Mare of Easttown could be Kate Winslet’s career-defining role
HBO’s brand-new drama Mare of Easttown is now available to binge on Showmax. The seven-episode limited series stars Oscar and Emmy winner Kate Winslet (Mildred Pierce, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Titanic) as hardened small-town detective Mare Sheehan, who is investigating a local murder as her own life crumbles around her.
Currently at #1 on IMDb’s Most Popular TV with an 8.6/10 rating, Mare of Easttown has a 92% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has already been tipped for this year’s Emmys.
“If you can have a defining performance this late in a career, this is surely Winslet’s. She is absolutely wonderful,” says The Guardian. In their recent five-star review of the series finale, they call the show, “a stunning, harrowing success”, saying Winslet’s “turn as a complex, fallible detective has been a privilege to witness, in a murder mystery that kept us guessing right to the profoundly moving end.”
Vox calls Mare of Easttown “the most riveting show on television at the moment”, describing Winslet’s performance as “mesmerizing… she allows us to see the ugliness Mare is capable of and how obsessive, perhaps even abusive, she can be when she’s threatened.”
Winslet was determined to stand by Mare’s believability. In a recent interview with New York Times, the actress revealed that director and executive producer Craig Zobel (The Hunt, The Leftovers, Westworld) assured her they’d remove “a bulgy bit of belly” from a sex scene, but she was dead against it, saying, “Don’t you dare!” She also sent the show’s promotional poster back twice because she was unhappy with the retouching. “They were like ‘Kate, really, you can’t,’ and I’m like ‘Guys, I know how many lines I have by the side of my eye. Please put them all back.'”
Variety’s Awards Circuit predicts Mare of Easttown could cause a late upset in this year’s hotly contested Limited Series nominations round, as well as in the Best Lead Actress category (where Winslet will likely go up against South African Thuso Mbedu in The Underground Railroad), saying she “continues to explore new realms of herself, unafraid to show the fear… [and the] unpolished and unwavering parts of her soul.”
In addition to three-time Emmy winner Jean Smart (Watchmen, Fargo), who’s also being tipped for an Emmy nomination as Mare’s mother, the cast includes Golden Globe nominee Guy Pearce (The Hurt Locker, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Empire Awards nominee Angourie Rice (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Beguiled), Critics Choice nominee Julianne Nicholson (The Outsider, I, Tonya, August: Osage County), and Teen Choice nominee Evan Peters (American Horror Story, and X-Men’s Quicksilver), as well as David Denman (13 Hours, The Office).
Speaking about Mare, series creator, writer and executive producer Brad Ingelsby (Our Friend, American Woman) says, “The community’s labeled her a hero but she never felt like a hero. There’s a constant conflict in Mare of trying to uphold this image, even though she knows in her heart it’s crumbling…”
“I loved how vulnerable and strong at the same time Mare truly is,” says Winslet, who also executive produced the series. “She’s this extraordinary dichotomy of both of those things…. She handles everyone with a great deal of compassion and understanding, but at the same time, she’s kind of firm but fair… She’s just a remarkable, capable, stoic, brave woman, who’s dealing with all the elements of family life and struggle and grief, and trying to do her best, as a mother, as a young grandmother, and as a woman in a community that looks to her so often for answers.”
“I wanted the show to have a grittiness to it, to have an honesty to it, a realness to it.” – Creator Brad Ingelsby
Although the pressure to solve the case is central to the plot, Winslet has emphasised that Mare of Easttown is so much more than a thriller. “The show is very much about compassion and mercy and looking out for your friends and your neighbours,” says Winslet.
Similarly, Nicholson sums up the heart of the show as the idea that “if you can hold on to the people that have been there for you, that love you, it makes life a little bit easier.”
“What’s beautiful about this story is that it isn’t just about the crime, it isn’t just about the mystery and who’s done it,” says Pearce. “It’s about the families. You have the opportunity to investigate all the families and see the effects that the crime has had and get involved in everybody’s personal stories and see how they’re interwoven. There’s something heightened in the drama when it is a small town… there’s a real pressure cooker quality.”
“I wanted the show to have a grittiness to it, to have an honesty to it, a realness to it,” says Ingelsby. “These are people that get up every morning and go to jobs they don’t necessarily love, but they do it out of a sense of duty. I wanted to portray these communities that don’t often get any time on the screen in a way that was heroic and noble and also really sympathetic.”
It’s funny, too. As Zobel says, “Tonally, the show needed to have murder mystery detective elements, but real people are funny, and we were making a very naturalistic show. Jean Smart, Kate Winslet, they’re comfortable enough with each other to be able to be vicious with each other. That was the secret to how fun those scenes could be.”
The series finale, which aired on HBO Max on 30 May, drew three million viewers, besting recent hit series like The Undoing and The Flight Attendant to become the most-watched episode of any HBO Original Series on the streamer.