All over the world famous at only 21 thanks to Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet took a good turn in her career between indie movies and blockbusters. New face of LancÃ´me, leading lady in the new movie by Sam Mendes that we can’t wait to see, nothing on earth seems to make Kate lose her mind. Interview with a very simple star.
By Nelly Kaprielian
Photographer: Mark Segal
Direction: Anastasia Barbiere
Over the Rolled Cigarettes, biket boots and “fuck” to anybody. The Ophelia of Titanic grew up. In a Gucci black coat and Roger Vivier high heels, she embodies sunshine and real beauty, direct words and humor of a confident English woman, happily married to director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) for four years, mother of Mia, 6, the daughter she had with Jim Threapleton (a director assistant she met on the set of Hideous Kinky) and of a little Joe, 3. At 32 years old, Kate Winslet spends her life between her in Chelsea NY and a manor house in the British countryside, makes for the first time a movie with her husband that will bring her back with Leonardo DiCaprio, and last but not least, is becoming the new face of TrÃ¨sor by LancÃ´me after Isabella Rossellini and InÃ¨s Sartre, in beautifully made advert by Peter Lindbergh coming next December.
On movies or adverts like TrÃ¨sor by LancÃ´me, people often choose you for your romantic side. Are you really like that?
I definitely am, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and it is exactly my vision of my job as an actress: being very expressive, passionate, using my own emotions in order to express my character’s ones. I love the romantic things my husband does for me, and I love to give him some back, even little things like waking him up in the morning with a cup of coffee. These little details are what I enjoy the most, because it means everything in a long-term relationship.
More than exceptional gestures?
I don’t really care for people giving me diamondsâ€¦ To me, “romance” is being on holiday with my husband and my children on a boat, then when the sun starts to show off, drinking a nice glass of wine. Or when my children offer me flowers they picked just for meâ€¦ These are the little things I see as very romantic ones because today, I can make the difference between “romance” and “romanticism”, When I was younger, I loved the idea of romanticism because I had, actually, had a very few of love affairs. You can really make this difference when you meet the one, the man you just know you are going to share your life with.
Do you believe in the idea of “the one”?
Absolutely. However I believe people just find it at different periods of their lives. In the movie for TrÃ¨sor, by example, I had to imagine what this woman, who is the main character, was living, in order to bring her such emotions in order to express something very strong and beautiful emotionally, but in a very short time. To me, she is a woman who spent her life trying to find love, who had her heart broken many times and suffered a lot, and eventually she meets this man. She knows he is the one but doesn’t know yet whether she can believe in love with him or not, until she looks at him straight in his eyes. I really like the beauty and simplicity of this idea. It is what we are each of us looking for.
At the same time we say to ourselves that work and difficulties are to comeâ€¦ Do you see family daily life as work?
Nobody has the key to succeed in their marriage, and everybody has his own vision of how to live his life, but I’d say that them most important thing in a long relationship is honesty, and mutual acceptation of the two for what he or she really is. You can’t change anyone. If you start trying to do that with your husband, well you have to wonder why you chose him, because it is probably not the best person for you. I personally am very lucky: there is not even one thing I would like to change in my husband. And I have so much admiration for himâ€¦
Do you need to admire to love?
Yes. Being admirable is a very sexy quality. And I would say that a relationship needs to be balanced on the two sides. We have a good laugh together and to me it is maybe the most important thing in a couple: having fun, humor and being able to laugh at each other.
You currently are filming together for the first time; how is it working?
Perfectly well. We are filming Revolutionary Road in New York. It is a very beautiful love story during the 50s between a couple who has two young children. But to be honest with you, it make me a little bit nervous to talk about it now because we haven’t finished shooting yet.
When the director is your husband, do you get involved in every part of the making of the movie?
Actually, I have been involved in this project for three years, long before Sam was. I had read Richard Yate’s novel published in 1961, I loved April and wanted to play this part. Then I talked to Sam about it and he agreed to direct it. For me, it is a dream becoming true, because it is my project becoming true, and more so it is a family project with Sam and Leo.
Was it you that chose Leonardo DiCaprio to play the part of Frank?
Sam and I did agree about it. My biggest dream was Leo to be in this movie.
Ten years after Titanic, will you eventually marry him?
Yes at last! [she laughs] Leo is one of my closest friends, we have kept in touch during all these years, he is very important in my life and we have always had the desire to work together again. I must say that we lived at the same time a period that was both important in our lives and in cinema history, and that we became famous at the same time, and same age. It is by far something important. What I miss about him, was that on the set of Titanic, besides to become friends and encouraging each other, we took care of one another, and didn’t quarrel even once! For such two young actors on such an intense and hard set. It was kind of exceptional. Besides being a fantastic actor, Leo is a great man, deeply generous, modest, who can laugh at himself and is very normal.
After Titanic, your profile of an English actress became the one of a star. How did you live this experience?
