kate winslet
Credit: Giampaolo Sgura

Inside the April issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download today, writer Chloe Fox sat down with Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet for an intimate conversation about life at home, embracing her famous curves, and staying sane after almost 20 years in the spotlight. What follows is excerpt. For more stories like this, subscribe to the magazine now.

It’s just before lunch, and Kate Winslet is feeling peckish. “Might be time for a lollipop,” she says, craning toward the candy bowl in a form-fitting Calvin Klein Collection gown. “Oh, damn,” she says, snapping a long creamy arm back from the sweets with a bored roll of her eyes. “I can’t, can I? My tongue will go pink.”

We are in a beautiful barn conversion in the heart of the English countryside, and Winslet is about to get photographed for our cover. In every beamed room, a fireplace flickers with much-needed warmth; outside, a freezing wind whips the leafless trees of the West Sussex coastline that the Oscar-winning 39-year-old now calls home.

She has driven herself to the shoot in her large black Land Rover Discovery, arriving bare-faced and unstarlike in black Rag & Bone jeans, a black Alexander Wang long-sleeve T-shirt, and Isabel Marant boots. As she sits for hair and makeup, she is polite, friendly, and absolutely in control. After more than 20 years of being photographed, the actress and Lancôme spokeswoman doesn’t pussyfoot around when it comes to her image. “I’ve been at this a bloody long time,” she says, speaking to my reflection in a handheld mirror as she takes over from the makeup artist and puts finishing touches on her look. “I know what works and what doesn’t.” A few moments later, she proves her point on set. “You see, guys?” she says in a flawless American accent, laughing tolerantly as a wind machine starts whirring, at her suggestion. “Trust the f—ing pro!”

kate winslet instyle cover
Credit: Giampaolo Sgura

Winslet is an old-fashioned star in every sense. First, there’s the velvety beauty; she’s curvaceous, with that trademark mole above her lip. Then there’s her much-scrutinized private life. She’s had three marriages (at age 23 to director Jim Threapleton, at age 27 to director Sam Mendes, and at age 37 to Richard Branson’s nephew Ned Rocknroll—he changed his name legally from Ned Abel Smith) and three children, one from each union (Mia, 14; Joe, 11; and 1-year-old Bear). Add to that one Oscar, three Golden Globes, an Emmy, and two BAFTA awards, and you get Hollywood gold dust. Not bad for the daughter of struggling actors from the unremarkable English suburb of Reading.

And yet for all the lives she’s lived, Winslet is shockingly down-to-earth—and fairly open about how she juggles the “insanity” of her hard-charging life as a mom, an actor, and a new wife. “I had a tricky day today,” she confides, the day before we meet again at the shoot. “It was one of those days when I didn’t achieve anything. I just spent a lot of time thinking and panicking.” Sitting cross-legged in a white dressing gown, hair in a loose ponytail, she admits she often still feels “true, true panic” before filming a new role. “I have moments when I’ll stare at a script and say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing!’ But then I push myself into that feeling because I think panic is important.”

To read the full interview with Winslet, pick up the April InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download now.