Kate Winslet says she’s learnt to stop criticising her naked body after filming topless scene for war biopic Lee – as she poses for Annie Leibovitz in stunning Vogue shoot
Back then, she wanted Leonardo DiCaprio‘s budding artist Jack Dawson to draw her ‘like one of his French girls’ as she reclined on a chaise longue in her upper-class quarters aboard the doomed passenger ship.
And while the roles have been rich and varied since then – she recently reunited with Cameron to play an animated, free diving Na’vi in his blockbuster Avatar sequel – Winslet will go full circle with a topless scene in her forthcoming film, the factual drama Lee.
The Academy Award winner plays iconic World War II photographer Lee Miller in the Ellen Kuras directed film, a role that involved a degree of transformation in order for Winslet to accurately portray her physical presence on screen.
One scene finds her posing topless on a beach as Miller spends time with her future husband Roland Penrose, artist Man Ray, poet Paul Éluard, his wife Nusch, and the model Ady Fidelin.
And she admits she refuses to shy away from nudity onscreen, despite the obvious self-consciousness that comes with exposing oneself in front of a camera crew.
Speaking to Vogue’s October 2023 issue – in which she also collaborates with photographer Annie Leibovitz for a new cover shoot – she said: ‘I always have to act everything out! I know better than to waste precious energy on criticising my physical self.
‘I think any woman is better off just saying: I believe in myself. It doesn’t matter what other people think; this is who I am—let’s get on with it.’
Reflecting on her latest topless scene, she added: ‘You know I had to be really f**king brave about letting my body be its softest version of itself and not hiding from that.
‘And believe me, people amongst our own team would say, “You might just want to sit up a bit.” And I’d go, “Why? [Because of] the bit of flesh you can see? No, that’s the way it’s going to be!”‘
Lee received its first official screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9 and the reviews are encouraging, but Winslet admits they initially struggled to find anyone willing to back the project – something she attributes to most major studios being run by men.
She said: ‘The men who think you want and need their help are unbelievably outraging. I’ve even had a director say to me: “Listen, you do my film and I’ll get your little Lee funded…” Little!
‘Or we’d have potential male investors saying things like: “Tell me, why am I supposed to like this woman?”’
Despite those initial setbacks, Winslet says the film industry has now dramatically shifted in favour of women – something she never believed would happen while posing for DiCaprio in that famous scene.
‘Oh, my God! This is the best part. Young actresses now – f**k me – they are unafraid. It makes me so proud.
‘And I think, Yes, all the sh*t flinging, all the struggle, all the using my voice for years, often being finger-pointed at and laughed at – I don’t give a sh*t! It was all bloody worth it.
‘Because the culture is changing in the way that I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have imagined in my 20s … absolutely toughened me up, but the one thing it gave me, more than anything else, was a profound understanding of what it means to play a character like Lee Miller.’
Vogue’s October 2023 issue is available on newsstands nationwide from September 19.