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Kate Elizabeth Winslet (born 5 October 1975) is an English actress and occasional singer. She has received multiple awards and nominations. She was the youngest person to accrue six Academy Award nominations, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Reader (2008). Winslet has been acclaimed for both dramatic and comedic work in projects ranging from period to contemporary films, and from major Hollywood productions to less publicised indie films. She has won awards from the Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association among others, and has been nominated twice for an Emmy Award for television acting.
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Raised in Berkshire, Winslet studied drama from childhood, and began her career in British television in 1991. She made her film debut in Heavenly Creatures (1994), for which she received her first notable critical praise. She achieved recognition for her subsequent work in a supporting role in Sense and Sensibility (1995) and for her leading role in Titanic (1997), the highest grossing film at that time.
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Since 2000, Winslet's performances have continued to draw positive comments from film critics, and she has been nominated for various awards for her work in such films as Quills (2000), Iris (2001), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Finding Neverland (2004), Little Children (2006), The Reader (2008) and Revolutionary Road (2008). Her performance in the latter prompted New York magazine critic David Edelstein to describe her as "the best English-speaking film actress of her generation". The romantic comedy The Holiday and the animated film Flushed Away (both 2006) were among the biggest commercial successes of her career.
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Winslet was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children in 2000. She has been included as a vocalist on some soundtracks of works she has performed in, and the single "What If" from the soundtrack for Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001), was a hit single in several European countries. Winslet has a daughter with her former husband, Jim Threapleton, and a son with her second husband, Sam Mendes, from whom she is separated. She lives in New York City.
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Born in Reading, Berkshire, Winslet is the middle of three daughters of Sally Anne (née Bridges), a barmaid, and Roger John Winslet, a swimming pool contractor. Her parents were "jobbing actors", which led Winslet to comment that she "didn't have a privileged upbringing" and that their daily life was "very hand to mouth" Her maternal grandparents, Linda (née Plumb) and Archibald Oliver Bridges, founded and operated the Reading Repertory Theatre, and her uncle, Robert Bridges, appeared in the original West End production of Oliver!. Her older sister, Anna, and younger sister, Beth, are also actresses.
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Raised in an Anglican household, Winslet began studying drama at the age of 11 at the Redroofs Theatre School, a co-educational independent school in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where she was head girl. At the age of 12, Winslet appeared in a television advertisement directed by filmmaker Tim Pope for Sugar Puffs cereal. Pope said her naturalism was "there from the start".
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Winslet's career began on television, with a co-starring role in the BBC children's science fiction serial Dark Season. This role was followed by appearances in the made-for-TV movie Anglo-Saxon Attitudes in 1992, the sitcom Get Back, and an episode of the medical drama Casualty in 1993.
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Winslet at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival In 1992, Winslet attended a casting call for Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures in London. Winslet auditioned for the part of Juliet Hulme, a teenager who assists in the murder of the mother of her best friend, Pauline Parker (played by Melanie Lynskey). She won the role over 175 other girls. The film included Winslet's singing debut, and her a cappella version of "Sono Andati", an aria from La Bohème, was featured on the film's soundtrack. The film was released to favourable reviews in 1994 and won Jackson and partner Fran Walsh a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Winslet was awarded an Empire Award and a London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year for her performance. The Washington Post writer Desson Thomson commented: "As Juliet, Winslet is a bright-eyed ball of fire, lighting up every scene she’s in. She's offset perfectly by Lynskey, whose quietly smoldering Pauline completes the delicate, dangerous partnership." Speaking about her experience on a film set as an absolute beginner, Winslet noted: "With Heavenly Creatures, all I knew I had to do was completely become that person. In a way it was quite nice doing [the film] and not knowing a bloody thing."
