The Oscar winning actress and singer is best known for her role in Titanic. The British beauty queen has built a versatile resume that runs from comedy and thrillers to romantic drama. Brought up in a family of filmmakers, it comes as no surprise why Kate Winslet continues to be a big name in the industry.
Kate Elizabeth Winslet was born in the Reading area of England. Kate was born and raised in an artistry family. Kate is the second born in her family of four children; one brother Joss Winslet and two sisters who are actresses, Beth and Anna.
Kate’s parents Roger and Sally Bridges were part time stage actors with her mother working as a barmaid and Rogers as a swimming contractor as their formal employment. Winslet’s uncle, Robert Bridges also worked in a theatre while her maternal grandparents, Oliver and Linda Bridges were managers and founders of the Reading Repertory Theatre. It is this influence that saw Kate aspire to become a professional actress from a very young age.
At the age of 11, Winslet started drama classes at Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead before heading to a performing arts high school. Following her exceptional performance and discipline, Kate was made the head girl. However, the teenage girl later dropped out of school to concentrate on her acting career. At the age of 12, the charming little girl featured in the Sugar Puffs television advertisement directed by Tim Pope. Winslet appeared as the dancing girl opposite Honey Monster in the advertisement. Tim was impressed by her prowess and naturalism, stating that she would make a great actress.
Considering Kate’s grandparents were theatre managers, she appeared in more than 20 stage productions filmed by Reading Repertory. Some included lead roles in films like Annie where she played Miss Hannigan, Mother Wolf in The Jungle Book and Bugsy where she starred as Lena Marelli.
Kate’s screen debut came in 1990 after she appeared on the TV series, Shrinks. Soon after, she landed more gigs and became a regular stage actor. She first appeared in the children science fiction Dark Season followed by appearances in Anglo Saxon Attitudes, the sitcom Get Back and a brief feature in the medical drama Casualty.
After numerous appearances in small productions, at the age of 17, Winslet finally landed a role in a big film that marked the beginning of her serious career in acting. This was Peter Jackson’s film, Heavenly Creatures where Kate played the character Juliet, an obsessive adolescent who assists in the murder of her best friend’s mother. The film was based on a true story and this contributed to the massive praise it received from critics. Being her first breakthrough in the acting profession, positive reviews brought her to a wider public attention which worked as a vehicle to land better roles from giant productions in the future. For her good performance, Winslet received an Empire Award as well as the Award for British actress of the year from London Film Critics’ Circle.
Following the success from her previous film, Winslet was invited to audition for a supporting role in Sense and Sensibility the following year. The young star impressed the director instantly and she was hired for the job starring alongside film star Emma Thomson. The film was another success that saw Winslet honored a British Academy Award as well as an Oscar nomination for the Best Supporting Actress. Kate Winslet went ahead to feature in Jude playing a rebellious heroine and Ophelia in the 1996 Hamlet.
Most people know Winslet from the 1996 record breaking blockbuster film Titanic by James Cameron. However, landing the role wasn’t easy for the England-born beauty. It is her persistence as well as talent that finally convinced Cameron that she was fit for the cast. Winslet played character Rose Dewitt, a seventeen year old socialite who survives the Titanic sinking. The emotional film was a great hit grossing more than $2 billion dollars in the box office. In a snapshot, Winslet had been turned into an international movie star. Kate was honored several awards and that included a nomination at the Academy Awards for the Best Actress in a lead role and a win at the European Film Award.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Kate did not star in big productions in 1999 as expected, but instead chose low budget projects. Feeling pressured by critics, Kate stated that she didn’t view Titanic as a springboard for bigger roles, as this could have destroyed her.
Her first small production was Hideous Kinky where she played a free spirited single mother. Winslet’s second choice was Jane Campion’s directed film Holy Smoke with Kate playing the character Ruth Barron, a young lady who joins a religious cult. It is in the latter film that Winslet portrayed her talent for on-screen nudity after she cast alongside Harvey Keitel who played PJ Waters. That same year, Winslet voiced the animated film Faeries.
In 2000, Kate featured in the film Quills which is an inspiration of the works by the French novelist, Marquis de Sade. She played a laundress who smuggles illicit writings out of an insane asylum. The film was a modest success, and although it did not win Winslet any award, the film grossed $18 million.
In 2011, Kate featured in her first war film titled Enigma where she played a young woman who falls for a brilliant World War II code breaker. Even though she appeared in the role when already five months pregnant, it was very well received, winning her a British Independent Film Award.
That same year, she was cast with Judi Dench in the film Iris, where both ladies shared a role, portraying the character Murdoch at different phrases of life. The role earned her the third Academy Award nomination and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association in the best supporting actress category. Winslet ended her year by voicing character Belle in the animated film Christmas Carol: The Movie.
After taking a brief break from the film industry, Kate made a comeback in 2003 playing an ambitious journalist who interviews a death sentenced professor in the film The Life of David Gale.
