Born on October 5, 1975, in Reading, England, Kate Winslet started acting at age 7. She starred on the British stage until the mid-1990s, when she appeared in her first film, Heavenly Creatures. In 1997 she had the lead in Titanic, which propelled her to international stardom. She has since starred in several offbeat films and has won the best actress Oscar for The Reader. She has also received several Golden Globes, including wins for Revolutionary Road, Mildred Pierce and Steve Jobs.
Born on October 5, 1975, in Reading, England, Kate Elizabeth Winslet is the granddaughter of two theater managers (her maternal grandparents founded Reading Repertory Theatre) and the daughter of two actors. Winslet began acting as a child, making her first appearance on British television at age 7 in a cereal commercial. In 1988, she appeared on the TV series Shrinks; three years later, she left school to pursue her fledgling acting career.
Winslet appeared on the British stage in productions such as Adrian Mole and Peter Pan, and had a recurring role on the British sitcom Get Back, before landing her debut film role in Heavenly Creatures (1994), directed by Peter Jackson. In the film, Winslet played Juliet Hulme, a schoolgirl with tuberculosis whose obsessive friendship with a classmate leads the two girls to murder the classmate's mother in order to avoid separation.
Winslet attracted even more attention with her next role in Ang Lee's film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility (1995). The actress proved she could hold her own across from screen legends such as Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. As the winsome Marianne Dashwood—the "sensibility" of the movie—Winslet earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. The film also earned high praise from critics.
Oscar Nod for 'Titanic'
In a similarly high-brow role, Kate Winslet starred with Christopher Eccleston in Jude, a modern interpretation of the Thomas Hardy novel Jude the Obscure. She then appeared as Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), and landed squarely on the A-list of leading ladies with her performance as Rose DeWitt, the heroine of James Cameron's record-breaking blockbuster Titanic (1997). The film won numerous Academy Awards, including best picture and best director, and scored Winslet her second Academy Award nomination, this time for best actress. Her co-star, Gloria Stuart, also earned a nod in the supporting actress category for her portrayal of the older Rose DeWitt; the two actresses became the first ever to earn nominations for playing two versions of the same character.
On the heels of her first blockbuster hit, Winslet made two somewhat unlikely choices for her next projects: Hideous Kinky (1999) and Holy Smoke (1999). In Hideous Kinky, Winslet played a free-spirited single mother who brings her two daughters on a spiritual quest to Marrakech. For the Jane Campion-directed Holy Smoke, Winslet played Ruth Barron, a young woman who joins a religious cult. The film's frank depiction of the sexual connection between Barron and PJ Waters (played by Harvey Keitel) displayed Winslet's talent for portraying physical and emotional nudity onscreen.
Winslet then returned to a period drama in 2000 with the film Quills, a movie about the French novelist Marquis de Sade. In the movie, Winslet portrayed the laundress who helps the Marquis (Geoffrey Rush) smuggle his illicit writings out of an insane asylum during his commitment there.
In 2001, Winslet lent her voice to the animated British feature A Christmas Carol. A song from the movie, "What If," featured Winslet as the lead vocalist and became a Top 10 single in Britain. Her most notable film that year was Iris, a screenplay based on the John Bailey book Elegy for Iris. Winslet played the young Iris Murdoch, an unconventional student. Judi Dench played the older Iris, whose husband (Jim Broadbent) tries to help her as she struggles with the growing effects of her Alzheimer's disease. All three Iris stars earned Academy Award nominations, making it the second time Winslet and a co-star both earned nominations for playing different versions of the same character.
That same year, Winslet co-starred as a code-breaker in the World War II-era spy drama Enigma (2002). She also appeared as a reporter interviewing a death-row inmate in The Life of David Gale, co-starring Kevin Spacey and Laura Linney. In 2004, Winslet starred opposite Jim Carrey in Charlie Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which earned her another Academy Award nomination for her performance. She also co-starred with Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland (2004), which explored J.M. Barrie's inspiration for his best-known work, Peter Pan. In the film, Winslet played the widowed mother of four boys whom Barrie befriended.
Again playing a maternal role, Winslet starred in Little Children (2006) as a frustrated suburban woman who gets involved with a married man. She earned yet another Academy Award nomination for this film. Continuing to tackle serious dramas, Winslet starred in Revolutionary Road (2008) and The Reader (2008). For Revolutionary Road, Winslet teamed up again with her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio as a struggling married couple in the 1950s. The Reader explores the relationship between a young boy and an older woman (Winslet), and their later encounter when she is put on trial for war crimes.
Winslet later won a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for her starring role in the miniseries Mildred Pierce (2011). The part had been previously played by Joan Crawford in the 1945 feature film version of the James M. Cain novel. Winslet also starred in the Roman Polanski film Carnage with Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly that same year.
Winslet has gone on to tackle a variety of roles. In 2013, she appeared in the ensemble comedy Movie 43 with Hugh Jackman and Emma Stone. That year she also starred in Labor Day with Josh Brolin, earning a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a drama.
Moving into franchise territory, Winslet took on the role of the villainous Jeanine Matthews for the 2014 dystopian thriller Divergent and its 2015 sequel, Insurgent. In 2015 she also starred as Apple executive Joanna Hoffman in the biopic Steve Jobs, receiving another Golden Globe for her efforts as well as the seventh Oscar nomination of her career.
Winslet is married to Ned Rocknroll, nephew of business mogul Richard Branson. The couple tied the knot in a private ceremony in December 2012. DiCaprio is said to have walked Winslet down the aisle.
Winslet was previously married to Sam Mendes, the noted British stage director and Oscar-winning director of American Beauty, with the two having also worked on Revolutionary Road together. Winslet and Mendes have one child together, a son named Joe. She also has a daughter, Mia, from her first marriage to Jim Threapleton. The couple met on the set of Hideous Kinky, for which he was the assistant director; they married in late 1998 and were divorced in December 2001.
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