Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are starring together in the new film Ammonite. In the film, the two find themselves involved in a romantic love affair in the 1840s. Yes, this is a period lesbian romance drama so if you have certain feelings about such things, you might as well walk away right now. Because things are only going to get more descriptive.
The film eventually has both actresses engaging in a sex scene and Kate Winslet decided to make it a very special occasion for co-star Saoirse Ronan. Winslet managed to reschedule the filming of the scene so that it would fall on Ronan’s birthday. To make things as comfortable as possible, the scene was also supervised by an entirely female crew, including a boom-mic operator who was six months pregnant when they shot the scene.
It might sound wacky to anyone not involved in theatrical production, but Kate Winslet’s desire to frame one of the film’s most tender and emotionally resonant scenes around Saoirse Ronan’s birthday is a sweet gesture. Actors often have to develop a deep trust with their scene partner when performing a love scene, and it is clear that Winslet and Ronan were able to develop that necessary bond. The decision to make the scene a birthday present only strengthens the emotional connection that these two actresses were able to cement.
To take a more cynical read of this story, Kate Winslet turning a romantic scene into a real-life gift also creates a great narrative for Oscar voters. Ammonite is being released by Neon, the same company that pushed for Parasite during last year’s Oscar run. As we have all seen, the results of that push were extremely successful for Neon and everyone involved in the production of Parasite. Neon clearly wants Ammonite to grab the attention of Oscar voters. Having Kate Winslet tell such a heartwarming little anecdote about the film’s production will help endear the film to Oscar voters in the future.
There is no doubt that Ammonite will be receiving a significant Oscar push as awards season is about to ramp up. Kate Winslet has already won one Oscar for her role in the film The Reader, and it is likely that Neon will want to push both her and Saoirse Ronan for the Best Actress category. This story about rescheduling the sex scene in Ammonite so that it would fall on Saoirse Ronan’s birthday would certainly help Oscar voters feel compassionate towards both actresses.
But, let’s not get hung up on the Hollywood politics of this all. Kate Winslet wanted to do something that she felt would put a smile on Saoirse Ronan’s face. Whether or not you find that particular gesture appropriate or heartwarming, it is clear that Winslet and Ronan felt the act was demonstrably sweet. It is a strange thing to be privy to the inner workings of actors during their most sensitive scenes. Allowing this peek behind the curtain shows that actors approach these kinds of jobs with the same levity that anyone else does when trying to cheer up a co-worker or plan an event around work. It just so happens that their work involves simulating physical intimacy.
Speaking as someone who has an acting background and has had to perform a simulated love scene, it is genuinely nice to hear that Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan were able to make the sequence a memorable one that was tinged with genuine empathy and love between the two professionals. And the fact that the entire crew was made to be all women so that the actresses would feel at a maximum level of comfort only emphasizes the degree to which these two wanted this scene to be something special between both their characters and themselves in the real world.
Ammonite is currently scheduled to be released in theaters on November 13. It is unclear if Neon is considering releasing the Kate Winslet/Saoirse Ronan period romance drama on streaming shortly after it makes its theatrical bow. 2020 has proven to be one of the craziest years on record, and part of that has translated to a potentially huge shift in film distribution. We will have to wait and see if Ammonite plans to head to premium video-on-demand or streaming accessibility shortly after its initial theatrical release.