Glamour readers, you’ve got good taste â€” because Kate Winslet looks amazing, of course, but she’s gorgeous inside, too. She talks to writer Skip Hollandsworth about career, kids and figuring out love postmarriage.
Ah, Kate: actress, mother and, let’s be honest, glamazon.
At least so say Glamour readers, who have voted her to the very top of the 50 Most Glam list a whopping three years running. â€œKate is sophistication and class all the way,â€ posted jaellis on glamour.com. And from knwilson: â€œWhy do I feel like I know her on a personal level? I can’t get enough!â€ So what does the Oscar winner think of the flattery? â€œI mean, come on!â€ she says, laughing. â€œSophia Loren is glamorous. I don’t know how to do my hair.â€
But that’s exactly why we all love her. Red carpet aside, the world can sense a real woman in there. Ever since her star-making love scenes in Titanic, Winslet, 35, has enjoyed defusing the mythology of Hollywood glamour, talking openly about her implant-free breasts and her refusal to starve herself. She also takes movie roles that are complicated â€” and often not particularly pretty. Consider her last two performances, in 2008: There was Revolutionary Road‘s anguished, raging housewife, and Hanna Schmitz, the illiterate former concentration camp guard in The Reader, for which she won her best actress Oscar. This month Winslet again proves her mettle, as star of the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. Playing a Depression-era single mother, she appears in every single scene of the five-hour series and is, by turns, repressed, restless, selfish, self-destructive and admirably determined. Who says glamour is all surface?
As for life away from the camera, Winslet, who is mother to Mia, 10, and Joe, 7, is the portrait of English reserve, revealing almost nothing to the media. But she recently had to deal with her own very public drama: In March 2010 she and her husband of nearly seven years, director Sam Mendes, announced their separation. So how is life now? Over coffee at a tiny Manhattan cafÃ©, Winslet opened up.
GLAMOUR: Here you are, playing a character who is described in James M. Cain’s novel as â€œfat and getting a little shapeless,â€ a woman who has â€œlost everything she had worked for.â€ For God’s sake, what’s the deal with your love of playing these angst-ridden women?
KATE WINSLET: [Laughs.] It’s my chance to challenge myself to the fullest, which is one of the great joys about this job… I love it when a character requires me to look less than my red-carpet best. It’s more fun playing a character that requires you to look like dog sâ€”t.
GLAMOUR: Dog what?
KATE WINSLET: I’ve never understood the notion that actors and actresses should look great on-screen just because they’re on-screen. That doesn’t make sense to me.
GLAMOUR: Which is ironic, because you have been voted Most Glamorous three years in a row by Glamour magazine’s readers.
KATE WINSLET: That is incredibly flattering, but it’s just so far from how I view myself. I mean, you are lucky my hair is even dry right now!
GLAMOUR: Well, then, do you have a chef?
KATE WINSLET: [Laughs.] I do! Her name is Kate! I love to cook; I cook every day. Chicken features a lot in our lives. Chicken â€œbits and bobs,â€ as my son calls it, which is basically roasted drumsticks.
GLAMOUR: Do you have a personal trainer?
KATE WINSLET: [Continues laughing.] No. I just do my own stuff at home with the help of DVDs. A little bit of Pilates. And just recently I started running, but I’m not very good.
GLAMOUR: During your last interview for Glamour six years ago, you were asked what you were going to be like in five years. And you jokingly replied that you’d be doing liposuction and Botox. Have you changed your mind about not trying those cosmetic things?
KATE WINSLET: My face is still moving, right? No, I have never tried any of that stuff… I don’t have parts of my body that I hate or would like to trade for somebody else’s or wish I could surgically adjust into some fantasy version of what they are.
GLAMOUR: I read that you were literally called “blubber” when you were a teenager because you were overweight.
KATE WINSLET: Yeah. Not when I was a teenager, actuallyâ€”between the ages of 8 and 11. Looking back on it, I really wasn’t that heavy. I was just stockier than the other sporty, whippy-looking kids.
GLAMOUR: You stood 5’6″ and weighed 200 pounds?
KATE WINSLET: When I was 15, yes.
GLAMOUR: Were you tormented? Because today you embrace your body in a way that women love â€” but did you feel that way back then?
KATE WINSLET: Well, that’s an enormous compliment. You know, I will tell you that when I was heavy, people would say to me â€” and it was such a backhanded comment â€” they would say, â€œYou’ve got such a beautiful face,â€ in the way of, like, â€œOh, isn’t it a shame that from the neck down you’re questionable.â€
GLAMOUR: [Laughter.] When you won your Oscar for The Reader, did you do what so many people do after they win â€” did you wake up a couple of days later and say, “Now what?”
KATE WINSLET: No. No. No. I’m really, really proud to have won â€” to walk away with the biggest red ribbon on school sports day that you could be given. I was the kid who never won the races. I never jumped the highest. I wasn’t on the list of the high-achieving. That wasn’t me, so winning the Oscar was like winning all the prizes in one single night that I never won as a kid. For me, it was an internal-fist-pumping moment of yes.
GLAMOUR: Has your ambition changed?
KATE WINSLET: I have just wanted to be an actress. That’s always been my goal. I didn’t want to be famous. I wanted to play incredibly challenging, multifaceted characters. Because we are all a puzzle.
GLAMOUR: Which brings us back to the puzzle of Mildred Pierce. Here comes the obligatory question: Were there difficult things in your life that you drew from to play Mildred?
KATE WINSLET: To answer the question I know you are trying to ask me â€” “Did I take on this role because of what was specifically going on in my own life at the time?” â€” the answer is no. When I committed to the role, those things were not going on in my life.
GLAMOUR: I will admit that in episode one, when your neighbor sarcastically describes single motherhood as “the great American institution,” I couldn’t help but wonder if the concept of marriage is now less enjoyable to you.
KATE WINSLET: I am a big believer in marriage.
GLAMOUR: Is the idea of getting married again still appealing?
KATE WINSLET: That’s a question I definitely can’t answer… but of course I believe in marriage. Commitment to one other person in life is glorious.
GLAMOUR: Let me ask you about your kids. What is the challenge of raising them as they become more and more conscious of your public life?
KATE WINSLET: The challenge is making sure that they’re never treated different just because I sometimes am. I always want them to be regular kids who are grateful and respectful of other human beings. I want them to know that when we fly first-class, that they are lucky. The highest compliment I could ever receive about my kids â€”and I can say that this does happen frequently â€” is when the in-flight crew say to me, “Your children are wonderful. They are so well-behaved.” Every time I am told that, I could weep.
GLAMOUR: I assume you’re worried about what they are going to learn when they start surfing the Internet.
KATE WINSLET: I am nervous about the day that Mia can google [my name]. That’s the reason I am so careful not to talk about the question that people always ask of me: “So what actually happened between you and Sam?” That explanation will never come out of my mouth. Never.
GLAMOUR: You mean, not in public?
KATE WINSLET: Right, because when my children want to know what actually happened, I want to be the first person they have that conversation with. I don’t want them to read something and believe it, when it probably isn’t true anyway.
GLAMOUR: Are you uncomfortable being a celebrity?
KATE WINSLET: It’s bizarre. I am a person. I am not a soap opera. There is never going to be a next [tabloid] installment about my life because my own stuff is my own stuff.
GLAMOUR: There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be doing an interview again five years from now when you are still being named the Most Glam Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine.
KATE WINSLET: That I so doubt.
GLAMOUR: Well, what do you think your life will be like in five years, when you are 40?
KATE WINSLET: I don’t want to know. As long as my kids are OK, I think it is really good for me not to have the answers.