Kate Winslet on Her Early Acting Years and What She Learned from ‘Titanic’

“I was able to choose smaller things that made me feel a little bit more protected and a little bit more connected to smaller crews of people who I felt safe with and who I could learn from.” – Kate Winslet

How influential was Titanic on Kate Winslet‘s career as an actress? Starring in one of the highest-grossing films of all time at such a young age certainly had a significant affect on Winslet’s long career. In conversation with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, Winslet went into detail about her early career and how Titanic changed everything for her.

Winslet explains that she left school at 16 because she wanted to pursue acting, but she still had to work day jobs until she achieved enough success. She says:

“Because I wanted to become an actor, but also because I had to get a job. I had to work. My – you know, my parents didn’t have any kind of money for college fees or anything like that. I wasn’t very intelligent. I wasn’t – I also wasn’t really very happy in school, like, sitting down and really learning things. I wanted to be out in the world. And so I just imagined that I was going to just do my best and, you know, look in all those newspapers that advertised auditions for theater things. And I would try and audition and get jobs, and then I would work. I would do waitressing, or I would work in a – I don’t know – I would work in a shop. And I did all of those things for the first few years. In fact, it wasn’t until after Sense And Sensibility when I really was then officially able to start – I was then making a living from being an actor.”

Of course, Winslet will always be closely linked to one of the highest-grossing films of all time, Titanic, and she credits that lengthy shoot for teaching her so much about filmmaking. She says, “You know, people often forget that Titanic was a seven-month shoot. I learned so much about acting, about the process of filmmaking. You know, there’s so much to learn, and that takes a long time. And I hadn’t been taught it in a school, so I was learning on the fly, really on the fly. And that experience of making that film was rich with wonderful things that I learned.”

She goes on to explain how Titanic was a tremendous learning experience for her and has given her career longevity — something many other actresses do not have in the industry. She continues, “I wanted to be an actress, and I had a lot to learn… I didn’t want to fake it, and I didn’t want to feel under pressure. And also, I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to be in a position where I could always say I’m an actress, to be 45 years old, as I am today, and to still be able to say I’m an actress and not to have fizzled out, not to have experienced burnout and not to have given bad performances because I simply didn’t know how to do it enough in those days when I was that young. And so I was able to choose smaller things that made me feel a little bit more protected and a little bit more connected to smaller crews of people who I felt safe with and who I could learn from.”

About Author

In college, overachiever Christopher McKittrick double-majored in Film and English because he loves to read, write, and watch movies. Since then Chris – who was born and raised on Long Island, New York and currently lives in Queens – has become a published author of fiction and non-fiction, a contributor to entertainment websites, and has spoken about literature, film, and comic books at various conferences across the country when he’s not getting into trouble in New York City (apparently it’s illegal to sleep on street corners...) For more information about Chris, visit his website here!

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