Kate Winslet first came to my attention, when I was just a kid and obsessed with British television, theatre and films. I had a very quintessentially British upbringing filled with tales of Sherlock Holmes, adventure stories of Crusoe, and Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen fairytales taking up most of my reading time. Alongside all this there were the renditions of further classics on the silverscreen or Turner Classic Movies, taking up the remaining of whatever free hours from school I had to spare, not trying to chase up the other characters, in my dastardly automobile, in the computer game edition of Hanna Barbera’s Wacky Races. Around this time, I chanced upon Sense and Sensibility (1995) on Star Movies, and I was so mesmerized for a good few minutes, I forgot I was supposed to finish my practice-hours, working on a boring essay about what it feels like to be a pen.
Winslet was charming and vivacious as “Marianne Dashwood” and I wished she was given the role of the good woman, instead of the lady who falls in love with a colonel more than twice her age. A sordid miscast, if there ever was, because to me, she would have made such a lovely on-screen romantic couple with Hugh Grant’s character, that of “Edward Ferrars”. Marianne is only 16 years old and is a rather sensible young lady, oddly in love with the wilted aspect of the environment, romance and fancies men who never tire of accomplishing their dreams, with an almost virulent eagerness. I wonder, how much of Marianne does Winslet identify with? It is very important, this role, as it later proves to be, because she gets to share screen space with British drama heavyweights, such as Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, and pulls of that feat prudishly. She was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actress category, for the role.
Winslet, rather individualistically, embodies the British love for theatre and the West End in her films, because she has gone on to work in many cinematic explorations of classics, such as a film based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the Thomas Hardy ingenuity, Jude the Obscure. Her career trajectory has certainly been unusual – I can still remember how curiously remarkable she was in choosing her films, when she chose Hideous Kinky (1999), where she plays a single mother with a high-flying spirit on a spiritual quest from London to Marrakech, with her two daughters. It was very atypical given the time when this film premiered most of the other films that were gaining prominence couldn’t be further from this in terms of the genre and theme, such as Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Toy Story 2. Although, shot in 1996 and became the film for which she turned down a starring role in the Oscar-nominated Shakespeare in Love (1998), the film saw Kate in a whole new makeup free avatar, which was bold for the late ‘90s.
This brings me to her personal mantra on beauty. Kate Winslet is a woman, who knows how to age gracefully, or in other words she just looks better and better, with age (throw in a good dose of ‘looking younger’ there too!) but very few real women have claimed to be able to identify with her, in anyway – truly shocking! Her personal life choices, such as separating from ace Hollywood director Sam Mendes generated so much negative criticism. Many actually thought she was to blame for it, with her air of success, her love for “bangers and mash”, her conversations involving how she was bullied in school for her weight, her ditching the English countryside and making the dreary journey to have an ordinary life in NYC, once upon a time to make her marriage to Mendes work, but I find that attitude appalling, and classic meanness on the playground unfolding all over again. And she knows it too – she can actually feel the judgement coming tenfold surging towards her, for every move she makes in the public arena, that is the life of a young Hollywood star. Maybe it’s time to do a gossip tell-all or something?
On beauty, Kate Winslet cannot stand healthy meals. She cannot understand the ‘stick thin’ attitude L.A. sports everyday because she loves the tomato juice, the strawberries, if she is in the mood but on most days she would rather give all of it up for a generous helping of some comfort food…..should we do a hopelessly typecast and go all Brit-foulmouth here? But I can’t because she is just too nice. She puts on makeup during the school run and can actually handle being stared at from all the other women there, like it is the most normal thing for them to stare at your flawless skin in NYC. Perhaps, her conversations entailing how she does in fact get acne just like any other woman and even reads enough to know how to deal with it, and volunteers to actually show you how to do a “do-it-yourself” for it, helped? Perhaps, just perhaps but that does not explain how she could possibly expect to feel at home in Manhattan, with her love for pub culture for two and attempting to escape the luxury life of diamonds and fine dining. Is it a wonder so few women can identify with her?
One of the most controversial choices she makes for films is no – not the scripts she gives her green signal to of the likes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) or Finding Neverland (2004), but her posing nude, especially the darker themes explored in the Second World War saga The Reader (2009), for which she even won her first ever Academy Award for Best Actress. Kate feels that the prejudice thrown her way for choosing to pose nude is unjust. She is just like any other British woman, with problems of cellulite, baby fat, a curvaceous body, who needs to highlight the perfection she is gifted with – like her elegant chiselled features or a good, proportionate boob size. Her attitude to getting naked on screen is to help women, ordinary British folks, to feel empowered through her characters, through the stories she graces, even if it is a bit too much of a separate way of handling empowerment, artistically.
Initially afraid of aging, Kate Winslet is a lot more comfortable in her own skin now, than she thought would have been, which is a positive sign for this petite lass. She sets an example with her waistline, that it is okay to love your British roast too much, if you still need more time to accommodate the health kick into your life to feel and look like a million bucks! It’s not recommended to love the greens religiously but it is good to love your body enough to look after it with good, healthy food.
Fame was never her calling card, it just fell into her lap despite “being fat” as Kate rather self-deprecatingly termed herself as. She doesn’t do cardio, visit the gym, but loves Chardonnay and attributes all of this to still being the young girl who felt she wasn’t very pretty. This thought terrifies Kate, she constantly worries about her waistline and if she can ever fit into Hollywood when everyone else is so far off from her. So, what do you say to a wonderful actress, and that “fat mate at the pub” deep inside? It’s a good thing Kate is GREAT with the conversations, and her sense of wanting to belong in London, is in the right place – because love for green vegetables or not, she REALLY needs to make more of an effort to skip the champagne, with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, sometimes.