Kate Winslet on Developing a Character’s Backstory and Doing Her “Homework”

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Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown

“I always try and give a character history even if it’s loose — where they grew up, whether their parents got divorced, did they have a parent who died… — some real basics.” – Kate Winslet 

Academy Award, Emmy Award, and BAFTA Award-winning actress Kate Winslet added yet another accolade to her impressive collection with her Emmy Award win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for her performance in Mare of Easttown. When speaking about her performance to Variety, Winslet spoke about why it’s so important to her to develop the backstories of her characters.

Winslet confesses that despite all of her success that she always feels like she’s just one bad performance away from being exposed as a “fraud.” She says, “I’m just like, if I don’t do the f—ing homework, I’m going to be outed as a fraud. And so I better just keep doing it as much as possible so that I’ve got the fattest safety net. That’s my thing.”

For Winslet, that “homework” includes figuring out a character’s backstory — even elements that won’t enter into the story. She explains, “I always try and give a character history even if it’s loose — where they grew up, whether their parents got divorced, did they have a parent who died, were their siblings around, what kind of socioeconomic background did they have, where did they go to school — some real basics.”

For example, this was a technique that Winslet used for her role on Mare of Easttown. She says, “I found that as soon as I started mapping out the basics of who Mare was, it just turned into this just really thick canvas that just needed to not only anchor me but also provide a rhythm for the sense of family around Mare.”

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