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Interview: Kate Beckinsale

Sep. 19, 2003by:

Interview #1 Len Wiseman
Interview #2 Kate Beckinsale

I knew this about Kate Beckinsale before she walked in and sat down next to me: she likes geeky comic book guys who are into genre films. And I like beautiful women with English accents. A match made in heaven! Hell, if things went really well maybe I'd be husband #3 for the lovely Ms. Kate. Who knew by the end of our conversation she'd ask me to imagine her naked and covered in butter. No foolin'. Read on jealous fanboy...

Kate Beckinsale

Was your costume leather?

It was latex.

How do you move in that?

Easy. It was basically like a condom with sleeves. It was actually verybendy. The only restrictive thing was the corset but Im no stranger to the corset with these English movies.

Len mentioned that you initially didnt want to do the movie but that you later--

I didnt want to read it. As soon as I read it, I wanted to do it. But I was a little bit prejudiced about vampire movies cause I didnt think Id beI didn't fancy running around in a nightgown and waving garlic and getting my neck bit. So that was really what I was thinking. But it was like a B-movie, gothic, screaming girl king of thing. Then I opened it up and it was a cool comic-book action movie, with a girl who looked like she was a proper action hero. I found that totally appealing. I was fine with it really.

Were you looking to do an action film before this?

It was something that I always wanted, but the thing is that you get this great action movie and you think, "Ah, Id like to be in that movie but Id like to play the boys part really". But I really am one of those rare chicks that really loves an action movie and I take them quite seriously. So I didnt want to do a winking-at-the-audience, and now-Im-going-to-shower-but-Ill-put-my-gun-down-first action movie. Thats kind of what has been. I feel like a long time since Sarah Connor, ALIEN and LA FEMME NIKITA. Beyond that, I find that there has been an element of camp if a woman is the lead. Which can beyou know, a very fun movie, but its not the kind of action movie that I wanted to go and necessarily be in, so it was pretty exciting to be in this one.

Did you read into the vampire mythology and folklore?

Yes, and then I was told to completely forget it since were working with Berettas and ultraviolet bullets. I think they stuck to the very barebones of it in terms of the moon, and not being out at night. I think they definitely wanted to tweak it for the 20th century.

Was the set as dark as it was in the film?

Not quite but it was fairly. We shot at night mostly. I think two-thirds of the movie if not a bit more.

Seems like a very depressing atmosphere.

It was the most fun Ive ever had on a movie. I think it just works out that way. Plus everybody was very young and very passionate and everyone was really there cause they wanted to make a great movie. So the fact we were all in this strange city that nobody knew and we felt like we were the only people up cause we were shooting at nightit was this really kind of magical experience. I didnt find it depressing at all. Everybody got hysterical at 3am. Thats when the giggling would start.

It almost sounds like an independent movie where everyone has that spirit.

Yeah, sort of. I mean, its got a $20 million budget and it certainly doesnt look it.

It really looks great for what was spent.

I think it should say that on the poster!

What was the physical training like that you did for this film?

I had two or three months of wire training, guns, boxing, gymnastics and yoga, and all those good things that English people dont like. But it was great because I had never really done anything like that before and it really was a kind of life changing experience. I think just as a woman, you realize as youre walking down the street, trying not to attract too much attention, very much occupying a really small space without really consciously trying to aim to do that. Suddenly, you need to be realistically beating up three men, so its a very different place for your body to be. I found that quite difficult. It was the boxing that I found the hardest.

Thats how they structure the training. Theyre like, Heres the gun. Actually, youre quite good at that so were not going to spend very much time on that. Now throw a few punches. Wow, you suck. Thats what were going to be doing (laughs). And I found that very liberating. I remember the first two times its deep embarrassment about throwing your arms open and making a noise. As a woman, I realized that I was quite inhibited physically. Having to break through that I found it liberating in so many different ways. It was great once you actually got it. Even now, my favorite is when I see myself beat up three guys because I know what it took me to get to that point.

Have you carried any of that with you afterwards?

You get, for a couple of months afterwards, a completely false sense of yourself as a total badass, which is dangerous. Luckily, I have four brothers and a lot of male friends. Cause you go home and you're like, Come on, come on, wrestle me! And they always still win cause it was just a movie before. I remember Ben Affleck saying, I think it was Ben Affleck, who was saying that after there had been a lot of terrorist attacks, people have been real jumpy on planes. Its awful flying commercially if youve been in an action movie, because everybodys going to look to you like youre suddenly about to spring into action and deal with it.

