Kate Winslet was so keen to play the most villainous role of her career in Triple 9, she told director John Hillcoat to make her look vile.

The moviemaker says the British actress left glamour and vanity behind when she stepped into the role of trashy Russian mobster Irina Vlaslov, and he was thrilled to be given the freedom to make a Hollywood beauty look awful.

"Kate did an amazing thing, where she said, 'Forget vanity... You can show me in any light', so we wanted to embrace that," he explained.

"For her introduction in the film, we're using traditionally the worst light for women and her make-up was crude and deliberately kind of garish. And she suggested leaving her roots for her hair; the whole hair creation was hers. She was so excited to finally play a villain."

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The British star also sported voluminous blonde hair and long gold nails for the role, while her wardrobe featured an outfit consisting of red boots and a red coat.

"I almost feel until the costume goes on, or in some cases comes off, it changes really absolutely everything," Winslet told Cover Media.

"I don't think you can fully play that part until the look is put together, so for me it was a big part of it.

"John and I spent a lot of time talking about the look of her (Irina), because she had to look as though she believed she was put together and was well dressed and wearing her wealth. And actually she looked a bit like a trashy slut most of the time."

Triple 9 is due to open in New Zealand cinemas on March 3.

- WENN