When it comes to Hollywood royalty, actress Kate Winslet and director Sam Mendes appeared to be the ultimate pair for quite a while. Winslet, of course, gained international acclaim for her breakout lead role in 1997’s Titanic, and Mendes won an Oscar for his directorial debut, 2000’s American Beauty. But life isn’t always glitz and glamour, as the one-time A-list couple can surely agree. Because when you live directly in the spotlight, it stands to reason that you might eventually get burned.
Mendes — who was Winslet’s second husband — met the Academy Award-winning actress in 2001 when he approached her about acting in a play at the Donmar Warehouse, where he was artistic director, according to The Telegraph. At the time, Winslet was still married to filmmaker Jim Threapleton, with whom she shares a daughter named Mia. However, their three-year relationship ended that same year, and two months later, Winslet and Mendes began dating. Yet while the couple spent nearly a decade together — an amazing feat where Tinseltown’s concerned — they clearly weren’t destined to last ’til death do them part.
Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes married (and divorced) in secret
After less than two years together, Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes married spontaneously in the presence of three friends in May 2003 on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, according to The Guardian. At the time, Winslet was two months pregnant with the couple’s only child, a son Joe, who was born that December. “We hadn’t been planning to do it,” Winslet revealed. “But we thought it was rather a good idea, so we just did it.”
Winslet and Mendes shared the same beliefs, as they both realized the value of giving their kids a “normal” childhood. “As a family we do normal things that other families would,” Winslet said, per The Guardian. “It’s important to us that the children are just regular kids, so we go to the park, kick a ball around, go to a museum, watch a movie together or just hang out at home playing Monopoly.”
However, this bond was not enough to keep the couple together for the long haul. In 2010, Winslet and Mendes announced their separation — months after the initial split. “Kate and Sam are saddened to announce that they separated earlier this year,” Keith Schilling, the couple’s legal counsel, said in a statement. “The split is entirely amicable and is by mutual agreement. Both parties are fully committed to the future joint parenting of their children.”
While the couple remains committed to co-parenting their son, certain circumstances destroyed their Hollywood happily-ever-after.
Friends say 'Revolutionary Road' sparked the end of their marriage
According to those close to Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes, their project Revolutionary Road — in which Winslet starred opposite her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio — likely led to the duo’s demise. Ironically, tensions began to flare between the couple, sources said, as Winslet and Mendes worked to bring the film about a rocky marriage to life on-screen.
As Marie Claire reported, Winslet noted it was awkward being directed by her husband — especially when it came to the love scenes. “I just kept saying, ‘This is too weird.’ Leo told me to get over it, but I said, ‘You’re my best friend and he’s my husband. This is definitely a bit weird.'”
Shortly after the two announced their separation, rumors about Mendes’ possible affair with actress Rebecca Hall came to light. While Mendes said such claims were “utter nonsense,” sources said Winslet was “upset” when she learned about her husband’s indiscretion. “They then had this big talk and he told her ‘people can’t be inspired by just one relationship. For me, it’s never going to be about one relationship… life is a series of relationships,'” a source told The Daily Mail. “Kate told him ‘For me it is, that’s what I want,’ but Sam replied ‘Well, that’s not what I want’ and they both knew the marriage could not go on, it was hopeless.”
Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes were 'too scared to fly together'
During their marriage, Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes refused to fly together because they feared the prospect of leaving their children orphaned. According to the couple’s spokesman (via The Daily Mail): “Where possible, Kate and Sam do prefer to travel in separate planes. It is not always possible but, for obvious reasons regarding the children, they do travel separately when they can.”
While some might find this fear irrational or unwarranted, Winslet and Mendes decided such precautions were necessary after they each came close to death in the early 2000s. According to what a friend told the Daily Mail, Mendes narrowly dodged death on September 11th, as he was originally booked on the ill-fated American Airlines flight 77. Terrorists hijacked the plane and crashed into the Pentagon, killing all 64 people on board and 125 in the government building. Shaken, Mendes’ first instinct was to call Winslet and he credited that day with transforming their then-friendship into “something deeper.”
Winslet reportedly had her own brush with tragedy the following month when she and daughter Mia flew from London to Dallas. Per The Daily Mail, an alleged terrorist stood up and screamed, “We are all going to die.” The pilot made an emergency landing in Toronto, where the suspect was arrested and charged with creating mischief, endangering life, and uttering threats. The experience inspired Winslet to reassess her life.
They've both remarried since their divorce
In the years since their divorce, both Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes found love in the arms of other people. After his brief relationship with Hall, the 1917 director met and married trumpeter Alison Balsom, according to Hello! Magazine. While it’s unknown when the pair actually started dating, they wed in January 2017 and welcomed a daughter together later that year.
Winslet met her current husband unexpectedly while escaping a house fire on vacation at Sir Richard Branson’s luxury villa on Necker Island, per Harper’s Bazaar. Commonly known as Ned Rocknroll, Winslet met Branson’s nephew Edward Abel Smith after she saved Branson’s 90-year-old mother from the blaze that chased 20 houseguests out into the elements during Hurricane Irene. While Winslet was there with then-boyfriend Louis Dowler, her bond with Smith — who’s the head of marketing promotion and astronaut experience at Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic — grew quickly and the two married in 2012. In 2013, Winslet and Smith welcomed a son, Bear Blaze Winslet.
“Thank God for Ned — really,” Winslet once told WSJ Magazine. “He’s just so incredibly supportive, and he’s so much fun. He’s absolutely everything to me. And to all of us.” Of course, while Winslet flipped the script and became the so-called “knight in shining armor” of her love story, we certainly hope the third time’s the charm!
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