I was doing everything to pretend it would not happen, because I couldn’t understand why it happened to me. I instinctively felt the desire to hide myself up all the time. I was so young, I was only 21, and I was definitely not ready yet to become famous. The one thing I was sure about was that I was fond of acting, and I didn’t want my desire to act to be spoiled by the massive pressure fame had on me. That’s the reason why I chose only indie movies, to do what I really wanted to do, like Hideous Kinkyâ€¦ By this time, making these choices was hard, but useful on a long termâ€¦ It is thanks to that that today I can do movies like Little Children or The Holiday; I can get involved in the world of cinema and feel like a part of it, being free to play in an indie movie or a big production whenever I want.
Did you decline parts in big movies for that?
Let’s say I didn’t want to do everything at a same time, otherwise people would have got tired of me. It sometimes happen when an actor does a lot of movies, big productions and very fast. For an actor, the most important thing is to keep some mystery around; if the whole world knows who you are, it we see you too often, how do you want to convince them you are someone else? This part of mystery is what I am taking more and more seriouslyâ€¦
Is normal for you the first quality?
“Normal” just means everything to me! [she laughs] If someone is not normal I hardly can feel close to them.
Although we often heard about your life in magazinesâ€¦
Yes particularly when Titanic came out. Then when I got divorced from my daughter’s father, then when I met Sam. British tabloids had decided I would be their “English Rose”, that I was down-to-earth. And got married to a normal life and that we leaded a normal life. Except that when it didn’t work out anymore with him, they concluded it was my fault because I was famous. What was the most painful for me was to hear them saying I was a bad mother, while my daughter was so small, I fed her and was with her all the time since she was born. But to be honest, I think they started to get bored of me [she laughs]â€¦
Can you describe a basic day in Kate Winslet’s life?
It would be a very normal day. I wake up at 6 o’clock, have a shower, make some coffee, then my son wakes up, then Sam, then my daughter, we have breakfast all together, and Sam and I take the kids to school. While they are at school, I do the food shopping, go to the gym if I have the time, read some scripts, then I pick my kids up when take them to the park. I cook a lot because I love that. My husband always says to me that I should take more time for myself, but honestly, I love to be a wife and a mother. Does a woman still have the right to say that today? I know I sound old-fashioned, but I love to take care of my husband and my children. I don’t accept projects too far abroad in order to not be far from them.
So you managed to stay “normal”?
You know what? I could have a personal coach, a cook, a car driver, a bodyguard and three nannies for my kids, but I really don’t want that. I don’t want to become this kind of personâ€¦ because that would mean I am no longer myself, but became someone else: the “famous person”, the “famous thing” and it drives me mad. I really care about keeping my life real, and I am a mother like others: I go to the gym and if I don’t find the time I watch a video at home. When I am on a set, I am lucky to have some friends from England to look after the children. And I want to cook their meals myself, because I want them to have a vision of a normal mum, who shops herself and cook for them. I grew up loving food, we were six at home and my mother always cooked for everyone.
British tabloids seems obsessed about your weight. Aren’t you tired of that?
I don’t read articles about myself, because the way people see you can change the way you see yourself and it can be dangerous. We live in a world where every woman is meant to be a size 0â€¦ I don’t even know what this size looks likeâ€¦ I am glad that I became a model for younger women, because cinema and fashion world are partly responsible of this image of perfection shown to women. I am happy to be able to say that I am not perfect, and that I eat. I hate the idea that women think actresses are perfect. No, they are not.
What did you learn as an actress?
I always knew you need to have a method, a technical to act. Actually, today, at 32, I learned that every single part needs to be taken and worked in a different way. I can remember that for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I sat down to work my part, taking notes, and so onâ€¦ and I eventually felt blocked, like a writer in front of a white page. So I decided to read the script again and again and it worked out. For corset movies like Titanic, there is a more intensive work to do, more researches to do because you need to understand the period, social background of the character you’re playing, well things that real are a big part in the character.
What do you expect from a director?
I need them to make me feel comfortable. He has to reassure me in order to let me express what I feel. The perfect one would be a director who gives me directives I believe in, but also let me bring my own ideas. The character must come from you at first. Feeling forced is very dangerous for an actor because he immediately becomes more aware of himself, he won’t open his heart, will think about what the director thinks about him and it is over. Acting is 50% of talent and 50% of confidence. If you are scared it will never work. At last, you need a director you brings you more confidence than directorâ€¦ Actors are, you know, kind of pathetic people; they need to be told they have been great at the end of the dayâ€¦ Therefore, if a director can’t bring you that, you must be able to be aware of this lack and be able to use this bad feeling when you act.
To conclude, do you like fashion?
Not that much in my daily life, I only need to feel comfortable. However for my public appearances, or for a day out, I love fashion. Since last year I wear a lot of Valentine; and it is so delightful to be dressed by Sir Valentino himself: he can, changing a millimeter, completely change a suit. I love Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana because they really understand and respect woman body, and know how to make them most of it. I am a supporter of Joseph for his little pull overs that I keep like my treasures.