She is the youngest actor ever to receive seven Oscar nominations, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, had the lead female role in Titanic and is estimated to be worth £45million.
But Kate Winslet refuses to let it go to her head, remembering her mum Sally’s wise words: “No one likes a show-off.”
Kate, 45, says: “We both had a real loathing of show- offs.
“My mum would say, ‘Just promise me you won’t get showy offy.’ That’s really stayed with me. It has an impact on my work and how I approach it.”
Sadly, Sally died of ovarian cancer in 2017, but Kate’s dad Roger has also been sure to keep her grounded.
Kate says: “My dad always says, ‘You’re only as good as your last gig, babe’. And I still believe that to this day.”
Her current “gig” is Ammonite, a romantic drama due for release in the UK next month. Kate plays palaeontologist Mary Anning, starring alongside Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.
It could add to Kate’s collection of honours, which include the Best Actress Oscar for 2008 film The Reader, three BAFTAs, four Golden Globe Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards and an Emmy.
She says: “How did I do all that? How did I get all those nominations and win all those badges and prizes?
“It’s amazing really. I didn’t set out to do all that.” The fame, film festivals and glitzy award ceremonies have never been why she got into acting.
She says: “I don’t like being in the limelight. I’m not a driven career woman. I just love acting.
“It’s never turned my head, really never. I’ve always been able to see that side of the business as the ‘wow factor’, great moments that come and they go, then you go back to your reality.”
Born and raised in Reading, Berks, her maternal grandparents ran the Reading Repertory Theatre Company, and her father was a jobbing actor. At 11, Kate won a place at a local theatre school and was soon getting roles in shows such as Casualty.
Her big break came in 1994 in Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures, a true story about two girls in New Zealand who conspire to kill one of their mothers when she tries to end their friendship.
In 1995, Kate starred in Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, and two years later landed the part of Rose in Titanic, which made £1.5billion and was the biggest grossing film of all time until Avatar overtook it in 2009.
She earned around £1.5million for her role, but also made a life-long friend in co-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
Kate tells Samira Ahmed’s How I Found My Voice podcast: “Leo and I were so connected, so close and really tight.
“That was quite unusual. He would’ve done anything for me, I would’ve done anything for him. We stood up for each other and literally held each other’s hands in freezing cold water 10 hours a day. We’d be holding hands under the surface of the water and he’d be saying ‘One more, we can keep going’.
“When Jack and Rose are on the ship before it goes down, that was a separate part of the set. We were harnessed on to this thing like a fairground ride. It would regularly break.
“We’d be stuck up there, no one could get to us for hours. We’d make up songs, we’d have such a great time. It was at night, we’re outside under the stars chatting.”
Titanic made her a huge star almost overnight, not even able to pop out for a pint of milk without being recognised. It was a difficult adjustment for a very private person, and she credits Emma Thompson for helping her through it.
Kate says: “It changed the rhythm of my everyday existence dramatically. The one thing that didn’t change was me and who I am. I do remember feeling quite lonely. I thought, ‘Who do I talk to about this?’. Emma was one of them and I got through it.”
Married three times, she has three children, one from each husband, and once said: “I know lots of people who are not in the public eye who have gone through several marriages, I really do. And it’s just those are the cards that life dealt me. I didn’t plan on its being that way. And f*** me, it hasn’t been easy.”
Her first marriage was to filmmaker Jim Threapleton in 1998. They have a daughter, 20-year-old Mia Honey, but they divorced in 2001.
Kate wed film director Sam Mendes “on a whim” in 2003. They split amicably in 2010. Their son Joe is 17.
Since 2012, Kate has been happily married to Sir Richard Branson’s nephew, Edward Abel Smith, 43.
He works for his uncle’s space travel company Virgin Galactic, and they have a seven-year-old son Bear Blaze.
He was named after a fire on Branson’s Necker Island in 2011. Kate says: “Bear’s second name is Blaze because my husband and I met in a house fire.
“The house burned down and we survived, but we wanted something of the fire and so Blaze was the name that we came up with.”
She and her family live in a £3million, 17th century house by the sea in West Wittering, West Sussex.
Kate, who will play a detective in HBO’s upcoming Mare of Easttown TV drama, insists she is just like any other working mum.
She says: “It is a funny thing when you become well-known because people don’t expect to see you in the supermarket or picking up your kids.
“I remember once travelling on the Tube in London and a girl noticed me and was horrified that I was on the Tube and not sitting in the back of some chauffeur-driven limo.
“That’s just not me – I’m Kate from Reading.”