Kate Winslet has said she did not want to “hide behind corsets” in the same-sex love scenes in her new film.
The Oscar-winning actress, 45, plays the real-life self-taught palaeontologist and fossilist Mary Anning in Ammonite, opposite Saoirse Ronan as melancholy young newlywed Charlotte Murchison.
The film, directed by God’s Own Country’s Francis Lee, is not strictly a biopic, as Anning’s romantic preferences are lost to history, but the movie depicts a same-sex romance between the pair in the 1840s.
Winslet told the PA news agency: “It’s really interesting, if there were more (same-sex love stories in mainstream cinema) we wouldn’t feel so automatically compelled to compare the few that do exist.
“So for me, one of the most powerful things that I’ve taken away from Ammonite was that in our love story we tell the tale of two women, two people, who fall in love.
“The fact they are of the same sex is never mentioned or addressed in any way that shrouds it in any degree of secrecy or hesitation or fear, and for me, I hope that we are able to move more in that direction.
“When we tell same-sex love stories on film, so often there is this element of this shame or something is forbidden and therefore wrong, and just by telling these stories and normalising them it hopefully helps with the evolution and progression of how audiences view LGBTQ people and their relationships.
“I for one really hope we do find more LGBTQ films just making their way into the mainstream because I just don’t understand why they aren’t there.”
Describing how she worked on the love scenes with Lee and Ronan, Winslet said: “We definitely didn’t want to hide behind corsets, we didn’t want to be timid just because this was a period setting, and so often intimacy in period films can be handled in perhaps a slightly more delicate way or something, and we just didn’t really feel that was necessary.
“We wanted to really show the deep, passionate, loving, trusting connection between these two women, that had come as a result of quiet longing and real deep desire.
“It was really fantastic doing that love story together with Francis and Saoirse, there was a lot of trust in the room and also at the end of the day, women know what women want, so there was a shorthand that Saoirse and I had that taught me so much.
“I’m still learning how different it feels. I’ve played LGBTQ characters in the past or taken part in intimate scenes of an LGBTQ nature, but never to this extent, and I think we just wanted to really make it something that served the power of the love between Mary and Charlotte.”
Winslet said she hopes more people learn about the work of Anning, whose discoveries were crucial in shaping modern understanding of prehistoric life but who was never accepted into the elite scientific community because of Victorian societal norms.
She added: “I didn’t know that she found her first ichthyosaur when she was 11 years old and I had no idea how significant her scientific discoveries were on the world of geology, so it was quite an education.
“I’m still by no means an expert, but I was able to work with a palaeontologist and really learn those skills and was able to find a few fossils of my own.”
Ammonite is available for premium rental at home on all digital platforms from March 26.