TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
Despite being an onscreen novice, actress Kate Beckinsale made a strong film debut as the virginal Hero in Kenneth Branagh's sun-dappled adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993), projecting the requisite intelligence and star quality that deemed her one to watch. Since her breakthrough, Beckinsale went on to make a name for herself in her native England, then across the pond in the United States, where she made her debut in "The Last Days of Disco" (1998). Though her first major American film, "Brokedown Palace" (1999), proved to be a box office flop, she gained widespread exposure in the blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" (2001). But it was Beckinsale's starring turn as the leather-clad vampire warrior, Selene, in "Underworld" (2003) that earned her a legion of young comic book fans who enjoyed seeing her reprise the sexy role in "Underworld: Evolution" (2006), which she deftly balanced with a realistic portrayal of Ava Garnder in "The Aviator" (2004), confirming that Beckinsale was a not only a star of varied talents but an undeniable brunette beauty who harkened back to Hollywood's Golden Age goddesses.Born on July 26, 1973 in London, England, Beckinsale was the daughter of comic Richard Beckinsale -...
Despite being an onscreen novice, actress Kate Beckinsale made a strong film debut as the virginal Hero in Kenneth Branagh's sun-dappled adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993), projecting the requisite intelligence and star quality that deemed her one to watch. Since her breakthrough, Beckinsale went on to make a name for herself in her native England, then across the pond in the United States, where she made her debut in "The Last Days of Disco" (1998). Though her first major American film, "Brokedown Palace" (1999), proved to be a box office flop, she gained widespread exposure in the blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" (2001). But it was Beckinsale's starring turn as the leather-clad vampire warrior, Selene, in "Underworld" (2003) that earned her a legion of young comic book fans who enjoyed seeing her reprise the sexy role in "Underworld: Evolution" (2006), which she deftly balanced with a realistic portrayal of Ava Garnder in "The Aviator" (2004), confirming that Beckinsale was a not only a star of varied talents but an undeniable brunette beauty who harkened back to Hollywood's Golden Age goddesses.
Born on July 26, 1973 in London, England, Beckinsale was the daughter of comic Richard Beckinsale - who died when she was five years old - and actress Judy Loe. She pursued her education at Godolphin & Latymer School, then Oxford University, where she studied French and Russian literature, as well as took up acting. Beckinsale, however, spent a good portion of her teen years struggling with an eating disorder - of which she later spoke frankly of in interviews - before she decided to try her hand at acting. Meanwhile, after making her debut in a bit part in the mystery "Devices and Desires" (BBC, 1991), she landed the pivotal role of the rebellious daughter of a British woman (Judy Davis) involved with the French Resistance during WWII in "One Against the Wind" (CBS, 1991). Once she had become established as an ingénue with "Much Ado About Nothing," Beckinsale carefully crafted a career path that would not find her typecast.
Born on July 26, 1973 in London, England, Beckinsale pursued her education at Godolphin & Latymer School, then Oxford University, where she took up acting. In "Royal Deceit/The Prince of Jutland" (1994), which was based on the Danish prince whose life inspired Shakespeare's "Hamlet," she starred opposite Christian Bale. A lighter, more charming side to the actress was displayed in "Marie-Louise, or The Leave" (1995), in which she played a young woman searching for her lover in a crowded train station. Beckinsale delivered a strong turn as the meddlesome orphan taken in by eccentric relatives in the brittle comedy "Cold Comfort Farm" (also 1995). As Flora Poste, she anchored the film and managed to make a busybody character seem charming, and in some ways it was a warm-up for her tackling "Jane Austen's Emma" (BBC/AE, 1996). Although Douglas McGrath's feature version starring Gwyneth Paltrow had opened on American screens first, this version found its partisans who felt it was more faithful to the spirit of Austen.
