Tag Archives: Kate Winslet

Vanity Fair presents The Hollywood Portfolio ”Something Just Clicked”

The Hollywood Portfolio
Something Just Clicked
Some of these actor-director teams have a history together—remember Ron Howard and Tom Hanks’s breakthrough, Splash, a quarter-century ago?—while others produced their first mind-melds in 2008. Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet even brought marriage and kids to the Revolutionary Road set. But in each case the chemistry was profound, the effect exponential. From Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn to John Patrick Shanley and Meryl Streep, Annie Leibovitz photographs 10 partnerships that helped generate more than four dozen Oscar nominations this season.

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DANNY BOYLE and DEV PATEL, The Dickensians
One film together: Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
Danny Boyle has slung some pretty brutal stuff at us before—that ’95–’96 one-two punch of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, not to mention 28 Days Later in 2002—but Slumdog Millionaire is a real sock to the solar plexus. The reason? It’s got more than cunning, violence, and kinetic thrills; it’s got heart, the way a Dickens novel has heart. Through all the muck and carnage, all the pendulum swings between penurious and privileged milieus, there is a sympathetic human protagonist whose struggle becomes our struggle. In gawky, jug-eared Dev Patel, Boyle found his perfect Pip, his ideal David Copperfield. Like those characters, Patel’s Jamal holds on tightly to his dignity and reserve when there’s nothing else left to hold on to—whether he’s surviving by his wits as a self-raised orphan in the slums of Mumbai or enduring the (public- and state-enforced) pressure of being the star contestant in India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. (It must be said that the child actors who play Jamal at young and intermediate ages, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar and Tanay Chheda, are also fantastic.) Boyle could have cast a more conventionally handsome kid as Jamal, but in shrewdly anointing the sweet, soulful, British-born Patel, he raised the whole enterprise to a higher plane—a decision affirmed by four Golden Globe Awards and possibly more hardware to come. Photographed at Gordon Ramsay at the London, New York City.

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DARREN ARONOFSKY and MICKEY ROURKE, The Ringers
One film together: The Wrestler (2008).
The wreck that was the SS Rourke had a perilous journey on its way to Darren Aronofsky’s shores. The director was keen on casting the damaged-goods actor in the title role of Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler, but when no U.S. studio would finance the film with Rourke attached, Aronofsky turned to Nicolas Cage. Then, at the eleventh hour, an overseas studio agreed to back the picture with Rourke, and Cage graciously bowed out of the project. While the director’s original choice made sense—who better to play a preening grappler who’s seen better days than a preening, pugilistic actor who’s seen better days?—no one foresaw the alchemical result of mixing the brainiac enthusiasm of Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) with the on-the-ropes desperation of Rourke: an unapologetic tearjerker that offers Rourke’s best performance since Barfly. Randy’s similarities to Rourke have been much remarked upon—the way his “the 90s sucked” rant could easily be applied to the actor’s fallow decade; the way his whole face seems to have cauliflower ear—and Aronofsky has admitted that The Wrestler’s screenplay essentially turned into a collaborative effort when Rourke became involved, with the actor taking a pen to Randy’s lines and rewriting them in ways that would resonate with him personally. The serendipitous actor-director partnership brought out the best in both men; hell, it would make for a good movie in its own right. Photographed in New York City.

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SAM MENDES and KATE WINSLET, The Partnership
One film together: Revolutionary Road (2008).
It’s unfair to Mendes and Winslet to say things have come easily for them, but from the moment she first appeared on-screen, as a sexually confused teen in Heavenly Creatures (1994), and from the moment his deviant reconceptualization of Cabaret skipped the pond from London to Broadway (1998), these two seemed destined for big things. And then, lo, Kate burst through with Titanic (1997). And, lo, Sam moved into feature films with American Beauty (1999) and won an Oscar for best director on his first try. And then they found each other. A wedding and a son later, they’ve finally worked together, on Revolutionary Road, a film based on Richard Yates’s troubling 1961 novel, whose very purpose was to indict the concept of “the perfect marriage.” Even with Leonardo DiCaprio standing in as the husband, the subject matter must have produced some uncomfortable introspection in the Winslet-Mendes house. But then, the work’s tragedy lies in its heroine’s unrealized aspirations to be bohemian and artistic. In a real-life household where the Mister is directing Shakespeare and Chekhov at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Missus’s other current film is Stephen Daldry’s audacious and sexually explicit The Reader … aah, not so much of an issue. Photographed at Northlight 1111 Studio, in New York City.