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The following year, Winslet auditioned for the small but pivotal role of Lucy Steele in the adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, featuring Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. She was instead cast in the second leading role of Marianne Dashwood. Director Ang Lee admitted he was initially worried about the way Winslet had attacked her role in Heavenly Creatures and thus required her to exercise tai chi, read Austen-era Gothic novels and poetry, and work with a piano teacher to fit the grace of the role. Budgeted at US$16.5 million ($23.8 million in current year dollars) the film became a financial and critical success, resulting in a worldwide box office total of US$135 million ($194.5 million) and various awards for Winslet, winning her both a BAFTA and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and nominations for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
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In 1996, Winslet starred in both Jude and Hamlet. In Michael Winterbottom's Jude, based on the Victorian novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, she played Sue Bridehead, a young woman with suffragette leanings who falls in love with her cousin, played by Christopher Eccleston. Acclaimed among critics, it was not a success at the box office, barely grossing US$2 million ($2.8 million) worldwide. Richard Corliss of Time magazine said "Winslet is worthy of [...] the camera's scrupulous adoration. She's perfect, a modernist ahead of her time [...] and Jude is a handsome showcase for her gifts." Winslet played Ophelia, Hamlet's drowned lover, in Kenneth Branagh's all star-cast film version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. The film garnered largely positive reviews and earned Winslet her second Empire Award.
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In mid-1996, Winslet began filming James Cameron's Titanic (1997), alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. Cast as the sensitive seventeen-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater, a fictional first-class socialite who survives the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, Winslet's experience was emotionally demanding. "Titanic was totally different and nothing could have prepared me for it. ... We were really scared about the whole adventure. ... Jim [Cameron] is a perfectionist, a real genius at making movies. But there was all this bad press before it came out, and that was really upsetting." Against expectations, the film went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time, grossing more than US$1.843 billion ($2.6 billion) in box-office receipts worldwide, and transformed Winslet into a commercial movie star. Subsequently, she was nominated for most of the high-profile awards, winning a European Film Award.[
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Shot prior to the release of Titanic, Hideous Kinky, a low-budget hippie romance, was Winslet's sole film of 1998. Winslet had rejected offers to play the leading roles in Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anna and the King (1999) in favour of the role of a young English mother named Julia who moves with her daughters from London to Morocco hoping to start a new life. The film garnered generally mixed reviews and received only limited distribution, resulting in a worldwide gross of US$5 million ($6.6 million). Despite the success of Titanic, the next film Winslet opted to star in was Holy Smoke! (1999), featuring Harvey Keitel, another low-budget project—much to the chagrin of her agents, who felt "miserable" about her preference of arthouse movies. Feeling pressured, Winslet has said she "never saw Titanic as a springboard for bigger films or bigger pay cheques", knowing that "it could have been that, but would have destroyed [her]." The same year, she voiced Brigid in the computer animated film Faeries.
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In 2000, Winslet appeared in the period piece Quills with Geoffrey Rush and Joaquin Phoenix, a film inspired by the life and work of the Marquis de Sade. The actress served as somewhat of a "patron saint" of the film for being the first big name to back it, accepting the role of a chambermaid in the asylum and the courier of The Marquis' manuscripts to the underground publishers. Well-received by critics, the film garnered numerous accolades for Winslet, including nominations for SAG and Satellite Awards. The film was a modest arthouse success, averaging US$27,709 ($35,337) per screen its debut weekend, and eventually grossing US$18 million ($23 million) internationally.
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In 2001's Enigma, Winslet played a young woman who finds herself falling for a brilliant young World War II code breaker, played by Dougray Scott. It was her first war film, and Winslet regarded "making Enigma a brilliant experience" as she was five months pregnant at the time of the shoot, forcing some tricky camera work from the director Michael Apted. Generally well-received, Winslet was awarded a British Independent Film Award for her performance, and A. O. Scott of The New York Times described Winslet as "more crush-worthy than ever." In the same year she appeared in Richard Eyre's critically acclaimed film Iris, portraying novelist Iris Murdoch. Winslet shared her role with Judi Dench, with both actresses portraying Murdoch at different phases of her life.Subsequently, each of them was nominated for an Academy Award the following year, earning Winslet her third nomination.[
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Also in 2001, she voiced the character Belle in the animated motion picture Christmas Carol: The Movie, based on the Charles Dickens classic novel. For the film, Winslet recorded the song "What If", which was released in November 2001 as a single with proceeds donated to two of Winslet's favourite charities, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Sargeant Cancer Foundation for Children. A Europe-wide top ten hit, it reached number one in Austria, Belgium, and Ireland, number six on the UK Singles Chart, and won the 2002 OGAE Song Contest.
