a lot more because of my wonderful husband," she says, rolling a cigarette in a suite high above midtown Manhattan. Her blond hair, cut short, is in fashionable disarray. She's wearing gray pedal pushers and a black blouse. "There's always that worry: 'Oh, God, I walk out the door, make sure I've got a full face of makeup on in case there's a photographer there.' I'm me, and that's it. He loves me for me. It's just brilliant."
In "Titanic", Winslet wore ornate gowns and dazzling jewels. In "Hideous Kinky", Winslet looks as if she just got out of bed. She wears peasant skirts and, for the first time in years, sports a suntan. That's about as far as the film goes in the direction of special effects. This might seem an unlikely follow-up to "Titanic", but according to the film's grateful director, Gillies MacKinnon, that was the point. "She made 'Hideous Kinky' so that she wouldn't exclusively be drawn into doing big-budget Hollywood movies," he says. "She's very clear about this. I think she must have known what was going to happen with 'Titanic', but this is something that she wanted. She wanted this other side of herself as a British actress who chooses what she wants to do and not what her agent wants her to do and all the rest of it."
Until "Titanic", Winslet had generally made small, arty fare: "Heavenly Creatures", "Sense and Sensibility" (for which she received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination), "Jude" and "Hamlet". With "Hideous Kinky", she seems to be returning to her indie roots. The film, which is based on a semiautobiographical novel by Esther Freud (who went to Morocco in the early '70s with her sister, Bella, and her mother, Bernadine), is the anecdotal odyssey of Julia and her two young daughters in Marrakech and points beyond. Julia has brought them here because she wants to give them a life more vibrant than the one they'd led in dreary old London.
They subsist on the infrequent checks the girls' estranged father sends while Julia, who is also in search of Sufi wisdom, has an affair with a charming Moroccan hustler. Such a synopsis might lead one to think that she is a horrible mother. MacKinnon doesn't see her that way. "There was a naiveté or an openness at that period, a sense that the world was an adventure," MacKinnon says. "And the children didn't suffer for this. They're both incredibly strong-minded young women now, very successful also. Bella Freud is a big fashion designer in Europe, and Ester is a novelist. Nowadays, what would happen would be we would drive our kids from one house to another so they could look at videos. She (the mother) wanted them to see the world, and she wanted to see it herself. I knew there might be a puritanical backlash about motherhood, but we just had to be honest about it. That was the period, and we weren't trying to make somebody sympathetic but to show somebody who really had a hunger to live not only for herself but for her children."
Winslet, who is now 23, was given a copy of the book when she was 17. The person who gave it to her, actor-writer Stephen Tredre, was her boyfriend at the time, and he encouraged her to make the movie when she was being offered much more high-profile projects in the wake of "Titanic". Tragically, in the middle of the "Hideous Kinky" shoot, Tredre died of cancer (he was 33). Winslet flew from Morocco to his funeral in London on the same day that "Titanic" premiered in Los Angeles.
"He was a great source of strength to me while we were together," she says, staring out the window. "He was 12 years older than me. I was 15, and we split up when I was about 19. He was someone who really made me stick to my guns and believe in myself and taught me how to understand who I was. So that was why getting to the end of this film was very hard, but it was made easier by the fact that I tried to see it as though that was the thing I was doing for Stephen. And I'd met Jim by that point as well and he was being great about the whole thing."
In yet another twist, Winslet had met Threapleton on the set of "Hideous Kinky". He was a last-minute addition to the crew, a third assistant director. They were relatively discreet about their relationship. Even MacKinnon didn't know about it. "I had no idea what was going on," MacKinnon says. "Nobody said anything to me. I was so busy making the film I hadn't even noticed until three or four weeks later somebody said, 'Have you not noticed anything about Kate and Jim?' The penny dropped, you know? It was a strange time for Kate when she was in Morocco, what with this chap dying and all the pressure of 'Titanic,'" he continues. "She went to London to do publicity for 'Titanic', and she came down with some kind of bug that she got in Morocco and ended up in hospital. It was really an amazing time. And then she met Jim. Good God, it was like the whole world was spinning around then."
It kept on spinning. Winslet went to LA for the Oscars - she was nominated for best actress - then to India to research a role for Jane Campion's 'Holy Smoke' (her next film, in which she plays an Australian girl in thrall to a cult), then back to Morocco for a movie Threapleton was shooting, then to Australia and India again for four months to film 'Holy Smoke'. Now they're back in London (they were married in November) trying to establish some sort of domesticity and dealing with Winslet's higher profile.
The downside to the "Titanic" phenomenon is everywhere apparent. Winslet was mobbed -frighteningly so - in Morocco and India. She is also subject to the usual spurious rumors: that, for example, she had pursued the role in "Elizabeth" that went to Cate Blanchett (she says she read the script five years ago and passed on it); that she was going to make a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, contingent on her losing weight (never happened, she says).
Winslet brings up the issue of weight herself, probably because it's been brought up by others so often. It seems to be the only aspect of her existence that's less than brilliant, and it elicits from her the kind of defiance that all her characters have exhibited. "I am who I am," she says. "I'm healthy. I swim a mile every day. I'll never be a stick insect, and I wouldn't want to be either because it seems to me that a lot of people who are very thin are just really unhappy. I had a time in my life when I was about 19 and I was very thin and I wasn't eating. I was anorexic for about six months. And I was so unhappy. And someone said to me one day, 'Don't you realize how much of your day you are spending thinking about your physicality?' And it was so true. I realized I'd wake up in the morning, the first thing I do I would look in the mirror: 'oh, my bum looks big, oh, my face is fat.' And I just felt, 'What am I doing to my life? I can't even think about others.' I feel for those people (anorexics) because they're being screwed up by what is said to be beautiful and successful these days, thin and pretty, and it's just bollocks."
Winslet's insistence on doing things her own way characterizes her career and her life. "Because of the person I am I won't be knocked down - ever. They can do what they like," she says. "They can say I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm whatever, and I'll never stop. I just won't. I've got too much to do. I've too much to be happy about."
Here's the feature on Kate from the March 5, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. I scanned the pics and scanned/formatted the article:
Kate Winslet - The English Rose of "Titanic" spills all about her battles making the most expensive movie every, her sex talks with Leonardo DiCaprio and the man she loved and lost - By David Lipsky:
Kate Winslet sits alone at a busy Starbucks in midtown Manhattan: leather jacket, cafe latte, gently unraveling auburn hair. Across the city, her film Titanic is drawing record-breaking crowds. Winslet plays Rose DeWitt Bukater, a Philadelphia society-matron-in-training who dumps her wealthy fiance for Jack Dawson (Leonardo Dicaprio), the struggling artist who has the mixed fortune of finding true love on a sinking ship. Las Vegas odds make Winslet's performance, already nominated for a Golden Globe award, a good bet for the Best Actress slot in the more prestigious Academy Awards race. Nationwide, high-school girls are hanging her picture on bedroom walls and asking themselves whether looking like the 22-year-Old British actress would allow them their shot at DiCaprio. I've just stepped away from the counter to this odd sight. Winslet is often frenetic - or expressive, in the way of actors who don't necessarily communicate feelings better than normal people but communicate them more. Now she is sitting placidly. As I watch from a distance, she lifts a hand and taps the plate-glass window with the back of a knuckle. In a few weeks, a few days, none of this will be possible for her: to sit, quietly and lumpishly, in public, beside fellow quiet lumps. For better or worse, it is a magic moment, and I return to the table very slowly.
