Even the toughest experience can have a positive impact on your life, but only if you let it. This is something Kate Winslet knows all too well. The seven-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner (she took home the Best Actress award for 2009’s The Reader) went through two major heartbreaks before finding ‘The One’.
Rather than allowing her breakups to tarnish her outlook on love, she chose to learn from them and move on. It wasn’t easy, especially since she had the added pressure of living in the spotlight, but Winslet emerged on the other side feeling “lucky”.
While she’s incredibly proud of the fact that her relationships have never made tabloid headlines — “No one really knows what has happened in my life. No one really knows why my first marriage didn’t last; no one knows why my second didn’t. And I’m proud of those silences,” she told The Guardian — she has occasionally shared some of her secrets to happiness.
While Kate Winslet’s career has been on a solid upwards trajectory from the moment she landed her first major gig on British TV show Dark Season at the age of 15, her personal life hasn’t been as smooth.
Winslet became a household name after starring in 1997’s Titanic and did the unthinkable when she turned down the lead in Shakespeare in Love (which went to Gwyneth Paltrow and won her the Best Actress Oscar) in order to appear in an indie film called Hideous Kinky.
But while her decision may not have gained her much in the acting department, it did bring something wonderful into her life. While on the set, Winslet met filmmaker Jim Threapleton and, the following year, the couple tied the knot. It was November 1998 and Winslet was just 23 years old, but that didn’t stop her from jumping all in. In October 2000, the couple welcomed daughter Mia Honey Threapleton, but unfortunately, by December 2001, they were divorced.
Soon after her split from Threapleton, Winslet met another talented, artistic individual and fell in love all over again. This time, it was director Sam Mendes who captured her heart and, in May 2003, the couple walked down the aisle “on a whim”.
Proving that sometimes you just need to follow your heart, Winslet and Mendes were vacationing in Anguilla when they threw caution to the wind and took their romance to the next level.
We hadn’t been planning to do it, but we thought it was rather a good idea, so we just did it.Kate Winslet
In December 2003, they had their son, Joe Mendes, and over the next seven years, the pair shared a wonderful relationship, both at home and at work. Mendes directed his wife in 2008’s Revolutionary Road and they put all of their time and energy into their family.
As Winslet told The Telegraph, “It’s important to us that the children are just regular kids, so we go to the park, kick a ball around, go to a museum, watch a movie together or just hang out at home playing Monopoly.”
Sadly, she was headed for heartbreak once more. The couple called it quits in early 2010 and while the split was “entirely amicable” and “by mutual agreement,” it wasn’t easy. As she admitted to the Wall Street Journal, “Those are the cards that life dealt me. I didn’t plan on it being that way. And f*** me, it hasn’t been easy.”
By age 34, Winslet was a single mom of two with two divorces under her belt. Not an ideal situation, but not one she’d let get her down. Instead of dwelling on the past, she learned what she could, then she moved on.
As she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2013, “I’ve really learnt a great deal about myself. I think I can see more clearly now — about how the pattern of past experiences has shaped who I am, and the characters I have played — and I’m grateful for that. I have so much more material to draw on for work — rubble, bricks — and I know I can carry it now. I’m not going to drop it, and if I do, I’ll sift through it.”
As she pushed forward, she also remembered to focus on what mattered most: her kids.
What I do feel, very deep within myself, is a strength that will not fail me. You have to carry on as a mother, no matter what, and that’s what I’ve always done. My children have never seen me in a crumpled heap on the floor, they’ve always known that.Kate Winslet to Harper’s Bazaar
In 2011, Kate Winslet took her little ones on vacation to Sir Richard Branson’s private Caribbean island, Necker Island, and she couldn’t have expected what would happen next. For one, the holiday was marred by tragedy when lightning caused by a tropical storm hit their home, starting a fire that completely destroyed it. 20 people escaped the blaze and the actress actually helped carry Sir Branson’s 90-year-old mother to safety.
That wasn’t the only remarkable event, however. She also found love. Edward Abel Smith, who is Branson’s nephew and works as the head of marketing, promotion, and astronaut experience at Virgin Galactic, was staying on Necker Island at the same time as Winslet and they instantly hit it off.
He was the only dude to have a head torch and a pair of shoes, everyone else left everything behind. I took a bra and passports and my children. So I married him! I was like, ‘I’ll go for the guy with a head torch!’Kate Winslet to ET
So much so that they were engaged by Summer 2012 and said “I do” that December in a top-secret New York ceremony. Guests included just 12 friends (six from each side) and Winslet’s two children.
Of course, going into a third marriage after two unsuccessful ones would raise eyebrows and attract judgment. Kate was not unaware of it. Instead, she found the good thing amidst the more negative thoughts.
I never imagined I would be married for the third time at the age of 37, and it’s easy for other people to judge, and for me to question my own sense of judgement, but I feel incredibly lucky.Kate Winslet to Harper’s Bazaar
Insecurity isn’t always an easy thing to banish, however, and Winslet admitted to second-guessing her unexpected romance. She notes that “we all want to belong to something or someone,” even though the expression may sound naive or simplistic.
I’ve found that [with Smith], but as I say it, I feel it’s foolish to say it out loud. I was probably saying the same thing at 27, or 17, for that matter — but I didn’t really have a clue.Kate Winslet
That may be so, but it’s never foolish to give love a chance — no matter your age. Pushing all judgement aside, Winslet embraced her life with Smith wholeheartedly and it paid off, big time.
In December 2013, the couple welcomed son Bear Winslet and, as the actress told The Wall Street Journal in 2015, she couldn’t be happier. “Thank God for Ned — really,” she gushed. “He’s just so incredibly supportive, and he’s so much fun. He’s absolutely everything to me. And to all of us.”
The feeling sure is mutual. Case in point: Smith, who changed his name to Ned Rocknroll as a joke in 2008, changed it back in 2019 because he’s fully committed to his family.
As one source explained, “He decided to change it back to Smith because he is now a dad and wants to set an example. Kate also felt it might be embarrassing for their child as he got older.”
When it comes down to it, relationships may not always work out the way you expect them to (in fact, a lot of the times they don’t), but all you can really do is choose whether you want to dwell on the hardship or use it to empower and inform your future. Kate Winslet did the latter and she’s proof that refusing to close off your heart can lead to unexpected joy — even in the wildest circumstances.
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