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GUS VAN SANT and SEAN PENN, The Milk Men
One film together: Milk (2008).
Van Sant’s filmography is crowded with disaffected and alienated young men who shuffle through life with their shoulders hunched, their bodies curled into themselves: River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho, Joaquin Phoenix in To Die For, Michael Pitt in Last Days, Gabe Nevins in Paranoid Park. Milk adds Emile Hirsch to this pantheon, but otherwise the film is a startling break from Van Sant tradition, and for one reason: Sean Penn. As Harvey Milk, the gay activist and politician, Penn is disaffected and alienated, to be sure, but he’s an older and more resolute Van Sant protagonist: his shoulders rolled back, his arms outstretched in welcome, his chin up, his smile unwavering. In his most endearing role since—and this is said respectfully—Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Penn captures the phenomenal charisma and inherent warmth that made the real Milk a different kind of outsider: a charmer who charged defiantly into the “inside” world rather than stand shivering on the fringes. And so, together, Penn and Van Sant have pulled off a neat trick. They’ve taken on two very tired genres—the biopic and the triumphant tale of a ragtag band of outsiders—and gently subverted them, with fantastic results. Much as the gently subversive Mr. Milk did in San Francisco politics. Photographed in Marin County, California.

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PENÉLOPE CRUZ and WOODY ALLEN, The Odd Couple
One film together: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008).
The archetypal Woody woman might be the over-educated, over-therapized yammerer—exemplified by Diane Keaton’s characters in Annie Hall and Manhattan—but another type of woman has also recurred in his work: the smoldering, emotionally volatile knockout. Think of Charlotte Rampling in Stardust Memories, Scarlett Johansson in Match Point, or, from Allen’s masterful short story “Retribution,” the Wasp goddess Connie Chasen, possessed of a “lewd, humid eroticism” and a body “the envy of a Vogue model.” In Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cruz takes on this assignment and then some—throwing in bits of Béatrice Dalle in Betty Blue and Emmanuelle Seigner in Bitter Moon for good measure. As María Elena, the tousled, pouty, impossibly sexy ex-wife of Javier Bardem’s painter character, Cruz is a whirlwind of carnality and psychosis. “You are de meesing ingredient,” she tells her ex’s new lover, an American naïf played by Johansson. “I get thees warm feeling when I hear you both locked in passion every night.” With Allen pulling the strings, you just know it’s not going to end well. Photographed in the Empire Suite at the Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, in New York City.

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RON HOWARD and TOM HANKS, The Classicists
Four films together: Splash (1984), Apollo 13 (1995), The Da Vinci Code (2006), and the upcoming Angels & Demons (2009).
It’s hard to remember how much we underestimated Howard and Hanks when Splash came out. The former wasn’t long removed from TV life as Richie Cunningham and had but two modest features to his name as a director, Grand Theft Auto and Night Shift; the latter was the taller guy from Bosom Buddies, just another TV actor at sea in Hollywood after his hit series ended. But the wonderful mermaid movie Splash changed everything, establishing the templates for both men’s careers: Howard as a mainstream maximalist, making big, bustling movies that don’t skimp on heart and humor, and Hanks as an eminently relatable-to leading man who is forever getting thrust, whether he likes it or not, into extraordinary situations. Apollo 13 ratified both reputations, its acutely American story—of how the astronaut Jim Lovell and his crew nobly averted disaster during an aborted NASA mission to the moon—reinforcing the acutely American, down-the-middle appeal of both men. Their Dan Brown diptych, The Da Vinci Code and the forthcoming Angels & Demons, has them wandering farther afield, to the corridors and catacombs of the Vatican and the Louvre. But, like Howard Hawks and Gary Cooper ranging freely across genres in Today We Live, Ball of Fire, and Sergeant York, Howard and Hanks can take on anything and still leave us feeling safe in their hands. Photographed in Los Angeles.

