Born in Reading, Berkshire, Winslet studied drama at the Redroofs Theatre School. Her first screen appearance, at the age of 15, was in the British television series Dark Season (1991). She made her film debut playing a teenage murderess in Heavenly Creatures (1994), and received her first BAFTA Award for playing Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility (1995). Global stardom followed soon after with her leading role in the epic romance Titanic (1997). It was the highest-grossing film of all time to that point, after which she eschewed parts in blockbusters in favour of critically acclaimed period pieces, including Quills (2000) and Iris (2001), which were not widely seen.