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Inside Kate Winslet’s Philly culture crash course for ‘Mare of Easttown’

Kate Winslet looks out of a car window.
Kate Winslet plays a Pennsylvania police detective in the HBO series “Mare of Easttown.”
(Michele K. Short / HBO)

A lot has been written about the way Kate Winslet mastered her character’s Philadelphia accent in HBO’s “Mare of Easttown” — we already knew H20 was important to human health, but the way the British actor says wooder like a good Pennsylvanian quenched Twitter’s thirst.

But have you heard her talk about Wawa?

The popular convenience-store chain proved to be a crucial character-building resource, the actress revealed in the latest episode of the L.A. Times podcast “The Envelope.”

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“It almost felt like a mythical place … Wawa,” Winslet says.

The “accent nerd” went to extraordinary lengths to sound like a Pennsylvania native for HBO’s “Mare of Easttown.” Here’s how she did it.

In the HBO limited series, Winslet plays Mare Sheehan, a detective investigating the murder of a teenage girl in a fictional small town in Delaware County, Pa. — colloquially referred to as DelCo. Before throwing herself into the role of the jaded sleuth, Winslet wanted to connect with the character’s hometown roots. She subscribed to the DelCo Times, the local daily newspaper, and read it every day.

And that’s where the fascination with the beloved chain of stores took shape.

“There would regularly be some article about Wawa,” Winslet says. “By the time I got there, I was like, ‘It’s real!’ Walking into a Wawa ultimately felt like … it was kind of an honor, in a funny way, because to me that was the heart of DelCo. So to finally walk through the door of a Wawa … I don’t know why I felt like, ‘Oh, yes, I’m here, I belong. This is where it’s at. Wawa.’”

Coffee, naturally, was Winslet’s Wawa staple. But her costar Evan Peters, who plays a detective sent to help Mare solve the show’s central murder, more fully embraced the store’s culinary treasures.

“He would say, ‘Ugh, you gotta try the Gobbler,” Winslet says in her best impersonation of Peters. “And it was this gigantic sub, basically — or hoagie, this huge hoagie. It’s basically a Thanksgiving meal in a hoagie. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I just eat that thing and I pass out.’ And I’d be like, ‘I’m not surprised! I’m not surprised, Evan!’”

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Judging from the photos that turned up in a quick Google search, it looks like the sort of Thanksgiving sandwich feast that Ross Gellar would appreciate. If HBO opts for a “Mare of Easttown” spinoff, we can only hope it’s a love story between Peters’ Detective Colin Zabel and the carb-heavy delicacy.

“Mare of Easttown,” starring Kate Winslet as a Pennsylvania detective, feels like a corrective to the glamorous, shallow hokum of “The Undoing.”

Listen to “The Envelope” to hear the rest of our interview with Winslet, including her thoughts on which character from her film catalog should get her own TV series and what it was like rooming with “Mare of Easttown” costars Jean Smart and Guy Pearce during production. Plus, Winslet talks about reuniting with “Titanic” director James Cameron for “Avatar 2” — yes, water was part of the equation yet again.

If you like learning more about what went into the making of some of the most talked-about movies and TV shows of the moment, check out our past conversations with “Genius: Aretha” star Cynthia Erivo and “Minari’s” Lee Isaac Chung. Upcoming interviews include Steven Canals for the final season of “Pose” and John Boyega for “Small Axe.”

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Subscribe via Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes post every Wednesday.

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