Tyrone Siu/Reuters/Landov
Phil Boucher
October 14, 2015 10:00 AM

It turns out even an Oscar winner can be plagued with self-doubt.

Though she really wanted the role of former Apple marketing executive Joanna Hoffman, when Kate Winslet was offered the part, her first reaction was, “How am I going to do this?”

It was nine days before Christmas last year when she got the news about Steve Jobs. Winslet recalls, “We were going to New Zealand for Christmas and New Year’s, and I was going to have to be in San Francisco on Jan. 9.”

She adds, “I said to my husband, ‘I can’t!’ ”

Confident his wife could nail Hoffman’s Polish-Armenian-American accent and memorize Aaron Sorkin’s 180-plus page script in a mere three weeks, Rocknroll responded, “First of all, obviously, we’re going to San Francisco. Secondly, of course you can do it.”

Then, like she has done so many times for the past 20 years, the six-time Oscar nominee rolled up her sleeves, dove into her role, and it paid off. Now she’s receiving awards buzz for her performance as Hoffman, going toe-to-toe with Michael Fassbender‘s Jobs.

“The real Joanna,” says the actress, “was a very warm, quite funny woman, actually. She has a groundedness and an almost fearlessness. She was really the work wife of Steve Jobs. She had his back and he had hers.”

The actress, who turned 40 on Oct. 5, says it’s the same for her and her husband, telling PEOPLE earlier this year: “My creative life in the last few years has been really, really, colorful for me. And I’ve really, really enjoyed being able to embrace that. Which is partly because I have a wonderful man in my life who is so incredibly supportive. That makes it possible for me to have those experiences.”

For more on Kate Winslet, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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