Kate Winslet says it was ‘difficult’ to act opposite daughter Mia and she ‘doesn’t want to hear’ her advice

It’s hard to imagine a time when Kate Winslet wasn’t on our screens. The 47-year-old first wowed film fans and critics alike when she appeared in the dark drama Heavenly Creatures aged 19.

And just three years later she became one of the most famous women in the world after starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the global smash-hit Titanic.

She bagged an Oscar nomination for Sense And Sensibility at 20 and has had five more since – picking up the coveted award for The Reader in 2008.

Away from the silver screen, the Reading-born star has proved a hit in TV shows Mildred Pierce and Mare Of Easttown, for which she won well-deserved Emmys.

And this year, Kate marks another milestone as she appears in the Channel 4 drama I Am Ruth – her first project co-starring her own daughter, Mia Threapleton.

She shares Mia, 22, with her first husband, director Jim Threapleton, who she was married to from 1998 to 2001.

Mia started thinking about following her mum into acting when she was a teen and because she doesn’t share her surname, film industry insiders were unaware of the family connection when she began going to auditions.

“That’s been a wonderful thing that I think I knew was coming,” Kate has said in the past about her daughter’s blossoming acting career.

“I think I always suspected [she’d go into acting]. And then, sure enough, a couple years ago, she turned around and said, ‘I think I would like to give it a go.’

“What’s been really great for her is that she has a different surname, so that initial job out of the gate, she slipped right under the radar.

“The people who cast her had absolutely no idea that she was my daughter. And, of course, that was my biggest fear and most important for her self esteem.”

That first job was in the 2020 film Shadows, which Mia followed with a role in the 2022 TV adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons.

Now, she is appearing in the one-off drama I Am Ruth – in which she and her mum play a mother and daughter.

Kate developed and co-authored the feature-length story with British director Dominic Savage. Kate plays Ruth, a concerned mother who witnesses her teenage daughter, Freya, retreating into herself as she becomes consumed by the pressures of social media. It’s a project that is clearly close to Kate’s heart.

“Everyone knows that while it can be a positive thing for some, for the vast majority of teenagers social media can completely consume their worlds – and not necessarily in positive ways,” she says.

“We just wanted to tell a story that was honest and highlighted those issues that are so extraordinarily prevalent at the moment, and alarmingly so.”

She says that when they began planning the drama, she didn’t have Mia in mind for the role of Freya.

“When Dominic and I started to creep towards this mother-daughter story, I didn’t think about Mia playing Freya at all,” Kate says. “I think because I wasn’t sort of pushing for that or trying to manipulate that in any way, when Dominic said to me, ‘Well, who should play Freya?’ I suddenly went, ‘Oh my gosh, well Mia could definitely do it, but you’d have to meet her and you’d have to talk with her and see if you feel she could.’

“We went through those steps and he felt very confident that she did have the maturity to be able to handle some of the really difficult themes.”

Acting in the same project for the first time, Kate and Mia discovered that they had different ways of approaching their performances, with Kate noting that they settled on a unique way of working together.

“Mia and I did this really weird thing of trying not to talk to each other about it too much. I think we didn’t want to over-plan things and also she is very different to me as a person, and she is very different to me as an actress.

"Her process is really different. There are some things that are quite similar and there are still things that I am trying to pass along that I think could be useful over the years, just technical basics.

“But she said, ‘Don’t tell me anything, I don’t want to hear!’ She got to a point where she was like, ‘No, it’s OK, I’ve got it. I’m going to figure it out.’”

Mia says it was “really fun” to be performing alongside her mum and that it also helped her performance.

“The fact that she is actually my mother, I feel that really helped in a way because the chemistry, the connection, the emotional bond between us as a mother and daughter who are very close, was already there,” she says.

Kate agrees, adding, “We are playing characters – these people aren’t us and this isn’t our story.

"But, for sure, one can’t help but draw on personal experience here and there, whether that’s your own stuff or something you’ve gone through with a friend or a family member.

“It was really staggering how alarmingly free Mia and I were able to be, which I hadn’t imagined.

"My instinct to take care of her had to go away because I knew I had to let her be exposed and hurting, and struggling, and that was quite difficult.”

In the past, Mia has revealed that she rarely accompanied her mum on to film sets, so the experience of working on a project like I Am Ruth was still relatively new to her.

“I never actually spent much time around sets that my mum was working on,” she reveals. “It was always a special treat. It’s a very different experience when it is happening to you and not just something I get to observe from time to time.

“I really understand why my mum has always impressed on us [Mia and her two siblings] how hard the work is. She is right! And I love every second of it.”

Kate is also mum to Joe, 19, who she shares with ex-husband Sam Mendes, and nine-year-old Bear, with husband Edward Abel Smith, formerly known as Ned Rocknroll.

She has previously talked about wanting to be around for them all as they grow up, admitting she’s turned down tempting theatre roles because she’s “not prepared to miss seven bedtimes a week”.

And Kate also wants to keep Mia, Joe and Bear as grounded as possible – a challenging task, given her own global stardom.

“I don’t want them ever, ever, to think that travelling the world and wanting for nothing is normal,” she has said.

“I used to be terrified that they would get spoilt but, actually, they are only spoilt if you spoil them – and I don’t.”

I Am Ruth, Thursday 8 December, 9pm, Channel 4


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