Kate's Notes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale

This English actress Kate Beckinsale (born July 26, 1973 in London, England) is probably best known to the public for her vampire roles in the Underworld film series and as a vampire hunter in Van Helsing, or even maybe her leading role in the 2001 epic Pearl Harbor, as Ben Affleck’s love interest, or the 2004 epic The Aviator, as Ava Gardner. However, she is famous to insiders because of her infamous foul mouth, and brash sense of humor; and maybe what this Oxford educated, winner of the prestigious WH Smith's Young Writers' competition two years running – once for her short stories, once for poetry – should be famous for, is her world-class brain and her ambitious education.

Early Life and Career

Born Kathryn Bailey Beckinsale in London to Judy Loe, a stage and television actress, and Richard Beckinsale, a well-known television actor who died in 1979 at the age of 31. Bekinsale has a paternal half-sister, Samantha, who is also an actress. Her paternal great-grandfather was Burmese, and Beckinsale claims that apparently she was "very oriental-looking" as a child.

Beckinsale attended the private Godolphin and Latymer School, and in her teens twice won the W. H. Smith Young Writers' competition — once for three short stories and once for three poems. After a turbulent adolescence, including a period of time which Beckinsale suffered from anorexia, and later started up a smoking habit, she followed in the footsteps of her parents and began her acting career. Her first role was in One Against the Wind, a television film about World War II that was first aired in 1991. Beckinsale mastered advanced level, or A-level, Russian, German and French, then went onto study French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford University. She thought that having an academic background studying foreign language and literature would broaden her range of acting roles.

While in her first year at Oxford, Beckinsale received her big break in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (1993). She also worked in three other films while attending Oxford, beginning with a part in the medieval historical drama Prince of Jutland (1994), cast as Ethel. The film was shot during the spring of 1993 on location in Denmark. Later in the summer of that year she played the lead in the contemporary mystery drama Uncovered (1994). Before she went back to school, her third year at university was spent at Oxford's study-abroad program in Paris, France, immersing herself in the French language, Parisian culture and French cigarettes.

A year away from the academic community and living on her own in the French capital caused her to re-evaluate the direction of her life, and she chose to concentrate more on her acting career: in the spring of 1994 Kate left Oxford, after finishing only three years of study.


After leaving Oxford, Beckinsale took to the stage for the first part of 1995; she toured in England with the Thelma Holts Theatre Company production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. After turning down several mediocre scripts "and going nearly berserk with boredom", she waited seven months before another interesting role was offered to her.

Finally, she was offered one of the leads in the romance/horror movie Haunted (1995), starring opposite Aidan Quinn and John Gielgud, which was filmed in West Sussex. In this film she wanted to play "an object of desire," unlike her past performances where her characters were much less the siren and more the worldly innocent.

She also appeared in a few more low-profile films, including Shooting Fish and The Last Days of Disco (both in 1998), and appeared in television films and in stage roles, including the well-received Cold Comfort Farm, opposite British silver and small screen notables Rufus Sewell, Eileen Atkins, and Joanna Lumley. Filmed in London and East Sussex during late summer 1994, Cold Comfort Farm opened to spectacular reviews in the United States, grossing over $5 million during its American run.

Her first major American film came with a costarring role with Claire Danes in Brokedown Palace in 1999; however, was not a commercial success. Soon after, Beckinsale was cast in the 2001 film, Pearl Harbor directed by Michael Bay; the movie also starred Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin, and Jon Voight. Though the film was thought of as a critical bomb, it was one of the highest grossing of its year. In the years following, she appeared in a series of higher-profile American films; however, they too were given a somewhat poor critical reception, including Serendipity (2001), Underworld (2003) and Van Helsing (2004). Notably, she received praise in her role as the voluptuous Ava Gardner in The Aviator; always a bit thin, Beckinsale had to gain 20 pounds for the role.

In 2006, Beckinsale was placed at #78 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World", after being #71 in 2005. She has also been placed at #16 in Maxim's "HOT 100" (2003), #63 in Stuff's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" (2002), and was chosen by the English magazine Hello! as "England’s #1 Beauty", also in 2002.

In January 2006, Beckinsale reprised her role as a vampire in the movie Underworld: Evolution, a sequel to her 2003 film, Underworld, again directed by her husband, Len Wiseman. The film opened at the #1 spot at the box office, grossing over $26 million in its first weekend of release. On January 24, 2006, Beckinsale was featured on Ashton Kutcher’s MTV series, "Punk'd." The set-up for the segment took place at the Avalon Hotel in Los Angeles.

Beckinsale's most recent role was in the Adam Sandler comedy, Click, which opened on June 23, 2006. Her next film will be Snow Angels, will be released in 2007. A September 2006 article in the Hollywood Reporter announced that Beckinsale has signed on to replace Sarah Jessica Parker in the film Vacancy, and she is also slated to star in Winged Creatures, and Whiteout.

Personal Life

Beckinsale is known for having a hilarious and brash sense of humour, as this quote exhibits: "If someone had told me years ago that sharing a sense of humour was so vital to partnerships, I could have avoided a lot of sex!"

Beckinsale and Michael Sheen have a daughter, Lily Mo Sheen (born 31 January 1999). Sheen would later star with her in Underworld. S he reported in interviews that during her pregnancy with Lily was the only time she's ever stopped smoking.

In June 2003, Beckinsale became engaged to the director of Underworld, Len Wiseman, and the two were married on 9 May 2004 in Bel-Air, California.

In June of 2006, Beckinsale's marriage to Hollywood director Len Wiseman was shrouded in mystery after she moved out of their home into a luxury flat two miles away. She was reportedly living with daughter Lily and house-hunting for her family while Wiseman remained home alone. Kate's spokesman Leslie Sloan denied a split. She said: "They're still happily married and living together." Pictures surfaced later that year with Beckinsale and Wiseman looking as happy as ever at the beach, which negated rumors of a split.

She currently lives in Venice Beach, California, because she says that it reminds her of London.

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