Kate Winslet covers the October issue of Vogue to promote her passion project, Lee. It’s a film Winslet produced and stars in, the true story of Lee Miller, the 1930s model and muse who became a Vogue photojournalist during World War II. Lee Miller documented the concentration camps, the French Resistance, the liberation of Europe and more. Kate put herself through hell on the production, but everyone quoted in this piece raves about how she kept it positive and how she was a world-class producer. You can read the full Vogue piece here. Some highlights:
Early career drama: “I was consistently told I was the wrong shape. I was consistently told I would have to settle for less. [Why didn’t I?] Cause I wasn’t going to take that sh-t from anyone.”
On Lee Miller: “Lee was a woman who lived her life on her terms and she paid a horrific emotional price for all of it. I wanted to tell the story of a flawed middle-aged woman who went to war and documented it.”
While filming the WWII scenes, Winslet slipped and injured her back. “I had three massive hematomas on my spine, huge. I could barely stand up.” Determined there would be no delays, she pushed on with the schedule despite the pain. That meant getting up before 4 a.m., hair and makeup at 5, and on set before 7. It also meant slipping between acting and producing, taking calls with potential investors (financing was precarious; at one point, in preproduction, Winslet told me, she personally covered two weeks of wages to keep things going), chasing down new locations, and then in the evening going over her lines with her dialect coach.
Why she’s comfortable doing nude scenes: “I know better than to waste precious energy on criticizing my physical self. I think any woman is better off just saying: I believe in myself. It doesn’t matter what other people think; this is who I am—let’s get on with it.”
She’s not on social media & neither are her kids? Winslet’s son Bear knows he’s not allowed an iPhone. “But I’m not in any way smug about it. I do see how it’s a very difficult negotiation for parents.”
When she reads personal stories of economic struggles, she often sends money. “Anything that smacks of social injustice, a person not being able to do something just because their parents don’t have the cash in the bank, drives me crazy. I’m sure if I wasn’t an actor I would have ended up being a lawyer.”
She was patronized by male executives when trying to raise money for Lee. “The men who think you want and need their help are unbelievably outraging. I’ve even had a director say to me: ‘Listen, you do my film and I’ll get your little Lee funded…’ Little! Or we’d have potential male investors saying things like: Tell me, why am I supposed to like this woman?”
On Me Too: “Oh, my God! This is the best part. Young actresses now—f–k me—they are unafraid. It makes me so proud. And I think, Yes, all the s–t flinging, all the struggle, all the using my voice for years, often being finger-pointed at and laughed at—I don’t give a sh-t! It was all bloody worth it. Because the culture is changing in the way that I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have imagined in my 20s.” She told me that weathering the business as a young actress “absolutely toughened me up, but the one thing it gave me, more than anything else, was a profound understanding of what it means to play a character like Lee Miller.”
While it feels slightly like Kate is taking credit for younger actresses standing up for themselves, I’d just like to point out that I wish more middle-aged or older actresses would feel a sense of pride when they see the Me Too reckoning, when they see women working together to get paid better or produce together or to stand up against predators. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about what Me Too really did and didn’t do, but honestly, there have been big changes and one of the biggest is that women know they can speak out and be heard and believed, and they know their colleagues will have their back.
Cover & IG courtesy of Vogue.
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