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NICOLE KIDMAN and BAZ LUHRMANN, The Colonists
Two films together: Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Australia (2008).
“Compared with you, we are a taciturn people. But only compared with you,” wrote the Australian critic Robert Hughes, addressing us Americans in his book The Fatal Shore. The exuberant Luhrmann would have it the other way around—the Aussies are the ones who make Americans look restrained and refined. His swooping, sweeping pictures abound with old-style Hollywood theatricality, but his sensibility—cheeky, sweaty, delirium-inducing—is wholly Australian, even when, as in Moulin Rouge!, his films aren’t set in Australia. Casting Kidman as the courtesan Satine (“the Sparkling Diamond”) in that movie, Luhrmann recaptured her as an Australian national treasure: the sensual, sensational Saucy Nic, back after a long period away in Kubrickian, Eyes Wide Shut limbo. In Australia, Luhrmann steps back, to some extent, from the heightened artifice of what he calls his “Red Curtain” style of filmmaking—nothing fizzy or phantasmagoric about those Japanese bombs raining down upon the city of Darwin—but his ambitions remain epic, and no filmmaker seems more able to set Kidman’s face alight. It’s a serious film, but you get the sense that Luhrmann and Kidman—a conspiratorial partnership between director and actress—had a ball making it. Photographed in New York City.

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MERYL STREEP and JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY, The Undoubted
One film together: Doubt (2008).
Having spent so much of this decade making us smile—The Devil Wears Prada, A Prairie Home Companion, Mamma Mia!—Streep, in Doubt, has gone back into what might be called her “Meryl being Meryl” mode. Her hair tucked into a bonnet, her face pallid and stony, Streep, as Sister Aloysius Beauvier, is again the grave, icy virtuoso in whose screen presence we trembled as we watched The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman. And who better to frame Sister Aloysius’s severe worldview than writer-director Shanley, who, since his Off Broadway debut with Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, in 1984, has established himself as the laureate of New York City’s outer boroughs? A Bronx native, Shanley has traditionally portrayed these milieus as feudal societies where one’s loyalties are to family and the church. He’s not averse to going for laughs—witness Moonstruck (1987), for which he won a screenwriting Oscar—but in Doubt, based on his Pulitzer Prize–winning 2004 play, there is no levity. Drawing upon his own experiences at 1960s Catholic schools, where the nuns were sometimes too harsh and the priests perhaps a tad too friendly, Shanley undermines these feudal loyalties, withholding the comforts of faith and certainty. Streep’s unsettling Sister seems to be a ghost of his past, his own doubt made manifest. Photographed in New York City.

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CHRISTOPHER NOLAN and the late HEATH LEDGER, The Risktakers
One film together: The Dark Knight (2008).
In one of his final TV interviews, viewable online, Heath Ledger can be found refuting any posthumous speculation that the Joker role somehow got inside his head, contributing to the circumstances surrounding his death. “That was the most fun I’ve ever had—probably ever will have—playing a character,” he says, his future-tense prediction all too heartbreakingly accurate. He found a worthy fun-mate in Christopher Nolan, a mind-warp specialist who broke through in 2000 with Memento and successfully rebooted the Batman franchise in 2005 with Batman Begins. “My thoughts [for the Joker] were identical to his,” Ledger said of his director, and the result—a barmy, creepy hybrid of Beetlejuice and Ratso Rizzo—is compellingly odd and worlds apart from Jack Nicholson’s hammy 1989 version. “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you,” Ledger’s Joker says, in a killer entrance line, “simply makes you … stranger.” Hunched and stringy-haired, slathered in Robert Smith–like makeup gone horribly wrong, Ledger is unrecognizable as the man who played Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain or as the handsome, deep-voiced, Australian-accented 28-year-old he was in real life. As the Joker slouches across the screen, Ledger’s commitment to Nolan’s conception of the role comes off not as some black journey into the depths of the soul but as a hoot. Composite photo: Christopher Nolan photographed in Los Angeles, 2008; Heath Ledger photographed in New York City, 2005.

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CLINT EASTWOOD, The Old Hand
Twenty-two films as director-star, among them two that received Oscars for both best picture and best director: Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).
“But what I really want to do is direct.” Has any actor fulfilled this wish more brilliantly and prolifically than our Clint? In the 1970s, Eastwood-the-star proved himself worthy of his mentors (Dirty Harry’s Don Siegel, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’s Sergio Leone) by working both sides of the camera in High Plains Drifter (1973) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). Since then, he has completely shattered any preconceptions that he’s strictly a genre-Western guy, taking on taut drama (Million Dollar Baby, last year’s Changeling), slush for the ladies (The Bridges of Madison County, 1995), the musical biopic (Bird, 1988), and the war epic (2006’s Iwo Jima twofer, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima). In his 29th feature as a director, Gran Torino, he delivers what he has hinted is likely his final film performance, as Walt Kowalski, a white-ethnic remnant of a working-class Detroit neighborhood now given over to Hmong immigrants. It’s a measure of Eastwood’s comfort with himself that he doesn’t approach the role with valedictory pompousness; rather, he plays Walt broadly, for laughs—growling, squinting, and spitting like a crotchety C.G.I. creature in a George Lucas film. But Eastwood-the-director still manages to take Walt to some deep, dark places, as only he can. The performing Eastwood will be missed, if this is indeed his last role, but the filmmaker, 78 years old, marches onward: The Human Factor, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, is due later this year. Photographed outside the Mission Ranch, in Carmel, California.

