Ms. Winslet's Waffles: Mildred Pierce Premiere Hits New York

After lavishing Kate Winslet with praise and noting how adorably “edible” his tiniest cast member is, director Todd Haynes got emotional.

“This is a movie… about a mother,” Haynes said while introducing his new miniseries, Mildred Pierce (to debut on HBO March 27) at the Ziegfeld Theatre, “and tonight isn’t quite the same for me because my mom can’t be here tonight.”

Haynes’ mother died unexpectedly during the production of the miniseries, which is based on the mother of all mother-daughter tales–the 1941 novel of the same title–and features a pathetically self-sacrificing mother (Ms. Winslet) and her monstrously conceited bad-seed daughter, Veda (Evan Rachel Wood).

Winslet elected herself a sort of hen-mother throughout the shoot-but no drama for her! “You all want to enjoy your work and do the best job that you can and when the leading actor is being effervescent or positive I think it makes a big difference to the atmosphere.”

Especially when the cast must endure Mildred’s specialty: chicken and waffles. Ms. Wood was a fan: “Hell, yeah! Roscoe’s, absolutely!” But Brían F. O’Byrne, who plays Mildred’s first husband, couldn’t stomach it: “It’s an odd combination, and I think there’s a reason why it’s not around anymore.” Guy Pearce, who plays Mildred’s second husband, added, “Behind closed doors, you might have something like that.”

The release of a Depression-era story during a seemingly endless financial crisis is a case of clever or lucky timing, though Mr. Pearce thinks that the story bears more interest than simply economic: “I just think people hopefully will relate to it more because it’s an emotional story, and it’s an exploration of human behavior, and ultimately that should be a timeless thing,” Pearce said.

Thankfully, not all of Mildred Pierce is universal–Ms. Turner said that she’s no Veda. Of her real-life mother, she said: “We have fights about stupid things. I’m not supposed to paint my nails a certain color because it looks weird.” She even ate Mildred’s chicken and waffles, though her character is ashamed to have a mother working in the fast-food industry. “It tasted really good–even though it was kind of cold–but it tasted really good!” Art does not, this time, imitate life.  Ms. Winslet's Waffles: Mildred Pierce Premiere Hits New York