A cute and intelligent Oxford graduate, the British actress emerged in Hollywood in roles in the movies "Pearl Harbor" and "Serendipity." Kate Beckinsale Loe was born on July 26th, 1973, to two seasoned British television actors, and has spent most of her life in London. She has a half-sister who's also an actress; they only met briefly when Kate was very young and didn't cross paths again until 1995. She made her acting debut in a television WWII drama called One Against the Wind, and was soon cast in a short corporate film about industrial accidents. In 1991, Kate left for Oxford University's New College, where she majored in French and Russian literature. She already knew that she was going to be an actress, but in order to broaden her horizons she decided to attend a regular university rather than drama school. In 1992, she landed the role of Hero in the film adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. She was able to travel to Tuscany, Italy, where the film was being shot. She eventually dropped out of her studies after winning the role in three other European productions. Up next for Kate was a role in the 1994 BBC television satire, Cold Comfort Farm, which opened to rave reviews in American art-house theatres and was a hit by indie standards. She continued performing in British theatre for the next few years, and added some more forgettable films to her resume. In 1998, Kate returned to American eyes in the film Brokedown Palace, co-starring Claire Danes, and starred in the indie films Shooting Fish and The Last Days of Disco. After a role in The Golden Bowl, Kate had a huge year, what with being cast in one of Hollywood's biggest projects to date: the $150-million Disney pic, Pearl Harbor. She made her bid to be the next Meg Ryan in the romantic comedy Serendipity, in fall 2001. The talented actress also juggles motherhood as she has a daughter, Lily Sheen (born January 31, 1999) with actor Michael Sheen.
Hollywood's New Kate
If ever there was a good example of an overnight Hollywood sensation then actress Kate Beckinsale is it.
Until recently the British actress was a virtual unknown in the all-important American movie industry. Now she's one of its biggest stars.
That's thanks to her lead role in the explosive new movie Pearl Harbor, which is the most expensive film ever made and looks set to launch Beckinsale's career into the stratosphere.
It's hoped the movie will do for Beckinsale what Titanic did for Kate Winslet. But like Winslet, 27-year old Beckinsale is remaining resolutely down to earth about becoming Hollywood's latest leading lady.
The actress, who has a two year old daughter Lily with her partner actor Michael Sheen, says Pearl Harbor may be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time but family life is still top of her list.
"I'm a mum first, that's my priority above anything, as much as I think this is an amazing experience," she says of the Pearl Harbor shoot.
"I had Lily with me the whole time. That was very important."
In fact while the whole of Hollywood gets itself into a frenzy about the $135 million movie - it was premiered at a £3 million party in Hawaii last week - Beckinsale can't quite take in the fact that she's the star of the show.
"I must say I was just very, very surprised to find myself in such a bigmovie," she says almost apologetically.
"I read the script and thought it was fantastic, it made me cry, but I'd not long had my baby and I was feeling very confused about everything and it didn't really mean as much to me as it might have meant to the American girls. I had a bit of a shock when I turned up and saw the sheer scale and size of it."
So just how did a relatively unknown actress steal the part-of-a-lifetime from under the noses of some of Hollywood's biggest female stars?
"Jerry Bruckheimer (the film's producer) said he wanted to cast an English actress because they had more of an old-fashioned classic look to them than contemporary American actresses," explains Beckinsale.
"He'd said that he thinks American women have evolved more than British women, so maybe it was the fact that my knuckles were trailing on the ground," she adds with a surprisingly raucous laugh.
In the film Beckinsale plays nurse Evelyn Johnson, who is in love with handsome pilot Rafe (Ben Affleck), but their lives change forever when the Japanese make their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor during the Second World War.
The film has already received some criticism for glossing over the fact that the Americans were totally unprepared for the devastating attack but Beckinsale brushes that aside and says the film it gave her a new respect for the war generation.
"The nurses in those days were amazing women who had to keep everyone's spirits up, even when they were nursing badly wounded soldiers," she says.
