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Kate Winslet Biography


Home > Actresses > W > Winslet, Kate > Biography


Birth Name: Kate Winslet
Born: 10/05/1975
Birth Place: Reading, England, GB


Born on Oct. 5, 1975 in Reading, England, Winslet was raised by her father, Roger, and mother, Ann, both of whom were theatre actors, while her maternal grandparents, Oliver and Linda, founded and operated the Reading Repertory Theatre. When she was five, Winslet had her first taste of the family business when she played Mary in a school production of the Nativity. By the time she was approaching adolescence, Winslet decided to pursue an acting career and attended the Redroofs Theatre School in Berkshire, where she spent her time feeling miserable and being mercilessly called "Blubber" by her fellow pupils. When she was 13, Winslet made her first foray into professional acting by starring in a commercial for Sugar Puffs cereal. She made her British television debut on "Shrinks" (1991), then turned in several episodes of "Dark Season" (BBC, 1991), "Get Back" (BBC, 1992) and "Casualty" (BBC, 1986- ). Winslet then briefly appeared in her first made-for-television movie, "Anglo-Saxon Attitudes" (1992), a three-part miniseries based on Angus Wilson's famed satirical novel.

Though working steadily in television, Winslet was still working at a deli when she was cast by director Peter Jackson for a lead role in "Heavenly Creatures" (1994). Winslet played Juliet Hulme, a brash, highly intelligent teen who develops an obsessive friendship with a brooding fellow student, Pauline Parker (Melaine Lynskey). Together, the pair seeks to escape the boundaries of their mundane reality to indulge in a fantasy world they create through stories and clay models. But when the outside world - in the form of Parker's mother (Sarah Peirse) - comes crashing in on them, the girls conspire to commit a murder that has all-too-real consequences. After earning rave reviews for her performance, Winslet followed with a small role as a princess in "A Kid in King Arthur's Court" (1995), then received wide critical praise for her subtle performance as the spirited Marianne Dashwood in "Sense and Sensibility" (1995), writer and lead actress Emma Thompson's dramedy of manners about two opposite sisters struggling to find romantic fulfillment in a society ruled by financial and social status. Though the lion's share of praise fell on Thompson, who won an Oscar for her screenplay, Winslet emerged as a star-in-the-making after winning a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress and earning an Academy Award nomination in the same category.

Continuing the trend of appearing in period pieces, Winslet starred in "Jude" (1996), a romantic drama about two star-crossed loves adapted from Thomas Hardy's once-controversial novel, Jude the Obscure. Winslet played Sue, an intelligent, beautiful and unconventional 19th century woman who embarks on an illicit romance with her cousin (Christopher Eccleston). Later that year, she delivered a moving performance as Ophelia to Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" (1996) in the actor-director's four-hour feature version of Shakespeare's classic. For her first studio film, Winslet adopted an American accent to play dissatisfied Philadelphia socialite Rose Dewitt Bukater, who finds unlikely romance with a lower-class artist, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), in James Cameron's spectacular epic, "Titanic" (1997). As Rose and Jack fall deeply in love, while incurring the wrath of her wealthy fiancé (Billy Zane), the famed ocean liner strikes a large iceberg and plunges into the icy depths, ending the affair in tragic fashion. More than just a film, "Titanic" was a cultural phenomenon, grossing more than $600 million and earning 14 Oscar nominations, including one for Winslet as Best Actress. Her onscreen chemistry with DiCaprio had a cross-generational appeal, while the young actress found herself splashed across numerous magazine covers and tabloids. Her triumph was tempered by tragedy when her former boyfriend, writer Stephen Tredre, died in December 1997 from bone cancer. Winslet skipped the premiere to attend his funeral.

But rather than become confined to blockbusters - of which she was now the star of the biggest moneymaker in the history of Hollywood - Winslet escaped into the more familiar world of independent film. She starred in "Hideous Kinky" (1999), playing the mother of two young daughters (Carrie Mullan and Bella Riza) who packs up and heads to Marrakech seeking wisdom from a Sufi. Then in "Holy Smoke" (1999), Winslet portrayed a cult member whose family hires a deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel) to bring her back, only to enter into a sexually-charged battle of wills. Both roles allowed the young actress to display her emotional intensity and daring range, while also playing relatively contemporary characters. It was back to corsets and petticoats, as Winslet portrayed a laundress in the asylum of Charenton who colludes with the incarcerated Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush) to help smuggle out his writings in the well-crafted "Quills" (2000). Once again, Winslet demonstrated her remarkable gift for playing intelligent and sensual characters, while continuing to display fearlessness in exploring dark corners and pushing conventional boundaries.