Vanity Fair
Photographs by Annie Leibovitz
March 2009


Kate Winslet for Harper’s Bazaar US August 2009

Kate Winslet Looks Ahead
Growing up, the actress thought of herself as neither a screen siren nor a great beauty. Now, with both an Oscar and a Lancôme contract, she reflects on what happens after you get what you want.

For this year’s Academy Awards, where she won the Oscar for Best Actress, Kate Winslet wore a highly glamorous one-shouldered blue-gray Yves Saint Laurent evening gown. But a little part of her — metaphorically, at least — was in tennis whites. “I wanted to run over to my parents and do one of those Wimbledon moments when the person jumps from the court and leaps over the audience and the bleachers,” she says, her face creasing into a smile. “I did have the urge to do that.”
Kate is, of course, a serious actress. She has gravitas. She, like her sisters in name, Blanchett and Hepburn, could conceivably be on the head of a ship. No, not that one. But onstage on Oscar night, when her fedora-wearing “gangster” (as she calls him) father let out a whistle, his daughter turned into a little girl. “Ah, my dad’s whistle,” she remembers, rolling a cigarette at filmmaker husband Sam Mendes’s production office in New York’s meatpacking district. “On holidays when I was a kid, we would all be off in the rock pools along the beach. When it came time to go, we’d hear the whistle and we’d all come running. Like dogs!”
Later that fateful night, Kate took her parents to a post-Oscar party where, she says, “seeing my dad meet Elvis Costello and my mom shaking hands with Elton John, it was lovely.” But her highlight is what the kids might call random: “Meeting Tom Colicchio. I’m obsessed with Top Chef.” Turns out Kate and Mendes had been planning a win-or-lose dinner at Colicchio’s New York restaurant Craft. “I was like, ‘I just want to run the menu by you. For an appetizer, we’re having da-da-da,’ and he was like, ‘Good choice, good choice.'”
Returning to New York the next day, Kate discovered that you do, in fact, have to put your Oscar through the X-ray machine at the airport. “They say, ‘Is that it, in the bag?’ and I was like, ‘Yep!'” Kate drank champagne on the flight and took pictures while her golden boy was passed around the flight crew.
Even though she returned the champion, Kate notes of the endless awards season, “It’s very hard to feel like yourself because you’re not; you’re on show. In the old days” — her debut in Heavenly Creatures in 1994, followed by her first Oscar nominations, for Sense and Sensibility in 1996 and Titanic in 1998 — “I’d just wing it, but now you need to give people what they want, which is someone looking composed, fresh, and put together.” But she gleefully defuses the glamour mythology. “Our knickers will still go up our ass at the most inappropriate moment. And we’ll still want to flick them out, but you can’t, because someone is going to catch you.” So what does one do? “Oh, I run behind pillars and things.”
Kate hasn’t really gone all shy and retiring on the red carpet. After years of wearing long, she’s more recently taken a short cut — sporting, among others, a curve-loving Hervé Léger and a racy Balmain number. (She’s still legging it today, perched on the couch in a gold Calypso minidress.) “I danced a lot when I was younger, and I’ve always had decent, shapely legs and thought it’s now or never,” she says. “I mean, when you’re pushing 40, are you really going to wander around in a dress that’s midthigh length? So I thought, Oh, fuck it, I’m just going to do it.”
And so began the thousandth round of Kate Winslet body speculation. “I’ve heard, ‘Oh, she’s toned and she’s lost weight,’ but I am exactly the same as I’ve always been. The one thing that had to go during awards season was exercise. People would say to me, ‘Oh, come on …’ like I was lying about it!” The topic clearly fatigues her. “Some may find it hard to believe it, but I don’t care about that stuff.”
But Oprah Winfrey does, as she proclaimed gloriously to the world when Kate was on her show promoting The Reader — in which her character, former Nazi guard Hanna Schmitz, is often naked — “God bless your real breasts!” Kate shrugs and says, “I’m used to people openly discussing my tits. If people are noticing my boobs in a movie and saying they do what real boobs do, then that’s great.” But, like her legs, the boobs have a shelf life. “I’ll be 34 in October. I can’t keep getting away with it. There was so much of it in The Reader because the story required it, but people have seen enough of my bum and my boobs. I have to put them back.”
So while Kate’s figure has been endlessly debated, it’s her classic, expressive face that is most compelling. She is now a model for Lancôme — her new campaign, for L’Absolu Rouge lipstick, launches this month — and she is such a diligent ambassador that she pulls a giant Ziploc bag out of her purse and starts explaining, in detail, her favorite products one by one: “Rénergie is really, really fantastic. Résolution eye cream — excellent for puffiness! Pink Parfait Magic Blush, which I just love … and Absolute Rouge is spectacular. Sam and I went out to the theater one night, and I double kissed everyone and it didn’t come off!” Pause. “Actually, I don’t double kiss. Just one will do, thank you.”