Winslet was famously unhappy on the set of Titanic, directed by the furiously demanding James Cameron. After the film wrapped last April, she gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times that was widely reprinted, that she now says was misinterpreted and that I (maybe because Winslet is so likable and so persuasive, which means she's a good actress) now also believe was misinterpreted. She said, "I would only work for Jim Cameron again for a lot of money." She related harrowing near-drownings, and lots and lots of yelling. Cameron - speaking in the generous, immensely relaxed voice of a man who has just learned his film might break a record $400 million at the U.S. box office - holds no grudge, explaining that Winslet was "lust letting off steam" after the pressure of shouldering a $200 million production. "Kate would look out and see this small city, with these thousands of people and all this stuff happening," says Cameron, "and she'd know that what it all boiled down to was what was going on in her eyes."Winslet's eyes are excited and blue; they've already carried their movie; they don't have the cramped look of someone expecting to be recognized; they're off-duty eyes.
Five years ago, after shooting her first film, Winslet went to work slicing ham in a London delicatessen. She is as proud of what she accomplished there - with apron, cutting board and cash register - as she is of any of her film work. "When you're carving ham off the bone, you need a proper carving fork and knife," she explains. "I got very good with cheeses as well." That fllm was the New Zealand thriller Heavenly Creatures. Onscreen, Winslet combined the strict, stylized features of a queen on a playing card - arched brows, full mouth, flat cheeks - with a startling energy; she would do anything. Since then, Winslet has been on a roll. She costarred with Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility, a 1995 Jane Austen adaptation, and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She starred in Jude, a 1996 Thomas Hardy adaptation, which was especially depressing about weighty themes. Then she played Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's four-hour Hamlet. Winslet has had the career that less-serious actors claim they want when they say they want to become serious actors. (She paused to make a Disney film called A Kid in King Arthur's Court, your basic comedy of anachronism featuring such jokes as:
"Now let me see if I have this right - if something is cool, it's hot, and if something is good, it's bad?")
Winslet is a woman of passions. Here is how she got the lead in Titanic: "I closed the script, wept floods of tears and said, 'Right, I've absolutely got to be a part of this. No two ways about it.'" She phoned her agent, and the agent made a couple of calls. Winslet said, "Look, just get me Jim Cameron's phone number." She dialed the director's car phone. "He was on the freeway, and he said, 'I'm going somewhere.' And I think he pulled over, and I said, 'I just have to do this, and you are really mad if you don't cast me.'" When DiCaprio waffled about playing Jack, and both actors were at the Cannes Film Festival, Winslet discovered where DiCaprio was staying, slipped out of a press junket and collared him in his hotel room. "I was thinking, 'I'm going to persuade him to do this, because I'm not doing it without him, and that's all there is to it,'" she says. "'I will have him.' Because he is fucking brilliant. He's a fucking genius, and that was absolutely why."
The world probably isn't big enough for Kate Winslet. Everything she says has special effects in it: Those effects are the words brilliant, absolutely and gorgeous, and because of them, what she says really does seem brilliant, gorgeous and absolute, a slightly better world than the one you live in. She gets impatient with people who can't keep up with her. "I had a conversation with my little sister, and she went, 'I've got wrinkles 'round my eyes, I'm so depressed.' And I said, 'You stupid cow, that's an exciting thing!'" Winslet is excited by weather ("stunning") and by messy city road kill: "Oh, hello! Dead squirrel! Splat! How vile!" She makes you feel guilty for not being in a better mood. You get the impression that if you lowered your head to her chest, you'd find her heart racing 120 beats per minute, like a tree shrew's.
Titanic was filmed on a strip of industrial peninsula just south of the California-Mexico border. The chowder at an early cast party was spiked with PCP, a kind of acid-frat revenge gesture against Cameron. An entire studio was constructed on Rosarito Beach, with the ship built ninety percent to scale. By the midway point, when cast and crew lived on four hours of sleep, Cameron took bets on who would collapse first. For the last three months of night shooting, Winslet would finish work at seven in the morning and climb into bed hearing the lobster boats leaving their docks to fish. On set, she trained herself to focus on the water, "because if you looked in the other direction, you had the disgusting Rosarito Road and trucks going by and a nasty, barren hill."
What carried Winslet through the filming was DiCaprio. "Did Kate mention that they were really there for each other?" Cameron asks me. "On a long shoot, especially as you get into, like, month five, you're just in a siege." They spent hours with one another, keeping their energy up. As Winslet describes Rosarito, it has the sound of a seven-month-long family dinner, with DiCaprio and Winslet trying to scare up fun in the basement. "We were kind of the two goofy kids on the set," she explains. "Y'know, working with Leonardo DiCaprio - he's a bit gorgeous, and I was worried that I was going to be bowled over by him, or that he was going to find me all stuffy and Shakespearean and English. But the second we met, we just completely clicked." They hit it off the way freshmen at college have hit it off for decades. "We'd do the most ridiculous things to each other," she recalls. "He'd be tickling me, groping me, winding me up. And I'd be doing the same thing back, sort of grabbing his bum." DiCaprio, 22, seems surprised that Winslet has told me this; his voice turns official. "She was my best friend for seven months," he says slowly. "We'd unload the stresses of the shoot to each other, vent to each other, watch out for each other. Kate was just the perfect person to work with because she was very much one of the guys, and it would have been much harder without her. We were partners."
"Grossing Kate out was purely Leo's job," says Billy Zane, who plays her rich, unappealing fiance in Titanic. "He got really good at it. If he wasn't rolling back his eyelids, he was making objets d'art out of bodily fluids." Cameron recalls that DiCaprio had to wear a long coat for much of the shoot. "He would, like, fart in it," says Cameron, "and then sweep the coat over her face. I mean, if anybody else in the world did that, they'd get slapped, and the other person would walk away and not talk to them for a week. With Leo, Kate would just crack up."