Beckinsale is no stranger to tragedy herself. She was just six years old when her father, much-loved Rising Damp actor Richard Beckinsale, died of a heart attack at the age of 31. It had a devastating effect on her. She became anorexic when she was 15 and even now says she lives in her father's shadow.
"I find it particularly hard in England, that's why I started working in America" she explains.
"It was refreshing just to turn up on my own terms. It was great to go there and they couldn't pronounce my name, let alone know who my dad was."
Although Beckinsale has fully recovered from her illness she admits she worries about the general obsession with body image.
"There's such a pressure on women that we put on ourselves and everyone else puts on us to look unrealistic and everything, but you just can't compare yourself to people in magazines," she reasons.
"There's hours and hours of expert tweaking that goes into people looking like that. As we get more politically apathetic there seems to be all these magazines devoted to what diet the Spice Girls are following, more and more. I do think that's something that's worrying."
Beckinsale says the birth of Lily helped put her obsession with losing weight behind her. "I put on 55 pounds when I was pregnant, so I think I've done my fair share of dieting," she laughs.
Lily is also the reason the family won't be moving permanently to Hollywood despite Beckinsale's phenomenal success there.
"She's going to go to school in England and I don't want her constantly taken out of school, sitting in a trailer and becoming a Hollywood child," explains the down-to-earth mum.
In fact little Lily can take most of the credit for the fact that Beckinsale, far from being daunted by her sudden rocket to fame and fortune, seems to be taking it all in her stride.
"Whatever happens, you know, whether hardly anyone goes to see the film or if loads of people go, I'll still feel good about having done it," she says.
"That's all I can hope for. I've got a two year old daughter. I was fairly picky before but it makes you a lot more rigorous when you have to put a toddler through being in a hotel for several months."
Flying holds no fear for Aviator star Kate Beckinsale
Kate Beckinsale looks serious as she confesses to a period of self-evaluation and almost whispers: "I'm in a funny year, as I am the age my father was when he died, and my daughter is the age I was then. I think it is inevitable for me to have a bit of a review at this point, in the spiritual sense."
Beckinsale, the mother of 5-year-old Lily (from her relationship with Welsh actor Michael Sheen), is used to being known as the daughter of sitcom star Richard Beckinsale, (Porridge, Rising Damp), who died at 31 of a heart attack.
"You're not normally in front of loads of people when you're going, 'Oh, what should I do about the next bit?'
"I may end up carrying on acting. I really don't know. I'm going to take each day as it comes and see who I turn into. I'm incredibly happy and I can't complain. But being British, we tend to dwell, don't we?"
You might expect the petite brunette, who battled anorexia in her teens, to be insufferably dramatic and precious like many of her Tinseltown counterparts. But she seems grounded and unpretentious, even with no publicist there to watch her words. It's easy to warm to the sharp-witted Beckinsale.
She looks every inch the movie star - long and lean limbs, flowing raven hair, doe eyes, pin-striped tailored trousers and a flattering black halter-top. The chocolate-box prettiness is all on show, as are the sultry brown eyes and creamy skin.
The topic is Martin Scorsese's film The Aviator, which tells the story of the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio). Beckinsale gained 9kg - by eating chocolate around the clock - to portray the curvaceous silver-screen siren Ava Gardner, who said in her diaries that she enjoyed a 22-year "platonic" relationship with the mogul.
Since Beckinsale married her Underworld director Len Wiseman nine months ago she has divided her time between homes in London and Los Angeles.
In her 13-year career she has beefed up her resume with a bevy of character-driven roles: in Cold Comfort Farm, the TV version of Emma, Serendipity (with John Cusack) and Laurel Canyon, in which she shared a screen kiss with co-star Frances McDormand.
Yet, for all her charm and openness, Beckinsale retains a whiff of prissiness, which might have more to do with her private schooling and Oxford education (she studied French and Russian) than with her chosen career.
"I dropped out of Oxford, and now I only speak Russian with the woman who gives me a bikini wax. See what Hollywood does to you?" She's only partly joking.
