Kate Winslet Says ‘Nervous’ Stephen Daldry Told Her ‘I Haven’t Got a F***ing Clue’ While Directing ‘The Reader’

Playing an illiterate Nazi SS guard in the midst of a romantic tryst with a younger man is complicated enough, but having to perform with an uncertain director made it all the more challenging for Kate Winslet. Despite ultimately winning the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in “The Reader,” in a recent interview with Variety, the “Titanic” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” actress admitted that making the film was a new kind of experience for her in terms of the open collaboration she shared with director Stephen Daldry.

“It was the first time I had worked with a director who could be openly nervous and vulnerable,” Winslet said. “Stephen Daldry would say, ‘Why are you looking at me? I haven’t got a fucking clue how you’re going to play it either. We’ll do it together.’”

More from IndieWire

To Daldry’s credit, he knew Winslet was capable of handling herself. Speaking to Variety he said, “She goes through a huge amount of prep, finding the accent or voice for the character, which is painstaking. She’ll do all sorts of physical work, where the center of gravity of the character is. She comes with a lot, but it never feels like a pre-prepared dinner. It feels like you’re cooking together.”

Part of Winslet’s talent — which she’s honed for nearly three decades now — is her ability to inhabit any type of character and explore sides of herself she may not have been fully aware of. Really, who among us expected an English rose like Winslet to be so convincing as a brusque, vape-pulling Pennsylvanian detective on “Mare of Easttown?” Commenting on her process, she said, “I don’t believe that ‘I’m this kind of person’ chat. It’s like people who say, ‘I’m not really a morning person.’ It just irritates me. It’s like, ‘Well, you’ve decided that about yourself. But maybe you are — and you could be missing the most phenomenal sunrise by choosing not to be a morning person.’”

Winslet says this openness when it comes to acting is channeled from how she operates as a normal individual and the tricks she continues to pick up as she explores new roles and new experiences.

“Any intelligence I have has come through the life I’ve lived,” said Winslet to Variety. “I’ve taught myself so many things. And I like it that way. I’m proud, because it means that I’ve really lived a life.”

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.