When tabloids tried to do the matchmaking work of turning the friendship into something sexier, Winslet says she and DiCaprio would read the gossip items and laugh. "Just the notion of that was insane - it would have been absolutely like incest, I have the relationship with Leo that all the women in the world would envy," says Winslet, misapprehending just what kind of relationship the world's women would want to have with the angelic-featured star of Romeo andJuliet. Winslet says that DiCaprio would ask her whether she thought he was handsome: "He would say 'So, um, do you really think that?' I'd say to him, 'You are absolutely stunning, you complete bastard. How do you do it when you've only had two hours sleep?'"
Between shots, Winslet says, she and DiCaprio would snuggle under a blanket in his trailer and talk about sex. "You know, some very, very personal things, asking each other for advice," she says. "Not necessarily comparing notes but sort of, 'No, don't' do it like that, do it like this.' He's very good at that. I have to say, a lot at those sexual tips he's given me have worked. And I know it's vice versa." When I tell Winslet the tips might also be useful to our readers, she smiles and shakes her head. "No, it's too despicable," she says. "In fact, it can get really graphic. It's going to turn into a porn piece."
Winslet has only one sweet regret about her relationship with DiCaprio. It was during the scene in which Rose and Jack make love in a Renault touring car in the hold of the ship: steamed windows, trembling actors. "Doing that scene," she says, "it so wasn't us. And yet we were so locked into what all that had to be about. The Rose in me was really sort of loving the Jack in him, actually. And even though I didn't feel that way about Leo, it was quite nice to sort of feel that way in the scene. It was quite lovely. And then, y'know, the camera stopped rolling, and.he gets up and walks off and the scene's done. And I remember lying there thinking, 'What a shame that's over.' Because it was quite nice. It was."
Winslet recalls that she and DiCaprio would sometimes lie on the set smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and staring up at the stars. Other times, she would watch him play Tomb Raider on Nintendo or they would sing to each other - the Bette Midler hit "Wind Beneath My Wings," an indirect, on-site spoof of the Titanic scene in which Jack leads Rose to the prow of the ship and tells her to close her eyes and spread out her arms. When Winslet had an attack of vertigo on the back of the upended poop deck - spending a week in harnesses suspended 100 feet in the air - DiCaprio calmed her down. "I just told her we were safe," he says. "She believed me." One night, very late, Winslet and DiCaprio were lying on the deck during a break. An assistant approached for food orders. "Leo was so tired," Winslet recalls; he had his head on Winslet's stomach and asked for a sandwich. "The assistant asked, 'What do you want on it?' and Leo said, 'Oh, Kate will tell you.' And Leo just kind of fell asleep. And I did know exactly what he wanted - this kind of cheese and no tomato and no pickle. I absolutely knew. And I thought, 'God, that's really weird that I know this person so well.' It was brilliant."
Winslet has always acted, and in person she is welcoming and harried, perpetually backstage. "I'm smoking like a fucking chimney," she says a few days later as she opens her hotel-room door, "so you certainly can." Then she wraps up a phone call - "Keep your pecker up! Bye-bye" - and apologizes for what she is wearing: "press clothes," a heavy black turtleneck and black slacks, "which is sort of annoying." She insists on walking me to the closet and showing me her beat-up Harley-Davidson biker boots. "Now this is me,'' she says. "This is really, really me."
Winslet crosses the living room of her suite and curls into her sofa. The balcony door is open, since Winslet is a woman who enjoys breezes, and the railing overlooks a misty Central Park, like the deck of an ocean liner that has unaccountably docked in midtown Manhattan. Winslet glances mistrustfully at the furniture, which appears expensive and invisible in the manner of well-born children. Winslet doesn't like hotels. "We never as a family went to an exotic place and stayed in a hotel," she says. When the Winslets vacationed, it was on budget tickets, pitching tents in a field "or going to stay with some friends. That's why hotels sometimes seem quite sort of lonely to me."
Winslet's life has been shaped by acting. Like families in which each successive generation goes into plumbing or police work, the Winslets have memorized lines and shown up for auditions. "It wasn't necessarily that I knew acting was what I wanted to do," says Winslet. "It's just that I knew it's what I would end up doing." Winslet's grandparents managed a sixty-seat theater in their back yard in Reading, England, where they presented musicals and plays. Sally, Winslet's mother, trained as a nanny. Winslet's father, Roger, is an actor. "He's always had a bit of a tough time of it," Winslet carefully explains. Kate is the second of four children. Anna, 25, acts; Beth, 20, just performed in her first BBC production; Joss, 17, is thinking about acting.
Winslet auditioned at the age of eleven for an acting school named Redroofs, which was located in Maidenhead, England, the town where the Spice Girls got their start. Her grandmother put up the first two years' tuition. Winslet ended up unconvinced by acting schools. "Bladdy-bladdy bullshit," she says.
The school did help with what actors need: connections. The school knew people. It had its foot in the door. At twelve, Winslet made her debut in a cereal commercial, as a frenetic Sugar Puffs eater. At fifteen, she was cast in a science-fiction series, and she hooked up with her first boyfriend - Stephen Tredre, an actor who was twelve years her senior. "I told my mum and I thought, 'Oh, no, she's going to hit the roof.' And she said, 'So what's he like, then? Are you going to bring him home?'"
At sixteen, Winslet had a turning point, on the set of a TV drama called Anglo-Saxon Attitudes. Winslet, at five feet six inches, weighed 185 pounds. She had a small part, as the daughter of a very heavyset woman. One afternoon, the director strolled past the two actors, sized them up and observed, "God, the likeness is extraordinary." The comment shocked Winslet. "I looked at this woman, who weighed nearly 300 pounds, and I just thought, 'Shit, shit, this has got to change. This has got to go.'" A year later, a trim Winslet had her part in Heavenly Ceatures. To be a veteran actress at twenty-two is also to be a veteran interview subject, and Winslet has mastered the trick by which even life's painful moments become riffs. Winslet explains her old nickname, which was Blubber, and one later (from Cameron): Kate Weighs-a-Lot. "I was chubby as a child," she says. "When I was sixteen, I was fat. It was a family thing. We're all big eaters. My uncle is a chef. My mother is a fantastic cook. Kind of unavoidable. I sensibly lost the weight doing Weight Watchers. End of story."
Some stories refuse to end quite so neatly. In 1996 a reporter for England's Daily Mail tracked down the agent of Winslet's older sister, Anna, and cajoled the agent into saying unpleasant things about the intra-family jealousy that Kate's success had been causing. Anna was considering changing her stage name - ceasing to be a professional Winslet. Winslet's mother was equally blunt: "We are all utterly sick of all the attention that Kate's career has brought. It's not as if she's the only one in the trade. Kate's success makes life very difficult for all of us."
