Kate Winslet has said it was “hard and very upsetting” creating her new drama about young people’s mental health alongside her daughter Mia Threapleton but that it was “wonderful” working with her.
I Am Ruth, which will air on Channel 4 later this month, is an instalment of the Bafta-nominated and female-led drama anthology series I Am, created by filmmaker Dominic Savage.
The two-hour programme will see Winslet, 47, star as Ruth, a concerned mother who witnesses her teenage daughter Freya, played by 22-year-old Threapleton, retreating into herself as she becomes more consumed by the pressures of social media.
Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine on Thursday, Winslet admitted that working with her own daughter was both easier and more difficult.
She said: “I sort of clicked into work mode in some stages, and I like to really support younger actors anyway so technically, I was able to show her a few things here and there just little tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
“But as far as performance, she didn’t need me at all. There were even moments when she’d looked at me and go ‘Shut up, mum. Let me do it’.
“But it was really amazing working alongside her and actually being blown away by her courage and she’s very, very powerful.
“I think this young generation of actors, actually I have to say, there’s a sort of naturalism to their acting and they’re just braver. They have a voice, they speak up for themselves and they have a power that I feel I never really had.
“So, it was really hard and very upsetting, but it was wonderful working with her.”
Winslet developed and co-authored the storyline with Savage after they both shared stories about parenting their own teenagers.
“It just resonated with us this idea of mental health, which is of course such an important topic at the moment and how hard people are finding it to raise children in the current climate as teenagers with social media and this sort of addiction to phones and then getting sucked into a completely unknowable world”, she explained.
“And it separates them at times from families and becomes very, very hard to be, not only a parent, but particularly hard to be a mother.
“There’s no manual and we stare at our children and we sometimes think ‘I don’t know what to do.’ So, we wanted to tell a story that was as truthful as could be, without leaving anything out.”
The Oscar-winning actress added she feels the Covid pandemic has particularly impacted teenagers as they have missed out on key social experiences.
She said: “They feel angry about it, they feel cheated, they feel frustrated with the systems that were put in place that prevented them from being able to see their friends and they feel that something was absolutely taken from them.
“So I think now more than ever, this sort of story was very important because it is about what so many of us are going through and obviously doing something like this with my own daughter there was always naturally going to be some degree of overlap for us in terms of personal experience, but we just threw everything we had at it and and just wanted to make something that will hopefully resonate with people and encourage them to have those conversations if they are worried about their children.”
She also noted it was Savage who had suggested Threapleton, whose credits include the 2014 film A Little Chaos and a new TV adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons, for the role with Winslet insisting she would have to be auditioned on her own merit.
The I Am films, made by Me+You Productions, are semi-improvised productions with Winslet explaining the programme had no actual scripted words written down.
She admitted that this made it “quite an exhausting, demanding process” but she feels this meant they went “much deeper” and spoke “from the heart”.
I Am Ruth follows two previous series of I Am films, with the first set starring Vicky McClure in I Am Nicola, Samantha Morton in I Am Kirsty, and Gemma Chan in I Am Hannah.
Series two saw Suranne Jones in I Am Victoria, Letitia Wright in I Am Danielle and Lesley Manville in I Am Maria.
Each of the films followed the experience of women in particularly raw, thought-provoking and personal moments.
I Am Ruth will air on Channel 4 at 9pm on December 8.