Beckinsale is confident in those areas of her life that don't rely on the stroke of genetic luck behind her beauty. As a teenager, she won the WH Smith young writers poetry competition.
Yet she's still forced to put up with irksome tabloid tattle. "Apparently, I get facials and manicures all the time. I read this and think, 'Oh, I wish I did that.' I don't think I've had a facial since I was 19. When I shave my legs I use my child's shampoo and a razor - if I can find one. If I did everything they said I did, I would never see Lily."
When Beckinsale was 9, her mother, television actress Judy Loe, married director Roy Battersby, who had four teenage boys. Despite the initial alarm she soon settled in and her stepbrothers taught her to smoke cigarettes and swear.
She acted in school plays and, after small parts in British television dramas, landed the role of Hero in the Kenneth Branagh-directed Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Films such as Shooting Fish and The Last Days of Disco followed.
Hollywood beckoned, but she was hesitant. "I couldn't have handled it when I was 19. I've always been such a late bloomer. All my friends were kissing boys and drinking cider way before me.
"If I had come on to a movie set at that age and someone had said, 'You're a bit funny-looking, can you go on a diet?' - I might have jumped off a building. I just didn't have the confidence to put that into perspective at the time."
Her first taste of big-budget epics came when producer and director Michael Bay (Armageddon, Bad Boys) cast her as Evelyn, the love interest of both Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck in the overhyped Pearl Harbor (2001). Bay, who admitted that he hadn't even heard of Beckinsale at the time, said: "Pearl Harbor cost a tremendous amount, so we had no money for a star. We felt the movie was the star.
"We scoured Canada, New Zealand and America for Evelyn - and we finally found Kate in England. I wasn't sure about her at first, but she wore black leather trousers in her screen test and I thought she was a little nasty. This movie is about a love triangle, and it was easy to think of this woman as a slut."
Beckinsale had lost the 32kg she gained while pregnant with Lily, and had headed to Los Angeles as soon as she finished filming the Merchant Ivory drama The Golden Bowl. "When I got Pearl Harbor I naively thought I'd perform in this as if it was being staged at a small theatre in Wales," she says. "I had no idea what a Michael Bay movie entailed, but I liked the script."
In true Tinseltown fashion, Bay insisted that Beckinsale be given a tan and a trainer. He teasingly said at the time: "For her first scene, Kate had to come out of the ocean and kiss Josh Hartnett, and here emerges this pale Englishwoman who had never been in salt water. I would say, 'Kate, when you come out of the ocean, you don't spit out the water.' "
Although the film was panned and declared a commercial flop, it boosted the profile of the little-known and rather pale actress from Britain.
Asked about the differences between working on Hollywood and British film sets, Beckinsale rolls her eyes.
"Oh, it's a much more cosy feeling on a set at home. I do think the whole industry has changed over the past decade. I remember the first time I had a call from a publicist in America. She rang and said, 'Hello, I'm calling from LA and I'd like to be your publicist.' And I just started laughing. 'Okay, so what's your job then? And why do I need one of those again?"'
Beckinsale quickly turns around to check there's no publicist tapping her foot behind her (there isn't) before continuing: "'Yes, and we charge several thousand dollars a month.' And I was like, 'You know this is not going to take off in England.'
"But it has. Even the pampering has changed," she says. "I look at how Keira Knightley is coiffed when she attends events. I remember going to Cannes with Much Ado About Nothing when I was 18, and nobody told me, 'Oh, here's a makeup artist' or, 'This person wants to dress you.'
"It just wasn't like that when I started. Nobody even told me I could bring a friend. I just showed up in a very expensive pair of trousers I bought in Harvey Nichols, and something I bought in the Sock Shop at the airport. But Keira Knightley has full hair and make-up and a proper outfit and I think, 'Wow, she's not going to have the 'before' photos I had to endure, she's really lucky."
Beckinsale remembers as if it were yesterday the call from "her people" who told her that the great Scorsese wanted her to do a screen test for The Aviator.