Winslet admits that it is difficult to be the first member of her family to make good. When she looks up and sees the Titanic billboards with her name and likeness, it's a kind of revenge on the world for the entire Winslet family. At the same time, the sight makes her guilty, because she is the only Winslet on the billboard. "Anna was going to be the actress, you see," says Winslet. "And suddenly little sister comes running along and speeding ahead. It does make me feel bad. I think, 'Christ, what can I do about this?' As offers come in, I still go, 'Can't I just share some of these with everybody?'" She arranged a role for her father in Sense and Sensibility, in a scene that was eventually cut from the film. She spoke with Jim Cameron about a part for her father in Titanic, "but there was never anything that was actually right for Dad to do." Winslet sighs. "I hope this year to be able to buy them a house. Y'know, I'm all right now. I've got a car, I've got a flat, and that's fantastic. And once I can buy my mum and dad a house, see them set up properly, that's it - I'll be happy then. I'll feel I've really done it."
It is unseasonably warm for a New York winter - residents keep glancing at the sky as if they're waiting for the weather to sucker-punch them - and Winslet decides she could do with a walk. "I bet you," she says in the elevator, "we'll go around and I still won't get recognized at all. I do get away with blue murder." In fact, it would take a dedicated and imaginative fan to identify Winslet. Her face looks slightly wider than it does on film. "I accept the fact that I have a round face," says Winslet. "Sometimes I look in the mirror and go, `Oh, why don't I just have a little bit more sucking in going on?' But if my cheekbones don't become more prominent with age, they don't. Hey ho! There's more to life than cheekbones." Since Winslet's films have tended to take place in other centuries, it is strange to see her in regular clothes. It is also strange to see her dodging buses in traffic or crossing the park's thawing softball diamonds - environments one doesn't associate with her. It's a little like walking into a video arcade with Abe Lincoln.
I ask Winslet about her preparations for Titanic. What I expect to hear is that it was more or less boot camp. But no. The hardest thing for Winslet was mastering the American accent. A dialect coach - a kind of personal trainer for the mouth - put her on the weights, flattening, stretching and toning her tongue with heavy-lifting sentences such as, "Rude Ruth's two rooms are near the school's pool." Winslet pored over volumes on Edwardian history, women's social conditions, ocean liners. I notice that Winslet's eyes are startlingly blue outdoors. When she starts describing the emotional journey she hoped to make in the film, I stop listening completely, the way I would if a doctor were discussing the intricacies of removing a gallstone. Which is probably why actors hang around together; they love this kind of talk, and who else could bear earnest discussions of rawness, sincerity, instinct and vulnerability? Winslet says, "I got to a point where I thought, 'Sod this, I'm not going to do this anymore, because actually I don't need to know all that stuff.'"
That's a cue to more to the more provocative Titanic issues, such as the talk that director Cameron brow-beat her to tears during filming. Winslet is thoughtful and cagey, as though cooperating with a Senate panel. "No, that's not true," she says. "I mean, Jim would yell sometimes, absolutely. He was the producer, screenwriter and director in this thing, with studio executives breathing down his neck all of the time. And I could understand him getting frustrated if something went wrong because some stunt guy didn't jump at the right point and the shot's taken nine hours to set up. But he was never mean to me.
"There were moments of despair when I thought, 'God, this is so tough, and I'm so tired.' And, yes, the water was cold. But, y'know, I have to say, at the end of the day I wouldn't have had that water heated. I said to Jim, 'Please don't make that tank hot, because then we can't really know what it would have felt like.' I'm a bit of a masochist. I never believe I've done my job properly unless I go home feeling that I've suffered."
Regarding the bathroom logistics of filming in a water tank, Winslet speaks only for herself. "Yes, I admit to sometimes peeing in that water," she says. "Because you wanted to get it right. You didn't want to have to get out and go to the bathroom, which would take half an hour with corsets and dresses and all that sort of thing. So, yeah, I peed. I mean, it's the same with a swimming pool - do you really think about what's in it?"
Winslet lights us cigarettes and settles in on distracting me with more messy details. "There were some instances where we were literally swimming through corridors," she allows. "And I didn't like that stuff because my feet would get tangled in the chiffon dress that I sink in. But at one point Jim said, 'Fuck it, I'm not gonna have my actress drown. Scissors!' And my dress was cut this short, almost like a T-shirt. You could see my bloomers underneath it. We called it the Bo Peep dress.
"I'm not saying it was all happy-clappy," she insists. "There were days when you'd just think, 'Oh, my God, I've got my period and I can't get in that freezing-cold water today.'" Think of it - seven months, seven periods. "I remember standing up and saying to everyone, 'Listen, if it suddenly looks like Jaws, the movie, it's my fault." Winslet pulled a corresponding male gag a few weeks later. "There's the flooded-corridor scene," she explains, "when I go into the water, an ax in my hand. Well, the water was so cold that my reaction was completely genuine. And I was the only woman down there. Here I was, surrounded by all these men on the crew, in all this freezing-cold water. What did that mean for their genitals? So I turned around and said, 'So - little dicks, then?'"
Titanic wrapped in early April, and within a week Rosarito was a ghost town. "I was packing my stuff to go back to England, and there was a part of me that couldn't believe it was all over all of a sudden," says Winslet. "And I thought, 'I'm not going to be speaking Rose's words anymore.' I had that moment of, 'Oh, she's gone now. I've lost her.'"
Three years ago, Winslet bought a flat in London. She's kept it filled with the young people you meet on sets - assistant directors, makeup artists - sharing food and swapping clothes. "I don't particularly like being on my own," Winslet says. "I like people around, just talking and having a laugh." On a normal day, Winslet goes for a swim, reads scripts, "might see a film in the evening. Pick my feet. Brush my teeth - I floss very rarely." It's been a long time since Winslet had that kind of day. "For six months after Titanic, I never quite unpacked my suitcases," Winslet says. "I don't want that to happen again." During the summer, she made several trips to Los Angeles to record Titanic dialogue. With her mix of masochism and perfectionism, she revoiced the DiCaprio death scene lying on a flat board in the sound studio. In the fall she flew to Marrakech, Morocco, to begin shooting the drama Hideous Kinky.
In a sense, the knowledge of a friend's illness sharpened Winslet's performance more than bobbing in cold-water tanks or using a board on a recording stage. Winslet has had other boyfriends - she dated Rufus Sewell (or as Winslet puts it in her press voice, "actor Rufus Sewell') for three months, "a fling until we both decided, 'This is just a friendship, really, isn't it?'" But her closest connection has been to Stephen Tredre. "He was the person most important to me in my life, next to my family," Winslet says. "We were together for four and a half years. I spoke to him every day." A few years ago, Tredre was diagnosed with bone cancer. "Her sorrow was her light," Billy Zane tells me. "She gives you a peek into her pain. It's a generous gesture."
