Entertainment & Arts

Kate Winslet 'not bothered' by age gap debate

Kate Winslet with Liam Hemsworth in The Dressmaker Image copyright Entertainment Film Distributors
Image caption Winslet plays Tilly to Liam Hemsworth's Teddy in Jocelyn Moorhouse's film

Actress Kate Winslet has said the 14-year age difference between her and her younger male co-star in new film The Dressmaker "just didn't occur" to her.

"I never really thought about the age thing," the British star told the BBC. "I don't let those things bother me."

Actor Liam Hemsworth recently admitted qualms about accepting the role, saying he felt he was "possibly too young".

Director Jocelyn Moorhouse, meanwhile, has called the Australian's casting "a cheeky challenge" to audiences.

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Media captionKate Winslet on why she prefers acting to directing

"It's so often the other way around," she said, referring to the more common trope of pairing an older male actor with a younger female co-star.

"I thought: 'I'm a woman director - I'm going to turn it around.' There are plenty of cases when younger men fall in love with older women, especially when they look like Kate."

Moorhouse, whose previous films include How to Make an American Quilt, made her comments during a visit last month to the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.

Image copyright Entertainment Film Distributors
Image caption Winslet learned to use a vintage Singer sewing machine for her role in the '50s-set drama

Set in 1950s Australia, The Dressmaker tells of a seamstress who returns to her rural home town to investigate the tragic circumstances that led to her being banished as a child.

With the exception of Hemsworth's character, a handsome local farmer, her former neighbours view her return with suspicion, even when she tries to win them over with her dressmaking skills.

Though generally comic, the film's story - based on that of a debut novel by Rosalie Ham - takes some dark detours en route to a pyrotechnic conclusion.

"If there's one message, it would be 'don't underestimate a woman'," said Moorhouse, adding she was drawn to the project by its "gallows humour".

"I feel very fortunate to be a part of a film which has so much humour, is surprisingly touching and has lots of twist and turns," said Winslet, best known for such films as Titanic, Iris and Sense and Sensibility.

Yet the Oscar-winning actress, who turned 40 in October, was less effusive when asked to address the apparent double standard that exists in relation to male and female actors of a comparable age.

Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, 37, recently revealed she had been turned down for a role opposite a 55-year-old man because she was considered "too old" to play his romantic partner.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The decision to give James Bond an "age-appropriate" lover in Spectre was much debated

It was also considered radical by some that 47-year-old Daniel Craig should have a romantic dalliance in new James Bond film Spectre - directed by Winslet's former husband Sam Mendes - with Monica Bellucci, an actress three years Craig's senior.

Reese Witherspoon, 39, recently joked about the "Hollywood standards" that would probably demand she played the grandmother of Amy Schumer in a film about the 34-year-old comedienne's life.

Winslet, however, declined to be drawn on the issue, despite having claim to being no less marginalised. (Jim Carrey, for example, was a dozen years her senior when they played romantic partners in 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.)

"My 15-year-old daughter said to me the other day: 'Mum, do you realise that Liam Hemsworth is closer in age to me than he is to you?'" she told BBC News. "I just thought: 'Cool!'

"I think it's such a big debate and it's probably quite dangerous for me to comment because it will be taken and blown up as these things do tend to be.

"With something like that, you can't change that ever-evolving discussion. It doesn't matter what I say, what you think, what the next person thinks - it is the way it is.

"I just don't let those things bother me and try to only focus on things that I think really do matter."

Image copyright Universal
Image caption Kate stars in Steve Jobs as the loyal factotum of Michael Fassbender's title character (centre)

Winslet, who can also be seen in cinemas this month in Danny Boyle's film about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, displayed similar reticence recently when asked to comment on Hollywood's gender pay gap.

"I'm quite surprised by these conversations to be honest, simply because it seems quite a strange thing to be discussing out in the open like that," she told Radio 1's Newsbeat.

"I am a very lucky woman and I'm quite happy with how things are ticking along."

The Dressmaker, which also stars Judy Davis, Kerry Fox and Hugo Weaving, is out in the UK on 20 November.

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