Tragic Details About Kate Winslet

The following article mentions eating disorders and sexual abuse.

It's safe to say that Kate Winslet has been one of the biggest movie stars on the planet ever since the film "Titanic" hit theaters. While Winslet had made a name for herself before that as a teen, in the 1994 film "Heavenly Creatures," it was definitely the 1997 blockbuster that launched her into a whole new level of fame. Winslet recalled to The Hollywood Reporter, "I didn't like this being suddenly famous thing of being told that I had to be one thing, or another." She added, "I still had a lot to learn and just was not ready to be this great, big, famous person."

Of course, Winslet went on to become that "great, big, famous person" anyway by continuing to wow critics and fans alike with roles in movies like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Finding Neverland," and "The Reader," the latter of which she won the Academy Award for in 2008. Fast-forward to 2021, Winslet proved she still had major star power thanks to the popular HBO miniseries "Mare of Easttown," taking home both a Golden Globe and Emmy for her performance. 

While it's clear that Winslet has had a dream Hollywood career, her real life may not be as perfect as it seems. The "Contagion" actor has actually faced a lot of hardships in both her professional life and personal life. So with that said, let's break down those tragic details about Kate Winslet.

Kate Winslet's parents struggled financially

Kate Winslet's story is one of rags to riches. The future Oscar winner's parents were actors, but they struggled to land work, which in turn meant the family struggled financially. Winslet revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, "We were on free meal benefits, and we were supported as a family by a charity called The Actor's Charitable Club, who would literally help with the basics of living because the life of a starving actor for my father was extremely hard."

While Winslet told The Telegraph that her father never had a stable career as an actor, she recalled him taking odd jobs to make ends meet. Yet, things took a turn for the worse when her father suffered a severe foot injury when Winslet was 10 years old. "After that, he couldn't really act, and things got much harder," she said.

However, Winslet herself had started to act and by age 15, she landed a role in the BBC children's series "Dark Season." She then dropped out of school to devote more time to making money. She explained, "It wasn't simply a case of wanting to succeed. It was more a case of having to." Winslet still remembers her childhood fondly though, thanks to her parents. She told The Guardian, "There was no anxiety for anything when I was growing up, they just taught me to be me."

The Titanic star's first boyfriend died of cancer

In 1997, Stephen Tredre, Kate Winslet's first longterm boyfriend, died of cancer. According to The Telegraph, Winslet was only 15 years old when she had met the 27-year-old actor/screenwriter on the set of their TV series "Dark Season." Despite their 12-year age gap, they began dating and she moved to London with him two years later. "He was the most important person in my life ... Stephen made me feel secure and embraced," she said to Parade.

When Tredre was later diagnosed with bone cancer in 1994, Winslet would go directly from movie sets to the hospital to be by his side. However, they decided to split in 1995 when he was in remission. She recalled, "After we separated, he got ill again. Stephen and I talked every day." Tredre then reportedly ended their relationship so Winslet didn't have to watch him die. "That as an act of love from one human being to another was overwhelming," she said in The Telegraph.

After Tredre's death, Winslet got flack for skipping the "Titanic" premiere to attend his funeral. She recalled to The Guardian, "I was a bit depressed by that... someone I had spent four and a half years of my life with had just died." Over a decade later, Winslet told The Telegraph she still regrets their breakup, saying, "I wish I had just been there. To the bitter end. ... I still go over those moments in my head."

Kate Winslet's first marriage was toxic

It appears that Kate Winslet's first marriage to James Threapleton was pretty toxic. According to Parade, the two met on the set of her film "Hideous Kinky," where he worked as the film's third assistant director. They got married in 1998 and welcomed their daughter, Mia, soon after. However, the couple split by 2000, with Winslet suggesting that she may have married Threapleton for the wrong reasons. She explained, "I thought I wanted to be with Jim. I was dealing with the pain of having lost Stephen [Tredre] and 'Titanic' coming out. Jim was just a regular guy, and that had a big impact on me." 

Yet Threapleton apparently had issues with Winslet's growing fame at the time, discouraging her from taking on parts that would boost her career. She said to Index, "I started looking for supporting roles, because Jim didn't want me to be famous." She added, "That was the only time in my life that I've ever lost control of my instincts."

It seems that Winslet had realized her marriage wasn't working when she could no longer recognize herself. "In the last year and half of our marriage, I became a completely different person. I was isolated from my family and my friends," she recalled. While Winslet said leaving Threapleton was terrifying since Mia was just a baby, she revealed, "I knew that I had to go. It was like there was a clock ticking."

Sam Mendes reportedly cheated on her

While Kate Winslet's second marriage to director Sam Mendes lasted longer than her first union, it seemingly didn't start or end on great terms. When it came to meeting Mendes in 2000, the "Revolutionary Road" actor told Parade that she sensed a spark immediately. Yet, because the two had gotten together right after she separated from her first husband, she was tormented by the media who falsely accused her of cheating. "Of course the press blamed our divorce on that, saying that Sam and I had had an affair," she recalled to Index.

The couple went on to elope anyway in 2003, and welcomed their son, Joe, later that year. Things apparently took a turn for the worse in 2010 though, when Mendes began working with actor Rebecca Hall. "When Kate found out that Sam had grown close to Rebecca she was upset," a source told Daily Mail at the time. Rumors then circulated that Mendes was stepping out, with an insider even claiming to the Daily Mail, "He told [Winslet] 'people can't be inspired by just one relationship.'"

While Mendes denied cheating on Winslet, the two eventually divorced in 2011, and he went on to date Hall. Despite her heartbreak, Winslet refused to speak bad about him, telling Harper's Bazaar UK (via PopSugar), "We have a child together who we both love — and raising him together, jointly and without any conflict, is absolutely key."