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Winslet at the 61st British Academy Film Awards. Her final film in 2004 was Finding Neverland. The story of the production focused on Scottish writer J. M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Winslet), whose sons inspired him to pen the classic play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. During promotion of the film, Winslet noted of her portrayal "It was very important for me in playing Sylvia that I was already a mother myself, because I don’t think I could have played that part if I didn’t know what it felt like to be a parent and have those responsibilities and that amount of love that you give to a child [...] and I've always got a baby somewhere, or both of them, all over my face." The film received favourable reviews and proved to be an international success, becoming Winslet's highest-grossing film since Titanic with a total of $118 million worldwide.
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In 2005, Winslet appeared in an episode of BBC's comedy series Extras as a satirical version of herself. While dressed as a nun, she was portrayed giving phone sex tips to the romantically challenged character of Maggie. Her performance in the episode led to her first nomination for an Emmy Award. In Romance & Cigarettes (2005), a musical romantic comedy written and directed by John Turturro, she played the character Tula, described by Winslet as "a slut, someone who’s essentially foulmouthed and has bad manners and really doesn’t know how to dress." Hand-picked by Turturro, who was impressed with her display of dancing ability in Holy Smoke!, Winslet was praised for her performance, which included her interpretation of Connie Francis's "Scapricciatiello (Do You Love Me Like You Kiss Me)".Derek Elley of Variety wrote: "Onscreen less, but blessed with the showiest role, filthiest one-liners, [and] a perfect Lancashire accent that's comical enough in the Gotham setting Winslet throws herself into the role with an infectious gusto."
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After declining an invitation to appear in Woody Allen's film Match Point (2005), Winslet stated that she wanted to be able to spend more time with her children. She began 2006 with All the King's Men, featuring Sean Penn and Jude Law. Winslet played the role of Anne Stanton, the childhood sweetheart of Jack Burden (Law). The film was critically and financially unsuccessful. Todd McCarthy of Variety summed it up as "overstuffed and fatally miscast [...] Absent any point of engagement to become involved in the characters, the film feels stillborn and is unlikely to stir public excitement, even in an election year."
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Winslet fared far better when she joined the cast of Todd Field's Little Children, playing Sarah Pierce, a bored homemaker who has a torrid affair with a married neighbour, played by Patrick Wilson. Both her performance and the film received rave reviews; A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote: "In too many recent movies intelligence is woefully undervalued, and it is this quality—even more than its considerable beauty—that distinguishes Little Children from its peers. The result is a movie that is challenging, accessible and hard to stop thinking about. Ms. Winslet, as fine an actress as any working in movies today, registers every flicker of Sarah’s pride, self-doubt and desire, inspiring a mixture of recognition, pity and concern that amounts, by the end of the movie, to something like love. That Ms. Winslet is so lovable makes the deficit of love in Sarah’s life all the more painful." For her work in the film, she was honored with a Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year from BAFTA/LA, a Los Angeles-based offshoot of the BAFTA Awards.and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, and at 31, became the youngest actress to ever garner five Oscar nominations.
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She followed Little Children with a role in Nancy Meyers' romantic comedy The Holiday, also starring Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black. In it she played Iris, a British woman who temporarily exchanges homes with an American woman (Diaz). Released to a mixed reception by critics, the film became Winslet's biggest commercial success in nine years, grossing more than US$205 million worldwide. Also in 2006, Winslet provided her voice for several smaller projects. In the CG-animated Flushed Away, she voiced Rita, a scavenging sewer rat who helps Roddy (Hugh Jackman) escape from the city of Ratropolis and return to his luxurious Kensington origins. A critical and commercial success, the film collected US$177,665,672 at international box offices.
