Viewers watching Kate Winslet accept Best Actress at the 81st Academy Awards may not have thought much of her ear tug mid-speech, but it was a deliberate signal to the cast and crew of The Reader.
"I had been in Berlin with [director] Stephen Daldry to do a little mini celebration with all the cast and crew, and I said, 'When I tug my ear like this, that means I love you all,'" Winslet reveals in A.frame's "Behind the Oscars Speech" series. "Somehow, in that moment, the dry mouth, the racing heart, I remembered to do the tug on my ear."
The Reader, written by David Hare and based on the 1995 German novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink, takes place in post-World War II Germany. It tells the story of Michael Berg (David Kross and Ralph Fiennes, as younger and older versions of the character, respectively), who reencounters his former lover, Hanna Schmitz (Winslet), nearly a decade after their affair. She's now defending herself in a war-crime trial.
Lena Olin and Bruno Ganz also starred in The Reader, produced by Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards in total, including Best Picture.
"It was the seventh time I had been nominated," Winslet shares, joking she had "gotten very good at losing." She adds: "I can't be anything other than utterly grateful for the moment that it happened to me, and how special it was."
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