Nationality: British. Born: Reading, Berkshire, England, 5 October 1975; father Roger Winslet (actor), mother Sally; two sisters, Anna and Beth, both actors, one brother, Joss. Education: Redroofs Theatre School, Maidenhead, 1986–1991. Family: Married assistant director Jim Threapleton, November 1998. Career: Left school aged sixteen; gained acting experience in TV commercials; worked in a delicatessen after Heavenly Creatures , 1994; nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Sense and Sensibility , 1996. Awards: London Critics Circle ALFS Award for British Actress of the Year, for Heavenly Creatures , 1996; British Academy Awards (BAFTA) for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, for Sense and Sensibility , 1996; Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress, for Sense and Sensibility and Jude , 1997; European Film Awards Audience Award for Best Actress, and Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress, for Titanic , 1998. Agents: Dallas Smith, Peters Fraser and Dunlop Ltd., 503 The Chambers, Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, London SW10 0XF, UK; William Morris Agency, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10009, USA.
Heavenly Creatures (Jackson) (as Juliet Hulme)
A Kid in King Arthur's Court (Gottleib) (as Princess Sarah); Sense and Sensibility (Lee) (as Marianne Dashwood)
Jude (Winterbottom) (as Sue Bridehead); Hamlet ( William Shakespeare's Hamlet ) (Branagh) (as Ophelia)
Titanic (Cameron) (as Rose DeWitt Bukater)
Hideous Kinky ( Marrakech Express ) (MacKinnon) (as Julia)
Holy Smoke (Campion) (as Ruth)
Quills (Kaufman) (as Madeleine Le Clerc)
"Kate's Winsome . . . and Then Some," interview with Jeff Dawson, in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 26 January 1996.
"An Englishwoman Abroad," interview with Trish Deitch Rohrer, in Premiere (New York), February 1997.
Interview with Stephen Applebaum in Total Film (London), June 1997.
"Breaking the Waves," interview with Richard Rayner, in Harper's Bazaar (New York), July 1997.
Lipsky, David, "The Unsinkable Kate Winslet," in Rolling Stone (New York), March 1998.
"A Rose in Bloom," interview with Simon Braund, in Empire Magazine (London), March 1999.
"The New Passions of Kate Winslet," interview with Holly Millea, in Premiere (New York), November 1999.
Nathan, Ian, "The Breakthrough," in Empire (London), October 1997.
Pullinger, Kate, "Soul Survivor—Women Directors Special," in Sight and Sound (London), October 1999.
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Kate Winslet—who is for American audiences the embodiment of English womanhood—began acting full-time at the age of sixteen and made her television debut in a commercial for Sugar Puffs breakfast cereal in the United Kingdom. She made several appearances in British TV dramas, such as the hospital-based soap, Casualty , before moving into film at the age of nineteen in Heavenly Creatures. Winslet grew up in a theatrical family in Reading, a town west of London, and wanted to be an actor from an early age. Interviewers describe her as brimming with energy and enthusiasm for life. David Lipsky, in Rolling Stone , explains: "Everything she says has special effects in it: Those effects are the words brilliant, absolutely and gorgeous, and because of them, what she says really does seem brilliant, gorgeous and absolute, a slightly better world than the one you live in."
Winslet has a reputation for taking on challenging projects, immersing herself in the roles she plays. Her big-screen debut in Heavenly Creatures , a film that explores murder and obsession, was difficult for an actress known for being intensely "method." In it she plays Juliet Hulme alongside Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Parker, in the true story of two New Zealand schoolgirls in 1954 who murder Parker's mother in order to stay together. The film was praised in particular for the subtlety of its portrayal of the two girls, and Winslet's strong performance established her as talented and determined young actress.
Winslet's on-screen persona as the typical English girl was cemented in the films Sense and Sensibility and Jude. A period costume adaptation of Jane Austen's novel of the same name, Sense and Sensibility saw Winslet playing Marianne Dashwood alongside Emma Thompson as Elinor. There was a danger here of casting to type, with Thompson playing the sensible older sister while Winslet immersed herself in romantic fantasies. But the two became friends, and Winslet benefited from Thompson's greater experience. Her next film role, as Sue Bridehead, came from the same mould, but Jude is a tragedy of unrelenting gloom, and provides a hint of Winslet's wider abilities, which she was to show more compellingly as Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet in the same year.
After making her name in period films, Winslet became the envy of teenage girls everywhere when she co-starred with Leonardo di Caprio in Titanic. It is characteristic of her drive and determination that Winslet fought hard to win the chance to be in the film, telephoning director Cameron directly to tell him "I am Rose." Like many of Cameron's films, the making of Titanic was an arduous process: many scenes involved the actors being immersed in cold water for hours at a time, or suspended at the top of enormous structures. Yet Winslet took it all in stride, winning the respect of the crew for her good humour and lack of affectation.
After Titanic , Winslet had the opportunity to take on more high profile and lucrative projects, but her choice of film roles suggests more interest in acting than stardom. Hideous Kinky , her first film after the Cameron blockbuster, was an interesting, if disappointing choice, and however successful it is with the critics, Holy Smoke , Jane Campion's film about the effects of cult religious groups, is not a star vehicle.
Always more interested in pursuing her enthusiasms than doing what is expected of her, Kate Winslet's career so far has been a curious mixture of idiosyncratic serious movies and popular acclaim. While Titanic demonstrated her abilities in the role of romantic lead, she has yet to accumulate a body of work sufficient to prove herself as a character actress of lasting significance. Winslet has recently branched out into producing, and her first project, Therese Raquin , in which she will play the title role, is expected to appear in 2001.