Winslet and I are discussing Tredre at Starbucks when her throat seizes, and her eyes shimmer and go wet. "He lost his battle against cancer," she says. "He died on the eighth of December. So, y'know, I've got a lump in my throat now." Winslet lifts a recycled-paper napkin and dabs at her eyes. "Sorry. God, I'm really sorry - that's such a surprise. Don't worry about it. Don't feel bad for asking or anything. Stephen was such an extraordinary person."
Winslet flew from Marrakech to sing at Tredre's memorial, a song whose title she won't reveal: "Um, do you mind if I don't tell you that? It was a song that he always loved me singing. I felt like Elton John must have felt singing at Di's funeral. It was so hard. I knew that if I said a few words beforehand, I would start crying and I wouldn't be able to sing. So I sang, and the second I stopped I started to choke.
"You know what I was saying to you the other day about not being recognizable?" Kate Winslet asks four days later. "Changed. Changed. It's all changed." A weekend has passed, Winslet has done another TV appearance, Titanic has grossed another $30 million, so sitting down with the actress is like spending time with an ascendant stock. We've picked a small Italian cafe in New York's Greenwich Village primarily because the owners have let us smoke. (When I suggested we could do without in other restaurants we passed, Winslet laughed: "No, we bloody well can't do without smoking, what are you talking about?")
"It's all changed," Winslet repeats. "There were heaps of autograph people outside the hotel, and photographers. It's incredibly flattering."
Winslet saw Titanic on Friday night, buying a ticket and sitting in the last row, behind a real audience for the first time. "I wept flood buckets," she says. "Absolute buckets. It made it seem completely worth it." She understands the scale of it now. "It's fantastic thinking that I've been such a big part of it, and it's probably going to go down in history." She lights another cigarette. "If anything, it almost frightens me."
There's a casual sexuality about Winslet today. It's in the way she crosses her legs and tugs at the hem of her miniskirt, or the sight of her white brassiere strap each time she reaches inside her sweater to scratch a shoulder. She keeps interrupting herself - making a kind of irritated tsnt! when her brain doesn't deliver the script to her mouth fast enough.
Winslet says she feels a little like she's flying. Cameron calls her "the world's darling right now." It isn't the success of Titanic, she insists - it has more to do with Tredre's death and her having played an adult and the sense that she's grown up. "I still want to cry in the middle of the night every now and then, y'know," she says. "And I won't stop doing that just because things are going swimmingly. I'm no different than anybody else."
We get up to leave. A table of high-school girls has been eavesdropping on Winslet. As they hear Titanic and Leonardo mentioned, they grow more and more quiet.
One of the girls - braces, zip-up sweatshirt - stands. "Excuse me," she says.
"Yes," says Winslet.
"Were you in Titanic?"
With mounting excitement: "Are you Kate Winslet?"
The girl takes a deep breath and smiles. "You were great."
"Oh, thank you very much."
The girl laughs. "Oh, my God, you look so different in person."
"Um, yeah," says Winslet. "I know."
Profiles end with the celebrity being reintroduced to her element, like slipping a fish back into the water. Winslet is meeting a car a few blocks away. She has a slight smoker's breathlessness. It's touching. She's looking around the street in a different way, a way I recognize from other celebrities. Winslet is learning to catch and modulate what she says. She's losing herself. You get the sense of a private life going away; it's almost like watching a personality dissolve. Winslet is converting herself to unreality, developing a star's skills of self-protection and hardness. But she's still one foot in, one foot out. It occurs to me this may be the last non-star interview she gives, her final message before getting sucked down with that big, watery, glowing ship.
I ask whether she still keeps a diary. "I do," she says as she approaches the hired car, a black Continental limousine with a vanity plate: DIVA II. "Things have been sort of mad, with all the press we've done, but there was a moment when the phones stopped ringing. I was just sitting in the hotel on my own. And I realized where I was and how exciting it was to be sitting in the hotel room, on my own, with five minutes to myself. And I wanted to write that down. But I didn't have time."
[Sorry about the crease!]
I scanned this article and pic from the March 1998 issue of Movieline
"The Top Ten Performances By An Actor Under 30 (in the last five years)," by Virginia Campbell -
Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatues:
Though movies often deal with the presumably enthralling drama of the male coming-of-age experience, which involves, primarily, a boy's getting free from his father and getting laid by a girl very like or very unlike his mother. The parallel phenomenon in females is little examined on the big screen. That may be because mostly men make movies, but it's also because the drama of female adolescence is much stranger - an interior tale of obsession, fixation, fantasy and heightened romanticism. The anxious, disorderly invention of adult female identity often looks more like pathology than mere maturation. Perhaps that's why the best dramatization of it in recent years is 1994's Heavenly Creatures, which recounts the true-crime tale of an infamous pair of New Zealand schoolgirls whose dangerously close friendship climaxes in matricide. In this bizarre film, Kate Winslet gives such an extraordinary performance as the dominant, brilliant, theatrical girl who draws a brooding, malcontented schoolmate into her romantic dream world, that she makes her character not merely believable, but emblematic of the insecure, grandiose, sex-crazed person lurking in every teenage girl.
It's simply astonishing that Winslet was just 17 when she embarked on this unsettling characterization-we can only hope she lacked a full perspective on its implications. Her job was, first, to keep the precociously glamorous, imperiously self-determining Juliet Hulme from seeming like a black comic fiction, and then to reveal, gradually, the betrayed child whose fear of parental abandonment has led her to conjure a superior fantasy world. Its because Winslet does both of these things so well that we see beyond the gripping factual story of a teen murderess to the metaphorical tale of wounded girls everywhere.
Winslet makes the beautiful, monstrously galvanized Juliet so entertaining that we run with her even before we have sympathy. When Juliet, a new student in a prim private school, corrects the mean-spirited French teacher's grammar in front of the class, Winslet gives her just the right arch pretense of helpfulness. And when Juliet trips through director Peter Jackson's surreal, special-effect landscapes (wonderfully inventive versions of her fantasy world) with giddy, infectious joy, we feel the tide of hysteria behind her. Eventually Winslet shows us hints of panic and grief so authentic that we feel instant compassion for a girl who would otherwise have worn out our patience. Winslet's commanding presence convinces us that Juliet could indeed be the architect of an alternate reality so compelling her disciple/friend would come to share it psychologically and sexually, and to wish her own mother dead for threatening it. But as Juliet follows up her friend's first lethal blows in the film's disturbing murder scene, we see on Winslet's face a rage stemming unexpectedly from despair rather than pure homicidal impulse. In this culmination of a performance that belies the age of the performer, Winslet makes us read Juliet's expression as a catastrophic response to complete failure in the perilous endeavor of surviving adolescence.
I scanned these pics and scanned/formatted this article from the
March 1998 issue of Movieline magazine:
"Kiss Us, Kate," by Stephen Rebellow, photographed by Albert Sanchez - Titanic star Kate Winslet, the actress many consider the most talented of her generation, talks about the dangers of acting, the joy of passion and the pleasure of knowing Leonardo DiCaprio.