"I was in the middle of shooting in front of a green screen for Van Helsing when I got a phone message saying, 'Martin Scorsese's in town tomorrow, can you convincingly be Ava Gardner, do scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio? Need American accent. Bye.'
"You want six weeks to prepare for that kind of opportunity so as not make a fool of yourself. I just locked myself in a room with the script and Ava Gardner movies.
"I was really dreading it, because aside from this particular part, you don't want Scorsese to say, 'Well, I've met her and she wasn't any good.' "
DiCaprio spent seven years developing the life story of Howard Hughes with co-producer Michael Mann. Scorsese stepped in as director when Mann passed it up because of his workload. The Aviator, which focuses primarily on Hughes' early years as an aviation tycoon and movie mogul rather than his decline into reclusive eccentricity, also stars Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow and Alan Alda as Senator Brewster.
Beckinsale says she was a little ashamed that initially she knew only of Hughes' eccentricity and downfall but now realises he was an iconic American with vision.
"He was amazing, and masterminded so much. Just the sheer technical stuff he pulled off in movies at that time."
As with many actresses in Los Angeles, Beckinsale has fallen prey to speculation about indulging in cosmetic surgery. The rumour mill ran rampant after she wore a low-cut slinky cocktail dress to a Hollywood premiere. "Secret breast augmentation", went the whispers.
Beckinsale makes it clear that her breasts are all her own. "It all began when a journalist asked if I'd had a boob job," she says. "At the time, I thought it was funny, because I had put on 10lb for my role and had been eating more chocolate to gain another 10lb to play Ava. So I was pleased no one had noticed I was looking heavier.
"But then the rumour got out of hand and all of a sudden they said I was having Botox injections and a facelift and it felt like everyone was discussing my breasts. I was upset because I was having my worth as a mother assessed, but I've reached a point now where I'm doing some evaluation. Is this what I want to be doing? Do I want to have these particular stresses in my life?"
Beckinsale sighs. "It does kind of chip away at you a little bit, but making a movie like this very much helps because you realise that this is why I'm putting up with that stuff. It's a trade-off.
"Okay, fine, you can say I'm a lesbian or I've had a boob job. None of it's true."
Bacall unimpressed by Beckinsale's Aviator performance
Kate Beckinsale failed to capture Ava Gardner's "ravishing" quality in The Aviator, according to Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall.
The 80-year-old Bacall was more convinced by Cate Blanchett's performance of her close friend Katherine Hepburn in the Howard Hughes biopic.
Bacall says: "I thought the actress playing Ava Gardner less successful. Ava was ravishing."
Of Blanchett, who she chatted to about Hepburn, she adds: "Cate Blanchett didn't look like Kate, but she captured her - her energy and vitality."
Kate Beckinsale gets it all off her chest
Kate Beckinsale is bored with questions about boob implants - believing in yourself and your subject are what really matters, she tells Phillip McCarthy.
Kate Beckinsale is looking intent and talking earnestly about her breasts. Fullness, shape, but not cup size. It's a conversation that guys who admired her in a nurse's outfit in Pearl Harbor or a peasant blouse in Van Helsing might try to keep going just for the hell of it.
But Beckinsale has a point to make. About a year ago - just after director Martin Scorsese cast her as 1950s screen queen Ava Gardner in his Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator - she decided to stack on about 12 kilograms. It was about authenticity. Movie divas weren't anorexic in those days; they were full-figured women and Gardner, once dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world, was all woman in the finest tradition of the hourglass figure.
"So much for suffering for my art," Beckinsale said. "Suddenly I was reading this stuff about 'has she or has she not had a boob job?'. I didn't see that coming. I had just got married so I suppose they scrutinise what your breasts are doing for signs of pregnancy or eating disorders. I've decided to make a rule and limit my conversation about my own breasts to my husband and my child so, I guess, I'm making an exception for you.
"But I simply put on 20 pounds. Women were a lot more voluptuous in those days. Take a look at Ava in her films. So my boobs grew and so did my arse - but no one was asking me whether I got arse implants. And I haven't, by the way, and I didn't get boob implants, either." So, she's got that off her chest. Which is a good thing, actually, because there is a lot more to Beckinsale's evocation of Gardner than her cleavage. The Aviator is a rich film and Beckinsale's sassy portrayal of Gardner gets overlooked because of Cate Blanchett's showy take on Katharine Hepburn.
