Kate Winslet attends the EE British Academy Film Awards. Photo: John Phillips
Having just picked up her third Bafta in a glittering career, Kate Winslet's post awards press conference should have been a moment to bask in her acting achievements.
But instead, the British actress, who scooped the best supporting actress gong for her role in Steve Jobs, the biopic of the Apple founder, revealed that as a teenager she had once been told to "settle for the fat girl parts".
Winslet, 40, dedicated her Bafta award to women who have been criticised. "When I was 14, I was told by a drama teacher that I might do OK if I was happy to settle for the fat girl parts," she said after Sunday night's ceremony. "So what I always feel in these moments is that any young woman who has ever been put down by a teacher, by a friend, by even a parent, just don't listen to any of it, because that's what I did - I kept on going and I overcame my fears and got over my insecurities."
After a day of speculation, in which teachers at Winslet's former school were forced to deny uttering the remark, the star's spokesman eventually disclosed last night that the alleged comments were made at an independent drama workshop in London.
The actress attended Redroofs theatre school in Maidenhead, Berks, from the age of 11 to 16, but her former head teacher dismissed the notion that any member of staff would have said such remarks to a pupil.
June Rose, 85, who founded Redroofs and taught Ms Winslet speech and drama classes, told The Daily Telegraph: "I've never heard that comment before and I would assume if a teacher said something like that to a young pupil, they would immediately tell their parents and the parent would be straight on to the school.
"She would surely have complained to us. I can't imagine anyone would say that to a child. I would take a very dim view of somebody who said that."
Ms Rose said that when Winslet was around that age she had won roles in many productions, including Alice in Wonderland and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. "They are hardly roles for a child who is going to be hard to cast," Ms Rose added. "She was never fat actually, but doesn't every child think they are too fat or too thin at that age? She wasn't skinny, let's say, but she was certainly not fat.
"She did very well with us, she was head girl and we are delighted with what she has achieved."
Winslet also attended the Starmaker theatre school in Reading, of which she is now patron, at evenings and weekends from the age of 10 to 15. But Michelle Palin, the manager, noted that they do not employ teachers but have visiting directors. "We never refer to them as drama teachers," she said.
Winslet has spoken previously about being bullied about her weight at Redroofs, where she says she was nicknamed "Blubber". Carolyn Keston, Ms Winslet's former dance teacher, once reportedly said: "She was not grossly overweight, but she was chunky." Ms Keston did not respond to requests for comment yesterday (Monday).
Winslet's publicist said last night that the remark referred to by the star "occurred during an independent drama workshop over a summer in London".
The Daily Telegraph