Sir Kenneth Branagh knew Kate Winslet would be a "star" from the moment they met.
The 'Death on the Nile' filmmaker assumed the actress was much older than her 17 years when she first auditioned for him and he had no doubt the 'Titanic' star would go on to achieve big things.
Writing in tribute to Kate for Time magazine's 2021 list of the 100 most influential people, he recalled: "I first auditioned Kate Winslet when she was 17. I thought she was 25. Such was her self-possession, presence and concentration in the room. When she walked out the door, I turned to the casting director and said with certainty, 'We have just met a star.' "
The 60-year-old actor-and-director went on to praise Kate for her work ethic and "truly awesome acting technique", as displayed in miniseries 'Mare of Easttown' earlier this year.
He continued: "Three years later, I cast her as Ophelia in a film of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I did not ask her to audition. She brought a detective’s energy to rehearsals. She listened with superhuman acuity, and expressed character with effortless depth. She connected with Shakespeare entirely naturally.
"In HBO’s 'Mare of Easttown', those same qualities are radiant, having now evolved into a truly awesome acting technique. Only now, hers is the art that entirely hides the artist. Kate Winslet disappears, and Mare emerges complete, without vanity or artifice. It’s magnificent to watch."
And though Kate is now 45, Kenneth sees her as much younger than that these days.
He concluded his essay: "I still see her as 25, but now as a master of her art."