Kate Winslet’s Lesbian Role in New Period Piece Sparks Controversy

Relatives of real-life fossil hunter Mary Anning claim writers made her character queer to be "trendy."

Future EGOT winner (just need that Tony, girl!) Kate Winslet is slated to portray real-life 18th century fossil hunter Mary Anning in Ammonite, a forthcoming historical drama—but some of Anning’s descendents aren’t pleased that screenwriters added in a lesbian love story.

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From left: Winslet and Ronan on the set of Ammonite.

According to Daily Mail, the film will feature a romance between Winslet’s character and a young, wealthy woman played by Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird). But Barbara Anning, a distant niece of Anning who lives near the U.K. coastline where the intrepid paleontologist made her discoveries hundreds of years ago, told Daily Mail that there’s no historical evidence her aunt was queer.

“The lesbian storyline is pure Hollywood as far as I know, and there was no suggestion that she was a lesbian at all,” Barbara told the site. “That’s just what they do, I suppose.”

Anning was a working-class Victorian woman described by those who knew her as a “loner.” Though she made game-changing paleontological discoveries on the U.K.’s Jurassic Coast and even ran her family’s fossil business, many scientific journals of her day refused to publish her writing because she was a woman. She’s regarded as a pioneer for women in science to this day.

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Barbara also said that she’s happy Hollywood wants to tell her relative’s story: “I do think she is a strong female role model in this ’#MeToo’ generation.”

Barbara isn’t the living relative of Anning who’s spoken out. Lorraine Anning, 69, told Daily Mail that Mary “was different to others. She was a loner, which is why I think it’s interesting that Hollywood attributes that to her being gay.”

Lorraine added that she’s sure writers will handle the queer storyline “tastefully,” and that she’s glad her ancestor is getting the Hollywood treatment.

“She was a strong woman who did something so outrageous at the time,” she added.

Ammonite is currently being filmed in the U.K. and slated for a 2020 release. Filmmaker Francis Lee (God’s Own County) is writing and directing.

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