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By Darryl Smith, 16 March 2014 12.00pm.
Kate Winslet lived the life of pie!
Kate Winslet is worried people will get the wrong idea about her from new film Labor Day.
“I’m fabulous at cooking, it’s all acting,” she stressed to me. “I had to be a little hands off which, for someone who can be controlling in the kitchen, was a bit of a challenge.”
In the movie, Kate plays Adele, a reclusive single mother who, along with her 13-year-old son, is taken hostage by an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) on the eve of America’s Labor Day weekend (a Bank Holiday which falls on the first weekend of September).
Psychologically damaged by her husband running off with another woman, agoraphobic Adele is brought out of her shell by having a man about the house and mother and son end up hiding him from the authorities.
It helps that he’s a dab hand in the kitchen (and, in Adele’s case, a lot else besides).
“I have to hand it to Josh, he really did want to make sure he was good at pie making, and he was,” laughs Kate at the memory of the improbable source of catering on set. “He baked at least five pies a week throughout the entire shoot.
“He’d get up really early and bake at five in the morning, and bring them to work.
“So every day, on the table, there was another one of Josh’s pies.”
The film is based on a book by Joyce Maynard, herself a single mother in her younger days, and inspired by her own experience of striking up a lengthy correspondence with a convicted double
“I don’t know whether I am specifically drawn to unexpected love stories,” says Kate, who has twice earned Oscar recognition for her portrayal of romances in Titanic and The Reader.
“One thing I did feel strongly is that I really believed in the relationship.
“On the surface, Adele appears very weak and tormented but I admired her strength and thought it was an important part of her because we all have the aptitude to be both those things.
“The story itself is really beautiful and pure and I was very much drawn to that and how these two people, against all odds, meet and are thrown together in ways that change both their lives.
“There’s something very powerful about that to me.”
The 38-year-old star is promoting her movie just three months after giving birth to her third child, son Bear, her first with new husband Ned Rocknroll (a nephew of Richard Branson).
Tomorrow evening she will attend a ceremony in Los Angeles to mark the unveiling of a star in her honour on Hollywood Boulevard and then it will be back to Britain to attend the premiere of her next movie, science-fiction adventure Divergent.
Having a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son from her two previous marriages helped Kate bond with the young actor playing her son in the film, teenager Gattlin Griffith who previously played Angelina Jolie’s abducted child in Changeling.
“I knew I had to be his friend and I wanted to be,” says Kate of building a believable mother-son relationship.
“He was my priority on set and it was a privilege to spend that amount of time with someone at that age, he is at the most gorgeous age for any boy or girl, every day he had a squillion questions and didn’t know how to ask them.
“It was one of the most wonderful working relationships that I have ever had.”
• Labor Day is at cinemas from Friday.
Kate Winslet: ‘I’ll never be Mrs RocknRoll’
PLAYING a mother in the appropriately named Labor Day was a dream role for Hollywood star and mum of three Kate Winslet, as Pauline McLeod reports
By: Pauline McLeod
Published: Sun, March 16, 2014
I’m not sure if I’m specifically drawn to unexpected love stories and I don’t know that my own feelings about unexpected circumstances in which two people can fall in love are necessarily relevant
Kate Winslet, self-deprecating and disarmingly sunny-side-up, has been having her very excellent GSOH tested of late. And it’s all down to some name calling – mostly the name that her husband Ned decided to call himself: RocknRoll. Admittedly, it’s not the surname he was given at birth. That was Smith (he changed it by deed poll in 2008). And when the couple announced after Christmas that their gorgeous new son, born in early December, was to be called Bear, whose surname would baby Bear take? Thankfully Kate’s.
But the moniker that might make her laugh uncontrollably is, in fact, a perfect fit for the Oscar-winning actress and grounded, hands-on, working mum: über-yummy mummy. And if the 38-year-old movie star happens to have an Aga in the family kitchen – at their home in West Sussex – then the nickname really is spot-on. “I was never going to change my name to RocknRoll,” says Kate. “I’ve never changed my name to anything, so I didn’t see a reason to start now.”
In fact, the phrase “keep calm and carry on” could have been penned for Kate’s own take on life. She was pregnant with Bear during the shooting of her new film, Labor Day, an intense and romantic drama set in Massachusetts during the long US holiday weekend. Not that she allowed her pregnancy to get in the way of anything.
