Kate Winslet Says She Couldn"T Stop Crying When She Was Reunited With Leonardo Dicaprio

The star of one of 2021’s biggest TV hits, Mare of Easttown, talks about weepy reunions with Leonarbởi DiCaprio, bingeing Ted Lasso and middle-aged women taking over our screens


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Kate Winslet will be ready in a sec. “I’m just going khổng lồ put some more eyedrops on my stye,” she says. Blame her intense crime drama Mare of Easttown, one of the TV hits of the pandemic. “It was quite a stressful job, and about nine weeks in I got three styes in my left eye, the third of which turned into a solid little marble và had lớn be cut out. But I pushed on. On with the show!” In it, she plays DS Mare Sheehan, who is raising her grandson, coping with her son’s suicide, và trying to lớn solve sầu the murder of a young mother in a working-class Philadelphia suburb. All without makeup: Mare is more likely khổng lồ reach for a Cheeto topped with a squirt of spray cheese than anything in the Max Factor range.

“The discussion about how Mare looked blew my mind,” says Winslet. The 46-year-old actor is speaking by phone from the West Sussex home page she shares with her husbvà, Ned Abel Smith, & their seven-year-old son Bear, as well as her two children from previous marriages: 21-year-old Mia by her first husband, Jim Threapleton, and 17-year-old Joe by her second, the director Sam Mendes. “People were asking, ‘Did she gain weight? Didn’t she look frumpy? Wasn’t that brave of her?’ But why should that be brave? I suppose because it’s not how leading actresses are represented. Maybe Mare will be the tipping point, and we’re going to stop scrutinising women on screen quite so much.”


Realism extended to every corner of the show. “We were always saying on set: ‘That’s too TV. Keep it real.’ I’d constantly be rubbing Marmite inkhổng lồ the knees of my jeans, or scuffing up my sneakers with a Brillo pad. You can’t just make one thing feel real: it has to be everything.” Take Mare’s car. “She would have sầu been driving her grandson to lớn & from kindergarten, feeding hyên breakfast on the fly. I know what the floor in the bachồng of my own oto looks like – there’s crushed cereal, with bowls và spoons clinking around, because we’ve sầu had breakfast on the school run. You’re sitting on crumbs which are so embedded in the seat it would take a fucking blowtorch lớn get them out!”


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‘The discussion about how Mare looked blew my mind’ … Winslet in Mare of Easttown. Photograph: 2021 Home Box OfficeThis is Winslet’s shtick: she may be a seven-time Osoto nominee (she won in 2008 for the Holocaust drama The Reader) và a double Emmy-winner (for two HBO shows, Mildred Pierce & now Mare of Easttown) but she remains the star who’s a slob lượt thích us. It’s a persona that chimes perfectly with Mare – Winslet intervened to lớn ensure that publithành phố pictures weren’t airbrushed to lớn make her look more presentable – as well as with our times. “Mare is how most of us felt through lockdown,” she says. “She validated the permanent pyjama look.”

Inadvertently or otherwise, Winslet became almost the face of the pandemic. As reports of coronavi khuẩn spread at the start of last year, her 2011 disaster movie Contagion, in which she plays an epidemiologist, shot to lớn the top of the streaming charts. Three months later, she & several Contagion co-stars, including Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard, presented public information videos. Winslet became a kind of Covid Vera Lynn, jollying people along by teaching us how to wash our hands, cough inlớn the crooks of our arms, & deploy the word “fomite” correctly.

That brooding stillness is hard for me because I’m a joyful, busy, active, huggy personDuring the interminable third lockdown, she gave two outstanding performances: first as the 19th-century palaeontologist Mary Anning in Ammonite, và then in Mare of Easttown. Both characters force Winslet lớn play against her natural warmth: it’s more than an hour inlớn Ammonite before Mary smiles, while Mare doesn’t laugh until episode five. “I took some of what I learned on Ammonite inkhổng lồ Mare,” she says. “That brooding stillness. It’s hard for me because I’m a joyful, busy, active sầu, huggy person. That’s who I am.”

The scripts for Mare of Easttown arrived one by one while she & Saoirse Ronan were shooting Ammonite on the Dorphối coast. “I’d say: ‘Oh my God, episode five just came in’, then Saoirse would go” – and here Winslet slips into lớn her co-star’s breathless Irish lilt – “‘Jesus fooking Christ, this is so exciting, you’ve gotta tell me what happens!’” Audiences turned out to lớn be every bit as enthusiastic. “It came along just as people badly needed something to lớn discuss other than who they knew who had died from Covid. It put families on couches, & there was a nostalgic unique khổng lồ the one-episode-a-week format. It gets conversation going while you’re waiting for the next one.”


