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Kate Winslet pushes her characters and herself to the limit


Like many of her characters, Winslet considers herself a survivor: She survived two public divorces and she survived the paparazzi, gangs of men who chased her in cars or staked out her house. (When she was a new mother, she would put on a hat and sunglasses, hand her baby over a wall to the next door neighbor, climb the wall herself, then take the baby out the backyard gate and boarded a city bus, where, she swears, no one ever recognized her.)

It’s clear that some of the strength Winslet projects — her don’t stop at anything attitude on set — is a defense she built up, out of necessity, years ago. “I was already going through a lot of judgment, persecution, all this bullying,” she said. “People can call me fat. They can call me whatever they want. But they certainly can’t say that I complained and behaved badly. Over my dead body.” To object, especially for young women, was to risk a ruined reputation. “I wouldn’t have known how to do that without the people in power turning around and saying, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, you know, her again, this plaintiff,’” Winslet said. “I would rather suffer in silence than let this happen to me, even today.”

For Winslet, as a mother, it is a particular horror that the public shaming once reserved for celebrities is now an ordeal that any young woman with a phone could endure. For British television, she recently made an improvised film, “I Am Ruth,” with her daughter, Mia Threapleton, about a mother trying to understand the outcome of her teenage daughter; behind the closed door of her bedroom, in the privacy of the world of her phone, Thrapleton’s character experiences bullying on social media in response to the revealing images she posted of herself. With “I Am Ruth,” Winslet became an Everymom, opening her up to interactions of a different kind. “I’ll go to the grocery store, I’ll go anywhere, like walking down the street, and people will stop me,” she said. A parking attendant put her hand on Winslet’s arm and began to cry; Winslet knew intuitively that it was “I am Ruth.”

In her roles and in her own life, Winslet has confidently moved from ingenue to fierce protector. Roybal described Winslet as an advocate for the “Mare of Easttown” team, someone who would personally call out executives if she felt there was injustice on their part. During the filming of “Mare,” Winslet sat in the trunk of a car where Angourie Rice, then 19, was filming a kissing scene, so that Winslet – a safe big sister figure – could personally pass along notes the director arrives by radio.

By the time she filmed “Mare,” Winslet had lived through decades of emotional experiences that she could easily access. “At first,” she says, “I was digging into my emotional toolbox and pulling out something that had actually happened to me. But it stopped working for me at some point. I do not know why. As you get older, you live more; you have more real experiences that you add to the emotional toolbox without realizing you’re doing it. And so sometimes as you get older, quite honestly, emotions are easier to access because they’re simmering under the surface all the time – because there are so many of them. Winslet’s scripts are extensively covered with notes describing the emotional marks she should hit.


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