On the October evening that Los Angeles wildfires closed in on Kate Beckinsale’s neighborhood and forced her to evacuate, it was the second threat she’d received that night. “I had a prowler at 1 a.m.,” she says. And by “prowler,” she means a creepy man banging on her door forcing her to call 911. Hours after the police left, Kate’s attention was drawn to her front door again—this time to a “giant fireball” just beyond it, advancing at a terrifying pace. “I was like, ‘Okay, this is the next thing,’” she says, catching her breath, her eyes widening as she recalls how she scooped up her cats, Clive and Willow, her dogs, Ingrid and Myf, their food, her passport, and left. The Widow actress spent the next week in a hotel, feeling grateful she and her creatures were safe.
Just a week later, we’re at a restaurant in Brentwood and Kate—who has arrived in a black tank top, heels, and the longest, thickest curls—has been cleared to move back into her house. Politely, she explains that in her more than 20 years of being famous, she’s found that writers often get her wrong. Because of her film roles, people assume she spends a lot of time walking around with a solemn expression, or angled optimally on a red carpet. In fact, she says, she hates posing and finds photo shoots mortifying. During them, she pictures her four stepbrothers rolling their eyes. “Which is healthy,” she says. “I think once you get comfortable with that, you’ve left the building.” Instagram, she notes, has been helpful in communicating to people what she’s really like. “I’m not a social media person, but it’s nice to have this little corner that’s my vibe,” she says, removing a lime from her fizzy water (a histamine intolerance).
So what is Kate Beckinsale actually like? On this day, she is witty and wry; on social media, she is irreverent and cheeky; in every reality, she is sharp and articulate. She has the self-possession of her 46 years while also somehow looking like she might be elected homecoming queen at an area university. Her trainer, Brad Siskind of Gunnar Peterson’s gym, observes that she gets right down to business. “The whole hour is work,” he says.
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