February 19, 2009 / 3:42 PM / 10 years ago

Just a Minute With: Oscar nominee Kate Winslet

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Kate Winslet, who has won wide acclaim in recent months for her performances in “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader,” has already picked up two Golden Globes and a BAFTA award to adorn her mantelpiece.

Actress Kate Winslet waves as she arrives to address a news conference to promote the movie 'The Reader' of the 59th Berlinale film festival in Berlin February 6, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The big one, though, is the Academy Award, and on February 22, the 33-year-old will find out if the best actress Oscar for her role in “The Reader” is hers.

Winslet was at the Berlin film festival earlier this month to discuss “The Reader,” based on Bernhard Schlink’s novel about a teenage boy who has an affair with the much older Hanna Schmitz (Winslet). Years later, Schmitz is put on trial for her secret past as a Nazi prison guard, and the boy, now a law school student, is forced to confront his past.

Q. It is awards season and you have been in the thick of it so far. How has that been and how do you prepare?

A. “You can’t prepare yourself. I mean, there is no textbook. I sort of wish there were some kind of lessons in how you deal with this kind of thing ... You know, I think I am kind of useless, in fact, at awards season and I have discovered one thing about myself that I didn’t know before, which is that I am too emotional to loose and clearly I am too emotional to win as well, which is a big new discovery.

“But it does mean a great deal, when they open that envelope and they say, ‘And the award goes to Kate Winslet.’ Suddenly you think, ‘that is me, the kid from Reading, who suddenly ended up in this room with all these fine people. What the hell is going on?’ It is very, very out-of-body and nothing can prepare you for it at all, and quite honestly my motto at the moment is, I am just really, really happy because I genuinely am and I am just going to enjoy it because these moments, these are very rare moments for anyone to enjoy, and I am going to make the most of it.”

Q. How did you get ready for the role of Hanna Schmitz?

A. “It was very, very complicated for me playing Hanna for very many reasons, not only because I was playing a German and I knew I had to get that accent absolutely down, that had to be perfect, and I knew that I had to physically change myself quite considerably ... throughout the film.

“But quite aside from that, just getting underneath the skin of such a complex person who had lived such an isolated life for so many different reasons, it was hard and quite lonely at times.”

Q. Did you feel a sense of responsibility acting in love scenes with such a young and inexperienced actor (David Kross)?

A. “I did feel that it was a responsibility and I felt, I hope I put this in the right way, I kept feeling for David, I am really happy that it is me that is here with him because I so understood how he felt, because I have been in exactly that position.

“I did my first love scene when I was 18 years old and (was) terrified and he is 18. I wasn’t nervous for myself because I am used to that kind of thing now, and also I really loved all of those scenes — they were so important to the story. But I knew that I had to just make sure that he was OK and that was done by literally talking, you know, ‘This is what is going to happen now, and this is how many people are going to be in the room, this is where your bathrobe is going to be and when they call cut I am going to chuck that bathrobe over you and I am going to grab mine second’.

Q. How do you feel about bringing this movie to a German audience?

A. “It is really exciting to be back in Germany. (Director) Stephen Daldry and I have been talking about this trip for so long I can’t tell you, and we have been holding it up as, ‘We just have to get back to Berlin, we just have to get back there,’ because somehow to be back here is to be sane, this is the audience we want to be talking to.

“So it is exciting, it is really exciting. It is definitely a little bit nerve-racking, because it is such a much-loved piece of German literature and we hope that people will feel that we have honored the book because that was our intention.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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