Kate Winslet interview: On raising hell with ‘The Regime’ and more

Mar2,2024


Kate Winslet is quite concerned (more so than I am) that my internet connection is spotty all over the place during Zoom calls. I finally succeeded in keeping it steady, while apologizing profusely. I don't need to panic; Kate – looking incredibly regal – is quick to reassure us that she's not experiencing any discomfort at all.

The Oscar-winning English actress speaks to us from London, where she's doing press for her latest project, a six-part limited series for HBO. Government.

In an interesting 30-year career (his feature debut was with Peter Jackson heavenly beings 1994), the British actor has taken on a number of flawed female characters who have troubled and thrilled in equal measure; From a Nazi concentration camp guard Reader For a troubled housewife revolutionary Road. Of course, there have been other acclaimed performances in blockbuster titles like titanic,Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind And Holiday.

But could his latest role be the most fascinating of them all? In the upcoming dark satire, Kate plays Chancellor Elena Wernham, the authoritarian leader of a fictional country whose grip on governance (and her mind) becomes unstable after she falls in love with inveterate soldier, Herbert Zubk. As Zubak's influence over her grows, Elena's desperate and cynical attempts to maintain her power result in utter chaos around her and her people.

Kate Winslet in a scene from 'The Regime'

Kate Winslet in a scene from 'The Regime'

After winning an Emmy for the period drama Mildred Pierce and spy thriller mare of easttownThere are a lot of expectations for the 48-year-old's most recent television turn. “It's a twisted love story about two people who should never have been in love,” the actor laughs.

Created and co-written by showrunner Will Tracy, Government It is directed by double Oscar nominee Stephen Frears (Queen) and Emmy-winning director Jessica Hobbs (Crown, The international cast also includes Matthias Schoenaerts (rust and Bone) as the troubled Herbert Zubk, Guillaume Gallien (me, me and mom) as Andrea Riseborough, Elena's husband (to Leslie) as Agnes who runs the household staff, as well as Hugh Grant as Elena's defeated political rival Edward Keplinger in a delightfully-evil cameo.

Excerpts from the conversation:

It seems like you contributed extensively to developing your character in 'The Regime'; How much freedom did you have in shaping his personality, especially his eccentricity?

It was a team effort; The large group of writers who wrote all six of these episodes did a lot of research and preparation in terms of creating this fictional country, somewhere in Central Europe.

It gave us tremendous freedom as actors to go much further in the direction of absurdity with the comedy than we really wanted to, and see how far we could push it sometimes. In later episodes, it becomes more interesting, as things start to fall apart, and the love story becomes more intense and twisted.

But my job as the person playing this female dictator was to try to create a real person behind the mask. I thought it was important that he looked almost Very Perfect, so as to feel uncomfortable; As if this is someone you can't trust.

This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, center, and Matthias Schoenaerts, left, in a scene from 'The Regime'.

This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, center, and Matthias Schoenaerts, left, in a scene from 'The Regime'.

It was also important that I continued to give myself the opportunity to learn more about who she was. We had really interesting scenes in the tomb when she was talking to her dead father's corpse (!); It gave me a lot of information about her childhood and how much trauma she endured. This then influenced how I wanted that trauma to reside in her body, how she walks, how she talks and how she interacts with people. There are some things she faces and some things she cannot face at all; She had to feel extremely weak and vulnerable, but also fearless and aggressive. So I just had to be brave enough to try everything honestly.

The show's directors – Stephen Frears and Jessica Hobbs – commented that when they first heard you speaking in Elena's distinctive voice, it made complete sense and you reminded them of what an 'old-fashioned movie star' what happens. What is your definition of the term in this day and age when the idea of ​​what stardom means keeps changing?

My definition of an old-time movie star…definitely not me! It's very kind of Stephen and Jessica to say that; He probably said this only because he could not find other words. Perhaps it would have been better for him to use words like extremely insecure, troubled, experimental. That's how we all felt while reading around that table.

This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, left, and Guillaume Gallien in a scene from 'The Regime.'

This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, left, and Guillaume Gallien in a scene from 'The Regime.'

So, now what is the definition of a movie star for me? To me, in all honesty, the term 'movie star' is almost an invention in many ways. This is the way we describe people who have achieved certain successes while doing their work. For me, I just try to do my job well. Try and remain polite. Try to be kind, and try to be grateful for what I have. And most importantly, remember that when you are a woman and when you are growing up… it is a good thing, not a bad thing. I think these are qualities that really help in any high profile position in this industry.

