The HBO limited series Mare of Easttown, which received a whopping 16 Emmy nominations this year, got off to such a compelling start with a title character so strong that Kate Winslet admitted in a chat for Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees award-season event that she needed to read only two of the seven episodes created and written by Brad Ingelsby to commit. Winslet was joined in the panel by Ingelsby and Craig Zobel, who helmed all the episodes.
“I had no idea how it was going to end,” Winslet said. “That was truly wonderful, because it meant I was responding to the script in the way that Brad was hoping an audience would respond, that feeling of getting to the end of each episode and going [she exhales sharply], no, that can’t be the end of the episode, we need more and we need it now. Waiting for each script to be sent to me after having committed to the first two and saying, yes, I want in for this incredible story, felt exciting. More than that, I felt scared, terrified of how the hell was I going to piece together how to play this very complicated woman who on paper is nothing like me, in terms of how she functions, looks and feels and sounds.
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“The one thing struck a personal chord with me was, I had never played a character that came from a community very similar to the one that I grew up in – that was very important to me,” she said. “Family is everything to me in my world, and I grew up in a low socioeconomic environment, and if someone down the street was going to have her varicose vein surgery, everyone down the street knew about it. That was very much the world of Mare, where despite having nothing and going through tough times, they still had compassion and the ability to love laugh and look out for each other. That was very unique and similar to where I come from.”
Winslet was glad she took the leap, and her priority became keeping secret the twists and turn that distinguish the drama. “The writing was so unbelievably brilliant in those two episodes that I knew we had been taken down a rabbit warren that was not where the show was going to end,” she said. “We had a watertight road map and it became about protecting the secrets…I would have tackled anyone to the ground who might have been tempted to give the secret away.”
Zobel expertly guided a tone that included mixing humor between the heavy dramatic moments, and the heinous crimes that Mare investigates, with suspects that included her closest friends.
“It was like there were three things we were making at the same time,” Zobel said. “We were telling a genre detective story, and then we were telling a small town story, and we were making an adult drama. It became about, have we done enough to make sure we feel the town, and the people in it? Do we need to get back to some detective stuff, or to the adult family drama part? We could feel when we needed to push more in one director or the other.”
After it was suggested to the trio that Mare could become the fulcrum for a series of Jane Tennyson Prime Suspect miniseries installments, they sounded hopeful, but only if they can meet the high bar they set.
“The thing Kate and I have chatted about, is, we had a carefully plotted drama and were able to use the tools in the toolbox from Mare’s personal drama. Have we exhausted all of those? Maybe,” Inglesby said. “Is there a way to give Mare a second chapter and have another mystery? I am open to trying to crack it.”
Said Winslet: I loved playing Mare, and Craig did the most remarkable job. If we can find the right story and tick as many boxes as we did the first one…” But there is another consideration, and that was the price Winslet paid in playing the detective. “Have I got another in me? This came at a cost, in how much of hard time I have had unraveling myself from her. I never had that before. So we’ll see.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.