Unlike Blanchett, who has a resume studded with portrayals of real people, playing Gardner was a first for Beckinsale. And she was anxious about capturing the movie legend's ticks and quirks when comparisons were merely a "play" or "pause" button away on DVD.
"I think impersonation is what you've really got to resist," she said. "I think it's soulless and empty. The work and the research, the accent and mannerisms, is very much before you start shooting. When the cameras are rolling then it's about the script. I don't think people want to see a Saturday Night Live sketch about me playing Ava Gardner. Possibly they do but not in a Martin Scorsese movie. I'm sure there are lots of people who think I look nothing like her." The film is not as explicit about Hughes's sexual relationship with Gardner as it is, for example, about the one between the aviation and movie pioneer and Hepburn. Gardner herself was coy on the subject and the third-party accounts are split on the question.
"She says she never had a sexual relationship with Hughes," she said. "But he did spoil her. He made these grand gestures that made her feel very special. And, God knows, I hate to be the one who disbelieves an actress when she said she didn't sleep with somebody. It's against my religion. After all that stuff about whether or not I had plastic surgery, I would have felt disloyal if I didn't take her at her word."
Screen sirens who everyone else thinks they have the inside dope on - be it their suitors or surgeries - are obviously something of a pet cause for Beckinsale.
But only a few years ago - when she was a pretty young English actress best known for costume dramas - the whole idea of generating her own little media frenzy seemed remote. And she wasn't a bombshell in the Ava Gardner tradition nor, for that matter, the updated Angelina Jolie one.
It started to change when Beckinsale did two big blockbusters - Pearl Harbor and last year's Van Helsing - and took up, and then married, her hunky young director on 2003's Underworld, Len Wiseman. It thrust Beckinsale into the headlines because, although never married, she had been with fellow actor Michael Sheen for eight years. Sheen, also in Underworld, is the father of her daughter Lilly, now 5.
With Wiseman, Beckinsale traded solid, suburban life in London for a surfside one among the rollerbladers in Los Angeles. Suddenly the English rose was the Californian wild flower with a paparazzi posse.
While she's happy to laugh off the hoo-ha of making Pearl Harbor in 2002, Beckinsale is not sure that Van Helsing was a great choice either for her career or her privacy. At one point today she describes the movie, in which she co-starred with Hugh Jackman, as a "career killer".
"I've always tried to do different things, but unfortunately the last different thing I did, Van Helsing, kind of exploded into this new whole deal that I am not comfortable with," she said. "Van Helsing was like doing a panto, a panto with millions of dollars behind it. It was so obvious to me in hindsight that it wasn't my sort of thing. I probably should not have done it and I feel bad saying that because I loved all the people I worked with.
"The idea of becoming famous for something I didn't really believe in was a very weird experience.
"It all happened around the same time as I got married, which was probably bad timing, but it just made me think the whole fishbowl thing had got worse since Pearl Harbor."
In fact, Beckinsale admitted she was having a mini existential crisis. She'd like to do meatier stuff - maybe a play in London where her friends and family are - although she's more than happy to suit up again as the alpha woman action hero in Wiseman's Underworld sequel.
She readily admitted that, on the totem pole of plum film roles, she comes in somewhere south of people like Blanchett and Kate Winslet so she might not get offered the best movies: "I'm only 30 so I don't have to keep acting. I've started inquiring about medical school ... seriously ... I could do it.
"I've been joking to journalists today that the next time they meet me I might have my finger up their bums. It's a great way to make an interview go really quiet."
Perhaps that's why people keep switching the conversation back to her breasts.
Kate Beckinsale stars in ''Underworld''
If you're looking for a film with "Matrix"-style relentless action, dark comic-book-like gothic atmosphere, and a story that almost drowns in its own mythology, then be sure to rush into theaters to see "Underworld". If want something a bit more thrilling and frightening, you would be better off saving your money because "Underworld" is heavy on action and light on terror.
