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Kate Winslet - Biography & Career

Winslet was born in Reading, Berkshire, England to Roger Winslet and Sally Bridges, both of whom were actors. Her maternal grandparents, Oliver and Linda Bridges, founded and operated the Reading Repertory, and her uncle, Robert Bridges, appeared in the original West End production of Oliver! Her sisters are Beth Winslet and Anna Winslet, also actresses.

Winslet, raised an Anglican, began studying drama at the age of eleven at Redroofs stage school, and was soon cast as a spokesperson for a cereal in television commercials.

Winslet's career began on television, with a co-starring role in the BBC children's science fiction serial Dark Season in 1991, followed by appearances in the made-for-tv movie Anglo-Saxon Attitudes in 1992 and an episode of the medical drama Casualty in 1993, also for the BBC.

Winslet's film career took off in 1994 when she starred in a joint leading role, as Juliet Hulme in director Peter Jackson's critically acclaimed Heavenly Creatures, playing a vivacious and imaginative teen who helps her best friend murder her mother when they are not allowed to be together. This role was followed by the successful film Sense and Sensibility (co-starring Emma Thompson), which made her well-known, especially in the UK. Winslet became famous world-wide after the 1997 release of Titanic, which was the most expensive film of all time, and became the highest-grossing film of all time after several months in release, grossing $600 million at the United States box office.

Winslet has become regarded as something of a critics' darling, having received generally positive reviews for every one of her films. Despite Titanic's success, Winslet has continued making lower-budget films, including Hideous Kinky and Holy Smoke; her roles in smaller, more artistic films appears to be one of choice, as she turned down the lead in Shakespeare in Love to make Hideous Kinky. She has also taken several roles in studio "period drama"s like Quills, Iris and Finding Neverland. For a time, she became associated with such films and given the nickname "Corset Kate". Winslet has most recently appeared in several American films, including the well-reviewed quirky comedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the dramatic thriller The Life of David Gale.

In 2005, Winslet appeared in a television commercial for the American Express credit card. As part of the "My Life, My Card" campaign, the ad shows Winslet strolling around Camden Lock, in London, as she makes references to all the events that have happened to her film characters - such as going to prison for murder (Heavenly Creatures), being penniless and heartbroken (Sense and Sensibility), almost drowning (Titanic), and having her memory erased (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). During the ad, she is shown holding items relating to her films; during the reference to Sense and Sensibility she thumbs through a copy of the book, and when she references Finding Neverland, she's holding a hook.

Winslet also appeared in an episode of BBC's comedy series Extras in August of 2005, as 'herself'. She memorably told Andy and Maggie, the two characters who star in the series, that she was doing a film about the Holocaust because she was tired of losing out on Oscars, as she's been nominated four times, and that everyone who does a film about the Holocaust wins an Oscar. Ricky Gervais later said on NPR that she was his favorite guest star.

In February 2006, Winslet announced that she will collaborate with her husband, director Sam Mendes, on a film version of the Richard Yates novel, Revolutionary Road.

Despite being married to one of the UK's best-known theatre directors, she is not a stage actress.

On November 22, 1998, Winslet married director Jim Threapleton. The two have a daughter, Mia Honey, who was born on October 12, 2000. After a divorce in 2001, Winslet began a relationship with director Sam Mendes, whom she married on May 24, 2003, on the island of Anguilla in the Caribbean. Their son, Joe Alfie, was born on December 22, 2003.

The media, particularly in England, have enthusiastically documented her weight fluctuations over the years. Winslet has been outspoken about her refusal to lose weight in order to conform to the Hollywood ideal. In February 2003, the British edition of GQ magazine published photographs of Winslet which had been airbrushed to make her look dramatically thinner than she really was; Winslet issued a statement saying that the alterations were made without her consent.

Her home town of Reading has named a street Ц Winslet Place Ц in her honour, built on the site of a demolished cinema.