​Kate Winslet: Not for appearances' sake

Actress Kate Winslet at her home along the English coast. The Oscar-winner fought to play the unglamorous moral center of the movie "Steve Jobs"

CBS News

Kate Winslet sailed to an Oscar nomination for her performance in the blockbuster "Titanic" -- and there's Oscar buzz again this year for her role in the movie, "Steve Jobs." Jim Axelrod has some Questions and Answers:

As the fearless aide to Steve Jobs, Joanna Hoffman was a lot of things: a high-powered executive, a marketing genius, and -- as played by Kate Winslet -- the moral center of the movie, "Steve Jobs." She tells her boss, the visionary behind Apple, "What you make isn't supposed to be the best part of you. When you're a father, that's what's supposed to be the best part of you."

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Michael Stuhlbarg, Kate Winslet and Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs."
Universal PIctures

However, one thing the real-life Joanna Hoffman, a no-nonsense, Polish-Armenian immigrant, would not be confused for is a glamorous movie star like Winslet. "Why would they think of me, because Joanna Hoffman looks nothing like me?" Winslet said.

But when the actress heard about this role, she just had to have it.

"You wanted this badly," Axelrod said.

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Kate Winslet

"That's allowed­­? Isn't that allowed?" Winslet replied.

So she took a selfie (left), and sent it to the film's producer.

"Joanna didn't really wear any makeup, and I put on this short, dark­-haired wig and a pair of glasses. And I took one photo, and I just sent it by email to Scott Rudin. No message."

After six Academy Award nominations, an iconic star turn in "Titanic," and an Oscar win for "The Reader," Winslet could expect to get any part she wants. But getting Joanna Hoffman was one thing; playing her, ­­ quite another.

"That accent," she said. "There are lots of accents I really can't do. I do a useless Scottish. My Irish is all over the map."

"But Polish-­Armenian you nailed?" Axelrod laughed.

"You know­­, give a girl a challenge!

"I was baffled by it. And I remember I called the real Joanna, and to hear her actually speak, it is different than the way I ended up doing it in the film, for the simple reason that her pitch is much higher than mine. I remember speaking to her for the first time, and I said, 'Hello, Joanna. This is Kate Winslet.' 'Hello. How are you? I'm so happy to hear from you. Well, this is just so exciting!' I thought, Oh my God, there is no­­ -- I can't do that. I can't sustain that for two hours of a movie, you know?"

Kate Winslet's been relying on her acting instincts for 25 years, starting on TV, in a British show called "Dark Season." She was a chunky 15-­year-old, and even being on TV did not insulate her from the slings and arrows of schoolyard bullies.

"I was teased for how I looked," she said, "because I was quite stocky as a child, and was very much teased for that."

Now 40, and one of her generation's brightest stars, the pain is still fuel.


"I know that those nasty bullies are still out there," she said, "and there I am, with a big gold statue in my hand. I mean, that's a pretty great fist-­pumping moment! That's a lovely message to say to those bullies, you know, 'Where are they? Where are they?'"

"It's not just a fist-pumping moment; it's a little bit of a middle-finger moment," said Axelrod.

"Well­­, let's not get aggressive," replied Winslet.

But even when you're the face of Lancôme cosmetics, there's not enough make­up to cover the scars of teen­aged teasing. She speaks loudly and clearly about body image, often insisting that her image not be retouched.