Long before young Kate Winslet made such a searing impression as the willful, passionate heroine who twice careens from stem to stern of Titanic, first intending to hurl herself into the sea, then later trying to save herself from it, she was so equated with intensity that her close friends used her surname as an adjective for high emotion. Word has it that whenever she reaches a fever pitch or displays a fit of zeal, her pals quip, "Very Winslet of you." Or, on a day of blustery English weather, one of them is likely to say, "We're having a Winslet sort of day, aren't we?" Winslet's Titanic director, James Cameron, marveled that she sometimes cried for a solid hour after a big emotional scene, and Ang Lee, who earlier directed her Oscar-nominated performance in Sense and Sensibility, apparently found her such a whirlwind that he prescribed tai chi and Austen-era poetry to calm her. She's that volcanic, that undefended against her own deepest feelings.
But make no mistake. Kate Winslet is not free-firing raw emotion personified. She is too talented and too highly trained to be merely, as she describes herself, "instinct on legs." James Cameron believes she's simply one of the most gifted actresses of her generation, an opinion held by many and backed up by a list of awards hardly to be believed for an actress 22 years old. She was born into a theatrical family in Reading, England, which had her living and breathing the life of a performer from day one. Her father is a struggling actor who ran the Reading Repertory. Her mother acts as well, and is the daughter of two actors. Her two sisters both act. Winslet's parents sent her at age 11 to the local theater school, and by 13 she had won her first acting job, dancing with the Honey Monster in a well-known Sugar Puffs commercial. She then did musical theater and sitcoms, and quickly moved to the stage, where, as a young teen she was already a full-fledged star and celebrity. Then, she brought it all to bear in movies.
When Kate Winslet, having beat out 175 other hopefuls for the part, made her film debut at 17 playing the affected New Zealand schoolgirl who toys with lesbianism and then takes matricide seriously in Heavenly Creatures, her performance was so original and so convincing in its chilly aplomb that people left the theater asking, Who was that? Ang Lee quickly cast her as the emotionally reckless young sister to Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility. In Michael Winterbottom's Jude, she played the fearsomely intelligent Sue, a Thomas Hardy heroine no one else Winslet's age could probably have touched. Kenneth Branagh then chose her for his luminous Ophelia in Hamlet.
In casting the part of Rose in Titanic, James Cameron was biased against Winslet because she'd done three period pieces already. He wanted a girl with no such history. But after she read for him, he never thought about the matter again, and she proved his faith justified. The all-the-stops-out longing she shows for Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic packs the heat of a bravura turn by one of the silent screen's great beauties. You can't imagine any of her contemporaries handling the role. That alone should keep her in the spotlight for quite some time, so long as she doesn't take up residence in the east wing of Helena Bonham Carter Manor.
Why don't Hollywood and the media blather on about Kate Winslet the way they do about, say, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes or Gwyneth Paltrow? Probably because she is seldom in Hollywood, and hardly anybody knows about it when she is. She almost never plays the movie star. My first glimpse of her comes one early morning when she strides into the living room of her Peninsula Hotel suite, forthrightly thrusting out her hand and heartily welcoming me in great, mile-a-minute bursts of chat that suggest Emma Thompson on uppers.
"I'm a hardened Brit - I cannot do without my nicotine and coffee," she growls, plunking herself down on the sofa and adroitly rolling a cigarette to accompany her fresh orange juice and croissants. She is preternaturally poised, shit-kicker boots and disarranged hair notwithstanding. And she has an old-soul wisdom in her eyes that also belies her years. These are the qualifies that make her "Winslet" emotionalism a far more interesting phenomenon than mere temperament.
"So, are you really given to the intensity in your real life that you bring to the screen?" I ask.
"I am incredibly passionate about my life," she proudly asserts. "I am absolutely unable to hide any emotion. If I wrote a book, I'd have to call it P is for Passion. I don't go in for anything halfway. My feelings about things are instant, on the spot. And my heart is always, always on my sleeve."
"Are you going to let loose with any of that intensity while you're here in Hollywood? Go out on the town clubbing later? Or to a party, perhaps with some young American actor?"
Winslet flashes me a wry, incredulous look, laughs, and shakes her head in a resolute no. "What I am doing is getting on a plane for home right after the photo shoot, because I will not stay here for any longer than I need to." She tosses in a little stage shudder to underscore that she's not kidding. "Just coming here to Los Angeles - well, let's say, I find it suffocating. I mean, when I flew here to take my mom and dad to the Oscars, I thought I was going to go crazy. I really dislike the glamour side of the business that's so prevalent here, the 'constant attention' thing."
She has no interest in the joys of Young Hollywood? "I've never gotten enough inside 'Young Hollywood' to become part of the club, as it were," she says. "Leonardo gets cross with me whenever I come here. He says, 'Hey, sweetie, I'm going to get a whole bunch of friends together to hang out, OK?' And I just go 'Ugh.' Half the time, I'm tired from the plane trip. He's furious with me right now. But the possibility of going to places like the Skybar frightens me because it is so the 'Young Hollywood' thing to do. It doesn't really interest me, and, honestly, it's difficult for me to adapt to situations like that. And the whole drug thing frightens me, too. It's such a very big thing, something I'm becoming increasingly more aware of, both here and at home. Somebody said, 'Let's go have a bit of Charley,' and I had no idea what they meant, I've never taken any drugs in my life, never even had a drag on a joint. That makes me sound squeaky clean, but as you see, I make up for it in cigarette smoking and coffee drinking and occasionally going out and getting completely plastered, losing my mind, and waking up the next morning feeling very sorry for myself."
Winslet takes a drag of her cigarette and continues, "I'm an incredible control freak. I think what frightens me about drugs is that I can't bear the idea of losing control of my self, my center. Particularly in a business that is so out of control."
At the mere mention of the Business, Winslet tears into a merry rift, replete with dramatic gestures and impersonations, on Hollywood's out-of-control incongruities, foibles and absurdities. "Anytime I get off the plane here, I dash into Starbucks - which I love so much that I think I'm going to have to open a franchise back home where we don't have them - and as soon as you hit a Starbucks in Los Angeles, you see all these incredibly thin women, toned, no body fat, who stand at the counter and go, 'Can I get a decaf, no milk, and a low-fat scone?"' Her version of the anorexic, checkout-my-implants wannabes she's imitating is dead-on. Switching back to her own plummy tones, she laughs, "And I trot up to the counter, go, very loudly, 'Can I have a latte, please, extra hot, and one of those maple nut oat scone things? Actually, I'll get two of them!"'