“I just try to do my job well. Try and remain polite. Try to be kind, and try to be grateful for what I have. And most importantly, remember that when you are a woman and when you are growing up… it is a good thing, not a bad thing.”Kate Winslet

The narrative contains a lot of political references and subtext that may be relevant to what is going on in the world today. What does this series tell us about the current crazy world we live in?

I've always appreciated that the script is completely agnostic in terms of any real-life portrayal. This is an imagined universe; A fictional country in Central Europe that is not part of history. This is not a documentary, and certainly not a factual account of real life events. It's a geopolitical satire, and obviously, people will take what they want from it.

What I liked was that it's a female dictator, playing a woman leading this small country and doing the best she can, but I wanted to know that behind the mask. Who's the person behind, because everything about Elena Wernham really does feel like it's in the front.

Kate Winslet as Elena Wernham in 'The Regime'

Kate Winslet as Elena Wernham in 'The Regime'

As a creative team, we really brought out her delusional side; The dark humor and the fact that you feel very unsure all the time about what she's going to do next. We all contributed to how she looked, what clothes she wore, how she moved physically, etc.

She clearly has hidden trauma from her childhood as she was raised by an overbearing father who clearly terrified her. But for whatever reason, she still wants approval from the corpse of all her things! I mean, it's pretty crazy. You are feeling almost fine, how can one write like that? But someone wrote that and I tried to play that role to the best of my ability and hopefully make it interesting. And more than anything, make it fun.

It's really hard to convey your accent in the show…

We deliberately didn't want accents for any of these characters, so that you couldn't identify exactly where they were from. It was really fun to allow all the actors to just have their own accents, so that it felt like a very eclectic group of individuals within the walls of the imaginary castle. This was a decision chosen by the directors.

From everything you've told us, it sounds like Elena lives in a kind of bubble where she's the center of the universe, and no one wants to say no to her. Did you connect with any part of the character at all?

No,not at all! I was very fortunate to have a very loving family growing up; I have three siblings and very kind, good parents. I have always been connected to the real world and reality and becoming a successful actress has been a big surprise for me. I never imagined this for myself or the opportunities that came my way. I am grateful for every day of my life. But I'm just one person on that huge movie set, and my job is no more important than the person behind the camera, or the person bringing coffee to the actors. We all have a place and we all have to take care of each other and work as a team.

Kate Winslet arrives for the premiere of HBO's 'The Regime' at The Museum of Natural History on February 26, 2024 in New York City.

Kate Winslet arrives for the premiere of HBO's 'The Regime' at the Museum of Natural History on February 26, 2024 in New York City. Photo Credit: Charlie Tribleau

“I have always been connected to the real world and reality and becoming a successful actress has been a big surprise for me.”Kate Winslet

As an actor, how did you find the right balance between a humorous and serious approach? You cannot cross any invisible line, lest it become ridiculous…

Yes, I agree…you can't play the humor card all the time. With a character like Elena, this can get a little tiresome, and I was well aware of that. I would say to myself, 'I don't want to be like John Cleese Fawlty Towers'. Because even though he's so talented, it's almost overwhelming to watch him because you feel like he's going to hurt himself all the time. You feel like something is going to go wrong, and it becomes really scary to watch.

I knew I had to bring the audience to that place with Elena. But I can't take her there in one episode, I have to spread it out over six episodes so by the time we get to episode six, hopefully you're fully aware of her story and who she is, her vulnerability, Charm, charisma and his illusion with the world.

Did it ever occur to you that portraying a female leader in a negative light might be the wrong way to go or might cause some kind of reaction?

When you are an actor and you are asked to play the role of an invented female dictator who is completely confused, completely paranoid living in a different world, you can't think like that. My job was just to try to take what was on the page and bring it to life.

This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, left, and Matthias Schoenaerts in a scene from 'The Regime.'

This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, left, and Matthias Schoenaerts in a scene from 'The Regime.'

As actors, we all felt lucky that the group of writers who created the script had completed the story before any of us read it. So the whole thing is complete. We can just jump in and really explore these characters. Hopefully the satirical darkness will entertain and amuse people.

Regime is scheduled to premiere on March 4 on JioCinema

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