Kate Winslet on Mare of Easttown: 'I still haven't got Mare Sheehan out of my head!'

Kate Winslet Mare of Easttown
Detective Mare Sheehan must investigate the grisly murder of a young mum. (Image credit: HBO)

Kate Winslet was last seen on our TV screens a decade ago when she starred in Mildred Pierce and the Oscar-winner is on top form in riveting new seven-part drama, Mare of Easttown

Winslet plays Detective Mare Sheehan, who’s still struggling to get over the suicide of her son, Kevin, when she’s asked to investigate the grisly murder of a young mum who’s found dead in the local woods. 

As Mare’s life starts to unravel, dark secrets from her close-knit community of Easttown begin to surface, but amid the trauma of her investigation she meets local writer Richard Ryan (played by Winslet’s Mildred Pierce co-star Guy Pearce), and the pair form a romantic connection. 

We caught up with Kate Winslet, 45, who won an Academy Award for The Reader in 2008, to find out more about this powerful seven-part series…

Kate Winslet on Mare Sheehan

"Mare is the kind of woman I admire more than any other. She’s diligent, hard-working, trying her best to be a good friend, a good mother, a good grandmother and desperately not wanting to let people down. She’s living with that trauma and she hasn't dealt with it, because the guilt she feels is so enormous. 

"If she does confront it, it will consume her and she'll crack. Also, she’s a grandmother, which certainly added a dimension that I've never played before, but I’m all about playing as many things as possible!"

Kate on the challenge of playing the role

"Creating that trauma was the biggest challenge and I can barely even talk about it actually. I had to create such grief and sustain it for 20 months! We started shooting in September 2019 and were shut down in March 2020, but I still had to keep Mare inside of me because we hadn’t finished! 

"We went back again last autumn, so I feel like I've only just finished playing her. I still haven’t got her out of my head yet and I’m not sure I want to. I still have her brown coat hanging on a hook in my house and every now and then I'll put it on and cook dinner. Just to feel a bit like she's still there."

Kate on researching for the role

"I worked alongside a grief therapist, to really understand what that process of loss is like and spent time with a lot of people who have lost either children or a loved one to suicide, which was obviously extremely upsetting. 

"Layering up the trauma and charging myself up with it each morning was hard so tough and whenever the actor playing my son was on set I couldn’t look him in the eye. I can’t even talk about it now. My kids would be like 'Mum, it’s not real!' It’s so stupid!"

Kate on Mare Sheehan's family

"She lives with her mother Helen, her daughter Siobhan and her grandson Drew. Those relationships are central to who she is and we spent hours discussing them. Mare and Helen are so rude to each other and working with Jean Smart was amazing because her comic timing is incredible and we worked hard to inject a bit of levity in there. 

"Those moments are important because without them it could easily have become a small town crime drama, when it’s actually about community and personal grief and mercy and forgiveness." 

Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce in Mare of Easttown

Guy Pearce plays local writer Richard Ryan. (Image credit: HBO)

MORE: Will there be Mare of Easttown Season 2?

Kate on working with Guy Pearce again

"When we came back after lockdown I was living with Guy, Anngourie and Jean, due to Covid restrictions. Guy was actually my childhood crush and I was absolutely obsessed with him in Neighbours, so living with him proves that dreams can come true! 

"But he takes his recycling very seriously and we’d often have to go through the bin sorting rubbish, which hadn’t been part of my childhood fantasy! We actually share a birthday though, which I’d known for years as I read it in a teen magazine during the 1980s, so it was nice to celebrate that together."

Mare of Easttown begins on Sunday 18 April on HBO Max in the US and Monday 19 April on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK. 

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for whattowatch.com. He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.