Woody Allen’s new drama, ‘Wonder Wheel,’ is a mob story set in a 1950s amusement park starring Kate Winslet, Jim Belushi, Justin Timberlake and Juno Temple.
NEW YORK — On Friday night, Kate Winslet sat down for a career-spanning conversation at New York Film Festival, where her new movie with Woody Allen makes its world premiere Saturday.
Most of the hour-long talk, moderated by Film Comment editor-in-chief Nicolas Rapold, was centered around Wonder Wheel (in select theaters Dec. 1), in which she stars as a frustrated waitress named Ginny, who falls in love with a lifeguard/aspiring poet (Justin Timberlake) against the backdrop of 1950s Coney Island.
The drama marks the first collaboration between Allen and Winslet, who was neither asked about her decision to work with the filmmaker (whose adopted daughter Dylan Farrow alleged in 2014 that Allen molested her), nor about embattled movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (who produced her Oscar-winning The Reader and was just kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences after sexual assault allegations).
Reading the script for the first time, Ginny “felt so far out of my grasp,” Winslet said. “(She is) living a life that is so full of, not shattered dreams, but proper mistakes that really made a difference to the course of her life. To play this character who throws it all away for the impossible chance of something new, who also drinks and shouts and has a different accent than me, I just thought, ‘I don’t know where to begin.’ “
The actress, who can also be seen this fall with Idris Elba in disaster romance The Mountain Between Us, described her experience of working with Allen as strictly professional.
“It was the most purely actor-director relationship I’ve ever had,” Winslet said. “There were no lunches, dinners or social (interactions). It was really nice to just focus on the job.”
Winslet, 42, is preparing to reunite with Titanic director James Cameron for his long-gestating Avatar sequels, which are expected to hit theaters starting in 2020. Although she was careful not to reveal too much about her character, named Ronal, she hinted that she’ll be utilizing motion capture.
“I still don’t really how it will work, but I’m very excited to learn something new. It really is learning a whole new skill,” Winslet said. “I can tell you that I do play a pivotal role, and in reality, I only have about a month (of shooting).”
The rest of the conversation was peppered with anecdotes from her two-decade career, from breast pumping with Mary-Louise Parker on the set of 2007’s Romance & Cigarettes to recently re-watching her first film, 1994’s Heavenly Creatures, with director Peter Jackson and her family (her only movie she’s seen more than once, she said).
As for the character she’s most fond of? She said it’s the free-spirited Clementine Kruczynski from 2004 sci-fi comedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
“She’s one I’d love to play again and the possibilities for the hair colors were just endless,” Winslet recalled, laughing. “Wouldn’t you like to see Clementine as a 42-year-old woman? I’d love to find out what happened to her. I love the idea that she just totally let go of any hang-ups about her body and just indulged in everything that made her feel happy: more hair colors and more crazy clothes.”
At a New York screening of new movie “The Mountain Between Us,” Kate Winslet says the recent string of natural disasters makes her feel like “the world is ending.” (Sepyt. 27)
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