In an interview with Marc Maron on his WTF podcast, released on Thursday, Jan. 14, the actress recalled seeing "cars and cars full of British tabloid photographers" parked outside her home in England after she found fame as the lead actress of the 1997 film at age 21.
"I was subject to a quite lot of personal physical scrutiny and I was criticized a lot and the British press were actually quite unkind to me," Winslet said. "I felt quite bullied, if I'm honest. I remember just thinking, OK, well, this is horrible and I hope it passes. And it did definitely pass, but it made me realize that if that's what being famous was, I was not ready to be famous, thank you. Definitely not."
The actress said "all of that stuff evaporated a bit" after she became a mother. She gave birth to her daughter Mia, the eldest of her three children, in 2000. But three years later, Winslet and her family left the United Kingdom and moved to New York City, partially due to her then-husband Sam Mendes' directing gigs and also because, as she told Index magazine in 2004, "I couldn't cope with the press situation there anymore." The actress has since returned to her native England, where she maintains a home on its southern coast.
After the release of the blockbuster Titanic, which earned her an Oscar nomination, Winslet starred in mostly smaller, independent productions for years, later earning praise for roles in movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Finding Neverland in the early '00s.
"I was still learning how to act," Winslet told Maron. "I'd only been doing it since I was 17 and so I still felt I wasn't really ready to do lots of big Hollywood jobs, it was a huge responsibility. I didn't want to make mistakes, I didn't want to blow it. I wanted to be in it for the long game. I did strategically try and find smaller things just so I could understand the craft a bit better and understand myself a bit better and maintain some degree of privacy and dignity."
As a seasoned movie actress, Winslet would go on to star in blockbusters such as Divergent and its sequel Insurgent as well as the star-studded thriller Contagion, and win an Oscar for the 2008 film The Reader. She has been nominated for an Oscar a total of seven times. Winslet also won an Emmy in 2011 for her role in the miniseries Mildred Pierce.
Winslet called her experience working on the films "extraordinary." She said most of her work took place underwater.
"I loved all of that," she said. "I worked with some extraordinary performers who are Cirque du Soleil water performers who did a lot of the doubling work on the water. So to be honest, I spent a lot more time with those people actually than some of the actors. And it was just incredible."
Avatar 2 is set for release in December 2022.