By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 28, 2003 10:00 AM

“Titanic” star Kate Winslet and Oscar-winning film and theater director Sam Mendes are expecting their first child early next year, a rep for the actress confirms to the Associated Press.

The two married in May at a low-key, private ceremony in the West Indies, attended by only three friends, according to reports at the time. It was Winslet’s second marriage, following her 2001 divorce from film director Jim Threapleton after three years of marriage and the birth of a daughter, Mia, who is 2 1/2.

“She was expecting when they got married, but they didn’t know at the time,” said Winslet’s spokeswoman. “The pregnancy was in its very early stages.”

The spokeswoman added that Winslet, 27, and Mendes, 37, are currently on vacation in Tuscany, Italy. Mendes, whose Oscar was for 1999’s “American Beauty,” was not in attendance at June’s Tony Awards ceremony in New York, where his Broadway revival of “Gypsy,” starring Bernadette Peters, was up for some major nominations.

Winslet and Mendes, both originally from Reading, England, began their relationship soon after her divorce from Threapleton. The spilt followed reports that the couple frequently argued, though family members said the demands of Winslet’s career put an impossible strain on the relationship.

Mendes and Winslet, who always maintained that their relationship began after her marriage was over, first appeared in public together at the New York opening of Winslet’s film “Iris” at the end of 2001.