Kate Winslet, in full Kate Elizabeth Winslet, (born October 5, 1975, Reading, Berkshire, England), English actress known for her sharply drawn portrayals of spirited and unusual women.
Winslet was raised in a family of actors. She began performing at an early age, taking small parts in commercials, television shows, and stage plays. Her first major role was in director Peter Jackson’s drama Heavenly Creatures (1994). The film, based on the Pauline Parker–Juliet Hulme case in New Zealand, depicted the obsessive fantasy life of two adolescent girls and their eventual murder of Parker’s mother. In 1995 Winslet appeared in an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility; the film was written by actress Emma Thompson and directed by Ang Lee.
Winslet’s turn as Marianne Dashwood, a young woman set financially and romantically adrift by the circumstances of her father’s death, brought her to the attention of a larger audience and earned her an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. Winslet then starred in another literary adaptation, Jude (1996), which was based on Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure (1895). Winslet solidified her burgeoning reputation for taking period roles by portraying Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh’s production of Hamlet (1996).