Winslet offers insight into relationships

Kate Winslet and Jack Black share a moment in The Holiday, which hits theatres next week.


Some in the mainstream North American film media have a fascination with the relationship advice question.

That’s the one you ask of a major Hollywood star when they make a romantic movie. It’s one that attempts to shed insight into one of life’s great mysteries — namely the secret to a lasting partnership — from a subject who probably has no more expertise in that area than the person asking the question.

So on this day in the ballroom of a posh Los Angeles hotel, 31-year-old actress Kate Winslet is being asked to play the advice-giver by a room full of journalists.

She’s promoting her new film The Holiday, written and directed by romantic-comedy veteran Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give), in which she plays Iris, a British journalist experiencing a terrific bout of unrequited love.

Iris finally gets the courage to leave her job for a holiday and trades homes with Amanda (Cameron Diaz), an American film trailer director who’s also having man troubles. The two cross the Atlantic and swap homes, only to find love and a new perspective on life.

“I think relationships will be eternally fascinating to people,” the four-time Oscar nominee comments when asked why this genre consistently draws audiences. “At some point in our lives we’re all looking for that special person and it can be very hard to find in the struggle that you go through emotionally in trying to find that person.”

This is the first time Winslet has played a contemporary English woman — normally she’s either in a period costume or is told to fake an American accent, which she does well.

One would think she also worked as a relationship therapist, judging by her answers to questions.

Why do so many people have their hearts broken, one query demands?

“The heart is an uncontrollable vessel,” she replies. “If I had the answer to that question I’m sure not quite so many people would go out and have their hearts broken in the way that they do. It’s just part of life. I know so many people have so obviously been in love with the wrong person.”

But Meyers thinks she may at least be able to explain why most romantic comedies seem, well, intrinsically similar, and still manage to score with a wide audience.

“There’s a formula (just like) any action movie has a formula,” she says. “For me, the ones I’ve liked I feel some longing from the characters and actually feel the romance.”

But Winslet reveals something about her early love life that many may find surprising — she was anything but the most popular girl in school, and definitely not with boys.

“I was always the girl who never got the guy and certainly not the cute guy, so I was no stranger to heartbreak and rejection by the time I was 18 or 19,” she recalls with a smile.

Somewhere a group of men are regretting their rejection of one of Hollywood’s most bankable beauties.

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