Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet is now Mrs. Rocknroll. News of the 37-year-old actress’s marriage to Ned Rocknroll, 34, was reported today in The Telegraph.
Celebrities are different than you and me. Yes, they have lots more money, but they also do wacky things. Mr. Rocknroll’s real name is Abel Smith, which he changed to Ned Rocknroll, according to news reports, because he thought people “take themselves too seriously.”
This is Winslet’s third walk down the aisle. Supposedly, the ceremony took place earlier this month in New York and was so hush hush that only several friends and her two children attended: 9-year-old son Joe by director Sam Mendes, to whom she was married for nine years, and 12-year-old Mia, the product of her first marriage to film director Jim Threapleton.
According to the news report, Winslet’s Titantic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio gave the bride away in this top-secret wedding affair that not even the couple’s parents knew about.
Rocknroll is the nephew of billionaire Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson and works for the space venture division of his uncle’s airline. He met Winslet several years ago when she was on vacation on Branson’s private island residence in the British Virgin Islands.
A fire broke out at 4 a.m., and Winslet helped Branson’s 90-year-old mother get out of the house to safety. Talk about good first impressions.
I met the glamorous and gracious actress a decade ago when I was covering the premiere of Iris, a film about famous British author Iris Murdock. Winslet had just left her husband for Mendes, and the tabloids – who are much more predatory in London than in the U.S. – had driven her crazy; they circulated her house with helicopters and dogged her every move with her young son.
She was understandably tense and suspicious when I tried to talk to her about the film; a publicist hovered nearby and warned me that any talk of her personal life would terminate the interview.
Then four years ago, I met her again at a luncheon celebrating The Reader, which was to bring her an Oscar. She was in a good mood and very down to earth and talked about her life as a mother in Chelsea, where she hung out with the other mothers and led a very ordinary life when she wasn’t gussied up for premieres and parties.
That year, she was very busy promoting two movies: Revolutionary Road, co-starring DiCaprio and directed by then- husband Sam Mendes, and The Reader directed by Stephen Daldry. She was doing double duty publicizing both, and was always charming and patient.
She was talkative and so gracious that she poured me coffee and continued to talk about her character in the film, even after publicists tried to drag her away. She was fearless in how wholeheartedly she played such an unlikeable character. She told me that no one is supposed to sympathize with her character, a former SS prison guard. “It’s unnatural to do that, but I did know that I had to understand her and I had to love her in my own way.”
Winslet had some explicit sex scenes and nudity. Over the years, she’s been in many movies where she had nude scenes, but in The Reader, the controversy involved her character having sex with a 15-year-old boy and charges by some critics that the character, on top of everything else, was guilty of child abuse.
Winslet told me she didn’t see anything manipulative or salacious about the sex scenes. “I’m quite shocked by how much attention people are paying to that, because to me, it was never controversial. It wasn’t. And in my head, Hanna thinks he’s 17 years old. He lets her believe that he’s 17. And he’s 15.”
Then she revealed a very private part of her life. “You know what? I had a relationship with someone from the age of 15 to 20 who was 13 years older than me, and he died, and that man remained one of the greatest loves of my life.”
As for her marriage, I hope the third times the charm for Winslet, who is one of the most charming and likeable actresses I’ve ever met.