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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Kate Winslet Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Kate Winslet’s professional and personal life could not be on a better track currently. She is earning some of the best reviews of her career for her role as crazy-haired romantic, Clementine Kruczynski, opposite Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Q. How are you managing to juggle motherhood and your very hot current movie career?
A.
I frankly would like to ask the majority of mothers who have 9 to 5 jobs how the hell they do it because I’ve never had to do that. Admittedly, when I’m working, it’s on a film set and I’m up at 5.30am and gone from the house at 6am, and, more often than not, you get back around dinner/bath-time.
But honestly, the way I do it is, I don’t do it that much. From the outside looking in, when a movie comes out, you imagine that person has been working back to back. I’ve got two films coming out this year, the other is Neverland, which I did last year, and, from the outside looking in, it seems ‘she’s been so busy’, but, in actual fact, that’s not the case and I really stick to this thing of doing one film a year. Maybe two, if the shooting schedule is very short.

Q. Do you ever feel that you don’t work enough?
A.
Absolutely not. I love it because when I go to work, I’m really excited about it and it means I have lots of time to prepare and to chill out afterwards. It’s so exhausting and incredibly hard work. You don’t just turn up on day one and it all comes to you.
I always prepare myself as well as I possibly can, which takes up time and energy. I’m so lucky that I can choose not to do it all the time, and lucky to have the choice in terms of the roles I play. So that makes me appreciate it all the more.

Q. Was making Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind especially exhausting?
A.
I swear to God some days I felt like John Cleese. I’d be like, ‘just stop moving’. You know, when you watch him in Fawlty Towers, and you just want to grab him and force him to keep his feet on the ground and stay still. And Clementine was a little like that.
She was exhausting, maybe because she has so many layers and emotional levels that she hits at different points in the film, but also because of the unorthodox way in which the story is told. You very much had to know what you were doing every single day, and sometimes we’d have really long pages of dialogue, a scene of 11 or 12 pages long, which is virtually unheard of in a movie script.
That’s a lot of hard work. You have to learn all those lines way in advance, so that when you get to the take, you don’t blow one because you’ve forgotten what your next line is. So it was quite exhausting, but so much fun I was happy to be that tired.

Q. Your director, Michel Gondry, says that, like Clementine, you’re headstrong, passionate and unpredictable. Are you?
A.
Yep. I am most definitely passionate and headstrong. My dad loves telling us stories, over and over again, about what our childbirth experiences were like for him and my mother, and, apparently, I came shooting out, cord round the neck, screaming my head off, ready for action.
So I guess I’m both of those things. And, I suppose, I’m a bit unpredictable, too. I don’t like planning too much. Normally, actors who are asked what they’re doing next say, ‘Well, next I’m doing so and so and after that I’m doing blah’. I’m just not like that. I don’t know what’s going to be happening in my life in a year’s time, and that always for me comes first. I like to keep it like that. It’s fun and does make life more exciting.

 

Q. Clementine’s kind of punky; dying her hair a different colour every day. Did you ever go through that kind of phase?
A.
Oh yeah. I mean, who didn’t go through that, you know? It wasn’t necessarily a punk phase, but I definitely went through periods of wanting to shave my head or dye my hair. I never shaved my head, but I definitely mixed my own packets of peroxide, and put big fat streaks of blonde in my hair. And you experiment with crazy clothes when you are younger. It’s all part of kind of self-exploration and expression. And, to me, that’s what Clementine had that was so much fun. It was almost like she was going through her teenage rebellion ten years too late, so it was great to sort of re-visit a bit of that for me.

Q. Did you improvise much on set?
A.
We did a lot of improvising in rehearsal. Charlie Kaufman, the writer, and Michel were in the rehearsal room with Jim and I, and they’d often send us off on these crazy improvisational tangents - ‘Do an improv that Clementine is moving into Joel’s apartment and see where that takes you’.
And Charlie would say, ‘I love that thought’, or ‘I love that line’, and he’d go off and write a new scene. There was a bit of ad-libbing, but hardly any, because the brilliant thing about Charlie, as a writer, is that you just feel as if those are simply the words these people are saying.
Every single, ‘I...er...I don’t know (pause). Fuck. (She sits down. sighs....)’, everything kind of made sense. To say that it came naturally is almost the wrong _expression, but it felt really natural, because it was just brilliantly crafted and that was a real luxury for us to have.

Q. You have great chemistry with Jim Carrey and it seems you have had innate chemistry with all your leading men. Is there anything you attribute that to?
A.
I don’t know if it’s a skill, but I have been really lucky. I’ve always got on with every actor I’ve had to work opposite. I just always try and be as accepting of that person as I possibly can, and remain non-judgmental about their process, because every actor works in a different way.
I would never criticise an actor for the way they create that performance. Jim and I just really got on. I was amazed at how normal he is, and he’s very, very professional and very funny too, and a brilliant impressionist. He did a Jack Nicholson impersonation that was so uncanny.

Q. What about the premise of rubbing out memories of a past relationship? Can you relate to that?
A.
I can relate to it, in the sense that some people would wish to do that, but I just never would. We’ve all been through good and bad times in our lives, and just for me, personally, I’ve always felt that those things have made me stronger, even if it was just being bullied as a kid at school. I’m kind of grateful for all those things, even though that sounds a bit twisted. I just wouldn’t erase anything.

Q. Do you still feel overshadowed by Titanic in any sense?
A.
I’m now able to be far more grateful than ever for the Titanic experience. I’d love for my daughter Mia to be able to see it, but she’s still too young. I heard that one of her little friends, who’s five, was watching it at Christmas. And, apparently, she said: "Look, Mia’s Mummy is hanging off the boat."
To me, that is a great thing. I just loved the fact that I was Mia’s Mummy. and she wasn’t remotely interested in the character names or anything like that. It was just Mia’s Mummy playing dress-up and pretending to be somebody else!

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