Appearing in London to promote the feature-length television drama “I Am Ruth” – in which Winslet and Threapleton recreate their relationship in a fictional setting– the British actor spoke of how aspects of life imitated art during a Q&A session.
“For sure, there was some personal overlap,” Winslet confided. “It’s a mother/daughter story: it is inevitable. We know how to push each other’s buttons.” Winslet also praised her daughter’s performance, saying that she was “impressed” by Threapleton every day throughout the shoot.
Whilst Winslet was last seen in 2021’s acclaimed U.S. drama “Mare of Easttown”, “I Am Ruth” marks a continuation of U.K. broadcaster Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning and female-led anthology drama series, “I Am.” The brainchild of British writer and director Dominic Savage, two seasons to date have included performances from the likes of Vicky McClure, Samantha Morton, and Lesley Manville.
“I Am Ruth,” which is set to air in the U.K. on Dec. 8, was developed and co-authored by Winslet and Savage. The outcome is a hard-hitting and contemporary narrative that focuses on mental health, parental despair, and a teenager locked in freefall from the pressures of social media. It is a searing film destined to linger long in the memory – a conversation-starter too.
“There are times when you look at your children you think, ‘What do I say? What do I do? Where’s the manual?’ So much of it we make up as we go along; myself included,” Winslet said.
“Often, when you’re a person in the public eye or high-profile, or whatever, the media enshrines you in this kind-of bullshit of perfection. And I’ve always really hated that. I’ve always been a rubbish famous person anyway,” she quipped. “We wanted to tell a story here that felt timely, visceral and truthful, even though there are parts of it that are very hard to watch.”
Although the plot was scripted, written dialogue was absent entirely. “Not one word out of our mouths was scripted. Everything we said we made up on the day, in the moment; nothing was written down,” the Oscar-winner revealed. “That makes what Mia does doubly impressive, because when you’re a young actor, having the courage to say what you think and come forward with an idea can be really quite challenging.”
Asked if she had to disregard her parental instincts to comfort Threapleton during difficult scenes, Winslet conceded: “There were moments when I would look and think, ‘My gosh, she’s doing it, she’s really doing it’. I would want to hug her and make it stop.”
Nevertheless, Winslet said the experience was “really special” and claims to have been “thrilled” to have had it. “Not that I didn’t respect her before, [but] I was given new things to respect and admire about my own child,” she said.
Elsewhere, Winslet discussed the “shame” parents can feel in raising their children, and how this was something she wanted to address in the show. “’Did I fail? Was I too busy? Did I not listen? Should I have done more; said more?’. These are all normal questions to ask and normal things to feel. I didn’t want to do anything [in “I Am Ruth”] that felt fake.”
In an interview with Variety earlier this year, Winslet described her continued affection for the acting craft, calling it “a joy and a pleasure”.