Reteaming with DiCaprio offers familiar feel to pic

Kate Winslet has a long history of playing strong-willed women, but there might not be anyone on her resume like April Wheeler.

A young housewife who, along with her husband (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), struggles under the stranglehold of suburbia, Winslet found her character in “Revolutionary Road” mesmerizing.

“After first reading the script, I was struck by her honesty and the level of brutality in that honesty,” she says. “She has both extraordinary strengths and weaknesses. I had never come across that before.”

When coupled in “Titanic,” Winslet and DiCaprio were lovers who wanted to hold onto one another until, literally, the last few moments of life. Here, in the Paramount Vantage film adapted from the Richard Yates novel, the two share much of that same passion, but when they’re less starry-eyed and quarreling, their difference of opinions raise the onscreen animosity to new heights.

Those scenes full of passion — on both emotional spectrums — were in full view of director Sam Mendes, who is Winslet’s husband. It was the first time the two have worked together, and there were certainly moments that could’ve been construed as uncomfortable for everyone on set, as when DiCaprio and Winslet have sex in the kitchen.

But the actors, who are quite close, didn’t let that unease affect their performances. As a matter of fact, they used their familiarity to enhance their characters’ relationship.

“We know the buttons we can push because we’re such old friends,” DiCaprio says. Adds Winslet: “There’s a lot of trust we’ve built up over the years.”

When assessing Winslet’s impact in cinema, it feels as though she’s been around for quite a while, but at 33, she’s really just beginning what is sure to be a lengthy and kudo-laden career. She’s the youngest person ever to have earned five Oscar nominations — “Sense and Sensibility,” “Titanic,” “Iris,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Little Children” — and could easily push that number up to seven if nominated this year for “Revolutionary Road” and “The Reader.”

As for landing roles in both films — she ended up in “The Reader” after Nicole Kidman exited the project — Winslet seems genuinely appreciative to be given such compelling material.

“How the hell did I get that lucky in the same 12-month period? It’s really rare and remarkable, and I don’t take that position lightly,” she told Vanity Fair. “It might not happen like that again. I’m well aware of that. You know, the truth is, I’m just going to bloody well make the most of it.”

Editor’s note

Winslet has been nominated for five BAFTAs and seven SAG Awards. She won in both kudos races for “Sense and Sensibility.”

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