“I worked from about nine weeks to 20 weeks, so it really wasn’t too bad,” she says. “Less than most women who work. I was a bit tired and a bit sick at the beginning, but nothing major at all.”
In the five-star May Fair Hotel, and just weeks away from giving birth to baby Bear in a Sussex hospital, Kate is on radiant form – funny, considerate and looking fabulous all in black (tight leggings and a thigh-length jacket over a fitted vest top). With a spring in her stiletto-heeled step and bounce in her shiny blonde hair, it’s altogether a different look from the one she adopted to create Adele in Labor Day – a role that earned her a Golden Globe nomination back in January. Adele is the borderline agoraphobic and severely depressed single mother of a teenage son (Henry, played by Gattlin Griffith).
Everything about her matches her hair, which is limp, lacklustre and mousy brown.On a rare back-to-school shopping trip with her boy, she encounters Frank (Josh Brolin), an intimidating chap who turns out to be an escaped convict. But all is not as it appears with the chippy but ultimately honourable and gentle Frank.
“I’m not sure if I’m specifically drawn to unexpected love stories and I don’t know that my own feelings about unexpected circumstances in which two people can fall in love are necessarily relevant,” says Kate, a hint of a giggle in her voice. “But I felt very strongly when I read the script that I did believe the relationship.”
Kate Winslet, Ned RocknRoll, Labour Day, actress, interview, Pauline McLeodThe actress’ new movie Labor Day opens nationwide on Friday [GETTY]
Maybe she’d been drawing on the circumstances that led to her marrying Ned – nephew of Sir Richard Branson – in a converted New York barn in December 2012. Her good chum and Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio gave her away, and apart from her children there was just a handful of guests.
Born into a family of actors, Kate has been in the public eye for more than 20 years. Her first big break came aged 17, as an obsessive adolescent in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. The following year, 1995, brought Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility. Having made an immediate impression on the film’s star, Emma Thompson, Kate beat more than 100 other hopefuls for the role of plucky Marianne Dashwood.Her efforts were rewarded with a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination.
Five Academy Award nominations later, Kate was finally honoured with the best actress Oscar in 2009 for her role in The Reader, a challenging film with Nazi war crimes at its dark heart. But it’s Titanic, the second highest grossing movie of all time, that turned Kate into a worldwide household name. Only 22 when she starred in this life-changing epic, she then made a very smart move. Instead of going the expected route – moving to Hollywood and more mega-sized movies – she dived into smaller, edgier fare.
She leads a starry cast in A Little Chaos, directed by Alan Rickman, about a pair of landscape gardeners who compete to design a fountain at Versailles for Louis XIV, which will be released later this year, and the thrilling action adventure, Divergent, which opens next month.
Needless to say, Kate still adores acting. But her children – baby Bear, daughter Mia, 13, by her first husband Jim Threapleton, and son Joe, 10, by her second husband Sam Mendes – always come first, and she strives to make no more than one movie a year. She even takes her natural nurturing instincts to work with her. “One of the most wonderful working relationships I’ve ever had was with Gattlin Griffith on Labor Day. It was such a privilege to spend that amount of time with someone who is lovely and at that particular age  when every day it’s a squillion questions. I don’t think I would have been able to play Adele had I not been a parent. Particularly being a parent with a child of a similar age to Gatlin.He was my priority on the set, making sure that when he’d done a particularly brilliant take, he knew we were all proud of him.”
In the movie, Adele discovers that Frank has become a dab hand with a knife during his 19 years in the slammer. Particularly a kitchen knife. In fact, he quickly gets to know his way around Adele’s cooking range far better than she does.
As it happens, Mr Brolin’s own peach pies are something to behold. “I wanted to be a cook when I was a kid but my dad was pushing me to be a lawyer,” says the 46-year-old son of TV star James Brolin (and stepson of Barbra Streisand).
“I cooked in a restaurant for three years, I cook for my kids all the time and I cooked pies for everyone on the film.”
Of the unintentionally pure Paul Hollywood moment when Adele, Frank and Henry are all kneading dough in the same mixing bowl, I suggest to Kate that she looks as though she hasn’t a clue what she’s doing. She smiles silkily. “It’s acting, darling!” So, in real life is she a better cook than she appears on screen? “I’m fabulous!” she replies.
Labor Day opens nationwide on Friday. Divergent is out on April 4.
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