Over its mere seven episodes, Mare of Easttown has been praised — even mocked, in good humor — for its gritty realism. The HBO murder mystery found Oscar-winning English actress Kate Winslet throwing herself into the role of a Philly burb detective with stringy hair and a yen for Wawa coffee and sad cheesesteaks. In a kind of exit interview with The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd, published the morning after the season finale, Winslet elaborated on not dolling her titular character up — which included not allowing the director to touch up an early sex scene.
Winslet told Dowd that after the scene — which appears in the first episode and features her canoodling on a couch with an out-of-town writer/professor played by Guy Pearce — director Craig Zobel assured her he would cut what she referred to as her “bulgy bit of belly.” But Winslet wasn’t having it, telling him, “Don’t you dare!” She also took issue with a poster that touched up her face too much. “They were like ‘Kate, really, you can’t,’ and I’m like ‘Guys, I know how many lines I have by the side of my eye, please put them all back.’”
She even talked them out of lighting her face so that it looked extra beautiful. “We tried to light it to make it look not nice,” she said. Even her clothes were meant to look rumpled and unflattering. The costume designer would dress her in inexpensive T-shirts and Ocean City sweatshirts and what she called “bad jeans,” and Winslet would leave them in piles on the floor. “Whenever we’d find something unflattering,” she said, “we’d be jumping up and down like, ‘Yes! We’re wearing this.’”
It was all part of Winslet’s plan to present an honest look at not only her character, but of her body in middle age:
“Listen, I hope that in playing Mare as a middle-aged woman — I will be 46 in October — I guess that’s why people have connected with this character in the way that they have done because there are clearly no filters. She’s a fully functioning, flawed woman with a body and a face that moves in a way that is synonymous with her age and her life and where she comes from. I think we’re starved of that a bit.
You can now watch all of Mare of Easttown on HBO Max.