LOS ANGELES, April 16 (UPI) -- Kate Winslet plays a small-town Pennsylvania detective in the HBO series Mare of Easttown. The Academy Award-winning British actor said her character, Det. Mare Sheehan, is different from her in many ways.
"She's nothing like me," Winslet said in a Television Critics Association Zoom. "That's pretty scary in a great way, if you're an actor like me, who likes to feel terrified and exposed."
Mare still lives in Easttown, Pa., where she grew up a star on the high school basketball team. She became a detective, and an unsolved case still haunts her.
The mother of a missing girl still calls on the police to find her daughter. Meanwhile, Mare still deals with an ex-husband and raising her children (Angourie Rice, Cody Kostro and Izzy King).
"I really felt the sense of not just who she was, but the world that she lives in, where she comes from, that sense of community," Winslet said. "The sense of responsibility [and] burdens that Mare carries really intrigued me."
When it comes to detective work, Winslet said, "I'd be a [expletive] lousy detective." She said it's a job she could never imagine doing in real life.
"I don't think I have the mental stamina that is required," Winslet said. "I have stamina, but in a different way."
Winslet said Detective Sgt. Christine Bleiler advised her on police procedures. Bleiler told Winslet it was more realistic if each procedure did not go exactly by the book.
"I'd get so obsessed with putting the handcuffs on correctly," Winslet said. "[Bleiler] was like, 'Sometimes it's messy. Sometimes one of them falls off and you've got to do that again on the way to the back of the car.'"
Mare executive producers Craig Zobel and Brad Ingelsby sent Winslet the script while she was filming Ammonite. In that movie , Winslet played an 1840s fossil collector exploring a love affair with a visiting woman (Saoirse Ronan).
Winslet said jumping from Ammonite's role of Mary Anning to Mare Sheehan was "one of the biggest challenges I think I've ever been slapped with."
"I was looking for something that was going to consume me as much as this would," Winslet said. "It certainly did."
The 45-year-old actor added that, for all their differences, she could relate to Mare's devotion to her family. Winslet is married to Ned Rocknroll and the couple have a 7-year-old son together, Bear Blaze Winslet. Winslet also has two children by ex-husbands -- her daughter with Jim Threapleton, Mia Honey Threapleton, is 20, and her son with director Sam Mendes, Joe Alfie Winslet Mendes, is 17.
"Her love for her family is the thing that bolts her down and drives her in life," Winslet said of Mare. "That was something that I was able to connect with."
Being a Pennsylvania native, Mare also speaks in a different voice to Winslet's natural accent. Winslet has played Americans in roles from Titanic to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but said the regional dialect of Delaware County, or Delco, was a new challenge.
"It drove me crazy," Winslet said. "It was up there amongst the hardest accents I've ever done."
Winslet said it was important to the role of Mare to appear convincingly like she'd spoken that way her entire life. Winslet said words like "water" had distinct sounds in Delco. Winslet said she hopes she sounds natural.
"You shouldn't hear the act of doing it," Winslet said. "I always hate that when you can hear someone doing a voice or doing an accent."
Mare of Easttown premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT on HBO.