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Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.

Kathleen Hanna discusses writing and making music in this interview from 2000 with Laurie Weeks.

Isabella Rossellini spoke with Peter Halley in this 1999 interview.

Check out our interview with Crispin Glover by Richard Kern from 2000.
Alexander McQueen's 2003 interview with Bjork.

Kate Winslet, 2004


Since Titanic put Winslet on the global map in '97 she has gravitated towards independent films. Clementine, in the revelatory Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is the latest in Winslet's string of gutsy, expressive roles. Author A.M. Holmes spoke with Winslet in NYC, where she lives with her husband, director Sam Mendes, their six-month-old son Joe, and Mia, her three-year-old daughter with ex-husband Jim Threapleton...

AH: The interviews I’ve read don’t reveal much about you as a person. One of them even focused on what kind of salad you were having for lunch.

KW: That kind of interview makes me edgy. I spend the whole time worrying that the journalist is looking at my filthy jeans. [laughs]

AH: When I was nineteen, a writer from the Washington Post interviewed me at my parents’ house. I had written a play, but the article was all about our house and the artwork on our walls. It felt like an invasion. Did you have a sense of growing up in public?

KW: Well, not entirely. I think you do your real growing up between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. I did my first film, Heavenly Creatures, when I was seventeen, but it was really Titanic that put me in the public eye.

AH: That was released when you were in your early twenties.

KW: By the time Titanic came out, I had left school and done quite a lot in my life. I had been in a couple of long relationships, one with someone who died. I experienced the bulk of my emotional pain before I turned twenty-one so I was able to deal with all that stuff privately, thank god.

AH: If I were a journalist, I would ask you more about that, but I just can’t. [both laugh] I’ve been wondering about how you choose your roles. You’re fairly young, but you’ve played a range of characters, from the spoiled heiress, Rose, in Titanic to the eccentric writer, Iris Murdoch, in Iris. Does the time you spend as these people change the way you see yourself?

KW: I feel that I’ve exercised sides of my own character that I didn’t know I had. I get to explore emotional channels that can be really scary and also incredibly exciting. I love it when the character starts to play herself. That’s freaky. But I don’t necessarily feel transformed.

AH: So acting is a way to get to know yourself better?

KW: I probably have a better understanding of who I am now than when I started, but that has a lot to do with having children and being married. When you’re genuinely happy, you think, “Okay, I feel good standing on this piece of ground.” I love being in New York and being a mom — so much goes into the coordination and chaos of a single day in the life of our family.

AH: What prompted your move to New York?

KW: We’re not here permanently. We came because Sam was directing Gypsy and Cabaret on Broadway, and he’s developing a bunch of stuff with people who are based in New York. And I wanted to give birth to Joe here, as opposed to in the U.K. I couldn’t cope with the press situation there anymore.

AH: You were really under a looking glass.

KW: Absolutely. I just want to be a mom and not be judged.

AH: Are you more off-duty here?

I feel so much more accepted in New York. It was really hard when Mia’s dad and I split up. I met Sam about four or five months afterward, and of course the press blamed our divorce on that, saying that Sam and I had had an affair. Obviously we didn’t, but the tabloids claimed that I was swanning around, going to premieres left and right, and that I didn’t even live with my daughter.

AH: That would drive me apoplectic.

KW: It was a terrible time. My relationship with Mia’s dad was a mess. In the last year and half of our marriage, I became a completely different person. I was isolated from my family and my friends. That was the period when I chose projects like Quills. . .

AH: Dark stuff.

KW: Yeah, dark stuff. I started looking for supporting roles, because Jim didn’t want me to be famous. He would read a script that I loved and immediately kill my passion for it by saying it wasn’t good enough for me. That was the only time in my life that I’ve ever lost control of my instincts.

AH: And having a baby is isolating in and of itself. Your life changes, your time changes. You end up spending more time with your partner and less time running around.

KW: When you have a child, there’s a part of you that thinks, “Oh my god, I haven’t grown up. How am I supposed to deal with a baby?” I had those feelings, plus I had had an emergency cesarean after thirty-seven hours of labor. I left Mia’s dad when she was six months old. I was terrified, but I knew that I had to go. It was like there was a clock ticking.

AH: You filmed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind not long after your breakup. You play Clementine, a free spirit who erases the memory of her relationship with Jim Carrey’s character, Joel.

KW: I was lucky to have found Clementine. I had so much fun playing her — it was quite depressing to discover that I was still me at the end of the day. [laughs] She was so out-there and complex. And she had great clothes and ridiculous hair! I was given tremendous freedom to really run with her. When I do period films, I have to bury the zanier part of myself. With Clementine, I gave free rein to the side of me that would do a terrible dance to a Justin Timberlake song with my sister.

AH: There are so many layered flashbacks in Eternal Sunshine. Was it a hard shoot?

