Kate Winslet was dedicated to making her latest character as real as possible. In an interview with The New York Times, the 45-year-old actress shares how she set aside vanity for her Mare of Easttown role.
In HBO’s limited series, which aired its final episode over the weekend, Winslet plays Mare Sheehan, a small town Pennsylvania detective who’s working to find a murderer while dealing with the grief of her son’s suicide.
Winslet acknowledges that the role likely left many viewers questioning, “Oh my God, how can she let herself look so unglamorous?”
The lack of glamour, though, went deeper than fans knew. In fact, Winslet says, when director Craig Zobel offered to cut “a bulgy bit of belly” from her sex scene with Guy Pearce, who starred as Richard Ryan, Mare’s author love interest, she told him, “Don’t you dare!”
While Winslet was prepared to be unglamorous for the role, she still questioned if she wanted to do a sex scene at all. Her husband, Edward Abel Smith, encouraged her to go ahead with it.
“In episode one, she’s having sex on a couch. I said to my husband, ‘Am I OK with that? Is it all right that I’m playing a middle-aged woman who is a grandmother who does really make a habit of having one-night stands?'” she recalls. “He’s like, ‘Kate, it’s great. Let her do it.'”
It’s things like that, Winslet says, that make her love her Smith, with whom she shares 7-year-old Bear, even more. Winslet is also mom to Mia, 20, and Joe, 17, from previous relationships.
“He’s the superhot, superhuman, stay-at-home dad. He looks after us, especially me. I said to him earlier, like, ‘Neddy, could you do something for me?’ He just went, ‘Anything,'” she says of Smith, whom she married in 2012. “He is an absolutely extraordinary life partner. I’m so, so, so lucky.”
“For a man who is severely dyslexic, as he is, he’s great at testing me on lines. It’s so hard for him to read out loud, but he still does it,” Winslet continues. “He didn’t particularly plan on meeting and marrying a woman who is in the public eye and therefore having been so judged.”
Even with her husband’s support, onscreen nudity may be a thing of the past for Winslet.
“I think my days are getting a little bit numbered of doing nudity,” she says. “I’m just not that comfortable doing it anymore. It’s not even really an age thing, actually. There comes a point where people are going to go, ‘Oh, here she goes again.'”
Winslet’s dedication to a lack of vanity with Mare didn’t end during the sex scene with Pearce. Rather, the actress applied a similar tactic when she sent back the show’s poster for being too retouched.
“They were like ‘Kate, really, you can’t,’ and I’m like ‘Guys, I know how many lines I have by the side of my eye, please put them all back,'” she recalls.
Winslet didn’t even want her skin to look too luminous on the series, revealing that they “tried to light it to make it look not nice” and decided not to cover up her sunspots or other imperfections, things that are usually “airbrushed away.”
Likewise, Mare’s clothes were meant to be ill-fitting and less than appealing.
“Whenever we’d find something unflattering, we’d be jumping up and down like, ‘Yes! We’re wearing this,'” Winslet shares.
All of that, Winslet believes, led viewers to fall in love with Mare as a “wildly flawed, messy, broken, fragmented, difficult woman.”
“Listen, I hope that in playing Mare as a middle-aged woman — I will be 46 in October — I guess that’s why people have connected with this character in the way that they have done because there are clearly no filters,” Winslet says. “She’s a fully functioning, flawed woman with a body and a face that moves in a way that is synonymous with her age and her life and where she comes from. I think we’re starved of that a bit.”
“… I loved her marks and her scars and her faults and her flaws and the fact that she has no off switch, no stop button,” she adds. “She just knows ‘Go.'”
Winslet is concerned, she says, about how her willingness to be raw and real is not the norm amid the filter-filled social media era.
“What worries me is that faces are beautiful. Faces that change, that move, are beautiful faces, but we’ve stopped learning how to love those faces because we keep covering them up with filters now because of social media and anyone can photoshop themselves, and airbrush themselves, and so they do,” she says. “In general, I would say I feel for this generation because I don’t see it stopping, I don’t see or feel it changing, and that just makes me sad because I hope that they aren’t missing out on being present in real life and not reaching for unattainable ideals.”
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