Kate Winslet escaped a house fire

Kate Winslet was involved in a scary ordeal in 2011 when she escaped a massive house fire on an island owned by British billionaire Richard Branson. The "Labor Day" actor had been vacationing with her children on Necker Island, when the house they were staying in caught fire in the middle of the night. Winslet later told The Sun (via The Independent), "I'm just so glad that everyone is safe. And this very easily could not have been the case."

The traumatic ordeal did leave Winslet with a new fear though. She explained to Candis magazine in 2020 (via Daily Mail), "That was probably the biggest crisis that I've ever faced — it obviously makes you more anxious, and I'm now paranoid about house fires, which I didn't used to be." The actor shared that she's now extra cautious about anything that could be a fire hazard. "I'm always unplugging hairdryers and hot tongs and checking them obsessively three times to make sure," she said. 

Yet, there was a silver lining. "What you realize is that all that matters is the people that you love. Everything else is just stuff," she said in The Sun. What's more, she met her husband, Edward Abel Smith (aka Ned Rocknroll), after the fire broke out. Smith is Branson's nephew and was also on the island. Winslet joked to ET, "He was the only dude to have a head torch and a pair of shoes, everyone else left everything behind...So I married him!"

She was bullied about her weight for years

Fans may be surprised to learn that a beautiful A-list celebrity like Kate Winslet could ever have trouble fitting in, but that's exactly what happened for most of her life. The "Mildred Pierce" star shared at the WE Day UK, "I had been bullied at school. They called me Blubber. Teased me for wanting to act. Locked me in the cupboard. Laughed at me." In a 2006 interview with Parade, she remembered how difficult to go to school every day. "Other girls teased me terribly," she said. "I'd just put my head down and get on with it. That was my means of survival."

Things didn't get much easier for Winslet when she began acting professionally in her teens either. After accepting her BAFTA award in 2016, she told reporters, "When I was only 14, I was told by a drama teacher that I might do okay if I was happy to settle for the fat girl parts." Of course all those comments led to Winslet never feeling good enough while growing up.

Sadly, the bullying somehow got even worse after Winslet rose to fame in "Titanic," since it was now the press that criticized her weight. "It was almost laughable how shocking, how critical, how straight-up cruel tabloid journalists were to me," she told The Guardian. She continued, "They would comment on my size ... It was critical and horrible and so upsetting to read."

Kate Winslet has had health issues

Kate Winslet has had to deal with some health issues over the years. One of Winslet's problems is stress incontinence, which is also somewhat of a taboo subject. Yet Winslet didn't hold back when talking about it on "The Graham Norton Show," dishing, per UK Express, "I can't jump on trampolines anymore, I wet myself. It's bloody awful, especially if you're wearing a skirt." 

Because stress incontinence can be an embarrassing topic, Winslet was then praised for speaking out about the condition. According to Daily Mail, one woman even said, "It's so great to see influential women chatting so casually about this condition," adding, "When it comes to talking about this I think there are a lot of women who are nervous."

Another difficult subject that Winslet had openly discussed was disordered eating behavior, which she seemingly had suffered from earlier in her career. She shared, per Daily Mail, "I became addicted to losing weight and went too far. I was never anorexic or bulimic. I went through a three-month experimental laxative time which was absolutely awful." While Winslet explained that she was able to realize what she was doing wasn't healthy, she could have seriously harmed her body. She even pointed out how hard it is to not struggle with weight and body image in her business, telling Good Housekeeping, "It seems to me that [Hollywood] is breeding a whole new generation of anorexics."

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

The Finding Neverland actor was involved in lawsuits

Like many stars of her caliber, Kate Winslet, unfortunately, has been subjected to negative tabloid attention. Some of the reports have led her to take legal action. In 2007, the magazine Grazia claimed that Winslet had seen a dietician to lose weight. The allegations were not only upsetting for Winslet, but she also felt it had hurt her reputation. Per E! News, she said in a statement, "I am not a hypocrite. I have always been, and shall continue to be, honest when it comes to bodyweight issues." Winslet won that libel suit and Grazia issued an apology. She also was awarded $10,000, which she donated to an eating disorder charity. 

Two years later, according to Us Weekly, the Daily Mail accused her of lying about her exercise routine, and referred to her as "the world's most irritating actress."

Winslet then sued the publication, sharing that she was "hurt and embarrassed" by what was written and that it again made her look like she was lying to the public when she preached body positivity. She explained, "I had a responsibility to request an apology in order to demonstrate my commitment to the views that I have always expressed about body issues." Winslet won that suit too and was awarded $40,000, along with another public apology. While it must have been nice for Winslet to win each case, it's sad she had to take such measures in the first place.

Kate Winslet's controversial career moves

Kate Winslet has faced backlash from fans over the years for some of her actions off-screen. One was her decision to work with directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, despite them both being involved in sexual abuse scandals. She seemingly made matters worse when she then defended that decision, telling The New York Times, "I had an extraordinary working experience with both of those men." Yet she eventually changed her stance after thinking it over. She told The Guardian, "I realized it was sitting very badly with me. I shouldn't have worked with Woody, or Roman [Polanski], and I'll probably always grapple with those regrets."

That wasn't the only time Winslet faced scrutiny though, since some people felt she dismissed Hollywood's gender pay gap issues. In an interview with BBC, she said, "I'm having such a problem with these conversations," adding, "it's a bit vulgar isn't it?" But Winslet later told E! News that she had actually been misquoted and that she of course believes women should be paid equally as men. She explained, "When you're talking about specifics of pay that is a line of questioning I really had a hard time with. So my remarks were in response to that."

It's clear that "The Dressmaker" actor isn't afraid to own up to her mistakes or overcome the many tragedies that life has thrown at her over the years. Because of that, it's safe to say that she's more than just a movie star but a true role model.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).