KW: I remember Jim Carrey asking me, “Are the hours always this tough on independent movies?” And I said, “Honey, you think this is fucking independent? This has got a studio behind it. This is not independent.” Hideous Kinkythat was an independent. My trailer was a tin caravan that was full of flies and had leaky air conditioning. But I didn’t care. I wanted to get back to basics.

AH: You made Hideous Kinky right after Titanic. You played a ’60s hippie with two small children who had moved from London to Morocco.

KW: I had really lost faith in acting after the whole Titanic experience. Instead of acting, my job was to be a hot young movie star. Suddenly I was on the cover of The Face and GQ. Other people were telling me who I was, and I was like, “What do you mean I’m hot? I’m not hot. I have a big ass.”

AH: Hot is just a word. Your big ass is irrelevant. [laughs]

KW: Of course it is. I’ve still got a big ass. I just needed to figure out what it was about acting that I loved.

AH: What do you love about it?

KW: Part of it is good, old-fashioned showing off, like I used to do when I was five. Also, it’s nice to be so emotionally indulgent, to wallow in your own emotional horseshit for twelve weeks while you’re shooting. But it’s also an attempt to overcome your fears about yourself or to deal with a particularly daunting emotion.

AH: Such as?

KW: I don’t know. All I know is that every time I start a film I feel like it’s the first time I’ve ever acted. I think, “They should really get somebody else because I just can’t do this.” [laughs]

AH: Writing a novel or a play is like that, too. Every time I start something, I’m thrown back on myself. Making big Hollywood films must be surreal because you’re truly making something out of nothing.

KW: Yeah, it’s totally surreal. I remember having phone conversations with my elder sister who was back in England when I was filming Titanic. She and my younger sister are both actresses as well, and I was whining about how tired I was. My sister said, “At the end of the day, Kate, you are lucky to be there.” I thought, “Oh fuck, of course. How dare I whine to my sister who would love to get an audition right now, let alone a job.”

AH: We all should be grateful for our successes, but that doesn’t change the fact that some things are just a pain in the ass.

KW: That’s absolutely true. I feel like I genuinely don’t have a right to whine, though, because I come from an acting family. In a way, that’s even harder. [laughs]

AH: Do you go to the theater a lot?

KW: More so since being with Sam, because it’s much more a part of his life than mine. And I love it. If we can get the kids to bed and jump in a cab at ten past seven, we still have ten minutes to have a drink before the curtain goes up. While I was pregnant with Joe, one evening I managed to get Mia to bed, the babysitter came over, and I just took myself to a play. I would never have done that in London. Someone would have seen me, and the headline would read –– “Oh, poor Kate, out on her own at the theater.”

AH: The great thing is, here nobody cares. What’s a good day for you?

KW: A great day is when I’ve had a really good chat with a girlfriend, I’ve spent time with Mia and had a laugh, and Sam’s been around. It has to involve family and friends. I’m not the kind of person who wants time to myself to go shopping. That’s my idea of hell.

AH: Clearly your family is really important to you, as well as your career. How does that balance out?

KW: My role in life right now is to be a mother, and occasionally I will do a film. When I did Eternal Sunshine last June, it was difficult to go to work because I didn’t want to leave Mia. I wanted to play with her or at least be able to finish giving her breakfast.

AH: The movie has such an interesting cast. Along with Jim Carrey, there’s Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Wilkinson. It’s not a group that you’d think would pull together as a great ensemble.

KW: I was so thrilled to be in a film with Kirsten Dunst. I’ve always admired her, but she and I still have never met!  It’s very strange. It was like doing Iris — Judi Dench and I were never at work on the same day.

AH: I love that movie. I can’t think of Iris Murdoch without an image of Judi Dench popping into my head.

KW: Last year, Sam, Mia, and I went to Judi’s house for lunch. Sam had directed Judi several times, so he knows her quite well. As I was hugging her goodbye I said, “Fuck Jude, how did we get away with playing the same person?” We laughed about it. I’m about ten inches taller than she is and we don’t look at all alike.

AH: But it totally worked.

KW: That’s the one film I’ve done that I could happily watch over and over again. I’ve only seen Hideous Kinky and Jude once. I don’t dislike them, but sometimes watching yourself is too confronting.

AH: I can’t go back and read a book I wrote. I find myself thinking, “Did I make that?” I have no idea where it came from.

KW: I’m in a reflective place at the moment so it’s fun talking about the films I’ve been in and the things I’ve done. For the first time I’m thinking, “What should I be doing next?” In the past, I’ve just gone with my gut. But when you have children, there are so many things you have to consider. As much as I might love a particular character, if the film is shooting in a back-of-beyond location where everyone’s going to get dysentery, then I’m not going to do it. My decisions can’t be entirely my own anymore.






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