Celebrity

THE AMAZING KATE

Spectacular roles, glam outfits, a stack of awards—Kate Winslet is having the best year of her life


THE AMAZING KATE
Spectacular roles, glam outfits, a stack of awards—Kate Winslet is having the best year of her life

Kate Winslet


 
Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet is sitting on a mauve couch, looking outside the window of her penthouse suite in the Soho Grand Hotel. Her view of New York City’s infinite number of highrise condos and skyscrapers is offset by the sound of metal cranes droning away on a nearby building in progress. Rather than getting perturbed by the swirling mess of dirt, gravel and noise below her, Winslet is fascinated by the racket. “Look at all this construction!” she says, kicking up her well-worn black Louboutin heel. “With all that debris, they might as well be building a bloody empire!”

It’s easy to understand why the 33-year-old actor is so intrigued by the breaking of new ground—she’s been doing it on the silver screen for more than a decade. However, out of the more than 25 films she’s starred, costarred and cameo’d in (as well as helped narrate), nothing has elevated Winslet’s own empire like her two most recent pictures: The Reader and Revolutionary Road.

Kate Winslet


 
Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet with her main men: Oscar and hubbie Sam Medes. Photo: George Pimentel

In her Oscar-winning role in The Reader, Winslet skilfully plays a German streetcar attendant–cum–Nazi guard in her late 30s who has an affair with a teenage boy who is so scandalously young, he could be a Jonas brother. In Revolutionary Road, Winslet tackles the psyche of an equally complex woman—a psychologically unstable newlywed living in Connecticut in the 1950s—someone who’s living in a world that makes Desperate Housewives look like High School Musical. Both films are hard-to-watch yet satisfying-to-finish pieces of cinema, showcasing Winslet’s range in a way that blows her Titanic persona right out of the water. Which is a tad ironic, as Revolutionary Road—directed by Winslet’s husband, Sam Mendes—reunites the British actor with her former Titanic costar and beloved friend, Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays her husband in the film. The three of them grew so close during the making of the project that Winslet now wears her wedding rings from Mendes as well as a mysteriously inscribed piece of gold gifted to her by DiCaprio shortly after the film was made. “Yes, [Leo’s ring] is engraved on the inside,” she maintains, “but I’m not going to tell you what it says,” she adds cheekily.

MORE

Revolutionary Road


 
Revolutionary Road

The Reader


 
The Reader

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road Kate Winslet in The Reader. Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon © 2008. The Weinstein Co.

Another mystery is how Winslet kept her professionalism intact while filming Revolutionary Road’s pivotal love scenes with DiCaprio (while her husband directed them). It seems as difficult a job as the one she had trying to lure the average moviegoer into sympathizing with her portrayal of a Nazi war criminal in The Reader. Yet, Winslet’s talent, a byproduct of what she deems “a manifestation of something within me and an accumulation of life experience,” managed to get her through both scripts without a nervous breakdown and attract audiences and critics with equal force. One look at the recent additions to her trophy case—two Golden Globes, two BAFTAs, two SAGs and one Oscar—and even the most jaded Hollywood casting agent will tell you Winslet can make any script work.

“Yes, [all the awards] are absolutely an acknowledgment of our hard work and a testament to the long hours we’ve pulled,” Winslet says, referring to Mendes, who not only had to hear her talk shop about Revolutionary Road nonstop (on set and in bed) but she asserts he was the one who urged her to accept the lead in The Reader after Nicole Kidman dropped out of the project.

Kate Winslet


 
Kate Winslet

Winslet is the new face of Lancôme Trésor Sheer Fragrance, $72.

“But I don’t think [the awards] have necessarily boosted my confidence. If I was younger and going through this particular time, it might make a definitive impact. I know who I am now,” she states. This is probably one of the reasons why she decided to take a break from acting this year and signed on to be the spokesperson for Lancôme’s Trésor Sheer Fragrance perfume. It’s a job that brings with it a lot more glamour and a lot less drama than the emotionally wrought scenes she usually slaves over. “The biggest cliché about acting is that it is glamorous,” she says. “The process is wonderful, but there is nothing glamorous about it.”

Winslet was easily convinced by Lancôme to step off the set for a while, and she cites the company’s previous spokespeople as inspiration—namely, Oscar-winning actor Juliette Binoche and esteemed icon Isabella Rossellini. “I admire the fact that [Lancôme] has chosen women like them, since they are risk takers and powerful, warm souls. I’ve met them on several occasions and I know they are women who are comfortable in their own skin, strong-minded and passionate. There is no point in having a pretty face if you have an ugly spirit.”

“The Amazing Kate” has been edited for FLARE.com; the complete story appears in the May 2009 issue of FLARE.

MAIN