The following year was similarly successful as Kate starred opposite Jim Carrey in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Her exceptional performance as a chatty woman who makes up her mind to erase any memories of an ex-boyfriend gave Winslet yet another Academy Award nomination. That same year, Winslet played a widowed mother of four boys in the film Finding Neverland. The film further elevated the then young mother to international stardom after grossing a sum of $118 million.
In the years that followed, Kate featured in several commercially successful films that include; Romance $ Cigarettes, Little Children, The Holiday, All the King’s Men and Revolutionary Road which she co-starred with Titanic Co-star, Leornardo DiCaprio.
In 2008, she played the character Hannah, an older woman who falls in love with a young boy and going through a war trial in the film The Reader. For the film, she received an Oscar in the Best Actress category.
The outspoken actress holds the record as being the third actress in history to win two Golden Globe awards in the same year. This is after she received the award for Best Actress in Revolutionary Road and Best Supporting Actress in the film The Reader.
Winslet went on to feature in the 2011 film Mildred Pierce which won her a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. She also starred in Carnage alongside Roman Polanski and Jodie Foster.
In 2013, Winslet featured in two more films; the comedy Movie 43 considered as one of the worst performing films in her career and Labor Day which earned her a Golden Globe nomination in the best actress category.
Winslet appeared in the 2014 film Divergent where she played an erudite antagonist for the very first time in her career. The film was a great success and grossed a total of $288.7 million globally.
In 2015, Winslet appeared in her very first sequel entitled The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Although her role as Jeanine Matthews received criticism from some critics, the film was a success and grossed a total of $297 million worldwide. More of her 2015 works included The Dressmaker which won her an AACTA for best Actress and Steve Jobs where she played the marketing executive Joanna Hoffman. The latter earned her the seventh Oscar nomination as well as a Golden Globe win for best actress in a supporting role.
The year 2016 started on a high note as she played a Russian Israeli mafia loll in the crime thriller Triple 9. Towards the end of the year, she starred with Will Smith in the ensemble drama Collateral Beauty.
The year 2017 is set to be busy for the established actress with several projects on the line up. Some include the romantic-disaster film, The Mountain Between Us and a biopic based on Elizabeth Lee Miller during World War II.
Winslet is known as the outspoken and tough woman who cares less about the media hearsay. On several occasions, critics have raised concerns in regards to Kate’s weight fluctuations which are not ideal for an actress. Winslet has however remained unperturbed stating that Hollywood will never dictate her weight. Over the years, she has engaged in conflicts with several magazines after they intruded in her weight affairs. In 2003, GQ magazine had to publicly apologize after the publication altered Winslet’s pictures to make her look thinner than she was. The same case happened to Grazia Magazine after they claimed she had visited a diet doctor.
The Titanic star is also a philanthropist and an advocate for children with autism. In 2010, she narrated a documentary titled A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism. It is her involvement in the production of this documentary that led Winslet into founding a non-profit organization called The Golden Hat which focuses on eliminating hindrances for people living with autism. Her work through the foundation has been celebrated across the United States and as a result, she was honored with the YO Dona award for her impressive humanitarian work with the Golden Hat.
Besides charity, Kate is an advertising model and a face of cosmetic and perfume brand Lancôme. Kate also supports ageing naturally and strongly opposes the notion of plastic surgery and botox.
In 1991 while filming Dark Season, Winslet met fellow actor Stephen Tredre and they immediately started dating. The two dated for four and a half years before they split in 1995. Stephen who was suffering from bone cancer later died in 1996 and Kate moaned him for a while.
In 1997, Kate met film director Jim Threapleton who worked as an assistant director in the movie Hideous Kinky. Winslet and Threapleton later got married in November 1998. The two were blessed with a daughter in October 2000 who they named Mia Honey Threapleton. However, Kate and Jim divorced in 2001 after three years of marriage.
Shortly after finalizing her divorce, Kate started dating Sam Mendes and the two got married in May 2003. The couple had a son named Joe Alfie Winslet Mendes born in December 2003. After seven years of marriage, Kate and Sam Mendes decided to separate in 2010 and finally divorced in 2011.
In 2011, Winslet received a major blow after her residence caught fire which caused massive damages to the entire property. On the good side though, there were no casualties.
In August 2011, even before her divorce with Mendes was finalised, Winslet started dating Ned Rocknroll the nephew of business mogul Richard Branson. The two got engaged in the 2012 summer before wedding in a private ceremony in New York later that year. The event was only attended by her children and six other friends with Leornardo DiCaprio walking Winslet down the aisle.
Ned and Winslet have a son named Bear Blaze Winslet born in December 2013. The couple relocated to the UK where they intend to live permanently. They currently stay in a heritage home in West Wittering, West Sussex.
Written by: Peris Ngaruiya