Capitalizing on the sass and intelligence she had projected in both "Cold Comfort Farm" and "Jane Austen's Emma", Beckinsale shone as an aristocratic med student who falls in with two charming con men (Dan Futterman and Stuart Townsend) in the underrated caper flick "Shooting Fish" (1997). Adopting a flawless American accent, the actress next registered as the bitchy junior publishing executive seeking fun and perhaps Mr. Right in Whit Stillman's "The Last Days of Disco" (1998). The following year, Beckinsale retained the Americanisms to portray a mousy tourist in Thailand who falls for a slick Australian, dragging herself and her traveling companion (Claire Danes) into accusations of drug smuggling in "Brokedown Palace." After time out for motherhood, she returned to the big screen as Nick Nolte's daughter in the Merchant Ivory adaptation of Henry James' "The Golden Bowl" (2000).
The attractive actress finally had a shot at more mainstream success with two high profile leading roles in 2001. In the big-budget epic "Pearl Harbor," she was cast as a US Navy nurse who falls in love with a dashing pilot (Ben Affleck) but when news of his death arrives turns to his best friend (Josh Hartnett) for comfort. And Beckinsale was cast opposite John Cusack in the mildly engaging romantic comedy "Serendipity," playing a woman who believes more in fate than love at first sight and faces a long but seemingly inevitable road to romance. The actress surfaced again in 2003 in the arty indie "Laurel Canyon" as the icy fiancée of an L.A. native (Christian Bale) who returns to his eclectic mother's home in Laurel Canyon, where Beckinsale's character slowly becomes seduced by the sultry Los Angeles lifestyle.
Her highest profile role to date came in "Underworld" (2003), a glossy supernatural thriller with Romeo-and-Juliet overtones, in which Beckinsale played Selene, a vampire embroiled in her kind's long feud with a werewolf clan who falls in love with one of her blood enemies (Scott Speedman). Beckinsale followed up with another action-packed supernatural thriller, teaming with Hugh Jackman for "Van Helsing" (2004), in which she played Anna Valerious, a vampire slayer from a long line committed to ending the reign of Count Dracula who teams with the count's longtime human foe. The actress was better served by her next project, director Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes glamorous and visually arresting biopic "The Aviator" (2004), in which the actress provided a sultry spark as the fiery film icon Ava Gardner, Hughes' (Leonardo DiCaprio) most challenging, yet sympathetic, paramour.
Beckinsale next revived the vampire Selene for the sequel, "Underworld: Evolution" (2006), as vampires and werewolves battle each other for ultimate control of the undead. As the violence between the two warring factions increases, Selene and her werewolf beau, Michael (Scott Speedman), try to uncover the secrets of the conflict while delving into their own pasts. Despite poor reviews, "Underworld: Evolution" managed to rake in a descent payday. Meanwhile, she starred opposite Adam Sandler in "Click" (2006), a middlebrow comedy about an overworked architect (Sandler) whose life seemingly changes for the better when a strange Bed, Bath and Beyond clerk gives him a universal remote that can pause, rewind or fast-forward anything - barking dog included. But as the remote gets stuck on fast-forward, causing him to miss all the important events in his life, he realizes that it's probably better to take the bad with the good rather than let his whole life pass before his eyes.
Returning to the horror genre - an apparent favorite for the actress - Beckinsale starred in "Vacancy" (2007), another in a long line of suspense thrillers released in the early part of the century. In this all-too-obvious take on "Psycho," Beckinsale played the soon-to-be ex-wife of a man (Luke Wilson) forced to spend the night at a seedy motel run by an odd, but seemingly harmless proprietor (Frank Whaley). But the couple soon discovers that the cache of homemade slasher flicks they have found were shot in the very room in which they are staying - both must put aside their differences and work together in order to avoid becoming the next victims of the sadistic filmmakers. While most horror thriller are brushed off by critics as being redundant and tedious, "Vacancy" received its fair share of positive reviews. Meanwhile, she starred in "Snow Angels" (2008), playing a woman whose turbulent marriage to her husband (Sam Rockwell) recalls dark memories from the past, then followed with "Nothing But the Truth (2008), playing a jailed journalist who wrote an explosive about a government scandal and refused to divulge the name of her source when pressured by a special government prosecutor.
