Intervju med Kate Winslet av Begoña Arce, Cinemania, January 28, 1998

Six films in four years and one nomination to the Oscars, her prestige is rising fast. Obsessed with her characters to unhealthy limits, Kate Winslet talks about her latest work, Titanic.

She smokes a lot, drinks much coffee and speaks without a break, all at the same time, with a passion almost mediterranean. Her skin seems like porcelain, pale and perfect, but she ain´t neither a fragile doll nor an unbearable diva. Solid as an english oak, she is concious of her opportunities and she fights to the limit for everything she believes in. Kate Winslet, just 22 years old, has become the most international star of the new british talented generation. Even she is surprised of her trajectory.

Kate thought her future was on a stage, following her family´s tradition ; her grandparents owned a theater in Reading, the city where she was born, and her two sisters are actresses too. However, at the age of seventeen, her cinematographic career took off with the character of a maniac teenager in heavenly creatures. With her second movie, Sense and sensibility, [for which] she was nominated for an Oscar. Then came Jude, Kenneth Branagh´s Hamlet and , now, Titanic, the hardest and longest shooting.

She recognizes she gets obsessed with her characters to unhealthy limits. In Titanic, for example, even placed into freezing water she used to isolate herself from the surrounding world listening to music (gregorian chants) with a discman she kept in a plastic bag. This devotion to her characters leaves her exhausted, so she must rest a few months after each film to become herself again. This summer, during one of the breaks, she decorated the two floor house she has bought in London and where she lives with a friend.

The british capital city doesn´t displease her as much as other giant cities, for example Los Angeles, but she doesn´t love big cities.

The shooting of Titanic has been surrounded by all kind of rumours about director James Cameron´s tiranny. For Kate Winslet, Rose DeWitt Butaker (a good girl from Philadelphia) in the film, this shooting has been one of the most difficult experiences in her whole life.

I was told that Kate nearly drowned twice, her health wasn´t perfect because the water was freezing, and after a huge physical effort there were days when she hardly could sleep four hours.
Begoña Arce, Cinemania, January 28, 1998

Q : I think that Titanic´s Shooting was an enormous physical and mental proof for you.

K : Yes, it was a very long and tiring shooting. It took seven months and every day we worked many hours into freezing water, running, jumping, and after each take i was exhausted, with just enough energy to fall on the bed. But i knew all this before we started ´cause shooting a film ain´t always enjoyable or a work full of glamour. Anyway, the physical effort was not the most difficult part. The main problem is that in Titanic there are very technical parts and it´s very difficult as an actress to find enough consistence because you must try to organize yourself mentally while jumping from one take to another, from one emotinal reaction to another. Also i had never worked with such a big crew (600 technicians, 1000 extras). Besides, it was a very interesting experience.

Q : What can you tell me about your relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio ?

K : Our relationship was fantastic. Since the beginning we understood each other perfectly, we looked after and supported each other during the whole shooting. People think that Leo behaves like an unbearable Hollywood star but that ain´t true. He is a very quiet person, with both feet on the ground, he is not obsessed with his image ; Leo is a very family guy and a great actor. I could ask him for advice about any personal matter or about our work and i always knew he would tell me the truth 100%. We´ve been like a sister and her brother.

Q : And, what about James Cameron ?

K : I think there have been a lot of rumours about Jim´s relationship with the crew and the actors. He is a good guy and an amazing director, i think he is a genious and i´ve always admired his work. That was one of the reasons which led me to work in Titanic. Jim has a very clear vision of what he wants in each take, he is always trying to improve whatever he does. We had a good relationship.

Q : You insisted a lot to work in the film, didn´t you ?

K : I said, "well, what can i lose ?", so i phoned Jim and i tried to convince him ; first he laughed and then he asked me why should he give me the role. I enumerated all the affinities between Rose and me. It was a story which motivated me a lot and i gave everything i´ve got, i gave all my passion to my character because i believed in that project and i knew it was a film i had to do.

Q : And, are you happy with the result ?

K : It is a fantastic film and i´m very proud of being a part of Titanic. It´s very epic and it describes very well the meaning of LOVE, something that just a few people find in their lives. The story between Leo and me is the most important thing in the film. It´s not another film about the sinking, about Titanic´s catastrophe, but a story about passion, very dramatic because of the circumstances.

Q : After this experience, are you interested in following your career in Hollywood ?

K : I think Hollywood is an extraordinary place, it´s unique. Everything spins around cinema, but Los Angeles is suffocating, i don´t like it much and i would never live there. Anyway, of course i´d love to work in many other films.

Q : Now there are more opportunities to work in your country, what do you think about the new british cinema ?

K : It´s an stimulating moment. In the U.K. there are great actors, you can learn a lot from them, and they need to work in as many films as possible. There is also a new generation that is changing the image of my country abroad.

Q : Do you consider yourself a part of that generation ?

K : Yes, and i´m very proud of it. Maybe i am in a privileged situation, and it is, in part, a matter of luck. I´ve grown up in a country where there is little work and i know you must take it as it comes and get a move on, because maybe next week it´s not there. I still ask myself : what am i gonna do next year ? who will offer me another role ?. I guess it is something that will never disappear.

Q : But you keep on fighting.

K : I can´t sit down and see how time goes by. This is a very hard work and mentally destructive because you always doubt, you are always testing yourself. You doubt about if you can do it, if you are able. Before every film i think about suicide...ha,ha !, i start thinking :"God, i can´t do it ! it´s terrible ! but you must do it !.

Q : You get obsessed with your characters ; when you played Ophelia in Hamlet you cried, you banged your head against the walls, and everything seemed so real and traumatic..

K : It was horrible ´cause it took two days shooting those takes and you can´t finish one take and disconnect ´til the next day. It was extremely tiring and very painful because you must be in a terrible emotional state, and you must stay there ´til you finish the shooting. You must leave everything else aside, you must work with your mind and your heart.

Q : Your career seems to go very fast. Have you got everything under control ?

K : I don´t think everything has gone so fast. Maybe you can think that but i´ve done five films in five years. I had enough free time after each project and i have just made a six months break.

Q : Are you worried about money, does responsibility weigh you down ?

K : I´ve never intended to be rich but it´s true there are many high economic costs in this work. Sometimes i feel like a part of a business. Suddenly i say : "My God, i am employing six persons, and now i´ve got an assistant i had not before !". It is something i had never planned.

Q : What actors and actresses do you admire ?

K : I´ve always admired Leonardo DiCaprio, so when i knew i was going to work with him i just couldn´t believe it. I also love Harvey Keitel, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson. And I think Ewan McGregor is very good too.

Q : What´s your new project ?

K : I´m working in a british film directed by Gillies MacKinnon called Hideous Kinky. It is based on an autobiographic novel written by Esther Freud. It´s the story of a "hippy" woman that decides to take her two little daughters with her and go to live to Morocco. They lived there two years, with no money and no reason to be there. It was just an impulse.