9 Milestones in the Evolution of Kate Winslet

In this weekend's Carnage, Kate Winslet plays an uptight investment banker who tries to broker a parental agreement concerning the damage done during a playground dispute between her son and another boy. So how did the British actress transform herself from a teenage murderer in her breakthrough role to a middle-aged New Yorker determined to settle her son's stick fight?

You can always trace a direct line through a few important roles to illustrate what led to an actor's current success. As such, let's look at nine pivotal performances that track the evolution of Kate Winslet.

Dark Season (1991)

Born into a family of working class actors, it wasn't long before Winslet herself developed an interest in the arts and began studying drama at the age of 11. Five years later, Winslet won her first major professional acting role in BBC's sci-fi series The Dark Season. Made up of just six episodes, the show followed a trio of teenagers (including Winslet's Reet) as they attempted to save their school from a sinister gentleman posing as a computer dealer.

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Three years later, Winslet made her film debut in Peter Jackson's semi-biographical drama Heavenly Creatures. Winslet portrayed Juliet Hulme, a real-life teenager who in 1954, with the help of her best friend (played by Melanie Lynskey), killed her best friend's mother. The critically-acclaimed drama (which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) chronicled the girls' intense friendship which bordered on obsession, hysteria and psychosis. The film also marked Winslet's singing debut via an a cappella version of "Sono Andati" from La Bohème. For her performance, at the age of 19, she was named British Actress of the Year by the London Critics Circle.

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Because Ang Lee reportedly did not enjoy Winslet's work in Heavenly Creatures, the Sense and Sensibility director would only allow the British actress to audition for the minor role of Lucy Steele. However, as Wikipedia legend has it, Winslet pretended that she had been told the audition was for the meatier role of Marianne and proceeded to read for the middle Dashwood sister. Needless to say, Winslet won the part as the willful Dashwood as well as her first BAFTA and her first of six Academy Award nominations.

Titanic (1997)

Thanks to the exposure brought on by her work in Sense and Sensibility, James Cameron cast Winslet as Rose, the fictional socialite who falls for a drifter (Leonardo DiCaprio), in this epic romance about the ill-fated RMS Titanic. The film launched Winslet into sudden, unexpected Hollywood stardom when the film broke a series of records including highest grossing film at the time and earned a record-equaling eleven Academy Award wins. Titanic remains the highest-grossing film of Winslet's career. Her work as young Rose also earned her a second Academy Award nomination.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Following the explosive success of Titanic, Winslet recoiled from the spotlight -- reportedly passing on lead roles in Shakespeare in Love and Anna and the King to star in the smaller '60s drama Hideous Kinky, the Jane Campion film Holy Smoke!, the Oscar-nominated period piece Quills and British biographical drama Iris. When Winslet finally returned to the Hollywood forefront, it was for a role unlike any others on her resume in the Michel Gondry-Charlie Kaufman collaboration Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For playing a brightly-tressed neurotic woman who elects to erase memories of her relationship with her ex (Jim Carrey) in this psychological sci-fi romance, Winslet won more glowing reviews. After an Oscar nomination for Iris, Winslet earned her fourth nod for Sunshine.

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