Kate Winslet is full of hidden talents. Chief among them? Holding her breath underwater. It’s an unusual skill she discovered on the set of “Avatar: The Way of Water,” where she set a shocking personal record of seven minutes and 15 seconds without any oxygen.
“I have the video of me surfacing saying, ‘Am I dead, have I died?’ And then going, ‘What was [my time]?'” Winslet told Total Film magazine in a Dec. 13 interview. “Straight away I wanted to know my time. And I couldn’t believe it . . . The next thing I say is, ‘We need to radio set.’ I wanted Jim to know right away,” she continued, referencing the director of the “Avatar” sequel, James Cameron.
Although Winslet assured everyone that she was by no means required to hold her breath for such an impressive amount of time, she just couldn’t pass up the chance to test her limits. “I didn’t have to hold my breath for over seven minutes. It’s just that the opportunity to set a record presented itself,” Winslet admitted. “I wanted to break my own record, which was already six minutes and 14 seconds. And I was like, ‘Come on!’ So I smashed my own record by a minute,” she explained. Cameron later joked about Winslet’s ambitious spirit, saying sarcastically, “She’s not competitive at all.”
According to Variety, Winslet’s “Avatar” costars may have encouraged this friendly competition, with Sigourney Weaver holding her breath underwater for a grand total of six and a half minutes and Zoe Saldaña coming up close behind with a five-minute personal best. As Cameron told The New York Times, while this underwater skill was not a prerequisite for Winslet’s aquatic character, Ronal, it still came as a welcome surprise on set.
“Kate’s character is someone who grew up underwater as an ocean-adapted Na’vi — they’re so physically different from the forest Na’vi, that we’d almost classify them as a subspecies. So she had to be utterly calm underwater,” he explained. “It turned out that she was a natural.”