Focusing her attention on small films and other genres besides horror, Beckinsale starred in the psychological thriller "Whiteout" (2009), where she played a U.S. Marshal forced to find a vicious killer in Antarctica before the sun sets for six months winter. Critics were in agreement that "Whiteout" was tedious and formulaic, while audiences sought out other entertainment, resulting in the film's poor showing at the box office. Beckinsale went on to star opposite Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Robert De Niro in the low-budget drama, "Everybody's Fine" (2009), in which she played a successful Chicago advertising exec whose father (De Niro) drives across country to make amends with his four children following the death of their mother. Critics were mixed, as the film came and went in a limited release. Meanwhile, Beckinsale returned to larger studio projects with a turn as the girlfriend of a former smuggler (Mark Wahlberg) forced back into the life to settle a debt in the above-average action thriller "Contraband" (2012). After reprising Selene for the critically panned, but commercially successful "Underworld: Awakening" (2012), Beckinsale was Colin Farrell's fake wife in the high-profile remake of "Total Recall" (2012).
Filmographyclose complete filmography
CAST: (feature film)
Milestones close milestones
As a teenager, Beckinsale twice won the W H Smith Young Writers' competiton, once for several short stories, and again for her poetry.
"I've always felt that anorexia was the form of breakdown most readily available to adolescent girls. Its place and role in the amily is very interesting: There is ususally one person in the family who unknowingly becomes the catalyst for things--almost the scapegoat in a way--to stop the whole structure from collapsing. After I got better, I kept quiet about if for a long time. But then I began to think that a lot of people don't recover as well as I have, and I think I understand quite a lot about it, so I mentioned it in an interview with Company magazine. But the way they handled it was to say, 'Isn't she thin? and oh, how terribly tragic,' and, of course by then it had been several years since I'd had anorexia. It then became one of those things that follow you around. It made me feel quite funny talking about it." --Kate Beckinsale to Dina Rabinovitch in Interview, July 1998.
"With every project you do, you bring out a part of yourself, and it seems to be quite a good way of expanding as a person." --Beckinsale to Premiere, June 1998.
"People asked me ever since I was a little kid whether I was going to be an actress, and for a long time I said no, I was so adamant I wasn't going to for such a long time. I think I just wanted to be different, but then I got a couple of jobs and it started gently from there." --Kate Beckinsale on her career in Empire, May 1997.
"Childhood Memory That Sticks: On the death of her father, Richard Beckinsale. "Other actors who knew him kept telling me how devestated they were when he died. I was constantly having to console them for my father's death. I was devestated and knew exactly what had happened. I'm very respectful of small children now."
--From Cosmopolitan (UK edition), May 1997.
On critics: "Even when they wank on about how fantastic you are, it doesn't mean a lot. Maybe you struck the right nerve. But when they've shat on you from a great height, and they've said you're ugly and revolting, then you're bound to be bitter. We hardly have any good theatre critics now, it's all to do with the cult of their personality, and a lot of them are pure poison. It used to be an art form when Ken Tynan wrote about Olivier, now it's filling a column. I wouldn't want to be paid for making people cry. I suppose a bad review can be helpful, but it rarely is. You just want to go round, tar their fucking throats off and piss in their necks." --Beckinsale quoted in GQ (UK edition), November 1997
"I'm not crazy about being called an ingenue. I keep getting called an English rose as well, which I find a bit annoying because my grandfather is Burmese." --Beckinsale in Detour Magazine, November 1996.
"It's funny, every time I do a film I feel that right I've done a Shakespeare now, I'd like to play an American, or I'd like to do a movie in French, or this or that. As far as I'm concerned I've changed around quite a bit but this seems to be the one that's got everyone going what? She can't possibly do that. Which I think is great. The fact that I haven't been so successful that I've been stuck doing one thing is fantastic for me and I hope that continues"---Beckinsale on career and her new role as a vampire in "Underworld" Empire November 2003
"They saved all the kissing scenes up at the end of "Pearl Harbor" and the "Serendipity" ones were right at the beginning, so I was literally going from one man to the next. I don't know what my daughter, Lily, thought when she kept catching me in clinches with various, different, massive men. I think she thinks that's what my job is, mainly kissing, which it probably is, actually."---Beckinsale to www.katebeckinsale.net January 2002
"American men were all called Todd and were lifeguards and had kegs and things like that. I think that is largely true, isn't it?"---Beckinsale on what she imagined American men to be like growing up GQ May 2004
Companions close complete companion listing
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute