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An Interview with Kate Beckinsale

September 11, 2003   |   Written by Steve Head

Article taken from IGN.

ext weekend’s cinematic turn of events is as follows: a beautiful, demure English actress trades her skirt and corset for an all-black Angel of Death look and becomes a werewolf-killing machine. Guns blazing, high jumping, fists flying, it’s Kate Beckinsale as the vixenly vampire Selene.
A few days ago in Toronto I participated in a roundtable interview with Ms. Beckinsale. The hot subject, of course, is her new film Underworld which opens next week.

For part one of this two-part interview, we begin here by asking Kate about Underworld‘s alluringly iconic shot of Selene on the ledge, and, as featured in the film’s trailer and TV spots, her ensuing jump.


Q: When you’re on the ledge there, it’s a tremendously sexy pose. Was this a wirework jump? Did you do the whole thing?

KATE BECKINSALE: I didn’t do the whole jump. That was really from an actual building that high [and the filmmakers] didn’t think it was safe for me to do that.

Q: What about the landing part?

BECKINSALE: … the wire. I did the landing, but they did it in a couple of different shots.

Q: How high were you up there? Three or four stories?

BECKINSALE: Oh, God. It was really high. It was like a hundred and something feet. It was high. The stuntwoman was high.

Q: This was in downtown Budapest?

BECKINSALE: Yeah, out of a window.

Q: Did you keep the outfit?

BECKINSALE: Yeah. Yes, I did. I haven’t actually since had it on.

Q: Is it leather or pleather?

BECKINSALE: It’s latex. It’s like a condom with sleeves (she laughs).

Q: It’s very handy then.

BECKINSALE: Yes, of course. It will keep you very safe.

Q: How did you get on working in that wardrobe?

BECKINSALE: I think the advantage to it was that we were filming in Budapest and it was freezing. The first scenes we shot, it was still summer. And in Budapest it goes from hot to winter in like one day, there’s no changeover. The first week it was boiling hot and that was brutal and I was dreading the whole movie. Because I was like peeling this thing off when I was through with it. It was sweaty and it would just take ages. And then it got freezing and it was fine.

Q: With the body of your work, I feel like [Underworld] doesn’t kind of leap out. There was Cold Comfort Farm

BECKINSALE: But that was like ten or twelve years ago.

Q: But [Underworld] doesn’t seem like a typical film of yours.

BECKINSALE: I’m just glad that I’ve got one. I feel like I’m really lucky. I feel like I’ve done a bunch of period stuff and then a bunch of romantic comedies. It was a big thing for me, suddenly, having been with that English royalty and, if you can imagine being out there, playing [similar roles] for the last six years. I felt kind of like… I’m glad I’ve never been so successful that I couldn’t stop doing one thing. I’ve kind of been able to just kick it along and switch around. 

Q: Are you a fan of this genre?

BECKINSALE: I’m a fan of action movies.

Q: Do have a favorite action movie or heroine?

BECKINSALE: Not so much heroines. I love Aliens, that whole thing. I’m certainly a fan of Die Hard. I’ll go seen any action movie. I had little crush for Batman

Q: How was Underworld brought to your attention?

BECKINSALE:
 I was sent a bunch of scripts, like eight or nine scripts, and that was one of them.

I wasn’t in a big rush to read it because I had a feeling it was going to be a B-movie, kind of schlocky horror thing when I heard it was werewolves and vampires. And I didn’t fancy running about in a white nightgown, screaming and all that.

But it happened to be that the director [Len Wiseman] had done all these drawings that he’d sort of put inside the script. So, I saw those and said, “Oh! OK, that looks kind of like what I’d like seeing.”

Q: You’ve got to dig that, she’s like in all black, the whole thing.

BECKINSALE: Yes.

Q: You turned down the script originally?

BECKINSALE: No. I just didn’t simply feel like reading it (she laughs). As soon as I read it I wanted to do it. I just felt, oooooh….

Q: Was this your first time using guns in a film?

BECKINSALE: I’m from West London, of course it is (she laughs). Absolutely.

Q: Why did you want to do it? What was it about this character?

BECKINSALE: I thought it was great. I must say, I really do seriously always have loved action movies. When you get sent a great script for an action movie, and want to play the boys part…. You know, because normally… it’s like in Die Hard. I don’t want to be sitting on an airplane making phone calls. I want to be blowing up the elevator shaft!

And that doesn’t happen very often. And when it does happen, that the female is the lead of the film, and it’s an American movie and it’s a bit camp… and I’ve always wanted to do something like La Femme Nikita.

Q: Where you can really kick some ass.

BECKINSALE: Yeah, because I am a weed in my real daily life (she laughs). If you throw a ball at me I’d kind of… (she cowers).

Q: There are going to be inevitable comparisons between some of the wirework you do in this and that little, low-budget thing called The Matrix. Are you concerned about that?

BECKINSALE: I don’t really think about that. I think the things is that if you do a cop movie, there’s so many cop movies, and they all kind of look the same. Maybe you go, “Well, that kind of looks like Ransom.” You know, like nobody ever says that. But there’s only a few movies really that stylistically look this way. So, you’re going to get compared to The Crow, you’re going to get compared to The Matrix, you’re going to get compared to a few things like that. There’s only a few around, so I don’t really worry about that.

Q: If you consider yourself a weed, and you’re watching the movie seeing yourself doing this fantastic stuff, is there a moment where you think, OK, that’s what I did it for. That was the payoff.

BECKINSALE: There are so many payoffs here. The fact that I was nervous to do it… in the sense of, “Can I actually pull this off? Will I believe it myself, let alone everybody else believing me doing it?” 

Q: Was it so much that fighting or the gunplay?

BECKINSALE: It was everything. I was reading the script going, “Oh, Jesus!”

I was an idiot. I thought you had to do absolutely every… single… thing. And if an actor in a movie looks like they’re doing fifteen back-flips in a row… everyone talks about training… but you really don’t have to go right out there and do it. They go, “No, you have a stunt doubles for those kind of things.”

I think, basically, legally, if I was allowed to do [the stunt] I would do it. Which was great, because I think as an adult you very rarely have to suddenly get good at something like this in a short amount of time. And it’s quite a trippy feeling. Like, I’ve never held a gun, and in three months’ time I can go about like I’ve been using one for several hundred years.

Q: Was there a point you impressed yourself? Like, that particular scene… I didn’t think I could do it, but I did it.

BECKINSALE: Yes. I had to flip over a werewolf, which I just became quite phobic about. I was fine about it and then I saw how they were going to shoot it. The corridor was like this narrow and I just thought that was too risky. I had just come back from baby-proofing my house, and now I come into this thing and I’m like, “It’s completely dangerous! (she laughs) The camera is far too close and the walls are close together and there’s sharp corners. I could hurt myself easily.”

Q: What do you see as your ideal project, something that you can set up and do? What would you see as some you want to develop all the way?

BECKINSALE: I don’t know… I’d really like to do a thriller. I love thrillers. I’d like to do a little taut thriller.