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The Conversation: Kate Winslet and Nancy Meyers

The Oscar-nominated actress and writer-director talk about ''The Holiday''

Nancy Meyers I wrote the part of Iris with you in mind. Absolutely, 100 percent.

Kate Winslet That's never happened to me before.

NM That's not true. You probably just don't know it. There are scripts all over the world being written for you right now.

KW Immediately I loved the story. And — oh, my God! — I loved the idea of playing a contemporary English woman because I haven't done it before. And I was an enormous fan of yours.

NM The first time we met, you imitated Diane [Keaton] in my kitchen, from Something's Gotta Give.

KW Did I really? I can't remember!

NM The scene with Jack [Nicholson] and Diane, where she says, ''What am I gonna do with all this?!''

KW [Remembering, Winslet repeats the line from the movie, copying Keaton's big hand gesture and laughing.] Amazing, amazing!

NM Of course, the second you left I called Diane and said, ''You won't believe what just happened!''

KW You sent me a huge collection of old movies to watch before we started. The truth is, I've never been an enormous movie-watcher.

NM I gave you His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, The Awful Truth...

KW It Happened One Night is one I watched again. I had seen it around the time of Titanic, because the old dialects were useful.

NM You're kidding. You mean the American accents?

KW Claudette Colbert says something like [in a perfect imitation of a sighing Colbert] ''Oh, what am I going to do now?'' It's such a beautiful old-fashioned rhythm. When I'm watching old movies, I'm almost not watching, because I'm just listening to the people speak.

NM I do that sometimes too, with the dialogue.

KW Romantic comedy was a genre I hadn't really done before. It was scary to try to be funny.

NM You're quite great at it. Most people don't know it, but your natural spirit is very light.

KW Jude [Law] and I are good friends, and before we started [filming The Holiday] we said, ''What if they don't think we're funny? We might be crap.''

NM Sometimes you'd say, ''Is that laughing at the [playback] monitor?'' And I'd say, ''This is a good thing. Keep going!''

KW And I'd think, ''Is she laughing because I'm doing something that's bad funny?''

NM Iris is probably the nicest girl I've ever written. She's so sweet.

KW And it was so glorious to play her and feel all those things. I had such a spring in my step for this project. Usually I'm an absolute lunatic.

NM Really?

KW After Little Children, I would just kind of stare blankly at the wall. But this experience definitely made me think, ''Ooh yeah, I could do this again.''

Originally posted Dec 08, 2006 Published in issue #911 Dec 15, 2006 Order article reprints