Returning to Oscar caliber material, Winslet co-starred in the touching and contemplative drama, "Iris" (2001), essaying the youthful incarnation of British philosopher and novelist, Iris Murdoch. Based on husband John Bayley's memoirs, "Iris" was a return to form for Winslet, who caught Murdoch's unconventional, free-spirited youth - a perfect counterpoint to Judi Dench, who played the older Murdoch during her later descent into the ravages of Alzheimer's. Though Dench had the juicier aspect of the character to explore, Winslet nonetheless delivered a compelling performance that earned the actress another Oscar nomination; this time for Best Supporting Actress. Late in 2001, Winslet announced her relationship with director Sam Mendes, whom she had started dating sometime after her divorce from director Jim Threapleton the previous year. Meanwhile, she co-starred in "Enigma" (2002), a slow-moving World War II-era spy drama in which she Winslet played a mathematician helping to break the famed German code, a role that was decidedly devoid of any hint of edginess or sexuality. Winslet next appeared as Elizabeth "Bitesy" Bloom, an ambitious reporter investigating the case of a death row inmate in "The Life of David Gale" (2003). Winslet was praised for her performance, though she failed to overcome the bad feelings engendered by the movie's overwrought story, not to mention the overkill behind its anti-death penalty message.

Though she suffered insults about her weight as a child, Winslet proudly refused to conform to the typical Hollywood standard for extreme thinness and her fan base loved her for it. Not only was she happy with her figure as an adult, Winslet was unabashedly nude in several films and spoke openly of defying the industry's physical expectations. A small firestorm erupted in 2003, however, when a radically slimmed down Winslet appeared on the cover of GQ magazine. While it turned out that the actress was digitally slimmed by photo retouchers, Winslet blamed the controversy on herself for being so outspoken on the subject. Meanwhile, Winslet took on another free-spirited role for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), playing Clementine, a free-spirited book store clerk with multicolored hair whose breakup with her repressed boyfriend (Jim Carrey) prompts him to undergo a procedure to completely erase her from his memory. Again employing a flawless American accent, Winslet turned in a rich, multi-layered performance in one of her more unusual films to date, while earning several award nominations for Best Actress, including nods by the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

In "Finding Neverland" (2004), Winslet was on top of her game once more, playing Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, the widowed mother of four boys who - along with her sons - becomes the muse for Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) at a point when her life takes a tragic turn. Though she received no major award nominations for the role, Winslet did serve as an effective emotional counterpoint to Depp's much ballyhooed performance. Retreating to more obscure, independent roles - as well as motherhood and domestic life with new husband, Sam Mendes - Winslet co-starred in the emotionally engaging musical "Romance and Cigarettes" (2005), playing a seductive lingerie sales clerk who embarks on a passionate affair with a married ironworker (James Gandolfini). Winslet was busy the following year, appearing in Steven Zaillian's failed rehash of "All the King's Men" (2006), then voicing the streetwise Rita, a rat living in a vast sewer metropolis, in the animated comedy "Flushed Away" (2006). She shifted gears to co-star in a romantic comedy, "The Holiday" (2006), playing a lovelorn Englishwoman who switches houses for the Christmas holiday with an also disenfranchised woman (Cameron Diaz) in Los Angeles, as both find the last thing either wanted: another romance.

Winslet next starred as a single mom who engages in a steamy affair with a discontented married man (Patrick Wilson) in the critically praised drama, "Little Children" (2006). She earned several award nominations, including from the Golden Globes and the Academy. In a rare television appearance, she delivered a hilarious guest turn as herself on "Extras" (HBO, 2005-07), in which she gave series regular Ashley Jansen phone sex tips while dressed as a nun - a performance that earned the actress her first Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress. Creator and star Ricky Gervais later confessed that she had been his favorite guest star throughout the show's two-season run. Back on the big screen, Winslet had a long-awaited reunion with Leonardo DiCaprio in "Revolutionary Road" (2008), a drama about a young 1950s-era couple looking for fulfillment in France during an age of societal conformity. She would also appear in a supporting role in the Stephen Daldry-directed historical drama, "The Reader" (2009). In a remarkable one-two punch, she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "The Reader," as well as one for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama for "Revolutionary Road." After finally striking gold at the Globes, Winslet was poised for an Academy Award following her nomination for Best Actress for "The Reader." As many assumed she would, Winslet took home the Best Actress Oscar.

Coming off such a cinematic high, she took a rare turn toward television with the titular role in "Mildred Pierce" (HBO, 2011), a miniseries remake of the classic Joan Crawford 1945 melodrama that starred Winslet as a former housewife-turned-successful businesswoman who loses control of both her spoiled daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and herself at the expense of a playboy (Guy Pearce). For her work, she won an Emmy for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie as well as a Golden Globe for the role. Back in theaters, she next played Dr. Erin Mears, an officer for the Centers of Disease Control investigating a pandemic outbreak in director Steven Soderberg's take on the disaster genre, "Contagion" (2011). She followed with a tour de force performance alongside actors Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly in director Roman Polanski's "Carnage" (2011). Her work in the adaptation of Yasmina Reza's venerated stage play "God of Carnage" - a pitch-black comedy-drama about two sets of parents meeting for a "civilized" discussion after their teenage sons are involved in a fistfight - had already generated substantial awards season buzz before its theatrical release.




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