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Winslet at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009. In 2007, Winslet reunited with Leonardo DiCaprio to film Revolutionary Road (2008), directed by her husband Sam Mendes. Winslet had suggested that both should work with her on a film adaptation of the 1961 novel of the same name by Richard Yates after reading the script by Justin Haythe. Resulting in both "a blessing and an added pressure" on-set, the reunion was her first experience working with Mendes. Portraying a couple in a failing marriage in the 1950s, DiCaprio and Winslet watched period videos promoting life in the suburbs to prepare themselves for the film, which earned them favorable reviews. In his review of the film, David Edelstein of New York magazine stated that "[t]here isn’t a banal moment in Winslet’s performance—not a gesture, not a word. Is Winslet now the best English-speaking film actress of her generation? I think so." Winslet was awarded a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance, her seventh nomination from the Golden Globes.
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Also released in late 2008, the film competed against Winslet's other project, a film adaptation of Bernhard Schlink's 1995 novel The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry and featuring Ralph Fiennes and David Kross in supporting roles. Originally the first choice for her role, she was initially not able to take on the role due to a scheduling conflict with Revolutionary Road, and Nicole Kidman replaced her. A month after filming began, however, Kidman left the film due to her pregnancy before filming of her had begun, enabling Winslet to rejoin the film. Employing a German accent, Winslet portrayed a former Nazi concentration camp guard who has an affair with a teenager (Kross) who, as an adult, witnesses her war crimes trial. She later said the role was difficult for her, as she was naturally unable "to sympathise with an SS guard." While the film garnered mixed reviews in general, Winslet received favorable reviews for her performance. The following year, she earned her sixth Academy Award nomination and went on to win the Best Actress award, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
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In 2011, Winslet headlined in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, a small screen adaptation of James M. Cain's 1941 novel of the same name, directed by Todd Haynes. Co-starring Guy Pearce and Evan Rachel Wood, she portrayed a self-sacrificing mother during the Great Depression who finds herself separated from her husband and falling in love with a new man, all the while trying to earn her narcissistic daughter's love and respect. Broadcast to moderate ratings, the five-part series earned generally favorable reviews, with Salon.com calling it a "quiet, heartbreaking masterpiece".
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Winslet has been cast in the Steven Soderbergh disaster film Contagion. She will also join Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz in Roman Polanski's adaptation of the play God of Carnage, which is scheduled to begin filming in Paris in February 2011, and star alongside Josh Brolin in Jason Reitman's adaptation of Joyce Maynard's 2009 novel Labor Day.
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While on the set of Dark Season, Winslet met actor-writer Stephen Tredre, with whom she had a four-and-a-half-year relationship. Winslet and Tredre remained close after their separation in 1995. He died of bone cancer during the opening week of Titanic, causing her to miss the film's Los Angeles premiere to attend his funeral in London. She and Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio have remained close friends since the filming. On 22 November 1998, Winslet married director Jim Threapleton, whom she met while on the set of Hideous Kinky in 1997. They have a daughter, Mia Honey Threapleton, who was born on 12 October 2000 in London. Winslet and Threapleton divorced on 13 December 2001.
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Following her separation from Threapleton, Winslet began a relationship with director Sam Mendes,and she married him on 24 May 2003 on the island of Anguilla. Their son, Joe Alfie Winslet Mendes, was born on 22 December 2003 in New York City. Winslet and Mendes announced their separation in March 2010. Mendes was scheduled to fly on American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked on 11 September 2001 and subsequently crashed into the Pentagon. In October 2001, Winslet was on a flight with her daughter, Mia, when a passenger who claimed to be a terrorist stood up and shouted, "We are all going to die". As a result of these incidents, Winslet and Mendes never fly together on the same aircraft as they fear leaving their children parentless.
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Winslet's weight fluctuations over the years have been well documented by the media.She has been outspoken about her refusal to allow Hollywood to dictate her weight. In February 2003, the British edition of GQ magazine published photographs of Winslet that had been digitally altered to make her look dramatically thinner. Winslet issued a statement that the alterations were made without her consent, saying, "I just didn't want people to think I was a hypocrite and that I'd suddenly lost 30 lbs. or whatever". GQ subsequently issued an apology. She won a libel suit in 2009 against the British tabloid The Daily Mail after it printed that she had lied about her exercise regimen. Winslet stated that she had requested an apology to demonstrate her commitment to the views that she has always expressed regarding women's body issues, namely that women should accept their appearance with pride.
