HOLLYWOOD -- Want to see Kate Winslet bristle? Just mention a rumour that's circulating on the Internet.
Recently a British scribe posted a story claiming Winslet has decided to take a year or two off from acting to go to India to rediscover her inner spirit.
"Of course I'm going to do something like that. Of course, I'm going to leave my husband and two children to get in touch with my inner spirit," says Winslet, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"I get so frustrated and irritated when I hear things like this because it makes me out to be such a horrible, self-centred person.
"It was my mother who told me about the story. A day-care worker who visits my grandmother, who is 94, brought the article to my parents' house. Understandably it had really upset them.
"I just wanted to cry that someone could make up such a horrendous, stupid story. I am completely committed to my husband and children."
Winslet, 28, married American Beauty director Sam Mendes, 38, in May 2003. Their son Joe, who Winslet is nursing, was born last December. (She has a daughter Mia, 3, by her former marriage to director James Threapleton.)
FUNNIER THAN CARREY
Winslet's composure returns when the conversation switches to her new film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
She plays Clementine Kruczynski, an impulsive woman who decides to have all memories of current boyfriend Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) erased from her mind.
Winslet admits she was nervous when she realized she had to be wild and crazy opposite a subdued Carrey.
"I was initially terrified because I was being asked to be the funny one in a Jim Carrey movie. It's good for me to have a little stage fright because it forces me to rise to live up to those expectations.
"I was very, very excited and very nervous at the prospect, and I had such great fun."
One of Clementine's quirks is that she keeps changing the colour of her hair, which in turn alters her personality.
"I can definitely understand how that works because it happened to me when I was 15," recalls Winslet, who was starring in a British kids' cable TV show.
"I was meant to be the rebellious redhead of the group, so they dyed my hair bright red.
"All my friends at school and even my teachers said it completely changed my personality.
"It's kind of wild and liberating to have crazy, hot, red hair.
"Doing Eternal Sunshine and wearing all those coloured wigs brought
back those school memories, and I contemplated dying my hair red during
my pregnancy and being a bit of a different person."
It was Winslet's daughter who put the kibosh on that plan. "Mia said she loved my long blond hair, so I ditched that idea."
Winslet did keep all of the wigs from Eternal Sunshine.
"It's the first time I've ever done that, but I loved my wigs and hair pieces and couldn't bear the idea of them in an old box gathering dust in some producer's office.
"They were such a part of the experience of who I created for the movie that I had to keep them. Now they're in my house in a box collecting dust."
Winslet was 21 when she received her Oscar nomination for Sense and Sensibility. Two years later she was nominated for her starring role in Titanic, making her the youngest person to have two nominations.
She received her third nomination in 2002 for Iris.
Though she has made 16 movies in the past 10 years, it is for her role in Titanic that she is best known.
"I still receive fan mail for Titanic and I respond to everything and everyone gets an autographed picture.
"They don't want one of me from Sense and Sensibility or Iris. They want me in a big white hat staring up at the ship, and that's the one they always get.
"It's actually a wonderful feeling to have this recognition for a part I enjoyed doing so much and I'm finally able to appreciate it, so there is absolutely no pressure involved."
Winslet says she and her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio have remained friends.
"I extended my trip to Los Angeles for these Eternal Sunshine interviews so we could get together. I want him to meet my new son. He sent such beautiful flowers the day Joe was born."
Winslet says she bonded with Johnny Depp when they filmed J.M. Barrie's Neverland, and she feels that Carrey may also remain a close friend.
"You get a certain feeling when you're working with someone that you mean more to each other than just co-stars.
"I love the special friendships I've made on films."