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Kate Winslet

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Kate Winslet
CBE
A close-up shot of Kate Winslet's face at the premiere of Divergent in 2014.
Winslet at Divergent premiere in 2014
Born Kate Elizabeth Winslet
(1975-10-05) 5 October 1975 (age 42)
Reading, Berkshire, England
Residence West Wittering, West Sussex
Alma mater Redroofs Theatre School
Occupation Actress
Years active 1991–present
Spouse(s)
Children 3
Awards Full list

Kate Elizabeth Winslet, CBE (born 5 October 1975) is an English actress. She is known for her portrayals of angst-ridden women, typically in period dramas and tragedies. Winslet is the recipient of several accolades, including three British Academy Film Awards, and is among the few performers to have won Academy, Emmy, and Grammy Awards.

Born in Reading, Berkshire, Winslet studied drama at the Redroofs Theatre School and had her first screen appearance at the age of 15 in the British television series Dark Season (1991). She made her film debut playing a teenage murderess in Heavenly Creatures (1994), and received her first BAFTA Award for playing Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995). Global stardom followed soon after with her leading role in the epic romance Titanic (1997), which was the highest-grossing film of all time to that point, she subsequently eschewed parts in blockbusters in favour of critically acclaimed but little-seen period pieces, including Quills (2000) and Iris (2001).

The science fiction romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), in which she played one of her first roles set in contemporary times, proved to be a turning point in her career, and she continued to gain recognition for her performances in Finding Neverland (2004), Little Children (2006), Revolutionary Road (2008), and The Reader (2008). For playing a Nazi camp guard in the last of these, she won the BAFTA Award and Academy Award for Best Actress; in the 2010s, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for playing a single mother in 1950s America in the miniseries Mildred Pierce (2011), joined the Divergent film series, and won her third BAFTA Award for playing Joanna Hoffman in Steve Jobs (2015).

Winslet was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating a short story in the audiobook Listen to the Storyteller (1999). She performed the song "What If" for the soundtrack of her film Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001). Winslet is the co-founder of the charity Golden Hat Foundation, which aims to create autism awareness, and has written a book on the topic, named The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism (2010). Time magazine named Winslet one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009, and in 2012, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Divorced from the film directors Jim Threapleton and Sam Mendes, Winslet is married to the businessman Ned Rocknroll since 2012, she has a child from each marriage.

Early life and initial stage and television roles[edit]

Kate Elizabeth Winslet was born on 5 October 1975 in Reading, Berkshire, England, to Sally Anne (née Bridges) and Roger John Winslet,[1][2] her mother worked as a nanny and waitress, and her father, a struggling actor, took labouring jobs to support the family.[3][4] Her maternal grandparents were both actors and ran the Reading Repertory Theatre Company.[5] Winslet has two sisters, Anna and Beth, both of whom are actresses, and a younger brother, Joss,[3] the family had limited financial means; they lived on free meal benefits and were supported by a charity named the Actor's Charitable Trust.[5] When Winslet was 10, her father nearly lost his foot in a boating accident and found it harder to find work, leading to more financial hardships for the family.[3] Even so, Winslet has said, "We never felt like the poor kids, which is absolutely a credit to my parents. We lived in a lovely terrace house and we all had each other."[3]

A sign displaying the name of Redroofs Theatre School.
The Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, where Winslet was educated

Winslet received her preliminary education at the St Mary and All Saints' Church of England primary school.[6] Living in a family of actors inspired her to pursue acting from a young age,[5] she and her sisters participated in amateur stage shows at school and at a local youth theatre, named Foundations.[3][4] At age five, Winslet made her first stage appearance as Mary in her school's production of the Nativity,[7] she has described herself as "quite stocky as a child"; she was nicknamed "blubber" by her schoolmates and was bullied for they way she looked.[8][9] She said of the experience, "I didn't lock myself away and give up on my dream. I fought back."[10] At age 11, Winslet was accepted into the Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead, the school also functioned as an agency and took students to London to audition for acting jobs.[3][5] She appeared in a Sugar Puffs commercial and dubbed for foreign films,[5][11] at school, she was made head girl and took part in productions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and played the lead role of Wendy Darling in Peter Pan.[12] She worked simultaneously with the Starmaker Theatre Company in Reading, she participated in over 20 of their stage productions, but has said that she was rarely selected as the lead due to her weight. Nonetheless, she played key roles as Miss Agatha Hannigan in Annie, the Mother Wolf in The Jungle Book, and Lena Marelli in Bugsy Malone.[13][14]

In 1991, within two weeks of finishing her GCSE examinations, Winslet made her screen debut as one of the main cast members of the BBC science fiction television series Dark Season.[15][16] Her part was that of Reet, a schoolgirl who helps her classmates fight against a sinister man distributing free computers to her school,[17][18] she did not earn much from the job, and at age 16, a lack of funds forced Winslet to leave Redroofs.[3] To support herself, she worked at a delicatessen;[5] in 1992, she had a small part in the television film Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, an adaptation of Angus Wilson's satirical novel of the same name.[19][20] Winslet, who weighed 185 pounds at the time, played the daughter of an obese woman in it. While filming, an off-hand comment from the director Diarmuid Lawrence about the likeness between her and the actress who played her mother prompted Winslet to lose weight,[21] she next took on the role of the young daughter of a bankrupt middle-aged man (played by Ray Winstone) in the television sitcom Get Back (1992–93).[22][23] She also had a guest role in a 1993 episode of the medical drama series Casualty.[24]

