• 001 | 1975-1989 – The Early Years
• 002 | 1990-1992 – The Theater Years
• 003 | 1993-1995 – Heavenly Kate
• 004 | 1996-1997 – Shipwrecked
• 005 | 1998-1999 – Life After Titanic
• 006 | 2000-2001 – Family Life
• 007 | 2002-2004 – Earning Praise and Oscar Noms
• 008 | 2005-2007 – Little Children, Big Business
• 008 | 2005-2007 – The Reader, Academy Awards
THE EARLY YEARS
Kate Elizabeth Winslet was born on October 5, 1975 to Sally Bridges Winslet and Roger Winslet into an acting family and was raised in Reading, Berkshire, England. Her maternal grandparents, Oliver, a dentist, and Linda Bridges, founded and perated the Reading Repertory. Her maternal uncle, Robert Bridges was an actor and is best known for playing Mr. Bumble in the West End production of Oliver!. Her father is an actor as are her older sister Anna and younger sister Beth. The youngest of the four Winslet children is brother Joss.
Kate’s first “professional” role was in a Sugar Puffs cereal commercial at the age of 11. As a teen, she had roles in the British television series, Dark Season and Get Back. She also made appearances on the shows Casualty,
Stage experience was obtained through roles in Adrian Mole, Peter Pan, Annie and What The Butler Saw (a performance for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress by the Manchester Evening News).Kate attended
She was so much more of an adult than we were. She was very friendly with the teachers because she was a mature girl. So, she would call them by their first names and she would go and talk to them. But she was on their level, basically… We were doing the play Steel Magnolias and we had to cut it down to about 10 minutes. And she said, ‘Oh, I tell you what: I’ll take it home for you and I’ll type it up for you, and I’ll cut it properly for you’. And she was like that.
The big break came when Kate was 17 years old. Before she landed her first movie role, Kate worked in a deli. She was in the middle of making a pastrami sandwich when she received the call that she’d been cast to play Juliet Hulme in the film Heavenly Creatures, winning the part over 175 other actresses. Director Peter Jackson said: “Her intensity made everybody else auditioning for the part pale in comparison”. Kate’s next hit was Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility, which was filmed in the spring of 1995. Along with success, this also gave Kate a
hard time fighting “weight issues” trying to fit in Hollywood’s size 0 standards.
It was with her portrayal of Rose in blockbuster Titanic that Kate gained recognition worldwide. This was a part she strongly fought for. “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 Leonardo DiCaprio waffled about signing to play 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.
Unfortunately at the time the film was released, Kate’s close friend and former sweetheart Stephen Tredre passed on. During her teen years, she became involved with actor/writer Tredre. They were together over four years when he learned he had bone cancer. Although they ended their intimate relationship, Kate has said that she and Stephen remained close and she hopes she was a comfort to him. She has commented that Stephen was the closest person to her outside her family. Kate flew from Marrakech (where she was shooting her next film) to sing at Tredre’s memorial, a song whose title she won’t reveal: “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.”
It was the 1998 independent film Hideous Kinky that had the biggest impact on her life: it was on this set that she met her first husband, assistant director Jim Threapleton. On November 22, 1998, they tied the knot in a low-key ceremony. Kate decided to spend the next few months concentrating on her new role as wife and declined many film offers. “The first year of marriage you never get again, and it’s so important to lay those foundations”. She chose Quills partly because it was filmed at a studio not far from her home.
In the summer of 2000, Kate began recording audio books of Enid Blyton’s trilogy “The Enchanted Wood”, “The Magic Faraway Tree” and “The Folk Of The Faraway Tree”. “These were really the favorite books from my childhood”, said Kate. “It just occurred to me one day to find out what had happened to them”. The “Enchanted Wood” was released on October 21, 2000. Enid Blyton Company’s head of publishing, Ian Wallace, described Kate as “brilliant”, and commented: “She is an amazing reader, very professional”. Kate also performed on the audio CD “Listen To The Storyteller”, for which she (and
Kate announced in March 2001 that she had accepted a role in Iris, playing young Iris Murdoch. She embraced the challenge of playing Iris by watching documentaries about her over and over. Inspired “by the way Iris lived her life”,
Also in 2001, Kate lent her voice to a new ani-mated version of Christmas Carol – The Movie, bringing life to Belle, Scrooge’s (voiced by Simon Callow, from Four Weddings And A Funeral) jilted fiancÃ©e, and Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage voices The Ghost of Marley. Kate’s recording of a song for the soundtrack (“What If?”) was released as a single in November. It was the #1 single in Ireland in its second week of release (holding that spot for several weeks), debuted in the UK Top 40 at #6, hit #1 in Belgium and Austria, and hit the Top Ten in several countries.