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Winslet as Mary Anning in Ammonite, with Saoirse Ronan as Charlotte Murchison. Photograph: See-saw Films/BBC Films/AllstarWinslet’s own fondest TV memories from growing up in Reading, Berkshire, revolve around exactly those kinds of cliffhangers. “You’d desperately want khổng lồ know what would happen lớn Zammo next on Grange Hill, or to the Fowlers in EastEnders.” Is she a binger now? “Covid has taught me how to lớn binge. In more ways than one. But yes, Ned and I watched Ted Lasso pretty much back-to-baông xã. Covid made you not feel so bad about hanging out on the couch.”

It would be wrong to lớn suggest that Mare of Easttown has catered simply lớn a nostalgia for delayed gratification when there is so much else khổng lồ praise it for, not least its female characters. “Middle-aged women have long been underestimated, disrespected and disregarded in the film and television community, and now that’s changing,” she says. “Look at the actresses who won at the Emmys. None of us were in our 20s by any means, và that’s cool! I feel way cooler as a fortysomething actress than I ever imagined I would.”

She also felt a deeper connection between herself và the character than she has done on previous jobs. “I knew Mare và this world vividly. I grew up in a tiny terraced house in a working-class, small-town community where your life overlaps with your neighbours’ lives just because the walls are so thin. If Lorraine down the road had her varicose veins done, the entire world knew. And if, for the first time ever, the couple two streets across voted Conservative instead of Labour then – bloody hell! – all shit went off in our house, and my parents would be debating whether they ought to talk khổng lồ those people about their choices. This wasn’t a teeny-tiny cul-de-sac. It was the Oxford Road. If I was standing in my parents’ bedroom, I could be eye-to-eye with the people on the top deông xã of the No 17 bus.”

Winslet is proud of Mare of Easttown’s focus on community; the whodunnit element may be the motor, but it’s the milieu that makes the show feel so salty và rich. There is also far less emphasis on damaged female bodies than audiences have sầu come lớn expect from crime drama. “You’re right, we did show less,” she says. “In the morgue scene, we had a dummy that was an exact replica of the actress’s body & we were even respectful of that. Between takes we would cover the dummy with a sheet.”

For all the show’s sensitivity, its vision of the police as uniformly caring, conscientious and true feels antiquated in light of the murders of George Floyd and Sarah Everard, khổng lồ choose only the most shocking recent examples of police criminality. Shouldn’t television reflect the fact that the police badge is not necessarily a reassuring or honourable symbol?

“I don’t know if I’m going to be playing Mare again,” Winslet says. “But if we were to lớn do a second season, then for sure these atrocities which have sầu existed in the police force here & in America will find their way into lớn the stories we tell. One hundred per cent. You can’t pretover these things haven’t happened.” She sighs. “It’s horrible, isn’t it? This moment in time. It’s horrific. You can hear me, I can’t quite find the words because we all feel so betrayed và powerless. We have sầu lớn turn this moment inkhổng lồ something meaningful. We have khổng lồ use our voices on behalf of people who don’t have sầu one. That matters to lớn me now in ways that hadn’t even crossed my mind in my 20s.”


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The second series of Mare of Easttown would have khổng lồ address ‘atrocities in the police force’. Photograph: HBO/2021Possibly, she had other things lớn think about. Her 20s began, after all, with Titanic. “Do you know Leo just turned 47?” she asks, suddenly shocked. Then her voice grows wistful as she thinks back to lớn herself và DiCaprio as pups. “I turned 21 on that shoot, and Leo turned 22,” she says. I tell her that when I met DiCaprio bachồng then, he complained to me about Titanic’s arduous production & how miserable he felt. She lets out a raucous laugh. “I remember! I remember that he was! It wasn’t pleasant for any of us, but we were all in it together. Though he had way more days off than I ever bloody did. I guess I was raised khổng lồ be grateful & just get on with it. I didn’t feel it was my right khổng lồ be miserable, & if I was miserable I certainly would not have let a journacác mục know.” She is laughing again. “There is no way I would have let that slip!”

She và DiCaprio later played a troubled married couple in Revolutionary Road và met again in Los Angeles recently for the first time in three years. “I couldn’t stop crying,” says Winslet. “I’ve known hlặng for half my life! It’s not as if I’ve found myself in Thành Phố New York or he’s been in London & there’s been a chance khổng lồ have dinner or grab a coffee và a catchup. We haven’t been able to leave sầu our countries. Like so many friendships globally, we’ve sầu missed each other because of Covid. He’s my friend, my really cthua trận frikết thúc. We’re bonded for life.”

Were she sitting in front of me now, I get the impression she might appear to have sầu something in her eye. Or perhaps it would just be the drops.