Career[edit]

1994–1996: Film breakthrough[edit]

Peter Jackson looks away from the camera and has a garland over his neck.
Peter Jackson gave Winslet her first film role as a teenage murderess in Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Winslet was among 175 girls to audition for Peter Jackson's psychological drama Heavenly Creatures (1994), and was cast after impressing Jackson with the intensity she brought to her part,[25] the New Zealand-based production is based on the Parker–Hulme murder case of 1954, in which Winslet played Juliet Hulme, a teenager who assists her friend, Pauline Parker (played by Melanie Lynskey), in the murder of Pauline's mother. She prepared for the part by reading the transcripts of the girls' murder trial, their letters and diaries, and interacted with their acquaintances,[26] she described her experience on the film as an "acting master class" and has said that she learnt tremendously from the job.[5] Jackson filmed in real locations of the murder, and the experience left Winslet traumatised,[11] she found it difficult to detach herself from her character, and said that after returning home, she would "just sit and sob my heart out".[26] The film was critically acclaimed and proved to be a breakthrough for Winslet,[27][28] with The Washington Post writer Desson Thomson calling her "a bright-eyed ball of fire, lighting up every scene she’s in".[29] Winslet additionally recorded "Juliet's Aria" for the film's soundtrack.[30] Also that year, she appeared as Geraldine Barclay, a prospective secretary, in the Royal Exchange Theatre production of Joe Orton's farce What the Butler Saw.[31]

While promoting Heavenly Creatures in Los Angeles, Winslet auditioned for the brief part of Lucy Steele for a 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility, starring and written by Emma Thompson. Impressed by her reading, Thompson cast her for the much-larger part of the recklessly romantic teenager Marianne Dashwood,[32] the director Ang Lee wanted Winslet to play the part with grace and restraint—aspects that he felt were missing from her performance in Heavenly Creatures—and thus asked her to practice tai chi, read gothic literature, and learn to play the piano.[32] The Radio Times' David Parkinson found Winslet to be a standout among the ensemble cast, and Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle took note of how well she had portrayed her character's "move from girlish impetuousness to a more womanly sense of balance".[33][34] The film grossed over US$134 million worldwide and earned various accolades for Winslet,[35] she won the Screen Actors Guild and British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, and received nominations for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award in the same category.[36]

Winslet had roles in two period dramas of 1996—Jude and Hamlet, as with her Heavenly Creatures part, her roles in these films were those of women with a "mad edge".[26] In Michael Winterbottom's Jude, based on the novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, she played Sue Bridehead, a young woman with suffragette leanings who falls in love with her cousin, Jude (played by Christopher Eccleston). Roger Ebert believed that the part allowed Winslet to display her acting range, and praised her for "making Sue into a sassy, defiant woman who would rather be right than happy".[37] After unsuccessfully auditioning for Kenneth Branagh's 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Winslet was cast for the part of Ophelia, the doomed lover of the title character, in Branagh's adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet.[32] Winslet, at 20 years old, was intimidated by the experience of performing Shakespeare with established actors such as Branagh and Julie Christie, saying that the job required her to "hit a certain level of intellect that I don't believe I have".[26] Even so, Mike Jeffries of Empire believed that she had played the part "well beyond her years",[38] despite the acclaim, Jude and Hamlet earned little at the box office.[39][40]

1997–2003: Stardom with Titanic and subsequent small-scale features[edit]

A picture of Leonardo DiCaprio with his hand raised.
Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured) was paired opposite Winslet in Titanic (1997). A journalist for Vanity Fair labelled them "Hollywood’s most iconic screen couple" since Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.[41]

Winslet campaigned heavily for the part of Rose DeWitt Bukater, a free-spirited socialite aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic, in James Cameron's epic romance Titanic (1997). Cameron was initially reluctant to cast her, preferring the stars Claire Danes or Gwyneth Paltrow, but Winslet pleaded with him, "You don't understand! I am Rose! I don't know why you're even seeing anyone else!"[42] Her persistence led Cameron to hire her.[42] Leonardo DiCaprio featured as her love interest, Jack. Titanic had a production budget of US$200 million, and its highly arduous principal photography was held at Rosarito Beach where a replica of the ship was created.[21] Filming proved to be taxing for Winslet, she once nearly drowned, contracted influenza, suffered from hypothermia on being submerged in freezing water, and had bruises on her arms and knees. The work-load allowed her only four hours of sleep per day and she felt drained by the experience.[43] David Ansen, writing for Newsweek, called Titanic a "big, bold, touchingly uncynical" film and praised Winslet for capturing her character's "stifled ardor with [...] pained delicacy".[44] Mike Clark of USA Today considered Winslet to be the film's prime asset.[45] Against expectations, Titanic went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time to that point, earning over US$2 billion in box-office receipts worldwide,[42][46] and established Winslet as a global star.[47] The film won 11 Academy Awards—the most for any film—including Best Picture and gained Winslet a Best Actress nomination.[48]