In February 2000, Kate’s US publicists announced that Kate and Jim were expecting their first child that fall. Kate has said in interviews that she wants “to be a young mum so that my experience of being a child and a teenager is still fresh. I adore babies and children”.
Kate gave birth to a girl on October 12, 2000, who was named Mia Honey. “That’s my latest production, that’s my best production so far. She’s just great. It’s really sort of an amazing feeling (…) It’s interesting how much Mia has enhanced my life and how much she has given me. I feel very strong and independent, even though I am with her so much of the time. I actually feel more independent than before, which is an odd thing to say. But, as a parent, you are given a bizarre strength by Mother Nature and it means you can deal with anything and be happy because you have this little baby. Mia, fortunately, loves moving around and loves people”.
In September of 2001 she and Jim split up; the announcement was made on September 3rd. Kate gave no reason at that time for the split, simply stating: “This is an absolutely amicable separation and it is a mutual decision. Jim and I have great respect for each other. There is no malice at all. It is extremely sad but we are all fine. Jim and I are both communicating constantly. Mia remains the happy child that she always has been”. She has also said, “Divorce is not a pleasant experience and it does take a lot out of you. Jim and I, though, have handled it about as well as anyone, I think, and there hasn’t been any of the acrimony that some press articles suggested last year. We’ve sorted things out and we haven’t had any difficulties at all, really. Jim and I have been able to both spend time taking care of Mia while one or the other of us has been working, and there’s no rancour between us”.
At the December 2, 2001 premiere of Iris, Kate made her first public appearance with Sam Mendes, acclaimed theater director and Oscar-winning director of American Beauty. She re-marked to a reporter: “He’s a good man. You can say I
Kate accepted the role in The Life Of David Gale and commented: “At a time like this [separation from her husband], when things have been a little turbulent for me, it’s fantastic to be rewarded with the leading lady role in an American film. It’s bloody fantastic”. Kate completed her scenes in December and returned home on the 23rd to spend Christmas with her family.
In January of 2003, Kate started shooting Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, her favorite. “When I read the script, I thought: ‘Great, I get to change my hair color.’ (…) I’d arrive at work in the morning and my hair would be orange and by lunch time it would have to be red”, says Kate. “It was so challenging and so much fun. I just literally got to play around every day and try stuff out and push my character right to the edge”.
On December 22, 2003 Kate gave birth to her and Sam’s first child, a boy they named Joe Alfie. “I just had a baby. His father is a wonderful… I will start crying in a minute because I’m so emotional. Excuse me… I’m very, very happy right now”, she told the host of Inside The Actors Studio. It was only weeks after Joe was born that Kate started filming Romance & Cigarettes, a low-budget dark comic musical that tells the story of one man’s journey into infidelity and redemption directed by John Turturro and starring James Gandolfini and Susan Sarandon.
Kate plays “the other woman” in Gandolfini’s life, described by Kate as “a brazen hussy”. During her last
After being nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for both her performances in Eternal Sunshine and Finding Neverland, and her fourth Oscar nomination (for Eternal Sunshine), Kate appeared as a guest star in Ricky Gervais’ hysterical series Extras, in which she plays a nun and mocks the fact she’s never won an Oscar although having received four nominations, and began shooting two of her next projects, All The King’s Men and Little Children. The first, a big-budget portrait of shady politics in 1940s Louisiana, she plays Anne Stanton, a glamorous beauty bruised by lost love; the latter, a micro-budget indie intimate study of suburban angst, Kate is an adulterous mother who, according to director Todd Field, handles her child “like a piece of luggage she’s dragging through the airport”. As a mother herself, Kate found it very difficult to have to be cold with the little girl in some of the scenes.
Signing up to play a cheating spouse was an easier decision for Winslet than accepting Nancy Meyers’ offer to co-star with Cameron Diaz and Jack Black in 2006’s The Holiday, which is her first romantic comedy ever. Kate has commented, ‘There’s a certain amount of potential for exposure as a human being that goes hand in hand with being involved in a bigger studio picture like that. (…) I hadn’t done something that commercial since Titanic, [so] I took a deep breath and decided it was time’. This year, she was also the voice of mouse Rita in DreamWorks’ CGI animation Flushed Away.
In 2007, Kate signed up to do Revolutionary Road, with her husband as the director and nothing less but Titanic‘s co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. A tale about a couple struggling with the 50s society. In its release in late 2008, this film received several awards, including the Golden Globes, for which Kate won hers.
Note: This text reflects mostly on Kate’s personal life. To read more about her film career, go to the filmography part of the site.