"I was criticized a lot and the British press were quite unkind to me," Kate Winslet recalls of her post-Titanic fame

By Jen Juneau
January 15, 2021 01:41 PM
kate winslet
Kate Winslet
| Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty

After the success of 1997's Titanic, it might be easy to imagine that Kate Winslet was willingly thrust into being the "it" girl whom everyone fawned over. But according to the actress, that wasn't exactly the case.

On Thursday's episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, Winslet, 45, recalled going "into self-protective mode right away" after her breakout co-lead role in the blockbuster romance/disaster epic, because she felt "bullied" by the U.K. media.

"It was like night and day from one day to the next," she said of her sudden fame. "Also, I was subject to quite a lot of also personal physical scrutiny, and criticized quite a lot — the British press were actually quite unkind to me."

"I felt quite bullied, if I'm honest," Winslet continued. "I remember just thinking, 'Okay, well, this is horrible and I hope it passes.' And it did definitely pass but it also made me realize that if that's what being famous was, I was not ready to be famous, thank you. No, definitely not."

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Kate Winslet in Titanic
| Credit: Moviestore/Re/Rex Shutterstock
Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic
| Credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace/Paarmount

At just 22 years old during the time of the film's release, Winslet said she "was still learning how to act," as she'd only "been doing it since [she] was 17."

"And so I still felt like I wasn't really ready to do lots of big Hollywood jobs," she explained. "It was a huge responsibility. I didn't want to make mistakes, I didn't want to blow it — I wanted to be in it for the long game."

"So I did strategically try and find smaller things, just so I could understand the craft a bit better and understand myself a bit better, and maintain some degree of privacy and dignity," the Oscar winner added.

And when her first child, daughter Mia, was born in 2000, "all that stuff kind of evaporated a bit, in terms of being watched and whether I cared about it," Winslet shared. "My focus was my child, and that was all that mattered."

kate winslet
Kate Winslet
| Credit: J. Countess/WireImage

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In the 23 years that have passed since Titanic's release, Winslet has gone on to rack up credits in films large and small, playing roles across a variety of genres. Recently, some of her works have included Birds of a Feather, Blackbird, Ammonite and Black Beauty.

She recently reunited with her Titanic director James Cameron for the next Avatar installments. The actress also joins Sigourney Weaver, Oona Chaplin, Stephen Lang and David Thewlis in the upcoming sequel to Cameron's 2009 fantasy-action film.

Cameron, 66, revealed in February 2019 that Winslet was "gung-ho" about giving her best on the sequels and described her as "a phenomenal collaborator" in preparing for her role as Ronal, a free-diving member of the Pandoran race.

"She was a dream to work with — not the pain in the a-- that she was the first time," he joked in his interview with Vulture. "No, she was a dream on Titanic as well."