Winslet did not view Titanic as a "springboard for bigger films or bigger pay cheques", she eschewed parts in blockbuster films in favour of independent productions that were not widely seen, believing that she "still had a lot to learn" and was unprepared to be a star.[5][15][39] She later admitted that the decision had prevented her from "burn[ing] out by the age of 25".[49] Hideous Kinky, a low-budget drama shot before the release of Titanic, was Winslet's sole film release of 1998.[50] She turned down offers to star in Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anna and the King (1999) to do the film.[51] Based on Esther Freud's semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, Hideous Kinky tells the story of a single British mother yearning for a new life in 1970s Morocco.[47][50] Writing for The New York Times, the critic Janet Maslin commended Winslet's decision to follow-up Titanic with such an offbeat project, and took note of how well she had captured her character's "obliviousness and optimism".[50]

Jane Campion's psychological drama Holy Smoke! (1999) featured Winslet as an Australian woman who joins an Indian religious cult. She found the script to be "really brave" and was challenged by the idea of portraying an unlikable, manipulative woman,[47][49] she learnt an Australian accent and worked closely with Campion to justify her character's vileness.[47][52] The film required her to perform explicit sex scenes with her co-star Harvey Keitel, and featured a scene in which her character appears stark naked and urinates on herself.[47][53] David Rooney of Variety wrote, "Showing the kind of courage few young thesps would be capable of and an extraordinary range [...] from animal cunning to unhinged desperation, [Winslet] holds nothing back."[54] That same year, she provided her voice to a fairy for the animated film Faeries,[55] and won the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating the short story "The Face in the Lake" for the children's audiobook Listen to the Storyteller.[56][57]

A head-shot of Judi Dench as she looks directly at the camera.
Judi Dench (pictured) and Winslet played the novelist Iris Murdoch at different ages in Iris (2001).

In Quills (2000), a biopic of the erratic Marquis de Sade, starring Geoffrey Rush and Joaquin Phoenix, Winslet played the supporting part of a sexually repressed laundress working in a mental asylum.[58][59] Hailing her as the "most daring actress working today", James Greenberg of Los Angeles magazine praised Winslet for "continuing to explore the bounds of sexual liberation",[60] she received a SAG Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.[61] The following year, she played a fictitious mathematician involved in the cracking of the Enigma ciphers in Michael Apted's espionage thriller Enigma. Winslet's character was vastly expanded from a subsidiary love-interest in the novel it was based on to a prominent code-breaker in the film,[62] she was pregnant while filming, and to prevent her baby bump from showing, she wore restraining corsets under her costume.[63]

The biopic Iris (2001) featured Winslet and Judi Dench as the novelist Iris Murdoch at different ages. The director Richard Eyre cast the two actresses after finding a "correspondence of spirit between them".[64] Winslet was drawn to the idea of playing an intellectual and zesty female lead, and in research, she read Murdoch's novels, studied her husband's memoir Elegy for Iris, and watched televised interviews of Murdoch,[65] the project was filmed over four weeks and allowed Winslet to bring her daughter, who was six months old at the time, on set.[65] Writing for The Guardian, the novelist Martin Amis commented that "the seriousness and steadiness of [Winslet's] gaze effectively suggest the dawning amplitude of the Murdoch imagination".[66] Winslet received her third Oscar nomination for Iris, in addition to BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress.[65][67]

Winslet's third film release of 2001 was the animated film Christmas Carol: The Movie, based on Charles Dickens' novel, for the film's soundtrack she sang "What If", which proved to be a commercial hit; she donated her earnings from it to children's charities.[68][69] After a year-long absence from the screen, Winslet starred as a headstrong journalist interviewing a professor on death row in the thriller The Life of David Gale (2003), she agreed to the project to work with the director Alan Parker, whom she admired, and believed that the film raised pertinent questions about capital punishment.[70] Mick LaSelle thought that the film had muddled the subject and termed both the film and Winslet's performance as "too ridiculous".[71]

2004–2007: Romances, comedies, and Little Children[edit]

To avoid typecasting in historical dramas, Winslet actively looked for films set in contemporary times,[72] she found it in the science fiction romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), in which she played the neurotic and impetuous Clementine, a woman who decides to erase memories of her ex-boyfriend (played by Jim Carrey).[73][74] Unlike her previous assignments, the role allowed her to display "the zanier part" of herself.[75] Gondry encouraged Carrey and Winslet to improvise on set, and to keep herself agile she practised kickboxing.[74] Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind proved to be a modest financial success and received acclaim, with several critics terming it as one of the best films of the 21st century.[76][77] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone considered it to be a "uniquely funny, unpredictably tender and unapologetically twisted romance" and thought that Winslet was "electrifying and bruisingly vulnerable" in it.[78] A journalist for Premire magazine wrote that she had favourably abandoned "her corseted English rose persona in favor of a drunken, motormouthed bohemian" and listed it as the 81st greatest film performance of all time.[79] Winslet considers it to be a favourite among her roles, and she received Best Actress nominations at the Oscar and BAFTA award ceremonies.[80][81][82] She has said that the film marked a turning point in her career and prompted directors to offer her a wide variety of parts.[5]