Winslet declares herself incensed by the attention young Hollywood women pay to weight and bust size. "At 19, I went from pillar to post about my body and spent at least 95 percent of my head-space every day thinking about what I bloody looked like," she says. "When I was making Sense and Sensibility, Emma Thompson noticed that I'd skip lunch and not eat properly. She said, 'If you dare try and lose weight for this job. I will be furious with you.' She went out and bought me The Beauty Myth, and since then, I've been much more relaxed about that side of it. But, my God, the young women in Los Angeles!"
Winslet drags hard on her cigarette and exhales skyward. "Plastic surgery and breast implants are fine for people who want that, if it makes them feel better about who they are. But it makes these people, actors especially, fantasy figures suited to a fantasy world. Acting is about being real, being honest. Ultimately, the audience doesn't love you or want to be with you because of what your face looks like or because of the size of your backside. They've got to love you because of the honesty within your soul. As an actor, for me to conform physically in such a way would just be taking me to a plane of complete unreality, which is not what it's about, I would be doing everything that I always said I would never do.
"And yet," she adds quietly after a moment, "I understand how some of this happens. The hardest thing about working in a film environment - and all Los Angeles is a film environment - is that you're immersed in a fantasy world all the time. It's goddamn safe. Everything's done for you. Your life outside your work stops for that period of time. Then, the shoot is over. Suddenly, you have to wash your own knickers on the weekend. I always love to get back to that reality. Others don't."
But isn't escape from reality part of the fun of being a movie star? "I care nothing about being a movie star," Winslet insists. "In many ways I feel I'm being arrogant and cynical when I say this. I'm baffled to be in the position I'm in. When I first thought about being an actress - which, I think, was when I was born - I didn't plan or hope for this. I love acting and I just thought, 'Well, I'll just take each day as it comes and hope to always love it.' In the last couple of years, with things being very busy in my life in terms of work, there have been days when I've asked, 'Why on earth am I doing this job? It's too much mental torture, I'm too tired. I never see my family.' There are times where I thought, 'Shit, I'm not having a life - I'm not having enough life experience upon which to draw.' It's horrible to feel that about the life you're making for yourself."
Hear Winslet talk about her experience as an actress, though, and you know that she is living the life she's meant to live. She speaks respectfully of most of her directors, rapturously about some. For Peter Jackson, with whom she made Heavenly Creatures, she has passionately fond words. "With Peter, who is like my godfather, I knew from the first, 'Here is a man who's going to be with us actors, no matter what.' Once, it was two AM, and I just couldn't get my head around the scene, the movie was so frightening. Peter took me into a little room, hugged me, and spoke to me as if I were my character, and said, 'You've got to think about this thing you must do tomorrow' and he made me talk it through, plan the killing. By the end of it, I was just a wreck. Then he took me onto the set and said quietly, 'Roll camera.' Because I was just so ready to do it. We had to loop the whole thing later, because the crew people were only slowly coming back onto the set." Kenneth Branagh turned Winslet down for Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, but she didn't have to audition or even read to get Hamlet. While shooting, she told her director/costar, "Be as violent with me as you bloody well like. Twist my arms off if you want to." What with his manhandling of her, plus the self-inflicted injuries Ophelia endures in her madness scenes, Winslet wound up with bruises and lumps. But that wasn't the scary part. "I was terrified of doing Shakespeare," she admits. "But Ken told me, 'Do you know how frightened you are right now? Julie Christie is a million times more terrified.' That's when I realized that all of us - Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, even Ken - we were all in the same little boat together. It helped me calm down."
And how, at the end of the day, does she come out on the subject of her Titanic director, James Cameron, who is not known for putting himself out to calm his cast down? In fact, Winslet, who nearly drowned filming the finale of Titanic, became vocal to the press a while back about her frustrations with the "ordeal" of making the film, saying that the "temper" of the director "frightened" her, and admitting "Some days I'd wake up and think, 'Please, God, let me die!'" Time, good reviews, good box office, and, one guesses, consultations with her publicists have tempered the views she'll now give for public consumption. "He's a genius and a maniac," Winslet says. "A genius in terms of his vision, a maniac in terms of getting what he wants. But that's to be absolutely admired, because to be the controller of a thing that's so absolutely huge is amazing. Some of the visions he had in his head I found really frustrating, because I couldn't quite understand what he meant. I finally came to realize, though, 'My God, this man has been visualizing nothing but this for the last two years.'" Although there's no denying what an ordeal it was to make the movie, Winslet calls the finished product "a brilliant, beautiful film that, when I saw it up there on screen in all its glory, it was just such a relief and a joy, it blew me away. It's so larger than life, I can't believe it's me up there. It's like, I come from a small town outside London, what am I doing in this film?"
Enough about directors, how does Winslet feel about her costars, like, say, Leonardo DiCaprio? Roses come to Winslet's cheeks and her voice goes all mushy. "I bore people with how wonderful I think Leo is," she says. "He's brilliant. At first, I thought, 'Oh, is he going to be Hollywood stud-like?' But he's a really kind, wonderful person. He said to me one day early in the making of the movie, 'You know, I was kind of worried about you.' He thought I was going to be a proper, tight-corseted, clean, glowy individual with peaches-and cream perfect skin, which I am certainly not. It didn't take long for Leo to crack and see who I really am, and we became very close. But I must say, he is absolutely gorgeous."
Just as she seems to have said her piece on DiCaprio, she suddenly reminisces, "He'd walk onto the set in the morning, after, like a half hour's sleep or something, and that face - it took your breath away. I just looked at him, having been through hair and makeup for hours, and wailed, 'You fucker!' He just practically rolled out of bed and looked that gorgeous. He can't take compliments, absolutely hates them, and he goes, 'Shut up!' and gets me in a headlock and wrestles me to the ground. I love him dearly. I bullied him into doing this movie, because it takes a long time for him to make decisions. He likes to be advised by all of his close friends and family, which was terribly frustrating for me because, with me, it's always gut feeling. We became such good friends, so close, absolutely like brother and sister. We've talked about everything. We've laid our souls out on a slab to each other, in one way or another." With eight months in each other's company in remote locations, did she and her new soulmate lay out anything else to each other? "Oh, my God, you're kidding - the whole notion!" she chides with a touch of mock Mary Poppins. But why not? They're both young, great looking, gifted and available, right? After a bit of good-natured coaxing, she admits, "Before we met, I thought, 'I'm just going to completely fall in love with this guy.' Once I met him, I thought, 'Well, it's true, Leonardo DiCaprio is incredibly beautiful, but no way.' He's just so normal and so - what's the word I'm looking for? Fundamental. Very chatty and so funny that we laughed and joked around. Everybody kept saying, 'God, you two just get on so well.' Leo and I sometimes still talk about it and say, 'Oh, should we have an affair just for the hell of it?' But we wind up agreeing, 'No, we couldn't, because we'd laugh too much.' We just wouldn't be able to take it seriously." They did take the work seriously, though. DiCaprio's working style was new to Winslet. "He'd just say, 'Hey, let's not talk about it, let's just do it.' That was rather daunting, because I'd think, 'Oh shit, what's he going to do?' After we did a take that was absolutely fine of the scene late in the movie where we run through the ship toward each other and end up in this big hug, saying, 'I couldn't leave you, I couldn't go without you,' Leo said to Jim, 'Hey, can we just have one for the actors?' Jim said yes, I had no idea what Leo was going to do. It was a so weird how he just got hold of me and lifted me up in a violently emotional way. I could do nothing except give it back. That's the take that made it into the movie."
