Byline: Daniel Peres
NEW YORK — Kate Winslet keeps a special photo tucked away in her wallet. It’s a picture of a chunky 16-year-old girl hiding behind Coke-bottle-bottom glasses and spilling out of her purple tank-top and yellow cotton shorts. Only after several takes is it clear that Winslet, herself, is its subject.
“I was massive,” she says. “I was 182 pounds, and I’m only 5 feet 6 1/2 inches. I keep it as a reminder.”
Now, at 20 and starring alongside Emma Thompson in the lauded new film version of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” Winslet proudly declares she’s lost 60 pounds.
“It’s bloody awful that I have a job where I need to be thin, and I do resent that,” she says. “But I’m working.”
Winslet stars as Marianne Dashwood, the passionate, love-crazy sister of Elinor [Thompson]. She is sitting Indian style on the couch in her Regency Hotel suite, rolling a cigarette and occasionally stealing glances at Central Park through a large window. She is, on this day, a little burned out. Without provocation, Winslet starts complaining about film journalists.
“They all ask me the same bloody question about “Sense and Sensibility,” she cries. “It’s as if they haven’t seen the film.”
The actress has met with close to 50 interviewers in the course of two afternoons. Without fail, she says, each has asked the young actress which her character represents: sense or sensibility.
“It’s just so obvious!” she says. “Marianne was an emotional wreck. She couldn’t eat, sleep; love nearly killed her.”
Playing the lovesick teen was no stretch for Winslet.
“When I was 14, my first boyfriend broke my heart,” she says. “I was at the age when I was, like, ‘He’s the only man for me.’ I took time off of school because I was so depressed. But underneath it all, I really didn’t care.”
Now, fresh out of another relationship, Winslet’s philosophy has changed a bit. She’s looking for an apartment in London, which she says will be an open house for friends, and is focusing on her work. Winslet played the blond Juliet Hulme in the critically acclaimed “Heavenly Creatures” and will star as Ophelia opposite Kenneth Branagh in his film version of “Hamlet.” Her next film appearance will be as Sue Bridehead in “Jude,” the film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel “Jude the Obscure.”
But she doesn’t want to limit herself to British period pieces.
“I would love to play some wacky Valley girl,” she says with a laugh.
Winslet is flexible and, because her father and sister are actors, she’s well versed in the frailties of the profession.
“I know that I may never work again,” she says. “It’s important for me to maintain my sense of reality.”
Having said that, Winslet stirs her cappuccino and studies the empty package of Sweet n’ Low she’s just dumped in.
“By the way, how many calories are in this stuff?”