Winslet was paid £6 million to star in her next release of the year, the drama Finding Neverland,[83] it is about the relationship between the writer J. M. Barrie (played by Johnny Depp) and the Llewelyn Davies boys, which inspired him to create Peter Pan; Winslet played the boys' mother, Sylvia. Despite her reluctance to star in another period piece, Winslet agreed to the project after connecting with Sylvia's love for her children.[72][84] Ella Taylor of LA Weekly found Winslet to be "radiant and earthy as ever" and CNN's Paul Clinton thought that she was "exceptional in a delicate and finely tuned performance".[85][86] She received a second Best Actress nomination at that year's BAFTA Award ceremony,[82] with a box office gross of US$116 million, Finding Neverland became her most widely seen film since Titanic.[39][87]

In 2005, Winslet took on a guest role in an episode of the British sitcom Extras, starring the comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, she played a satirical version of herself in it—an actress, who in an effort to win an Oscar, takes the role of a nun in a Holocaust film.[88] She received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series nomination.[89] Within three months of giving birth to her second child, Winslet returned to work on Romance & Cigarettes, a musical romantic comedy directed by John Turturro, in which she played Tula, a promiscuous and foulmouthed woman.[90] The part required her to sing and dance, and it helped her lose weight gained during her pregnancy,[72][91] she twisted her ankle while filming one of the dance sequences.[72] Derek Elley of Variety wrote that despite her limited screen time, Winslet had "the showiest role and filthiest one-liners".[92] In an effort to spend more time with her children, Winslet declined an offer from Woody Allen to star in Match Point (2005).[72]

A side profile of Kate Winslet as she speaks into a microphone.
Winslet at the 60th British Academy Film Awards, where she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in Little Children[93]

Winslet had four film releases in 2006, she first appeared in All the King's Men, a political thriller set in 1940s Louisiana, featuring Sean Penn and Jude Law. She played the supporting part of the love interest to Law's character,[80] the film received negative reviews for lacking political insight and narrative cohesiveness, and failed to recoup its US$55 million investment.[94][95] Her next release, the drama Little Children, was far better received. Based on the novel of the same name, the film tells the story of Sarah Pierce, an unhappy housewife who has a torrid affair with a married neighbour (played by Patrick Wilson). Winslet was challenged by the role of an uncaring mother, as she did not understand or respect her character's actions.[96] Scenes requiring her to be hostile towards the child actress playing her daughter proved upsetting for her to film.[80][97] Having given birth to two children, Winslet was made anxious by the sex scenes in which she had to be nude; she took on the challenge to present a positive image for women who did not have "perfect" bodies.[97] A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote that Winslet successfully "registers every flicker of Sarah’s pride, self-doubt and desire, inspiring a mixture of recognition, pity and concern".[98] With another Academy Award for Best Actress nomination, Winslet, at age 31, became the youngest actress to accrue five Oscar nominations.[99]

In contrast to her character in Little Children , Winslet next took on a part she could "fully embrace and really adore" in Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy The Holiday,[100] she played Iris, a Britisher who temporarily exchanges homes with an American (played by Cameron Diaz) during the Christmas holiday season. The film became Winslet's biggest commercial success in nine years, grossing over US$205 million worldwide,[101] the critic Justin Chang thought the film formulaic yet pleasing, and took note of Winslet's radiance and charm.[102] In her final release of the year, Winslet voiced Rita, a scavenging sewer rat, in the animated film Flushed Away.[103] Winslet's sole project of 2007 was as the narrator for the English version of the French children's film The Fox and the Child.[104]

2008–2011: Awards success[edit]

Winslet had two critically acclaimed roles in 2008,[105] after reading Justin Haythe's screenplay for Revolutionary Road, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Richard Yates, Winslet recommended the project to her husband at the time, the director Sam Mendes, and her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.[41] The film traces the tribulations faced by a young married couple in 1950s suburban America. Winslet was attracted to the idea of playing a woman whose aspirations had not come to fruition, saying that she was "struck by how emotionally crippling that must be",[106] she read The Feminine Mystique to understand the psychology of unhappy housewives from the era.[41][106] Mendes encouraged DiCaprio and Winslet to spend time together, and she believed that the "tiny, oppressive, claustrophobic" set they filmed in was conducive for them to develop their character's strained relationship.[41] Hailing Winslet as "the best English-speaking film actress of her generation", David Edelstein of New York magazine wrote that "there isn’t a banal moment in Winslet’s performance—not a gesture, not a word".[107]

Kate Winslet smiles and waves at the camera.
Winslet at the 81st Academy Awards, where she won the Best Actress award for her performance in The Reader (2008)

To avoid a scheduling conflict with Revolutionary Road, Winslet turned down an offer to star in The Reader, after her replacement Nicole Kidman left the project due to her pregnancy, Winslet was signed to it.[108] Directed by Stephen Daldry, The Reader is based on Bernhard Schlink's novel of the same name and is about Hanna Schmitz, an illiterate Nazi camp guard (Winslet), who has an affair with a teenage boy. Winslet researched the Holocaust and the SS guards, and was traumatised by what she learnt. To educate herself on the stigma attached to illiteracy, she spent time with students at the Literacy Partners, an organisation that teaches adults to read and write.[109] A merkin was designed for her frontal nude scenes, but she refused to wear it.[110] Winslet was unable to sympathise with Schmitz, saying that "there was nothing of her that I could relate to", and struggled to find "honesty and truthfulness" to the part without humanising her actions,[105][109] despite this, certain historians criticised the film for making Schmitz an object of audience's sympathy and accused the filmmakers of Holocaust revisionism.[111] Even so, Winslet's performance was acclaimed; the critic Todd McCarthy commended her for supplying "a haunting shell to this internally decimated woman", and writing for The Daily Telegraph, Sukhdev Sandhu considered her to be "absolutely fearless here, not just in her willingness to expose herself physically, but her refusal to expose her character psychologically".[112][113]