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Winslet narrated the documentary A mother's courage: talking back to autism, which was generally released on September 24, 2010, after airing on HBO in April of the same year. Her involvement in the documentary led to her founding the non-profit organization The Golden Hat, whose mission is to eliminate barriers for people with autism. In 2011, Winslet received the Yo Dona award for Best Humanitarian Work for her work with The Golden Hat.
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Winslet won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Reader (2008). She won two Golden Globe Awards in the same year: Best Actress (Drama) for Revolutionary Road and Best Supporting Actress for The Reader. She has won two BAFTA Awards: Best Actress for The Reader, and Best Supporting Actress for Sense and Sensibility (1995). She has earned a total of six Academy Award nominations, seven Golden Globe nominations, and seven BAFTA nominations.
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She has received numerous awards from other organisations, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress for Iris (2001) and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Sense and Sensibility and The Reader. Premiere magazine named her portrayal of Clementine Kruczynski in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) as the 81st greatest film performance of all time.
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Winslet was 26 when she received her third Academy Award nomination, for Iris, just missing the mark of Natalie Wood, who received her third nomination at age 25. She set the mark as the youngest actor to receive five nominations, at age 31, for Little Children (2006). She surpassed Bette Davis, who was 33 when she received her fifth nomination for her performance in The Little Foxes (1941). With her Best Actress nomination for The Reader, Winslet became the youngest actor to receive six Oscar nominations. At age 33, Winslet passed the mark Davis, one year older, set with Now, Voyager (1942).
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Winslet received Academy Award nominations as the younger versions of the characters played by fellow nominees Gloria Stuart, as Rose, in Titanic (1997) and Judi Dench, as Iris Murdoch, in Iris. These are the only instances of the younger and older versions of a character in the same film both yielding Academy Award nominations, thus making Winslet the only actor to twice share an Oscar nomination with another for portraying the same character.
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When she was not nominated for her work in Revolutionary Road, Winslet became only the second actress to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Drama) without getting an Oscar nomination for the same performance (Shirley MacLaine was the first for Madame Sousatzka , and she won the Golden Globe in a three-way tie). Academy rules allow an actor to receive no more than one nomination in a given category; as the Academy nominating process determined that Winslet's work in The Reader would be considered a lead performance—unlike the Golden Globes, which considered it a supporting performance—she could not also receive a Best Actress nomination for Revolutionary Road.
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Ask Kate Winslet what she liked about any of her characters, and the word "ballsy" is bound to pop up at least once. The British actress has made a point of eschewing straightforward pretty-girl parts in favor of more devilish damsels; as a result, she's built an eclectic resume; that runs the gamut from Shakespearean tragedy to modern-day mysticism and erotica.
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Born into a family of thespians -- parents Roger Winslet and Sally Bridges-Winslet were both stage actors, maternal grandparents Oliver and Linda Bridges ran the Reading Repertory Theatre, and uncle Robert Bridges was a fixture in London's West End theatre district -- Kate came into her talent at an early age. She scored her first professional gig at 11, dancing opposite the Honey Monster in a commercial for a kids' cereal. She started acting lessons around the same time, which led to formal training at a performing arts high school. Over the next few years she appeared on stage regularly and landed a few bit parts in sitcoms. Her first big break came at age 17, when she was cast as an obsessive adolescent in Heavenly Creatures (1994). The film, based on the true story of two fantasy-gripped girls who commit a brutal murder, received modest distribution but was roundly praised by critics.
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Still a relative unknown, Winslet attended a cattle call audition the next year for Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility (1995). She made an immediate impression on the film's star, Emma Thompson, and beat out more than a hundred other hopefuls for the part of plucky Marianne Dashwood. Her efforts were rewarded with both a British Academy Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Winslet followed up with two more period pieces, playing the rebellious heroine in Jude (1996) and Ophelia in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996).