Kate Winslet: 'Lucky To Be Alive' After Fire


Kate Winslet spoke to ET about her narrow escape from the recent fire that consumed the home of British billionaire Richard Branson.

The star of the new action thriller Contagion -- in theaters and IMAX on Friday -- said she and her kids felt "very lucky to be alive" after the fire just over two weeks at Branson's sprawling Caribbean retreat on Necker Island. Speaking via satellite from London, Winslet said she is grateful to Branson and others on the island who remained calm and pragmatic while helping people escape the flames. 

"We're fine, we really are fine. And just -- we're just so lucky. We're just so lucky that we woke up when we did, that we got out of the property when we did, because literally another five minutes and it could be a whole different story," the actress said. 

Winslet, 35, also spoke about how playing a doctor in Steven Soderbergh's Contagion -- in which a deadly new virus threatens all of mankind -- has changed her own outlook on germs. "I'm much more obsessive now about taking shoes on and off and hand washing, and not touching handles in and out of public restrooms, etc."

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She said the subject matter of the movie has already become a reality in our society. "It's something that is in people's minds. You know, we are growing more accustomed to sudden panic -- hearing about a new outbreak of a disease, similar to swine flu, that started in Germany and they think it came from cucumbers. I mean this is the world we live in now."