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“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” says Kate Winslet of her latest role. A conversation about sexism, the woman’s point of view – and how relaxing it is to hold your breath.
Hollywood is turning again. But the Covid protection protocols slow down and make productions more expensive. The British actress explains how she is dealing with the new situation and what she learned about herself before Covid while filming the costume drama “Ammonite” and the late sequel “Avatar 2”.
Kate Winslet, where are you zooming from now?
I’m in Pennsylvania doing Mare of Easttown for HBO. I have to be very careful about Covid and otherwise I am not allowed to talk to people.
Have you hesitated to film again under the current circumstances?
Yes very. Last summer I had endless video conferencing with HBO and AT&T producers on how to get back to work. What do we ask of the crew? How do we deal with the actors? The whole thing really strained my nerves. But I have to say: we have a good team that takes care of the Covid protection protocols.
“Titanic” made her a world star
Kate Winslet – actress
Winslet was born on October 5, 1975 in Reading, England, the second of four children into a theater family. At the age of 19 she landed her breakthrough in Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” (1994). In 1997 she became a world star with “Titanic”. In 2009 she won an Oscar for “The Reader”. The actress is third to Richard Branson’s nephew Ned Rocknroll and has three children.
What does that mean in concrete terms?
We are tested every day. Crew members must wear a full mask with a shield and are only allowed to take them off when eating or drinking something away from the set. We actors and actresses also wear masks and signs between takes, which is sometimes not easy for make-up. And we work in zones: the green zone is made up of actors and • the direct shooting crew. The others are in the yellow zone and are not allowed to come near us all day. The catering has now also been set up with an app, but I usually take my own food with me anyway.
How does this new situation feel to you?
What worries me the most is the physical distance. I would like to hug people. The whole thing is a 116-day shoot and when we had to stop because of Covid, we still had 38 days to shoot. Then there was a long pause, and now you can’t even say hello properly. It’s difficult and sad. But I feel safe at work and that is the most important thing.
Were you able to switch off and do nothing during the lockdown?
I usually can’t just sit in front of the TV with chips and a glass of wine, but during Covid it suddenly went. My husband and my two older children decided that we would go to see Downton Abbey. We had never seen the series. It was great to watch a whole series from A to Z. Probably nothing like this will ever happen again.
Kate Winslet with two of her three children and her best man, Leonardo DiCaprio
The cinemas are now open again. One of the first films that can be seen on the big screen again is the costume drama “Ammonite”, in which you play the English fossil collector and paleontologist Mary Anning (1799-1847). What do you need to know about Mary Anning?
She was a very intelligent woman who accepted that the world she lived in was not of any scientific importance. Nevertheless, she went about her work. She remained unmarried at the time when women had to be married in order to have a place in society, a roof over their heads and financial stability. I admire that very much. The Geological Society of London now recognizes it and one of its first finds is on display in the British Museum.
The film puts an emphasis on the relationship with the married Charlotte Murchison, played by Saoirse Ronan. The lesbian relationship is speculation. How did you go about it?
Women’s friendships were different then than they are today. I have read correspondence between women who had intense, close friendships from that period. There were times when a close bond took on a more intimate form, even when both women were married. We wanted to show the deep desire the two women had and their femininity. It was a privilege for me to throw the heterosexual clichés in love movies overboard. I really learned a lot from it.
What do you mean?
I realized that in previous films I was made an object. But I didn’t even notice it at the time. I am not angry about it. But now I wonder if I was really okay with all of the love scenes I played. Did I really stand up for myself and co-choreograph the scenes in such a way that it was correct from the woman’s point of view?
An early, important director in your life was James Cameron, with whom you directed “Titanic”. You were just twenty years old at the time. Now you worked together again as an experienced actress on «Avatar 2». How was it?
It was great! Jim already respected me back then and I have often said: In a crisis you are best left with James Cameron, because he always knows what to do.
The long-awaited sequel is said to have many underwater scenes …
Yes, I did my diving certification at the age of 24, but for the role in “Avatar 2” I had intensive free diving training in England and Los Angeles. It has nothing to do with scuba diving …
You allegedly held your breath for over 7 minutes, breaking Tom Cruise’s 6-minute film set record?
Seemingly! With even 7 minutes and 14 seconds! My husband filmed it.
How do you hold your breath for so long?
It’s a real art. You have to empty your head, slow your heart rate, do a series of breathing exercises, and oxygenate your body. It’s a pretty complicated process. The training brought me a lot: Sometimes when I’m stressed I want to jump into a swimming pool and hold my breath because it’s so relaxing.
Current films and series with Kate Winslet
«Ammonite»: petrified and in love
“Ammonite” (GB / USA / Australia 2020), director: Francis Lee. From May 20th in the cinema.
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, “The World to Come” and “Ammonite” – the lesbian costume drama is currently gaining so much ground in the cinema that the US satire show “Saturday Night Live” was already longing for him to include a sketch Dedicated looks and trembling corsets. “Ammonite”, staged by the British Francis Lee, presents the speculative love story of Mary Anning and Charlotte Murchison.
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan sums up the loneliness and desires of the two women in the repressive Victorian era: It’s 1840 and Mary is digging for fossils on the coast of England and offering them for sale. The paleontologist Roderick Murchison is enthusiastic about Mary’s knowledge, and when he has to leave, he leaves his “melancholy” wife Charlotte in the fresh air with Mary. The presence of the sensitive young woman crumbles Mary’s hard shell and releases suppressed desires in her.
from Marlène of Arx
“Mare of Easttown”: Shirt-sleeved investigator
“Mare of Easttown” (USA 2021, 7 episodes); from May 21 on Sky Show.
Pennsylvania in the here and now. Mare Sheehan, that’s the name of the character played by Kate Winslet, is a detective in a dark small town. Heavily traumatized by her son’s suicide, the newly divorced with a preference for bottled beer, lampy fast food and hoodies investigates the murder of a young mother. It soon becomes clear that it could be related to the disappearance of a woman from more than a year ago.
When another young woman disappears, the investigators have a lead. Winslet brings the trauma of a mother to the screen in an unvarnished way. And not just in a figurative sense. Another highlight: The very direct, sometimes spiteful and yet loving three-way relationship between Mare, her daughter and her own mother. Incidentally, Winslet was also executive producer on that HBO series Daniel Fuchs
«Avatar 2»: Comeback with James Cameron
Kate Winslet and James Cameron – the duo promises above all that the box office is right. The 2009 science fiction film “Avatar” is still the most successful film in terms of box office earnings. The Director: James Cameron. Kate Winslet has only worked with him once, in 1997 for “Titanic”, the box-office hit with Leonardo DiCaprio, which is also in the top 3 most successful films.
Now Cameron has first promised a trilogy, then a tetralogy and finally even a pentalogy. Part 2 has long been shot. Cast: Kate Winslet. “Avatar 2” will not be in the cinema until 2022. The 3-D film is mostly set under water. Poor Kate! She has to go into the water again.
from Daniel Fuchs