Kate Winslet has a new movie called Ammonite premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday. In a free and candid conversation with Vanity Fair Winslet opened up about her experiences as an actress, getting into character, and some awful things she’s seen on set.
The Titanic actress is now 44 years old and is tired of losing her voice and agency on set. She even named dropped the filmmakers she regrets working with. She talks about regrets in new interview. While the culture of the world is slowly changing, Winslet is ready for Hollywood to change with it.
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@vanityfair Little did Kate Winslet know in 2011 that playing an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in the film "Contagion" and shadowing CDC epidemiologists as research for the role would pay off in spades less than a decade later. Full story at the link in bio. Photograph by @jasonbellphoto for V.F. March 2015.
In her new movie, Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Winslet plays the real-life paleontologist. The film has a love story at the center of the film between Winslet and a grief-stricken young married woman played by Saoirse Ronan.
Since the world is still recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic, many aspects of Hollywood have come to a halt. The films that have already been made are screened virtually without a red carpet and all the hoopla- and Winslet prefers it that way. “It’s always really pained me, the money that gets wasted on colossal, great big junkets: flying journalists, actors, glam squads all over the world. Why the hell is any of that important?” she explained. And while it might be easier not having to fit in the expensive gowns, Winslet is concerned about the planet.
“I’ve said to the people who help me with press, ‘If any of the bans are lifted anytime soon, and the requests come in for me to fly places, can you apologize and say I won’t be doing that because it’s a waste of air travel?’ It’s appalling—putting ourselves into the sky left, right, and center. There’s only so much a person can stomach before your morals come into play. We’re still able to do all the things that need to get done without pumping biofuels into a beautiful, beautiful fading world.”
Winslet is proud of her extensive resume but admitted it’s easy to “lose one’s voice along the way and to lose sight of the responsibility that comes with that.” Winslet is ready to take control of her voice and that responsibility by ‘doing better.’ “Because life is fucking short and I’d like to do my best when it comes to setting a decent example to younger women. We’re handing them a pretty fucked up world, so I’d like to do my bit in having some proper integrity” she said.
Then, Winslet called out two filmmakers by name and expressed her deep regret working for them. “It’s like, what the fuck was I doing working with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski? It’s unbelievable to me now how those men were held in such high regard, so widely in the film industry and for as long as they were. It’s fucking disgraceful. And I have to take responsibility for the fact that I worked with them both. I can’t turn back the clock. I’m grappling with those regrets but what do we have if we aren’t able to just be fucking truthful about all of it?” Polanski is a Polish-French director that has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system since he fled the country while awaiting sentencing on five criminal charges, including rape. Allen’s long-buried sexual assault allegations have resurfaced over the years including by his daughter Dylan Farrow who accused him of sexually molesting her when she was 7.
In Ammonite, there is a love scene with Ronan that Winslet insisted she wanted to be responsible for choreographing. VF asked Winslet what led her to assert herself in that way and she explained, “...I would sometimes walk into the room and [go along with directions] even if it was a little thing, like the director saying, ‘We’d like to have you two over there in the corner by the window because the light’s good,’ yet the [setup] made my character look more feminine or look more lusted after or something.“ Winslet realized, “[It should have been] me walking into the room and saying, ‘Hang on. No, I don’t want to sit in the fucking window. That’s stupid, stereotypical, make-the-woman-look-good-by-the-fucking-nice-flattering-light shit. I don’t want to do that. Can we find an alternative?’”
Along with protecting herself, Winslet is doing what she can to protect other actresses that are new to Hollywood. There’s a young actress who plays her daughter in an upcoming HBO series called, Mare of Easttown, named Angourie Rice. Winslet explained Rice had an intimate scene between her and another character. “She’s a year younger than my daughter Mia and I felt automatically protective of her doing this scene because, suddenly, the two camera operators were men. I was actually done for the day—it was a night shoot and I had wrapped that morning. But I said, ‘I’m just going to stay here and be here for you.” So like a hero, Winslet went above and beyond and explained she ended up “being in the trunk of the car, screwed up in a little ball, just so they weren’t alone in the car with two men who, by the way, are completely lovely, respectful, seasoned camera operators. But still, she was young and it was a potential trigger moment for her. I didn’t want for her to feel that way.”
Winslet shared an awful memory that she recovered before the interview that happened when she did an intimate scene on Heavenly Creatures. While the crew was “lovely” as she was lining up to shoot the scene “in little undies, naked from the waist up” she heard one of the camera boys say to someone else, “Well, I guess it’s hard-dicks day, boys.” Winslet said she carried on and thought at the time she better not say anything and buried the memory. “But now it’s crystal clear” she explained, “I can actually remember what the guy looked like. I remember his name, and he really was a nice guy, but when you’re younger, you do this nonsense thing of just thinking, ‘That’s what men say.’ And they do it sometimes like they’re breathing…. I don’t know a single girl, actually, who hasn’t experienced some level of harassment on that level. Even if they’re just words, they’re so powerful. It’s like bullying.” As for acting, Winslet explained, “ It’s such a weird job. Why the hell do I do it? It still baffles me. I’m still so tormented by it, but I do still love it.”