Kate has been frank about not being the hottest girl on the block growing up, and she admits she was surprised when Lancôme came calling. “I really thought, me?” she says. Lest she seem disingenuous, she insists, “Seriously. Because I think what you feel like as a teenager never really goes away. If you were teased for being fat or thin or having bad teeth, you’re always insecure about that particular area of yourself. So I’ve never thought of myself as any kind of beauty, iconic or otherwise.”
Sure, Kate has an Oscar, a lauded husband, and two fetching children (Mia, 8, and Joe, 5), but she’s not Gisele. She’s one of us … ish. “Part of the reason Lancôme asked me was because I come across as a woman other women can identify with. The media plays such a big role in how women measure themselves against other women, so I can be in a position where I can say beauty comes from within, we’re not all perfect, and the covers of magazines are of course retouched. We do not look like that.” She points to her forehead. “I have wrinkles here, which are very evident, and I will particularly say when I look at movie posters, ‘You guys have airbrushed my forehead. Please can you change it back?’ I’d rather be the woman they’re saying ‘She’s looking older’ about than ‘She’s looking stoned.'”
Kate has lived many lives for someone not even 34, and it lends her an old-soul quality. She had the wind in her Titanic hair 12 years ago and was married and a mother by 25. “You know, I never felt like I was young at the time,” she says, “and obviously having Mia was absolutely planned, and I was married to Jim [Threapleton, who she met on the set of Hideous Kinky]. It’s only now when I meet people who are my age and single, [with] no kids, that I reflect and say, Bloody hell, I really have lived at a fast pace.” She rolls another cigarette. “The growing-up-fast part weirdly happened between the ages of 15 and 22. When everyone was out getting plastered, I didn’t do all of that. I was working. I was doing life. Now that I look back, I feel very lucky. I’ve never taken drugs, never been offered cocaine. And I’ve done a heck of a lot of traveling: India, Australia, Morocco, New Zealand. You have to rely on your resources when you’re away; you have to think quickly [and] grow up quickly.”
These days, though, her peripatetic ways are behind her. “I always have the itch,” she says of work and the scripts piling up in her office, “but at the moment I am deliberately resisting it. I turned to my kids after the Oscars and said, I’m not going anywhere for a while.” Mendes is in the throes of his own project, so Kate is having her turn at home, relearning French for kicks and thinking about finally putting away her work bag from The Reader, which she hasn’t quite “put to bed” yet. “It’s still fully packed, which is very strange,” she says. “I’ve never done that before.”
How do she and Mendes keep the home fires burning, as it were? “Ah … romance to me is spontaneity. It’s not diamond earrings; it’s a bunch of daffodils that’s freshly picked from the field. Or just a little thing like Sam calling me at three in the afternoon, saying, ‘I’m coming home now. I’m done for the day.’ It’s romantic because he just thought, ‘I’ll go home. I want to be with Kate and the kids.’ I’m not one for big, grand gestures.” Like rose petals on the bed? “Ha! No, given American Beauty [for which Mendes won the Oscar for Best Director in 2000], I would walk in and be like, what the fuck? I would laugh my head off.”
But, of course, as of-the-people (ish) as Kate Winslet is, her success comes because she embodies our dreams — of romance, of drama, of beauty. We will always want to see her on the prow of that famous ship, or as the heavenly creature in a Lancôme commercial, meeting her lover on the Pont des Arts. Because maybe that could happen for us too.
By Laura Brown


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