The British Oscar winner opens up about the private torments that have driven her to the top
After five Oscar nominations and her Sense and Sensibility shortlisting when still only 19, someone finally said to Kate Winslet, ‘And the Oscar goes to…’ She won. Best Actress for The Reader. She wanted it so badly, and she’s not ashamed to admit as much. ‘There’s nothing bloody wrong with wanting it at all. And anyone who says, “Oh, I don’t know, oh, I’m on the fence…” it’s absolute crap. Of course they want it, deep down. Of course they do.’
It’s well documented how she suffered throughout her childhood and into her teenage years for being overweight. ‘I was bullied for being chubby. Where are they now!’ she half jokes. Her nickname was Blubber and the other pupils would lock her in the art cupboard.
Referring to her divorce from first husband, Jim Threapleton, Kate says: ‘Things happened in quick succession between the ages of 19 and 22. No wonder I blew up like a balloon. Remember those days? I think it was the Golden Globe year for Titanic, and I was on a red carpet and somebody showed me a picture and I was like, “Fuck, I was enormous.” I don’t particularly remember sitting at home crying and eating endless packets of HobNobs. I don’t remember doing that at all. Honestly, I think it was a stress thing or something. I don’t know.’
‘When I think about somebody like Keira Knightley, whom I don’t particularly know, I see somebody who is working hard, really trying to challenge herself and make smart choices in spite of people criticising her size and performances. That kind of pressure I don’t feel existed to that extent.’
‘”She’s fat, she’s thin, she’s married, she’s divorced.” I had all of that, and bouncing back from that criticism is fucking hard. But they just go for the personal now in a way I think can be really crushing.’
One aspect of her personality she defiantly refuses to change is that of being an outspoken and unofficial advocate for real-sized women the world over. ‘I do think it’s important for young women to know that magazine covers are retouched. People don’t really look like that. In films I might look glamorous, but I’ve been in hair and make-up for two hours. With the nudity in The Reader, for example, even I was like, “Damn, I look good.” It was a bit of body make-up. I don’t believe in pretending those things don’t go on.’
Kate, do you still see yourself as the fat kid at school? ‘Yeah,’ she replies. ‘I was the girl that people would always say, “Ah, it’s such a shame, because you’ve got such a pretty face”.
‘Oh, I had, “No one will ever fancy me!”,’ she answers. ‘I had that well into my teens. Even now I do not consider myself to be some kind of great, sexy beauty. I don’t mind the way I’m ageing. No reason to panic just yet. I think I look my age, and that’s fine.’
This is an edited version. To read the full interview with Kate Winslet, pick up the June issue of marie claire, on sale from 29 April.