Winslet received significant awards attention for her performances in Revolutionary Road and The Reader,[114] she won a Golden Globe Award for each of these films, and for the latter, she was awarded the Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Actress.[105] She surpassed her own record as the youngest actress with the most Oscar nominations, with her sixth nod at age 33,[105] she also became the third actress in history to win two Golden Globe Awards at the same ceremony.[115] Exhausted by the media attention she received during this period, Winslet took two years off work until she was ready to creatively engage again.[116]

Winslet returned to acting with the five-part HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce (2011), an adaptation of James M. Cain's novel of the same name from the director Todd Haynes. It is about the titular heroine (Winslet), a divorcée during the Great Depression struggling to establish a restaurant business while yearning for the respect of her narcissistic daughter (played by Evan Rachel Wood). Winslet, who had recently divorced Mendes, believed that certain aspects of her character's journey mirrored her own,[116] she was intimidated by the scope of the production as she featured in every scene of the 280-paged script.[117] She found the story to be "incredibly powerful, upsetting and disturbing" and was fascinated by the complex relationship between the mother-daughter pair,[117][118] she collaborated closely with the production and costume designers, and learnt to bake pies and cut chickens.[117] The broadcast received a limited audience but gained positive reviews.[119][120] Matt Zoller Seitz of Salon called the series a "quiet, heartbreaking masterpiece" and labelled Winslet's performance as "terrific—intelligent, focused and seemingly devoid of ego".[121] She received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, in addition to Golden Globe and SAG Award wins.[122]

The ensemble thriller Contagion from Steven Soderbergh was Winslet's first film release of 2011, she was cast as a disease detective for the CDC, and she modelled her role on Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of the NCIRD.[123] Contagion was a commercial success, and the critic David Denby of The New Yorker praised Winslet for capturing "the tone and the style of a professional woman exasperated by slowness and ignorance".[124][125] Her next project was the Roman Polanski-directed Carnage, adapted from the play God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza. Set entirely inside an apartment, the black comedy follows two sets of parents feuding over their respective children. Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, and Christoph Waltz co-starred. The cast rehearsed the script like a play for two weeks, and Winslet brought her children with her to Paris for the eight weeks of filming.[126][127] Critics found the adaptation to be less compelling than the play, but picked up Foster and Winslet's work for praise,[128] they both received Golden Globe nominations for it.[129]

2012–2015: Critical disappointments, a film series, and Steve Jobs[edit]

Kate Winslet signs autographs.
Winslet attending the premiere of Labor Day at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

Winslet said that her workload of 2011 helped her get over heartbreak from her divorce, and after finishing work on Carnage she took a break from acting to focus on her children.[3][116] A short part that she had filmed four years ago for the anthology film Movie 43 was her sole screen appearance of 2012, the production received the worst reviews of her career, and was described by Richard Roeper as "the Citizen Kane of awful".[130][131] Winslet also performed an audiobook recording of Émile Zola's novel Thérèse Raquin, prompting AudioFile magazine to remark that "her pleasure in the text is infectious".[132][133]

Winslet was reluctant to accept Jason Reitman's offer to star in his 2013 film adaptation of Joyce Maynard's novel Labor Day, but she agreed after Reitman postponed the production for a year to accommodate Winslet's commitment to her children.[3] Set over a Labor Day weekend, it tells the story of Adele (Winslet), an agoraphobic single mother, who falls in love with an escaped convict. Describing Adele's character as having "more vulnerability than strength", Winslet found her to be a departure from the strong-willed women she typically played.[3] A scene in the film required her to make a pie, for which she drew on her baking experience from Mildred Pierce.[134] Critical reception for the film was negative;[135] Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly criticised it as "mawkish and melodramatic" but commended Winslet for doing "what she can to add layers to her vulnerable-victim role".[136] Winslet earned her tenth Golden Globe nomination for it.[137]

The novelty of playing a villainous part drew Winslet to Jeanine Matthews in the science fiction film Divergent (2014).[138][139] Set in a dystopian future, the adaptation of Veronica Roth's young adult novel stars Shailene Woodley as a heroine fighting an oppressive regime headed by Winslet's character. Winslet was pregnant with her third child while filming, and her tight-fitting costumes had to be altered to accommodate the pregnancy.[139] To maintain her character's intimidating persona, Winslet remained aloof from her co-stars for much of the filming.[138] Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair compared the film unfavourably to the Hunger Games film series, and thought that Winslet was underutilised in it.[140] The film was a commercial success, earning US$288 million worldwide.[141] A Little Chaos marked Winslet's return to the period film genre.[142] Directed by Alan Rickman, it is about a rivalry among gardeners commissioned to create a fountain at the Palace of Versailles. Winslet's role was that of the fictitious architect Sabine de Barra, someone she believed had overcome extreme grief and hardship like herself.[142] Catherine Shoard of The Guardian took note of the "emotional honesty" Winslet brought to her part, but criticised the implausibility of her role.[143] Also that year, she read audiobooks of Roald Dahl's children's novels Matilda and The Magic Finger.[144][145]