But for me, after this movie, I felt more comfortable feeling feminine. It was a weird one. I thought Id come out feeling tough and hard guy-ish, but it broke through a barrier where I felt comfortable going, You know what? You can carry my bags. Thank you for opening the door. It was really different.

Do we see the badass or the feminine side in VAN HELSING?

(Thinks) Badass with boobs. Once Stephen Sommers saw the trailer of UNDERWORLD, he said, OK, so that movie is all about your ass. This is all about your boobs. (Laughs) Another cool thing about VAN HELSING, it was a cool opportunity where you get the action movie where you get a guy and a girl and he guy isnt always just rescuing the girl cause shes stuck up a tree or something. I rescue Hugh as much as Hugh rescues me. That again doesnt come around very often, which is why I have to find myself in the weird position of having to explain why Im constantly doing vampire movies. I dont know why its only vampire movies that let women do this. But Im a gypsy princess in that one.

Did you enjoy getting to use your accent for the first time in this film?

Its weird because I thought since it was an action movie and I thought well Americans are cool and English people arent so obviously I cant have an English accent in this movie. I was really thrown when he said I want you to do your own accent. Cause there you are in this rubber suit, beating up guys and then the voice you have through English Literature lessons with or be on the phone with your girlfriends as a teenager with comes out of your mouth, it makes you feel stupid. The first couple of days where I had dialogue scenes I was very freaked out. It took me a little while to feel comfortable with that. Then in VAN HELSING I have a Romanian accent.

Was there any hesitation to go after VAN HELSING knowing you were also doing UNDERWORLD?

VAN HELSING kind of came after me. I was still in Budapest when they offered the role. My main concern really and the reason it was most hard was I had three weeks in between the two movies. Now I realize why you dont do two action movies in a row. You know, you get hurt. I dont really think about it. I think cause I know how different the movies are. Completely different kind of movies.

So what did you do to relax after filming VAN HELSING?

I only just got done. VAN HELSING took a long time really. Ive only been done with that for six weeks and now Im doing THE AVIATOR. But after that Im done. Ive never done this. But Im aware that my child is going to be in kindergarten, not this year, but next year. So I feel like Im going to be more restrictive. I dont want one of those kids who has to get home schooled or something.

How hard is it being a working actress and a mother?

I am lucky because I do get to bring my kid to work with me. She comes into work with me every single day. I get to spend my whole lunchtime with her, I get to put her to bed, I get to put her in the bath. Im a lot luckier than most working mothers are. And then, I get to have a couple of months off when Im home. So I am very lucky. But I just walked into the radio interview with the fly open. Thats one of the side effects for me. I space out on everything. I think all working mothers will tell you, you feel like youre not doing a great job at work cause youre worrying about your child and youre not doing a great job as a mother cause youve got to work. So that juggling act is quite difficult. But her Dads fabulous and her Step dad is fabulous and Ive got great support.

So who do you play in THE AVIATOR?

Ava Gardner.

And thats filming right now?

Yeah. Ive done a week or two on that and Ive got another week or two left.

Len mentioned that there are prequel/sequel possibilities. Is that something youre definitely interested in or is it a wait-and-see approach?

I had a fantastic experience making this movie and I really liked the character. And you know, the directors all right. (Laughs) I dont really know how that all works. Theres definitely muttering about it right now although it hasnt reached me other than a voice out of the kitchen, Babe, would you do a sequel? But well wait and see if anyone goes to see this one.

Are there going to be toys for UNDERWORLD?


So this is your first figure.

And I get one for VAN HELSING as well. Im scared Im going to come home and see my child going, Die Mommy die! (Laughs) Its weird because her dad is in UNDERWORLD as well so she gets a doll of me, and a doll of her dad. I met David Duchovny doing a chat show once and our kids had a play date. His daughter had an X-FILES doll of him and a JURASSIC PARK doll [of wife Tea Leoni] and I thought, Thats the coolest thing! I want Lily to have that!

I could see UNDERWORLD developing a sort of cult following. Are you prepared for that kind of response?

You guys are freaking me out because people keep asking me that. What does that mean? (Laughs)

Well you know you have people like the Trekkies

Its funny because I was at Comic-Con with this and with VAN HELSING. But I went with Hugh Jackman and thats like going with Elvis. I had this incredible experience where you see the full obsession of people dressed up like Wolverine. If he walked passed them, theyd go "ARGH!!!" Its kind of weird. But theyre not even looking at me. Youre with Elvis! I couldve been naked, covered in butter, and nobody wouldve looked at me. He was God. And hes so great with everybody. Hes so fun with everybody. The people with the whole hairdo and everything, knives on



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