Kate Winslet delivers an astonishing performance in The Weinstein Company's haunting drama The Reader. For her courageous portrayal of a German woman who has an unspeakably dark past, Winslet is nominated for the Oscar Best Actress prize and has already won the Best Actress plum from the British Academy Awards, as well as the Best Supporting Actress honors from the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild.
Opening exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4 & Greenbelt 3) starting February 25, The Reader tells the story of Michael Berg (David Kross), a boy growing up in post-war Germany whose earnest, early stirrings of love involve Hanna Schmitz (Winslet), a mysterious older woman hiding a shameful past, along with another deeply personal secret. As curiosity gives way to uneasy guilt experienced by those who came of age after the Holocaust, director Stephen Daldry believes that, ultimately, "this is a film about truth and reconciliation."
Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, The Reader is based on the bestselling novel by Bernhard Schlink. From the start, Schlink had imagined Kate Winslet for the pivotal role of Hanna Schmitz, the 36-year-old tram worker who has an illicit affair with a teenage boy and later is revealed to have been a concentration camp guard hiding yet another terrible secret. "Kate Winslet was always my first choice," says Schlink. "She's a sensuous, earthy woman, exactly like Hanna."
Winslet had read the book when it first came out in 1995. "I'm a relatively slow reader, but I just could not put it down and finished it in one day," she recalls. At the time, however, Winslet was only 27 and felt far too young to tackle the part. By the time director Stephen Daldry reached out to her in early 2007, however, she had matured enough to handle the physically demanding role, in which the character ages from a strong, sexual woman in her mid-thirties to a bedraggled matron in her late sixties.
Working with director Daldry was exhilarating for Winslet, who describes their "collaborative relationship" as "almost as if we're from the same tribe." Adds the actress, "He has this unstoppable energy, and such a profound love for the story. As well as a very clear idea of how he wants the story to be told, he's very happy for others to share ideas and come up with what's best for the scene."
Co-star Ralph Fiennes relished his time with Winslet. "Kate is a fantastic actress," Fiennes marvels. "All of her work is full and rich. She brings her intelligence to the set and she probes and asks questions. She's magnificent."