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Winslet Sets a New Course

Actress follows 'Titanic' with 'Hideous Kinky,' marriage and an independent outlook on life.

April 17, 1999|JOHN CLARK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In yet another twist, Winslet had met Threapleton on the set of "Hideous Kinky." He was a last-minute addition to the crew, a third assistant director. They were relatively discreet about their relationship. Even MacKinnon didn't know about it.

"I had no idea what was going on," MacKinnon says. "Nobody said anything to me. I was so busy making the film I hadn't even noticed until three or four weeks later somebody said, 'Have you not noticed anything about Kate and Jim?' The penny dropped, you know?

"It was a strange time for Kate when she was in Morocco, what with this chap dying and all the pressure of 'Titanic,' " he continues. "She went to London to do publicity for 'Titanic,' and she came down with some kind of bug that she got in Morocco and ended up in hospital. It was really an amazing time. And then she met Jim. Good God, it was like the whole world was spinning around then."

It kept on spinning. Winslet went to L.A. for the Oscars--she was nominated for best actress--then to India to research a role for Jane Campion's "Holy Smoke" (her next film, in which she plays an Australian girl in thrall to a cult), then back to Morocco for a movie Threapleton was shooting, then to Australia and India again for four months to film "Holy Smoke."

Now they're back in London (they were married in November) trying to establish some sort of domesticity and dealing with Winslet's higher profile.

The downside to the "Titanic" phenomenon is everywhere apparent. Winslet was mobbed--frighteningly so--in Morocco and India. She is also subject to the usual spurious rumors: that, for example, she had pursued the role in "Elizabeth" that went to Cate Blanchett (she says she read the script five years ago and passed on it); that she was going to make a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger, contingent on her losing weight (never happened, she says).

Winslet brings up the issue of weight herself, probably because it's been brought up by others so often. It seems to be the only aspect of her existence that's less than brilliant, and it elicits from her the kind of defiance that all her characters have exhibited.

"I am who I am," she says. "I'm healthy. I swim a mile every day. I'll never be a stick insect, and I wouldn't want to be either because it seems to me that a lot of people who are very thin are just really unhappy.

"I had a time in my life when I was about 19 and I was very thin and I wasn't eating. I was anorexic for about six months. And I was so unhappy. And someone said to me one day, 'Don't you realize how much of your day you are spending thinking about your physicality?' And it was so true. I realized I'd wake up in the morning, the first thing I do I would look in the mirror: 'Oh, my bum looks big. Oh, my face is fat.' And I just felt, 'What am I doing to my life? I can't even think about others.'

"I feel for those people (anorexics) because they're being screwed up by what is said to be beautiful and successful these days, thin and pretty, and it's just bollocks."

Winslet's insistence on doing things her own way characterizes her career and her life.

"Because of the person I am I won't be knocked down--ever. They can do what they like," she says. "They can say I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm whatever, and I'll never stop. I just won't. I've got too much to do. I've too much to be happy about."

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