“She scared the hell out of me,” recalls the Weinstein Co. honcho Harvey Weinstein, who released that early film and also distributed “The Reader.”
Her early penchant for costume dramas had initially dissuaded James Cameron from even considering her for the part of Rose in his epic “Titanic,” a prejudice he reconsidered after seeing almost every actress in the 18-to-21 age range. “She was already known as ‘Corset Kate,’ ” recalls the director, who admits, “When I met her, all that intellectualizing went out the window.”
He notes that even then, “she really understood, maybe too well, that she was carrying the weight of the production on her shoulders. Her approach to acting is just to be incredibly focused and incredibly disciplined all the time.
Cameron remembers how he finally caught the famed love scene on the bow of the “Titanic.” For nine days, the filmmakers waited for the perfect sunset, and finally on the 10th day a cloudy sky brought brief intimations of a brilliant fiery glow. Cameron and the camera crew ran to the bow of the ship. “They’re pinning Kate’s wig on. She’s running in her corset and gown,” recalls Cameron. “There was no rehearsal. We slapped on one light. Kate suddenly saw the sun burst forth from underneath the clouds on the horizon. She yelled down at me, “Shoot!!!”
They did one take, which became the most famous scene in the movie.
And Cameron remembers with a laugh, “I had never heard an actress turn to me and yell ‘shoot’ before.”
“She’s a transformative actress,” says her “Reader” director, Stephen Daldry. “That’s what Kate is. She’s a proper actress. She doesn’t do a version of herself.”
“The way she works,” sighs her husband, Sam Mendes, who directed her in “Revolutionary Road” but never ate lunch with her during filming because she preferred to retreat to her trailer to work. “She is incredibly, relentlessly dedicated and detail oriented to the point of obsession. But then when she has achieved what she wanted to achieve in the scene, like three takes in, she would say, ‘OK, I’ve done it. Now what do you want me to do?’ She will try anything. So she is simultaneously incredibly focused and incredibly free.”
“There are no games or vanity or wardrobe freak-outs,” adds Todd Field, who directed Winslet in her Oscar-nominated performance in “Little Children,” in which she plays a suburban mother in an overwhelming adulterous affair with the local stay-at-home dad. “With Kate, you have a true collaborator. She is unusual in that, though she is an actor who prepares with the fastidiousness of a brain surgeon, she will instantly abandon all of it, with no regret whatsoever, the moment she’s been asked to steer somewhere else. Her tendency is always to toss the highway map in favor of the unpaved road.”
SOURCE:Â The LA Times