Kate Winslet on 'Carnage' role: there's no guide book on how to be funny
Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet might be a pro, but she still learned a lot in her new film, "Carnage," and hopes that the comedy of the piece comes through.
"There's no guide book on how to act, how to be funny, sad. You have to rely on the writing, I think, with a piece like this cause the comedy is in the writing, it's in the story and it's within the framework of how the piece is set up," Winslet said in a promotional interview provided by Sony Pictures Classics. "And I think acknowledging the piece is satire, yes, that's important to do and we've all been able to do that. You can't take these moments and try to make them funny. You have to sort of play the sincerity of the moment or the lunacy of the moment or just how ridiculous the entire situation is."
The film, which is based on the play by Yasmina Reza, "The God of Carnage," follows two sets of parents who organize a "cordial" meeting after their sons are involved in a fight at school which leaves one child with broken teeth. The talk goes awry as the adults reveal their less civilized sides.
Winslet appears opposite Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz as Nancy and Alan Cowan, while Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly portray the victim's parents, Penelope and Michael Longstreet.
"Nancy and Allen, my character and Cristoph's [Waltz] character have been invited to just try to think this through -- to find a way for the boys to patch this up and to just resolve it," Winslet said. "But everyone approaches it with a very different opinion and with a very different attitude and all hell breaks loose. Before you know it, it has nothing to do with the boy's fight, but entirely to do with these two different marriages and the cracks that lie between them."
During one argument where Foster's Penelope accuses Winslet's character of lacking interest in her son's behavior, Winslet vomits cobbler on Penelope's rare collection of art books, a scene which Winslet's children thought was "hysterical."
"Throughout this piece, we hear these characters use these really aggressive and robust words as either weapons or ways of expressing their own emotions or their perception of what someone else is thinking and there are reactions to that but none of them take responsibility for the words that come out of their mouths at all and that's one of the reasons it unravels in the way that it does -- no one takes responsibility for anything that they say. And life can't be like that because look what happens," Winslet continued. "I think the only one who says sorry is Nancy, she says, 'I'm sorry Doodle, I'm sorry Doodle,' she says it to Allen, she's just apologizing for completely ruining his life because she drowned his telephone in a vase of tulips."
Though "Carnage" is set in Brooklyn, the film was shot on a soundstage near Paris since director Roman Polanski is limited to France and Switzerland, due to an Interpol warrant for 188 countries for extradition to the United States to face sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
"I always love rehearsal, it's such a pleasure to be able to have, it's always such a luxury," Winslet explained. "Some directors don't like rehearsal very much, but I felt very strongly going into this, 'Oh yeah, we'll probably rehearse everything,' but I didn't realize and none of us could have counted on this thing that Roman [Polanski] did, which was to have us all learn the script, from start to finish, the entire movie script, like a play, and we staged the whole thing. I was personally really thrilled that we did that because it means that when we get onto the set, we all know exactly what our physical positions are and not only is that helpful to us, in terms of where we are at in the story, but it's helpful to Roman because he can structure how he'll shoot it."
"To have had that time together, as well, it sounds like such a cliché thing to say, but it was such a bonding experience for all of us, to be thrown right into the deep end,'" Winslet continued. "But I loved that. This job is such a gift, but when it becomes more of a challenge than you ever could have anticipated it would be, it's just so fun to have to rise to that occasion. To be with these actors; John and Jodi and Christoph, who are so accomplished and so brilliant at what they do, to feel the desire to all hold hands and match that -- match each other's ability, it's really wonderful. And I have to say, as well, that we've been really fortunate that we all really get along great, that we all sort of just love each other, that's been great. If one of us had been in any way tricky, it would have been another story, I think."
The 35-year-old actress rose to fame with the 1997 film "Titanic" and won her first Oscar for her role in the 2008 movie "The Reader."
Winslet has two children, Mia, 10, and Joe, 7, from marriages to directors Jim Threapleton and Sam Mendes. Winslet and Mendes separated in March 2010 and the actress is reportedly dating Richard Branson's nephew, Ned Rocknroll.
Check out the trailer for "Carnage" below.