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Kate Winslet exhales “I’m absolutely exhausted” when she strides into NYC’s Regency Hotel with hair tousled.

The actress, 33, who is mom to Mia, 8, and Joe, 5, is in the midst of a busy 24 hours racing around NYC to promote her post-Nazi drama The Reader, which is in theaters Friday.

How does the twice-wed star keep her family and her career moving full steam ahead?  

“It’s a challenge, but it’s no more of a challenge for me than it is for any working mother,” she says with her lilting British accent. “Your first commitment is to your children, and to make your own life work – your own career right. It takes a lot of planning. It’s as simple as that. I get up extremely early in the morning.”

Such is the life of the smart, sassy actress who married director Sam Mendes, 43, in 2003. Kate’s up for two Golden Globes in the awards show airing Sunday, and will have two Golden Globe favorites – Revolutionary Road and now The Reader – released in the space of two weeks. (She could be part of five wins – her hubby is also up for best director. Time to make space on that mantle!)

In The Reader, she steams up the screen with a 17-year-old boy (David Kross), and she also has love scenes with her Titanic paramour Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road, which her hubby directed. (She calls their experience “unbelievable.”) Um, awkward?

She asks for a break to get a drink of water, and returns with the answer.

“Of course Sam doesn’t get jealous,” she haughtily tells me. “I’m not a porn star. I’m not walking out there and actually having sex with other people for my job. It’s part of my job – no, he doesn’t get jealous at all. Not in the slightest. It’s something that – believe me – he’s used to. In every single piece, I feel that every level of nudity in the films that I have been a part of has been absolutely relevant and enhanced the story. Sam has supported me in all of that, and has felt the same way.”

Showing her body is something Kate is proud to be asked to do – such as baring (almost) all in a svelte turn on the December cover of Vanity Fair.

“I had a moment of thinking ‘my God, am I really going to take my clothes off here?’ And in the next breath, I thought ‘yeah, dammit, I am. I’m 33, I’ve had two kids, Steven Meisel wants to take pictures of me naked. This is never going to happen again. Man, oh man, I’m going to make the most of this!’ It was one of those things where I transported myself thirty years on, and wanted to be able to say ‘God, yeah, I did that. That was one of those crazy, wonderful things and I’m really happy to have that memory.’”

Although she’s faced criticism for the shoot – wasn’t she the same gal who encouraged women to embrace their bodies, no matter the size? – Kate doesn’t let it get her down. (Her style mantra? “Whatever fits and whatever works.”)

“The trick is to try to find a way of ignoring it, and not letting judgment affect one’s sense of self and one’s choices and one’s priorities in life. Luckily enough, I am a strong enough character to be able to hang on for that.”

She adds, “I think we live in a world today where it’s almost impossible not to feel judged, and that’s for myself and I think for all of us. We live in a very judgmental world, and it actually makes me very sad. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just simply do what we wanted to do, be ourselves, wear the clothes we wanted to wear, not worry about the exteriors and the trappings of life and literally just go and be free?”

Speaking of criticism, her thoughts veer to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  

“They’re sort of a walking soap opera,” she says. “The public wants to know what’s going to happen next. Coming soon to Brad and Angelina is, you know, dot-dot-dot. I think for them, it must be so hard to hang on to any mystery.”

Maintaining her own mystique is important, but she doesn’t hold back when asked about her brood. Would she like more kids?

“At the moment, no,” she says. “Sam and I have talked about it, and we feel like Mia and Joe are so great and we’re very, very lucky that they’re healthy. We’re really happy with the family that we have.”

Not that young Mia (whose dad is ex-hubby Jim Threapleton) and Joe are problem children, of course. In fact, they’re real-life mini-mes.

“I see the personalities of myself and both of their dads emerging in both of them, and it’s great. In Mia, she has a lot of Sam, too, because he’s really raised her with me. That’s a really amazing thing, which I am surprised by on a daily basis, and it’s really wonderful.”

Since she has such a serene, peaceful personal life, would she like to see good pal Leonardo settle down?

“That is a way too dangerous question for me to answer, babe,” she laughs. “There’s no way I’m going there, babe.”

The Reader is in theaters Friday. The Golden Globes take place Sunday.

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