Chat-worthy Thespian: Kate Winslet & my top five roles she’s played

Welcome to another edition of Chat-worthy thespian! This is part of The LAMB’s Acting School featuring the great Kate Winslet. Interestingly enough, the last actress I featured in this series was another great Cate with a ‘C’ that is Cate Blanchett.

Kate Elizabeth Winslet was born the same year as yours truly, and just recently celebrated her 36th birthday on October 5th. The English actress was born into a family of thespians — parents Roger Winslet and Sally Bridges-Winslet were both stage actors, maternal grandparents ran the Reading Repertory Theatre, and uncle Robert Bridges was a fixture in London’s West End theatre district (per IMDb), so Kate seems destined to make it in show business.

I first saw Kate in Sense & Sensibility, which still remains one of my top five favorite films of all time. Though I have not seen her debut role in Heavenly Creatures (will have to do that soon!), I have saw her in eight feature films since and was always impressed by her strong performance. No matter what role she tackles, whether in a period drama or contemporary rom-com, she always turns in a memorable and exceptional performance. Her classic beauty and sheer talent never ceases to amaze me, more so because there is such an effortlessness to her acting that makes you forget she’s playing a part. As of January 2009, she is the youngest actress to garner six Oscar nominations, and her career is far from slowing down. This year she added her collection of acting trophies by winning an Emmy for her role in Mildred Pierce.

Some girls do have it all… not only is Kate massively talented, she is also supremely beautiful. Even in less-than-glamorous roles (i.e. The Reader, Little Children), her transcendent beauty still shines through. And she’s got curves!! I love the fact that she is not rail-thin like most of of Hollywood starlets and she’s proud of her body. I think her voluptuous figure is A+ perfect, I mean she’s a REAL woman. Though her weight has fluctuated through the years, she is never going to be a stick.

I think her career is just going to get better and better. I’m looking forward to see her in Roman Polanski’s dramedy Carnage with fellow Oscar nominees/winners Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly.

Now here’s a look at my top five favorite roles of Kate Winslet:

  1. Marianne – Sense & Sensibility
    Well if you know me at all, there is no way this one wasn’t going to be on the list. I so adore this film and Kate’s sublime performance as Marianne Dashwood is one of the many reasons why. Even at a young age of 20, she showed such an extraordinary maturity for her part. She was convincingly giddy in love with Willoughby, her passionate Juliet-like character is such a perfect contrast to the sensible Elinor. Most of the memorable roles in this movie are of Marianne’s… from the moment she captured Brandon’s heart to her severe heartbreak when Willoughby revealed his true colors. Oh, not to mention those fabulous rain-scenes involving Marianne and her two hunky suitors 😀
  2. Rose – Titanic
    I have to admit that the reason I saw this James Cameron epic twice in the theater was because of Leo DiCaprio (hey, I was in my early 20s!). But after I re-watched it later, it’s Kate’s performance that still wowed me. I feel that though Leo might’ve brought in the business, it’s Kate who anchored the film as the feisty, sensual aristocrat. Her hollow stare as she dined with her mother was heart-wrenching as you knew she felt so trapped in her family’s decision to have her marry a rich man. She truly came alive when she meets Jack, and it’s one of those doomed-romances one can’t help but root for.
  3. Sylvia – Finding Neverland
    This is such an enchanting film and the first time I saw Kate Winslet played a mother… a widow with four children! Sylvia and her four young sons strike up a friendship with J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) when they met at Kensington Garden. Barrie became a surrogate father to Sylvia’s kids (especially Peter, performed brilliantly by Freddie Highmore) which in turn inspire him to write the famous Peter Pan tale. Winslet skillfully mixes joy & pathos as the sickly mother, which truly brings the humanity in this heart-warming story that some fairy tales do come true.
  4. Ophelia – Hamlet
    I’ve just recently seen this one, and as I said in my review, Kate’s portrayal of Ophelia is nothing short of phenomenal. Yes even amongst acting greats like Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, etc., her performance was such a scene-stealer. There’s not many actresses out there who could give such a fearless, all-out performance like Kate. I remember being in awe of her acting as I was watching this film, absolutely brilliant! Whether it’s physical or emotional nakedness, she’s always willing to go the distance. She really was robbed of an Oscar or BAFTA for this performance.
  5. Iris – The Holiday
    Ok so the film itself perhaps isn’t in the same league as the other four, but I LOVE Kate’s lighthearted performance as Iris, an English girl who swaps house with an an LA-based trailer maker, Amanda. The scene of her geeking out in Amanda’s mansion is adorable to watch, such a contrast to her usually-gloomy characters. Though still more stunning than most women I know in real life, Kate was convincing as a self-deprecating ‘every woman’ who’s unlucky in love. Her scenes with Jack Black is sweet and funny, but it’s her friendship with her 90-year-old neighbor Arthur, once a celebrated Hollywood screenwriter, that gives the film its heart.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Reader
    This is Kate’s first Oscar win and I think she deserves it. It’s a non-glamorous role and perhaps one of the most complex characters she’s tackled. Hanna Scmidt isn’t exactly sympathetic but despite her heinous crimes, I can’t completely abhor her.
  • Romance & Cigarettes
    I saw this at TIFF back in 2005 and director John Turturro who introduced the film actually called this a ‘dirty little movie.’ It’s a bawdy musical with a great ensemble cast that include James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, and Susan Sarandon. But again Kate steals the show as a fiery red-head hussy, showing off her knack for comedy as well as her fearlessness in playing against type. This quirky film is not for everyone, but worth a watch just for Kate’s performance alone. Watch for her slutty song & dance number, definitely unlike anything I’ve seen her in.
  • Finding Neverland [added 10/13)
    I hadn’t seen this when I first made my list but I really enjoyed Kate’s performance as the lovely but tragic widow Sylvia Davies. It’s perhaps the first time I saw her play a mother in film and she certainly is believable in her relationship with her four young sons. She also has a sweet chemistry with Johnny Depp who’s astounding as Sir James Matthew Barrie. It just further proves how versatile Winslet it, as she’s able to tackle practically any role.

So what are your thoughts of this talented star? Please do share your own favorite Kate Winslet roles.