Heavyweight roles, an Oscar nomination and a BAEI’A already on the mantelpiece — and Kate Winslet isn’t even 21. As Jude hits the big screen, Britain’s hottest young actress tells Beverley D’Silva how she’s managing to keep things in perspective, while (over) her on screen lover Christopher Eccleston revels in more gritty realism.
ctresses usually work naked, right? That would be the (not unreasonable) conclusion of a Martian dropping earthward for some casual human- watching — especially if it slipped into a cinema running Showgirls or
If only it were that simple. Kate Winslet might think. The night before her first naked film scene, playing Sue Bridehead in Jude. she was a nail-bitten. nervous wreck. ‘l’d never done nudity before. and I had terrible problems. Fora start. I felt my bum was too big.’ she admits. lighting up her third fag in less than an hour at
London’s trendy Groucho Club. Instead of
pumping iron at the gym. Winslet followed her own path to a honed and toned physique. ‘l starved myself. drank too much coffee and smoked too many cigarettes. It did the trick.‘ For moral support. she called Emma Thompson. She and ‘Em’. as
I begged for that scene not to be cut.’
Winslet began acting virtually while still in nappies. encouraged by a family with a strong theatrical background. Her grandparents ran the Reading Repertory Company from their back garden and her dad. Roger. and older sister, Anna. are also actors. ‘I love acting so much. I just love it.’ she says expansively. ‘Even when I played Mary in my school nativity play aged five. it was the best thing in my life.’
She received her first pay-cheque from acting while at Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead. where she was head girl. To earn it. she had to hop up and down. pat her bum and sing a daft song in a Sugar Puffs commercial. Just a few years later. aged seventeen. she made her first major film. Heavenly Creatures, in which she played a teenager in New Zealand who sings Mario Lanza songs. cavorting in her
‘I am a relationship person. But right now I couldn’t give
Kate Wlnslet: contemplating lite on the Hollywood A llst
remembered years with the actor Stephen Tredre. They split last year. a time which was ‘so incredibly painful. it nearly tipped me over the edge. Stephen loved mejust the same. even when my weight went up to thirteen stone.’ she says of those earlier teen years when she was bullied for being overweight. ‘I am a relationship person. But right now I couldn’t give someone else what they deserve. I’m away so much of the time — and I’d hate to deprive them from having a snog with whoever they bumped into in a
she calls he... had become good someone else what they deserve - I’d hate to deprive them from cluby
mates after they played the Dashwood sisters in Sense And Sensibility — performances that earned Oscar nominations for both of them. Em told her not to worry. that she’d feel liberated afterwards. And ﬁnally. she had the tender Christopher Eccleston who plays a sensitive Jude. ‘Christopher was brilliant.’ Winslet says. ‘I forgot to be self-conscious because it all became so technical.‘
Director Michael Winterbottom’s gritty take on Thomas Hardy’s novel is no namby-pamby BBC costume drama: sanctimonious Hardy-ites have complained that the writer would never let the reader into the bedroom. and retitled the film Jude The Obscene. It also contains the most realistic depiction of a woman giving birth outside of a medical documentary. a scene that Winslet fiercely defends: ‘lt’s how childbirth must have been at that time — 100 per cent pain.
having a snag with whoever they bumped into in a club.’
undies in the forest. before she and her best friend bludgeon the other girl’s mum to death. That was such a confident. compelling performance. that offers have come non-stop ever since.
After making Jade. Winslet went straight on to Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet to play Ophelia. a part she’s wanted to do since she was thirteen. The film (due for release next spring) contains love scenes with Branagh that she describes as ‘beautiful and ethereal. not at all raunchy’. This summer she played a Philadelphian aristo in Titanic. Directed by James (Terminator) Cameron. it should be next year’s big hit. undoubtedly taking her a step closer — if not slap hang onto — the Hollywood A list.
Winslet had one crucial romance before fame swallowed her up whole. spending five fondly
What about if they’re already on the film set with you. though? She dated actor Rufus Sewell (who played Fortinbras) while making Hamlet. but the end of their affair was more or less simultaneous with the end of the shoot.
Compliments and attention by the truckload may alter her headband size in the formative years to come. but for now she’s sensible enough as the head girl in her takes over. She’s even shocked when you tell her that Michael Winterbottom had said. ‘lt’s easy to fall in love with Kate’. Bemused. anyway.
She makes a list of the directors she’s worked with — Peter Jackson. Ang Lee. Winterbottom. Branagh and Cameron — and says. without a smidgeon of smugness. but quite a bit of gratitude. ‘I reckon I must be the luckiest person I know.’
Jade goes on general release on Friday 4 Oct.
The List 4- l 7 Oct 1996 7