Slow dancing to an Elton John ballad at the singer's White Tie and Tiara AIDS benefit outside London on July 5, Kate Winslet and husband Jim Threapleton "were totally intertwined," says a guest. "They seemed oblivious to others." Later, when photographers asked to snap Winslet, "she made it clear she wanted Jim in the frame too."

Now, nine weeks later, it seems Threapleton, 27, is out of the picture. On Sept. 4 Winslet, 25, announced that she and the director—who have a daughter, Mia, 11 months—are separating. "There is no malice at all," she said. "Jim and I have great respect for each other." The news surprised friends of the couple's, whose 1998 wedding reception—at a pub in Reading, England—was as low-key as the newlyweds themselves. "She seemed fine, talking about her little girl and her husband," says director Michael Apted, who last saw Winslet at the Aug. 18 premiere of her upcoming film Enigma. The pair met in '97 on the set of indie flick Hideous Kinky. (She starred; he was an assistant director.) Winslet "fell in love at first sight," she told this month's British IN STYLE. By August 2000 they had set up their own production company and bought a $360,000 London home.

Still, the actress, who has shed 56 lbs. since Mia's birth, told IN STYLE of her marriage, "There are highs and lows, and at times it's tough." Ultimately, friends say, her star power may have contributed to those lows. "There was always love between them," says one Winslet pal, "and yet there has always been a disparity between their incomes. It's all about compatibility."