Kate Beckinsale stars as Selene, a high-ranking member of an elite vampire warrior class working to obliterate the lycans - the race of werewolves. The struggle between the races has been waging for centuries, but a scheme to create an interbred species that combines the strengths of both races threatens to undermine both groups' existence and their underworld battle.
Things get started as Selene uncovers a lycan plot to kidnap a human doctor (Scott Speedman), who somehow has a connection to both races. Kraven, the arrogant vampire leader, quickly becomes jealous of the affection between Selene and the doctor. At the same time, the Lycan leader is trying to hunt them both down. It's "Romeo and Juliet", "The Matrix", and "Dracula Meets the Wolfman" thrown into a blender.
The film is visually stunning, with cinematography bathed in rich blues and blanketed with deep shadows. Director Len Wiseman (whose background is in the art department) and his creative team have built a world that is both dense and rich.
Beckinsale has found a terrific role in the leather-clad, blood-sucking, and butt-kicking vampire Selene. She's a tough warrior, yet still manages to kill gracefully and keep the audience on her side.
Unfortunately, Wiseman falls prey to what I call "the 'Matrix' complex", choosing to borrow from that film's frenetic, over-stylized and over-choreographed action sequences that barrage the audience with too many angles. The film also drowns itself in its own story and myth, although it thankfully avoids trying to be too deep and psychological. With a bit less story and screen time (the film clocks in at just about 2 hours), this could be one tight film.
Fans of "Buffy", "The Matrix", and "Tomb Raider" will eat this movie up. If you prefer your thrillers to be a bit more subtle and quiet, however, you might want to catch "Underworld" on video when you can turn down the volume.
Kate Beckinsale: "Underworld"
"Kate Beckinsale's personal life has been splashed throughout the media, especially in England, and for good reason. After all, she was still with the actor who plays Lucian, Michael Sheen, the father of her child and they had just had a baby. She then broke up with him and married the director of Underworld, Len Wiseman. Through it all, Kate has no regrets, and the actress is more than happy to talk about it. In this candid interview, Beckinsale talks action heroine, romance and underwear.
Kate Beckinsale looks like a perfect English rose when we get together in a Toronto hotel room where her action pic, Underworld, is premiering. Dressed in black with a black dress, the beautiful Brit has been all over the media of late more because of her personal life than her acting prowess. But while most Hollywood stars will do their upmost to avoid talking about their love lives, this actress says she's an open book and doesn't care who's reading it. "I always answer anything, so if you ask me I will tell you. I haven't done anything naughty. I really haven't," she says with a pert smile on her face. "I know people lie and don't necessarily answer, but I've never been drunk, taken drugs, never had a one night stand or done anything I'm really ashamed off. So if somebody asked if I wear underwear, then I would answer. You can ask me anything and I will always tell you," she proudly attains. And just for the record, no, she never wears underwear.
Beckinsale had still been with actor Michael Sheen when Underworld director Len Wiseman cast him at her recommendation. Now, the actress is married to her director, as one notices with her ring in plain view. "First off, I'm kind of pissed off about it because he's brilliant, such an amazing director, and we had such a great working relationship. We did all of these interviews while filming and I'm like, I'm have a great time, he's the best director I've ever worked with. I can't believe this relationship we have. Now, it looks like I just had a crush on him." The reality is, that she and Wiseman started dating after the completion of the film, but denies that despite having gone off her 10-year old relationship with Sheen, the split remained amicable. "I'm very touched and impressed by how it's all gone on. Michael and I were together for ten years and I can't imagine not having him in my life. He's here in Toronto also we're sharing out the childcare and he lives close by us in LA so I'm very proud of that"
Beckinsale' s love life might be a little strange, but is equally strange is this seemingly timid actress's decision to play action heroine, not once mind you, but twice, as she will also be seen opposite Hugh Jackman in next year's Van Helsing. Best known for her roles in the likes of Cold Comfort Farm, The Last Days of Disco, Serendipity and of course Pearl Harbor, Underworld, in which she plays a vampire, seems an unlikely fit for the actress, but Beckinsale denies there is a typical Kate Beckinsale role. "I don't really think I've got one. I feel really lucky as I've done some period stuff and a bunch of romantic comedies. I'm glad I've never been so successful where I'm stuck doing one thing whereas I've kind of been able to just toot along and switch around." As demure as she appears off screen, there is clearly an action heroine eager to come out. "I'm just a huge fan of action films. I love the whole Aliens thing, The Terminator and I love Die Hard, so I'll go see any action movie." She even went to see Arnold in Collateral Damage on Valentines Day. "My boyfriend wanted to go see Amelie but I won," she recalls laughingly. "The theatre was empty on Valentines Day because all the women had got their first choice and seen that so we were the only people in the theatre."
