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Interview with Kate Winslet

Mildred waitressing

HBO

What are the conflicting drives Mildred faces as the series begins?

Kate Winslet

Mildred does a very good job of pretending to be strong -- something I think a lot of mothers do. Especially given the state of the economy and her domestic situation, she has to let her daughters know that they can absolutely depend on her. But I dont think even she realizes how vulnerable she is just beneath the surface of her determination and survival instinct. It had been a really long time since that rawness had to be so alarmingly accessible to me and I didnt really like it!

HBO

In episode one, Mildred suddenly finds herself the provider. And to complicate things, she is prideful about what kind of job shell take. Where does that pride come from?

Kate Winslet

She is so darned proud. She has these strange standards that come from ... herself. They dont really come from anywhere else. Its just her own desire to be this immaculate image of stoicism, poise and grace for both her girls. To have to work is misrepresentative of who she really wants to be for her children, and degrading in some way. But she does it. And it just so happens that the job that she gets is the key that unlocks the door to her future, which is just great fortune.

HBO

How does the time period figure into her dilemma?

Kate Winslet

Mildred refuses to not be able to live to tell the tale. To get through the Depression, as a woman, to start her own business from absolutely nothing, based on a very out-of-the- box, unique idea, takes remarkable courage anyway, but at the time that she was trying to do this, it took a hell of a lot of guts. The risk factor was huge. I hope that women today are actually able to relate to Mildred, because she was going it alone and actually doing it really well for a while.

HBO

What do you and Mildred have in common?

Kate Winslet

Mildreds desire to be successful comes from this incredible survival instinct that she has, which I do share a little bit. My parents didnt have any money. I came from this acting family - a bunch of working class acting lunatics who happened to speak very well (because someone had been trained and so they all copied that person). But I did grow up with very little and so I was able to connect with Mildred on that level: Knowing what its like to work hard to get by and make something of yourself. You have to dig your heels in and get through it.

"Shes quite exceptional, during that time period to have had that many relationships during the length of time that the series spans."

HBO

Mildred says she wants to give Veda all the cake in the world. Why?

Kate Winslet

Veda represents so many things that Mildred could never access in her own imagination and in her own limited soul -- every dream Mildred ever had, every fantasy she ever played out in her own head. Mildreds dreams are really truly dreams, whereas Veda has the talent and the skill to actually make those things a reality.

HBO

By the end of episode two we have been introduced to three important men in Mildreds life.

Kate Winslet

Mildreds relationship with all three of the men is fairly straightforward. They all gave her something different. Bert gave her this great sense of comfort and stability. And something of a father figure too. He was a little bit older than her. She lost her own father when she was a teenager, and so I think that played a very big part in her subconscious choice in being with Bert. Wally made her feel good. It was just so surprising to have walked away from a long marriage and to be found attractive by somebody who quietly had his eye on her for longer than she realized. And then of course, she meets Monty -- the guy she never thought she would get. Shes quite exceptional, during that time period to have had that many relationships during the length of time that the series spans. But shes not a maneater. She wanted to be loved very much, to be committed to one person. It wasnt as though she had three men on the go at the same time.

HBO

You have a history with Guy Pearce&

Kate Winslet

The dreamy Guy Pearce who happens to be my teen heart throb. I never had crushes on anybody when I was younger, I really didnt. But Guy Pearce played Mike in Neighbors. I would fake illness to stay off school and watch the one p.m. show, and I would also watch it again when it was repeated at 5:25 p.m. Obsessed. And then I read in a teen magazine that we share the same birthday, well that was it. He was coming on the white horse, clearly! No, he didnt come on the white horse, he came in the shape of Monty Beragon.

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