In 2015, Winslet reprised the role of Jeanine Matthews in the second instalment of the Divergent series, subtitled Insurgent, which despite negative reviews earned US$297 million worldwide.[146][147] Her next film, an adaptation of the Australian gothic novel The Dressmaker, was described by the director Jocelyn Moorhouse as "Unforgiven with a sewing machine”.[148] Winslet starred as the femme fatale Tilly Dunnage, a seamstress who returns to her hometown years after she was accused of murder, she learned to sew for the part and designed some of her own costumes.[148] The production was filmed in the Australian desert and Winslet found it difficult to wear couture dresses in the harsh weather,[149] despite disliking the film, Robert Abele of Los Angeles Times commended Winslet for shrewdly underplaying her over-the-top part.[150] The film emerged as one of the highest-grossing Australian films of all time, but earned little elsewhere.[151][152] Winslet won an AACTA Award for Best Actress.[153]

While filming The Dressmaker, Winslet became aware of an upcoming biopic of Steve Jobs penned by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle. Adamant to play Jobs' marketing chief and confidant Joanna Hoffman, she campaigned for the part by sending a picture of herself dressed as Hoffman to the film's producer.[154] Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender in the title role, is told in three acts, each depicting a key milestone in Jobs' career. In preparation, Winslet spent time with Hoffman, and worked with a dialect coach to adopt Hoffman's accent, a mixture of Armenian and Polish, which she considered to be the hardest one of her career,[154] the cast rehearsed each act like a play and filmed it in sequence. Winslet collaborated closely with Fassbender, and their off-screen relationship mirrored the collegial dynamic between Jobs and Hoffman,[154] the film received some of the best reviews of Winslet's career but was a box office flop.[40][155][156] Peter Howell of the Toronto Star commended her for finding "strength and grace" in her part, and Gregory Ellwood of HitFix thought that she had provided Hoffman with a "gravitas that isn’t always in the script".[157][158] She won the Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Supporting Actress, and received her seventh Oscar nomination for it.[159]

2016–present[edit]

A casual Kate Winslet looks away from the camera.
Winslet at an event for The Mountain Between Us in 2017

John Hillcoat's ensemble crime-thriller Triple 9 (2016) featured Winslet as Irina Vlaslov, a ruthless Russian-Israeli gangster.[160] She described her as a "really glamorous, nasty piece of work"; the critic Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post felt that Winslet had failed to effectively portray her.[161][162] Her next release of the year, Collateral Beauty, about a man (played by Will Smith) struggling with the death of his daughter, was panned by critics.[163] Writing for New York magazine, Emily Yoshida criticised it as a "cold and crass" remake of A Christmas Carol and wrote that Winslet had "never looked more painted and tired",[164] it was a modest earner at the box office.[165]

Winslet agreed to the romantic disaster film The Mountain Between Us (2017) to take on the challenge of a role requiring physical exertion,[166][167] it featured Idris Elba and her as two strangers who crash land on an icy, isolated mountain range. They filmed in the mountains of Western Canada at 10,000 feet above sea level where the temperature was well below freezing.[167] Winslet performed her own stunts and described it as the most physically gruelling experience of her career.[168] The Atlantic's Megan Garber praised the chemistry between Elba and Winslet, and Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times thought that the "likable and charismatic" pair had raised the bar of a mediocre picture.[169][170] Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel, a drama set in 1950s Coney Island, was Winslet's next release, she played Ginny, a temperamental housewife engaged in an affair with a lifeguard (played by Justin Timberlake). She described Ginny as someone "in a permanent state of falling apart", and playing her proved difficult for Winslet; she suffered from anxiety and had trouble sleeping.[167][171] Owen Gleiberman commended her for the "remorseless quality of harsh-tongued resolve" she brought to the role, and Eric Kohn of IndieWire considered it to be her most "emotionally resonant performance" in a decade.[172][173] When asked about her decision to work with Allen despite allegations of sex abuse against him, Winslet chose not to comment on Allen's personal life but said that she was pleased with the collaboration.[167] Several journalists criticised her decision.[174]

As of October 2017, Winslet will reunite with James Cameron for Avatar 2, a sequel to his 2009 science fiction film, she agreed to the project to work with motion capture technology.[171] She has also committed to play the model and photographer Lee Miller in an upcoming biopic, and will lend her voice to an animated television series about the Moomins.[175][176]

Humanitarian endeavours[edit]

Winslet supports several charities and causes. An orange-coloured top worn by Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was auctioned in 2004 for a fund-raising event at a hospice named Helen & Douglas House.[177] In 2006, she became a patron of a Gloucester-based charity named the Family Haven, which provides counselling services to vulnerable families,[178] that same year, hand-made envelopes designed by Winslet were auctioned for the "Pushing the Envelope" campaign created by the National Literacy Trust.[179] Winslet was one of the celebrities to participate in a 2007 auction to raise funds for the Afghanistan Relief Organization.[180] In 2009, she contributed to the Butterfly Book, a compilation of doodles made by several celebrities, to raise money for leukaemia research.[181]