And the two stars of Titanic coexisted happily with all those long grueling months? "There were days when I would say, 'God, I can't be without Leo,'" Winslet recalls. "He was my rock. We were such a team, nothing could break us, nothing could come near us. Jim kept saying, 'I am so lucky and grateful because just as easily, you two could have hated each other.' And it helped Jim, too, because there were days on end where he'd be on a crane hundreds of feet up doing a panoramic shot and we wouldn't even see him, he'd just be a voice over a loudspeaker. That was often frustrating, especially if you had a quick question. But I'd ask Leo and he'd always come up with the answer. God, he's wonderful. I love him to death."
As she goes on to reminisce about some pranks DiCaprio played on her, Winslet at one point lets out an uproarious, foot-stomping whoop. Which is when I notice her feet. Which are mighty. I ask her teasingly whether she ever regrets that her feet weren't bound at birth, and she chortles, "No, I'm glad I've got big, huge flappers. Leo used to laugh at my feet all the time, going, 'Fuck, man! Look at those things!' The other day we were having our makeup done for a photo shoot, and he said, 'Shit, I haven't seen those things for awhile.' We used to swap shoes all the time because we have the same size feet. You know," says Winslet, warming to the subject, "I've got big, huge toes, too. Really, I have to show you because they're extraordinary. Absolutely massive." Down come her laces, off come her shoes and socks and yep, there they are. Damn, they are extraordinary. "See, these are the kinds of things Leo and I laughed about, too," she says. "So we could never take a relationship seriously."
Winslet not only has happy memories of a delightful working relationship with her costar, she has the happy results of the work, too. "The first thing Leo and I knew was that we were going to have to fight to hold onto this very profound love that the two people, our characters, share. We had to fight because sometimes the scenes were just so huge, with so much action going on, so many stunts. We knew that the thing that would break people's hearts was not the fact that so many people died on the ship that night, but the love story. And when I saw it at a screening, that last 20 minutes, I sat among men in business suits who were sobbing their hearts out like small children."
With Titanic as her calling card, Winslet is flooded with offers at the moment. "Once your foot's in that door, you don't need to agonize so much over the struggle to find work," she admits. "But, with some of my friends, my family, it's heartbreaking because they're still trying to get that foot in the door. I have the luxury of being able to choose what I think is the right thing for me. It's like that fantastic speech Frances McDormand made at the Oscars, 'We women have the choice.' Being in that position, the ability to choose things, thrills and amazes me." It wasn't always so, of course. Wasn't she up for William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet? "I tested for it three years ago, when Leonardo was definitely already doing it, but I knew, reading it, that I was too old for the role - too old inside." The Crucible? "I was desperate to do it, phoning all the time, asking, 'What's going on?' I was obsessively jealous that it was always going to be Winona as Abigail, but she did it wonderfully, even if that was my dream role. On Oscar night for Sense and Sensibility, this huge bouquet of roses arrived with a note saying, 'Good luck tonight. I think you're wonderful. Much love, Winona Ryder.' It was so sweet and lovely, I was like, 'My God, Winona Ryder sent me flowers!'" Woody Allen's movie, which Ryder took when Drew Barrymore dropped out? "It was a tremendous honor to meet him, but it was a minute-and-a-half or something, and he smiled, asked me a few questions, took my Polaroid, and that was that. Leonardo's having such a great time with him, but I knew that, with Judy Davis and Ken Branagh already in it, he wouldn't cast another Brit as an American."
She philosophizes, "I've never sat in a movie theater going, 'Shit! Why didn't I do this movie?' Regret isn't good. Every decision one makes in life is made for a reason or another. Whenever something bad happens, I go, 'This is happening for a reason,' or 'This is going to teach me something.'" Winslet scrunches back on the couch and says, sighing, "Every time I go to work now, I go through this suicidal saga of, 'I'm terrible,' 'I'm fat,' 'I'm ugly,' 'I can't do this anymore.' I get so paranoid. It's so incredibly encouraging when people say they like me and my work, but it almost frightens me because I think, 'Oh, shit! I have to live up to it, not disappoint them.' I don't necessarily think of myself as particularly good or attractive, and I'm very aware of how you can burn out in this business. It's like 'too much, too young.' And there's so much worrying among some actors about how something is going to do at the box office. Greed is a nasty thing. I'm sure it's very easy for actors to become greedy once they're handed everything on a plate and can pick and choose from any entree, appetizer or dessert they want. Hugh Grant once said to me, 'How well did Heavenly Creatures do at the box office?'" (Here Winslet imitates Grant so perfectly, you can practically see his hair spilling over his forehead.) "When I said, 'I have no idea,' he was shocked, saying, 'Well, don't you read the figures?' No, I don't. To get all caught up in the business side of it frustrates me. That's one major reason why I really don't want to play only big leads in films or only strong female figures. I'm more happy to play a part in a smaller production if I really love the script, the material."
Which is exactly what she'd doing at the moment. Winslet's next film will be the small-scaled Hideous Kinky, based on the novel by the real-life granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, in which she plays a hippie mom who ran away to spend years in Morocco with her kids in the early 70s. "Neither my agent here or in London got the script at all or why I wanted to do it," she says about Hideous Kinky. "The mother I play is very carefree and not necessarily as domestic as a normal parent would be. My agent said, 'Don't you think people are going to say, 'Why is she playing this woman who's basically not a very good mother?'' When agents don't like what I like, I have to say, 'You have to listen to me and this is what I want to do. I'd really appreciate it if you would work on this and help me. This is falling at a really important time in my life - a time I feel I should go and do it.' I'm an actor. I have to do just that. The other, business side of that - doing publicity, choosing things that may get a big audience - is a totally different thing."
I tell Winslet she strikes me as a terrific combination of good sense and age-appropriate inner chaos, to which she responds, "Personally, morally and emotionally, I sometimes feel I'm in complete turmoil. I really don't know who I am. I still feel like I've got a hell of a lot to learn, you know? But I would hope not to know who I am at 22, right?" Right she is, and whatever she learns, she'll be fascinating to watch all along. Very Winslet of her, I think.