First Look At HBO's 'Mildred Pierce' Key Art, Starring Kate Winslet

Access Hollywood
Kate Winslet in the poster for HBO's "Mildred Pierce," which debuts on the network on March 27, 2011 -- HBO
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Kate Winslet in the poster for HBO's "Mildred Pierce," which debuts on the network on March 27, 2011 …

Access Hollywood has the online exclusive first look at the poster for HBO's upcoming Kate Winslet-starring miniseries, "Mildred Pierce," the Oscar winning actress' first foray into television.

Set to debut on HBO on Sunday, March 27, this isn't your mother's "Mildred Pierce," and fans of Joan Crawford's Oscar winning performance in the 1945 film are in for a very different take.

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"The big, big change is the Joan Crawford/the Michael Curtiz, film is framed by murder. [It] starts with a murder and works backward to figure out how the murder happened. So, when I first started reading the novel...[I said to our director] Todd [Haynes]... 'I don't get it. When did the murder happen? He's like, 'No you idiot. There is no murder.' So that is the biggest change," Executive Producer Christine Vachon of Killer Films told Access Hollywood of their update on the classic film.

The new rendition, based on James M. Cain's original book and split into five parts, is set mostly during the Depression, offering a look at a younger Mildred Pierce (Kate), and her tumultuous relationship with a demanding diva daughter Veda (Evan Rachel Wood), her struggles with class and her eye-raising-for-the-times relationships with men, including her lover Monty Beragon (Guy Pearce).

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"What I'm hoping is that people will see what a strong work this is on every sort of level. The story is absolutely compelling, it's completely addictive... and you're desperate to know what happens next," Christine told Access of what viewers can expect from the upcoming series. "At every level -- from the costumes to the production design to the music -- it's just a feast."

Kate admitted at HBO's panel at the Winter 2011 Television Critics Association gathering in early January that she didn't watch the Joan version of the film prior to her filming her own performance, because she "wouldn't have been able to un-see it," adding, "I also knew that I had to honor the book."

While the book is set in Southern California, the filmmakers -- who include Christine, her Killer Films partner Pamela Koffer, Todd, who directed and executive produced, alongside his co-writer in the project John Wells -- were able to help secure Kate in the title role by shooting in New York. She was their first choice for the part.

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Among the locales they shot in were Long Island, Steiner Studios in Brooklyn and The New School in Manhattan, Christine said. While the locations made things easy, the hard part of making the miniseries was the burden it put on Kate, who is in almost every scene. In fact, while shooting last May, it was widely reported that Kate sustained an injury playing basketball with her children.

"That did happen," Christine confirmed. "But she was fine... We had to shut down while she made sure she was OK."

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While the demanding role put pressures on Kate, she was a joy to work with on set, Christine said.

"For Kate, it was such a grueling schedule and she tried to blow off steam when she could," Christine said.

So, how does an Academy Award winner like Kate blow off steam in between takes?

"She just makes jokes," Christine revealed.

"Mildred Pierce" Parts 1 and 2 will air back-to-back on March 27. Part 3 will air Sunday April 3 and Parts 4 and 5 will debut on April 10 on HBO.

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