In 2009, Winslet narrated the English version of an Icelandic documentary named A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism, about Margret Ericsdottir, whose child Keli Thorsteinsson suffers from non-verbal autism. Inspired by the story, she teamed with Ericsdottir in 2010 to form an NGO named the Golden Hat Foundation,[182] the organisation aims to create autism awareness and was named after a poem written by Thorsteinsson.[183][184] As the brand ambassador of the luxury brands Lancôme and Longines, Winslet partnered with these companies to raise awareness and funds for the foundation, she created a make-up collection for Lancôme in 2011, and in 2017, she designed a new watch for Longines.[182][185][186]

In 2012, Winslet wrote a book about autism, entitled The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism, which was published by Simon & Schuster. It contains correspondence between Winslet and Ericsdottir, personal statements from various celebrities, and contributions from Thorsteinsson.[187] A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised the book for its "warmth and sincerity",[188] the United Nations featured the book during a ceremony on the World Autism Awareness Day of 2012.[189] For her work with the Golden Hat Foundation, Winslet received Spain's Yo Dona award for Best Humanitarian Work.[190]

Although not a vegetarian, in 2010 Winslet narrated a video for PETA that showed animal cruelty in the production of foie gras,[191][192] she encouraged chefs to remove the item from their menu and urged consumers to boycott it.[193] In 2015, Winslet lent her support to the UNICEF campaign World’s Largest Lesson, which creates awareness among children about sustainable development and global citizenship.[194] Teased as a child for her weight, Winslet takes a stand against body-shaming and bullying,[195] she narrated an Australian animated short film named Daisy Chain (2015), about a victim of cyber-bullying.[196] In 2017, Winslet teamed with Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental foundation for a fundraiser on global warming.[197] Also that year, DiCaprio and Winslet auctioned off a private dinner with themselves to raise money for a British mother's cancer treatment.[198]

Personal life[edit]

While filming Dark Season, Winslet, aged 15, began a romantic relationship with the actor-writer Stephen Tredre, who was 12 years her senior,[11][199] she considered him to be a major influence in her life and cohabited with him in London.[4][21][200] The couple separated in 1995, but they remained close until he died of bone cancer two years later.[11][201] Winslet missed the premiere of Titanic to attend his funeral, and described the experience of losing him as "unbelievably heartbreaking";[202] in a 2008 interview, she said that she had never got over his death.[4] A year after Tredre's death, Winslet met Jim Threapleton on the set of Hideous Kinky, in which he was an assistant director,[199][202] they married in November 1998 at her primary school in Reading, and she gave birth to their daughter, Mia, in 2000.[6][11][203] Describing her marriage to Threapleton as a "mess", she said that it was the "only time in my life that I've ever lost control of my instincts",[75] they divorced in 2001; Winslet believed that the split had been "surprisingly amicable".[204][205]

A pregnant Kate Winslet poses for the camera.
Winslet, pregnant with her third child, in 2013

Soon after her separation from Threapleton, Winslet met the director Sam Mendes when he offered her a part in a play, she refused the offer but began dating him.[206] Disillusioned by the way the British tabloids portrayed her personal life, Winslet moved base to New York,[75] she wed Mendes in May 2003 on the island of Anguilla.[4][207] Their son, Joe, was born later that year,[207] the family divided their time in New York with frequent visits to their estate at Cotswolds in England, and describing her family routine in 2009, she said, "we go to the park, kick a ball around, go to a museum, watch a movie together or just hang out at home playing Monopoly".[206] Amidst intense media speculation of an affair between Mendes and the actress Rebecca Hall, the couple announced their separation in 2010 and were divorced a year later.[116][208] Winslet admitted to being heartbroken by the split, but remarked that "there's no way I'm going to allow my children to be fucked up because my marriages haven't worked out".[209]

While vacationing at Richard Branson's estate at the Necker Island in 2011, Winslet met her third husband, Ned RocknRoll (born Edward Abel Smith; he is the nephew of Branson and works for Virgin Galactic), during a house fire.[154][210] The couple married in New York in December 2012, and their son, Bear Blaze Winslet, was born the next year,[211][212] after moving back to England, Winslet purchased a property worth £3.25 million by the sea at West Wittering, where as of 2015, she lives with RocknRoll and her children.[213] Describing her life in a 2015 interview, she said, "The countryside, particularly, is very good for my head. I love that I can go for a walk, pick blackberries and feed them to the baby as I go along."[161]

Winslet has said that despite her three marriages and a family structure that might be perceived as "unconventional" by some, she does not consider it to be any "less of a family",[5] she refuses jobs that take her away from her children for long, and likes to schedule her film commitments to coincide with their school holidays.[3] Discussing her parenting style, Winslet remarked that she enjoys "getting breakfast and packing lunches and doing the school run".[214]

Artistry[edit]

Winslet is widely considered to be among the best actresses of her generation.[41][105][215][216] Despite achieving stardom early in her career with the top-grossing Titanic, Winslet has rarely acted in commerce-driven pictures.[154][217] A journalist for Elle believes that her choices reflect the "soul and attitude of a jobbing actress, trapped in the body of a movie star".[218] Tom Perrotta, the author of Little Children, has said that Winslet “gravitates toward troubling roles in smaller films”, typically those of "thorny, potentially unsympathetic" women.[219] The journalist Mark Harris writes that she specialises in "unsentimentalized, restless, troubled, discontented, disconcerted, difficult women" and John Hiscock of The Daily Telegraph has identified a theme of characters who are free-spirited with a sexual edge to them.[7][105] Stephen Whitty of NJ.com associates Winslet with "serious, almost despairing material", although he finds it hard to pigeonhole her as an actress.[217]

