The immensely talented and iconic Kate Winslet stole our hearts 18 years ago as Rose in Titanic, and she's continued to do so ever since, including her recent turn as Sabine in the British period film A Little Chaos.
Set in 1682, Winslet stars alongside Alan Rickman and Matthias Schoenaerts as a strong, independent landscape gardener who throws herself into work at the Palace of Versailles after dealing with the recent tragic loss of her family. We sat down with Winslet to chat all about the period drama, her experiences on the set of Titanic, and, if she had to choose, which of her movie characters she'd trade lives with. Here's what went down.
What was it like getting to play such a strong female character in this film?
Kate Winslet: One of the things I would say about the complexity of Sabine is that you don’t feel any of it, you know? There’s a sort of gentleness about her, and a strength, and courage, and positivity, and lightness of spirit.
That I did feel was quite unusual for a woman who has experienced substantial grief actually quite recently in her life. I loved that about her. I loved her resourcefulness, I loved her creativity, I loved her bohemian way of thinking. She’s a really exceptional woman, and there’s something empowering about playing those qualities. Especially in a period film.
It was very, very beautiful. It’s a beautiful period in time. And there were just so many things about her that I really admired actually, and you know that’s not always the case in acting! Sometimes I’ll find myself playing a role and there are things it’s like, ah, OK. OK, I have to play that emotion and get my head around that thing. And often there are things about a character that I will actually find quite irritating, in terms of qualities that they possess. And I didn’t find that with Sabine. So it was just a really — it was like a relief, you know?
I was also in the very early stages of pregnancy when we were making the film and trying to keep it a secret. And so actually, to have a focus every day — and I did have a lot of nausea and a lot of those good fun things a lot of women have in the early stages — you know, it was a lovely distraction from all of that stuff as well!
Was there ever a time that you dealt with someone not thinking you were capable of a role or job because of your gender, and how did you handle it?
KW: Yes, I’ve definitely been in situations. You know, actually on Titanic, you know that was quite a male-strong crew, and male-driven piece in terms of lots of actors as opposed to actresses. I never felt — what’s the word — uncomfortable or out of place. But I did feel, OK, I gotta hold my own.
And also the nature of that character, she does drive the story. So I was very aware of just, [deep breath] OK, dig deep, be strong. And I think because the age that I was, you know I turned 21 on that shoot and you know you do have to give yourself some sort of metaphorical pep talks just in terms of staying confident, feeling good about yourself.
And I think it’s hard when you’re young, no matter what your role is in life — whether you’re still in college, or traveling, or you have a stable job, as was in my case. You sometimes do have to say, Come on, you can do this, keep going! Yeah, I’ve definitely had a lot of moments like that.
In your life, do you generally prefer order or chaos?
KW: I do prefer more order, but I fail miserably. There’s a lot of order in my kitchen just because I’m in the kitchen ALL the time. But in terms of other things in life —like you know, clothes — I’m afraid I’m a bit of a strewer. Often I’ll look at a room and go, Ugh, whose is all this stuff?! And then I’ll realize that it’s all mine [laughs], and it’s just strewn all over the floor. So, you know, a combination of both of those things.
If you could reborn in any era or time period, when would you want to be born and why?
KW: I’d love to know what it was like to live in the '20s. Actually probably in France, because France is just so beautiful, in particular Paris. Yeah, very beautiful period.
Of these three films you starred in, which character would you rather trade lives with if you had to: Titanic, The Holiday, or A Little Chaos?
KW: Definitely not Titanic. [laughs] Probably Iris, the character I played in The Holiday, actually! She was so lovely.
It was a lovely part to be able to play. And I really liked her cottage, could’ve quite liked to live there. And it’s in England. I do love England. So yeah, probably that character!