' e Winslet with Chart '- Kaufman (top) and Michel Gondry
‘Everythinq made sense'
KATE WINSLET turned her back on blockbusters after Titanic. Now she tells Paul Dale about the joys of working with Charlie Kaufman on an
altogether cooler film.
here‘s an old film hack 1 used to know (all
broken blood vessels and tie die pants) who
was one of the few international journalists to be let through onto the set of James (‘ameron's 'Ii'lunir' in the later stages of filming. ()ccasional bouts of dry dock phobia prevented him from really enjoying his flying visit. but he did assure me that he had met the t7K‘s next big truly international movie star. I had already seen Kate Winslet in a few things. so he could sense my lack of surprise at his news. In a bid to save his credibility he threw his royal fltish into the pit: ‘She‘s got amazingly big feet. you know. Size ll woman‘s — that‘s about a ten on a man.‘
That was seven years ago and although highly lucrative. the treacly 'Iitunir' turned out to be both a curse and a blessing for Winslet. “I‘m now able to be more grateful than ever for the Titanic experience.‘ she says. ‘l’d love for my daughter Mia to be able to see it but she‘s still too young. I heard that one of her little friends was watching it at Christmas. And apparently she said. "Look. Mia‘s mummy is hanging off the boat." [just loved the fact that she wasn‘t remotely interested in the character names or anything like that. It was just Mia‘s mummy playing dress-up and pretending to be somebody else.‘ Having picked up £2111 for her role in that him. her payments soon plummeted to pre-big doomed ship levels. Winslet started making statements in the press about the trauma of he" epic blockbuster experience and how she was. from now on. going to be dedicated to small budget Iiuropean productions.
She got some interesting films in the bag in this period. froin her hippyish Marrakech-bound Julia in Hideous Kinky and her spirited performance in Quills (I think it‘d be best if we don't talk about Jane (‘ampion‘s [In/y Slim/w).
The trouble was that Winslet couldn‘t really find a place for herself in film. No one was in any doubt that this linglish rose was a fine actress but
many of her performances were either too flaky or
melodramatic to hold the centre ground of a film. She was the beautiful starlet who really wanted to be a character actor. Movie after movie lloundered
(Icing/nu. The [.1]? of David (iii/e. Hum/('1) as did her marriage to .lamie 'l‘hrcapleton and a brief charity—inspired foray into pop.
She found some redemption in 2001 with Iris. in which she played the young .\ls Murdoch. but ambition and the need for kudos will always draw you away. By May 2002 she had a very cool fiance in theatre/film director Sam Mendes and two beautiful children. What she needed to complete the ensemble was a role in a cult film.
Winslet had already (wisely) turned down the lead roles in .S'lmkr's/n'u/‘r' in Love and Anna and Illt’ King. but when she took an even greater pay cut to work on lili'rnu/ Suns/tine Ufa Spotless Mind she felt she was back amongst her own people. possibly for the first time since she had worked with Peter Jackson on Heaven/y (‘l‘r'ulnrr'v 'We did a lot of improvising in rehearsal] she says. '(‘harlie Kaufman. the writer. and Michel (iondry were in the rehearsal room with Jim (army and l and they’d often send its off on these crazy improvisational tangents. “Do an improv that (‘lementinc is moving into .loel's apartment and see where that takes you.“ And (‘harlie would say. “I love that thought" or “I love that line" and he’d go off and write a new scene. There was a bit of ad libbing but hardly any because the brilliant thing about (‘harlie as a writer is that you just feel as if those are simply the words these people are saying. livery single "I . . . er . . . I don‘t know. l‘uck." liverything kind of made sense. To say that it came naturally is almost the wrong expression but it felt really natural because it was just brilliantly crafted and that was a real luxury for us to have.‘
It is difficult to think of another actress who could have played the role of selfish. impulsive (‘lementine Kruczynski with more skew-whiff dishonesty and charm. It is a iiioineiitously wild riff of a performance that both staples down and frees the film up to be something quite special. It seems the child actress who once stood in front of the Honey Monster has come full circle and got her magic moment in front the blue screen again.
Thanks to GNER for travel. www.gner.co.uk
18 THE LIST if; 2%) Apr 20o:
Is it just us or have there been loads of movies about amnesia? I’m not sure. I can’t remember. Here’s a few to get you started . . . if memory serves.
Nominated for six Academy Awards and featuring artistic design by Salvador Dali. Hitchcock's Spellbound is perhaps the godfather of the psychological amnesia thriller. Dr Peterson (lngrid Bergman) becomes suspicious of the recently arrived Dr Edwardes (GregOry Peck) and he is subsequently revealed to be a patient suffering from amnesia. He is subsequently accused of murdering the real Dr Edwardes.
I Abre Los Oios (1 997)Nanilla Sky (2001) The Alejandro Amenabar original and Cameron Crowe's ‘cover' ponray a rich playboy struggling with reality following a horrific car crash. Ending up in a psychiatric penitentiary for the apparent murder of his girlfriend (Penelope Cruz in both films), he discovers that his consciousness has become a lucid dream controlled by the Life Extension )orporation (LEC). He is left with the choice between his ‘fake' memories from LEC or the ‘reality' of his death. I Memento .. (2°00) " i The most celebrated .~ memory loss movie of i, r" the past few years ‘ follows a man (a most excellent Guy Pierce) haunted by his recollection of the murder of his wife. Unable to form new memories since then, he has to believe the notes he has made instructing him how to track down the murderer. Some memories are best forgotten. I Mulholland Drive (2001) David Lynch's Hollywood thriller mixes amnesia into a heady brew of .. exploitation, murder. innocence and sex. Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) arrives at her aunt’s h0use in LA with high hopes of becoming a star actress. In the shower she finds a woman who. following a limousine crash. can't remember who she is. and agrees to help her out. Much head scratching ensues. Nothing new for a Lynch movie though. is it? I Paycheck (2003) Ben Affleck stars as a precocious computer engineer hired Out to corporations for private assignments in this film based on a short story by Philip K Dick. To ensure client confidentiality. he has his short term memory erased after each job. However. haVing finished a three-year project, he is told that he has agreed to forfeit his fat paycheck, leaving him to piece together the clues.