"I can't just learn my lines and do [my job], but perhaps that's because I don't want to act, I want to be. And I do think there's a difference."
 – Winslet on acting[217]

Leonardo DiCaprio, who starred with Winslet in Titanic and Revolutionary Road, considers her to be "the most prepared and well-researched actor on set", and Jude Law, her co-star in The Holiday, believes that despite her seriousness she remains "very calm and good-natured".[116][220] Her Steve Jobs director Danny Boyle has identified a willingness in Winslet to avoid typecasting and has said that she takes an effort "to reposition directors’ and producers’ perspective on her" to allow herself to be challenged as an artist.[154]

Winslet has said that she is interested in parts of "angst-ridden women" with strong dispositions masking flaws and insecurities,[105][167] she connects with "women who are either finding their way out of a situation, looking for love, having some struggle within love, or questioning the big things in life".[3] Drawn to parts that are in tandem with her personal struggles at certain points in her life,[5] she finds it difficult to detach herself from her roles, saying that "you have to confront your true feelings every single day. And that’s pretty exhausting. Then you have to go home and make dinner".[217][220] Even so, she finds it therapeutic to perform.[116] Winslet is known for her willingness to perform nude scenes, having done so in 12 of her films, although she considers its contribution to the narrative before agreeing to it,[154][221] she believes that these scenes promote a positive body image among women.[222]

Public image[edit]

Describing Winslet in a 2015 article for Elle, the journalist Sally Holmes wrote that "she has the kind of personality that puts an entire room at ease, dropping F-bombs and self-deprecating remarks intermittently, while charming everyone with that buttery English accent".[223] Jo Ellison of Vogue writes that she has an "authoritative, almost ambassadorial aura", and Kira Cochrane of The Guardian considers her to be "articulate, sophisticated, [with] a definite hint of grandeur".[106][116] Describing Winslet as "unfiltered, frank, sometimes blunt", Krista Smith of Vanity Fair believes that despite her stardom she exhibits "a refreshing lack of pretension".[41]

Winslet's weight fluctuations over the years have been well documented by the media,[199][224] she has been outspoken about her refusal to allow Hollywood to dictate her weight.[15][41] In 2003, the British edition of GQ magazine published photographs of Winslet that had been digitally altered to make her look taller and thinner.[225] Winslet stated that the alterations were made without her consent, and added, "I just didn't want people to think I was a hypocrite and that I'd suddenly lost 30 lbs or whatever".[226] GQ subsequently issued an apology.[15][227] In 2007, she won a defamation suit against Grazia magazine after it claimed that she had visited a diet doctor,[228] she claimed £10,000 in damages, and donated the amount to an eating disorder charity.[229] She won another case in 2009 against the British tabloid Daily Mail after it printed that she had lied about her exercise regimen,[230] she filed the suit to demonstrate her commitment to the view that women should accept their appearance with pride. She received an apology and a payout of £25,000.[230]

Winslet was named one of the most beautiful people in the world by People magazine in 2005,[231] her beauty and sex appeal have been picked up by several other publications, including Harper's Bazaar, Who, and Empire magazines.[232] Even so, she has said that she does not subscribe to the beauty ideal of Hollywood, and uses her celebrity to make "women feel empowered in any way, shape or form",[222] she has spoken against botox and plastic surgery.[233] In an effort to encourage natural ageing, she formed the British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League, alongside the actresses Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz,[234] she instructs magazines and brands to not digitally smooth her wrinkles in photographs.[235][236] Winslet is reluctant to discuss the gender pay gap in Hollywood as she dislikes talking about her salary in public;[237] in 2009, Forbes reported her annual salary to be US$2 million, with a majority of that stemming from her endorsement deals.[238] Also that year, the UK Film Council calculated that she had earned £20 million from her acting roles since 1995.[239]

Time magazine named Winslet one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2009.[240] Madame Tussauds in London unveiled a wax statue of Winslet in 2011.[241] The following year, she received an Honorary César award, and in 2014, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[242][243] Winslet was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Monarchy of the United Kingdom in 2012 for her services to drama.[244]

Acting credits and awards[edit]

Prolific in film since 1994, Winslet's most acclaimed and highest-grossing films, according to the online portal Box Office Mojo and the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, include Heavenly Creatures (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Hamlet (1996), Titanic (1997), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The Holiday (2006), Divergent (2014), Insurgent (2015), and Steve Jobs (2015).[39][40] Her television projects include the miniseries Mildred Pierce (2011).[117]

Winslet has been recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the following performances:[245]

Winslet has also won three BAFTA Awards: Best Actress for The Reader (2008); and Best Supporting Actress for Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Steve Jobs (2016).[245] In addition, she has won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries for Mildred Pierce (2011), and the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating the children's audiobook Listen to the Storyteller (1999).[57][89] She is among the few actresses to win three of the four major American entertainment awards (EGOT).[246][247]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]