Interview: Kate Winslet On The Holiday

By Fred Topel 2006-12-06 00:00:00discussion comments
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Kate Winslet may have crossed over into light, fluffy territory with the romantic comedy The Holiday, but she certainly hasn't sold out. Speaking with the eloquent Brit made it clear that just as much deep thought went into her portrayal of a lovelorn book editor as went into her most acclaimed work.

"I think you know itís just a whole new genre to me, you know romantic comedy," she said. "Iíve never done a romantic comedy or something that is labelled as that before. And I was so excited to do something new and also nervous you know. The worry of can I be funny is a terrible thing to be concerned about. And Jude [Law] and I would speak on the telephone a lot before we started shooting, 'Oh my god, theyíre going to fire us, theyíre going to recast, what if we donít make them laugh?' You know, very nervous about the whole thing."

Woe be to the filmmaker who fires Kate Winslet without giving her a chance. But being funny wasn't the only thing on Winslet's mind. "Also I havenít played a contemporary English woman in a film either before. Iíve done a lot of period English films but never a contemporary person. Iíve done it in American but this was new to me. And actually I did not like the feeling initially. I thought, 'Well, what do you mean I canít hide behind something? What do you mean I donít have a wig or an accent or a strange costume?' It was me and my hair and my voice and clothes that I would choose to wear and there was something oddly intimidating about that and it took a little bit of getting used to."

Now that she's conquered the genre, Winslet would be game for more rom com. "I loved it, I would absolutely love to. I mean, itís a very different way of working and yet itís just as much hard work. I loved it. I mean, I really had a great time and to be honest it was so nice to walk away from the experience of shooting this film with a real spring in my step and not feeling as though I was kind of bleeding out of every pore in my body and Iíd been kind of put through the kind of emotional rollercoaster ride of playing somebody like Sarah [in Little Children]. I didnít feel I had to patch myself back together quite as much as you sometimes do. So it was a truly wonderful experience."

The Winslets have a long family tree of actors, so the most famous one believes it was in her blood from birth. "There was absolutely in my mind never any question that that was what I wanted to be, but I never thought I was going to be in films. I mean, thatís not what acting was about in my family. The acting was about struggle and doing theatre. And even getting an episode of a TV series that was a big job, that was something that we would all celebrate about. The fact that I have ended up being in movies is something that Iím constantly kind of amazed by and find myself constantly questioning how did that happen, how, how? Because it wasnít something that I really knew anything about when I was a child. But I always knew that I wanted to do it and my parents were just very encouraging in the right ways, in the practical ways. They didnít sort of say to me, 'Youíre so wonderful darling, youíre going to be a huge star.' They said, 'Okay, well, work hard and weíll see. Do your best. Do your best because your best is good enough.' Thatís what they would say and thatís what I say to my daughter and my son in everything because I think itís tremendously important to instil that kind of confidence in a child. And my daughter will repeat it back to me. She says, 'Iím doing my best because my best is good enough.'"

With a potential fifth Oscar nomination coming this year for Little Children, Winslet keeps the accolades in check. "Listen, itís good. It certainly isnít something that I feel like Iím aiming for. It isnít a goal of mine. I just feel so incredibly lucky that Iíve had that acknowledgement and that experience. I mean, itís just something that you know if youíre really, really lucky you get that, you get that pat on the back. And Iíve had that pat on the back and itís incredible and it feels amazing. But the truth is every time I have been nominated and Iíve attended the Academy Awards, I have instinctively known that I wasnít going to win. Absolutely. And so itís been nice because Iíve just been able to go along and really just enjoy the whole experience. Iím aware that thereís buzz surrounding Little Children but who knows? The movie may slide off the map, it may not even enter the radar. You just donít know, you just honestly donít know. And because I donít read reviews and because Iím so unaware of what people are saying, I genuinely donít have a sense of how much staying power itís going to have. But listen, of course it would mean everything to me if it went all the way."

The Holiday opens December 8.
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