Yet initially she was reluctant to even read the Underworld script, "Because I thought it would be an old B-movie schlocky horror film when I heard werewolves and vampires. I didn't fancy getting about in a white nightgown and screaming, and then I saw all these drawings Len had put inside the script. I was like, okay, that looks pretty all right. Then I read it and as soon as I did, I wanted to do it." Beckinsale clearly wanted to be part of the action, shooting guns and literally kicking butt. "I really am a fan of action movies and so when you get a script for one, I don't want to be sitting around in an airplane making phone calls. I want to be blowing up the bad guys, which doesn't happen very often and when it does happen that the female is the lead it's a bit camp and wanky. I wanted to do La Femme Nikita, because I am such a wet weed [pussy] in my real daily life, "she concedes laughingly. In Underworld, Beckinsale looks amazing with a black latex outfit that she was allowed to keep. "It's basically a condom with sleeves. It comes in handy and keeps me very safe."
Beckinsale says that she's over her action heroine thing, having gone even more physical in Van Helsing. "I really became black and blue. That was quite hard going." The pay off was working with everyone's favourite Aussie. "Hugh Jackman has the reputation for being the nicest man in the world and he really is. I made it my mission to find out if it's real or is he torturing hamsters in his spare time? He's so sweet."
Beckinsale is also working with another Australian, Cate Blanchett, in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, in which she plays Ava Gardner in the Leonardo Di Caprio starrer. "I like studying accents, but it's a real person and such a responsibility, because she's an icon. Both Cate and I think it's awful trying to portray them. I've watched her movies to help with the accents, but it's fun to watch them." Meanwhile, Beckinsale can try and enjoy her new status as the new pin up queen for all those horror fan boys. "I don't think they're done with Hugh Jackman; I think HE'S the big pin-up queen for them."
Kate Beckinsale coming back to Oxford?
Hollywood star Kate Beckinsale has spoken of her wish to swap the red carpet for the Rad Cam and return to Oxford University. The actress, who plays Ava Gardner in Martin Scorsese’s latest blockbuster The Aviator, revealed recently that “I never did finish University so that’s always been unfinished business.”
Beckinsale matriculated at New College in 1991, after completing A-Levels in Russian, German and French, to study French and Russian Literature, but in her first year received her big break starring in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
She continued to juggle a further three films alongside her Oxford work before finally finally deciding, on her return from her third year abroad in Paris, to leave student life for a full-time acting career.
Beckinsale added: “I’m 31 years old and if I’m going to go back to college then it’s probably time to do it now.”
As a teenager, the actress was a prize-winning poet and author. Her eclectic choice of film roles suggests that her intellectual interests have not dimmed. As well as a series of vampire-related projects, her filmography includes several parts in classic big-screen adaptations of Emma and Cold Comfort Farm.
She may not be planning on immersing herself in Modern Languages again, however. Other showbiz rumours claim she is planning to train as a doctor.
Beckinsale’s agent said that she was aware of her client’s comments, but was unable to confirm whether she will be acting on her hopes soon.
Students at New College were cautiously enthusiastic at the prospect of Beckinsale’s return as a mature student.