Kate Winslet stars in the latest I Am film from director Dominic Savage, I Am Ruth, which tells the story of a mother who witnesses her teenage daughter retreat into herself as she becomes consumed by the pressures of social media.


The feature-length instalment also stars Mia Threapleton, Winslet's real-life daughter, and once again has been developed through improvisational filmmaking techniques.

But is I Am Ruth based on a true story, is it entirely fictional, or has it in some way been inspired by real-life events? Winslet, who is co-credited alongside Savage for the film's story, has explained.

Read on for everything you need to know about the real-life inspiration behind I Am Ruth.

What is the real-life inspiration behind I Am Ruth?

Kate Winslet as Ruth and Mia Threapleton as Freya in I Am Ruth.
Kate Winslet as Ruth and Mia Threapleton as Freya in I Am Ruth. Joss Barratt/Channel 4

I Am Ruth is not based directly on a true story, but instead has been inspired by real situations of parents struggling to understand and help their children when they are being driven to mental health crises in relation to social media.

Like previous I Am films, I Am Ruth's dialogue is entirely improvised. At a recent event for the film attended by RadioTimes.com and other press, Winslet revealed that she used this framework to draw on real-life experiences she has had with friends, and conversations she has had with them about their children.

Winslet said: "I've been a parent to teenagers and I've also been on the periphery of friends raising teenagers who have gone through some absolutely horrific things. So a lot of the conversations that you hear, and even specific words that come out of my mouth, are direct from things that friends have said to me.

"There's a scene when Ruth sits on the bed and she says, 'I just don't know who I am, I'm really struggling, I don't like myself, I don't look forward to anything.' That is literally a conversation that I had with a very close friend a couple of years ago. And I wanted to honour those stories, and along with Mia, we wanted to tell a story of our time, without preaching."

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The actor previously revealed: "Everyone knows that social media, whilst it can be a positive thing for some, for other teenagers it can completely consume their worlds and not necessarily in positive ways. We just wanted to tell a story that was honest and highlighted those issues that are so extraordinarily prevalent at the moment, and alarmingly so."

At the event, Winslet added: "Hopefully we're creating an avenue for conversation, and being able to say to people, ‘I didn't know what to do either. It's alright. It's alright.' We just wanted to tell a story that felt timely and visceral and truthful, even though obviously there are parts of it that are very hard to watch."

How else did I Am Ruth draw from reality?

Mia Threapleton in I Am Ruth.
Mia Threapleton as Freya in I Am Ruth. Joss Barratt/Channel 4

As part of director Dominic Savage's attempt to make I Am Ruth feel naturalistic and real, not everyone that appears in the film is a real actor, and many of them have real-life relationships with Winslet.

Not only are Ruth's children Freya and Billy played by Winslet's real-life actor children Mia Threapleton and Joe Anders, but the wider supporting cast is also made up of some non-actors.

Winslet revealed: "Dominic likes to work with real people and real relationships, and in some of his previous I Ams, actually in most of them, there was often some overlap where the leading actresses have actually suggested a very old friend of theirs for a role and that person suddenly appears.

"And he likes to work with real people, so the guy who plays [Freya's] teacher, he is actually Mia’s old teacher. His name’s Simon and he’s lovely, he was her English and Drama teacher. I just phoned him and I said, ‘Simon, I’ve got this suggestion.' He said, ‘Oh god, I can’t do that,' [and] I said, ‘Yes you can. It’s just a day, it'll be great.' And he was just terrific."

Another scene, which involves Ruth and Freya visiting a doctor, also saw a real-life GP in the role, with the whole sequence being filmed without the actors actually having met her before.

Winslet explained: "Dominic created this real scenario. We were driven to the doctor’s surgery, we were told that the camera would be rolling when we got out the car, and it was, and he said, ‘Just go into the reception and ask for Dr Susie and everything else will happen.'

"We were led to a waiting room, we sat down, and Mia and I are in character just waiting, and then Doctor Susie appears. ‘Hi I'm Dr Susie, Please come through.' And we had not met that woman until the cameras were rolling on us."

I Am Ruth will air on Thursday 8th December at 9pm on Channel 4. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide, or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.


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