Kathryn Bailey "Kate" Beckinsale
(born 26 July 1973) is an English actress. Her best known films include
Pearl Harbor (2001), Serendipity (2001), Underworld (2003-present), Van
Helsing (2004), Click (2006), and Nothing But the Truth (2008).
Born in Finsbury Park, London, Beckinsale is the daughter of actor Richard
Beckinsale, who died from a heart attack in 1979, and actress Judy Loe.
She has a paternal half-sister, Samantha, who is also an actress. Her
paternal great-grandfather was Burmese, and she has said that she was
"very oriental-looking" as a child.
Beckinsale attended the Godolphin and Latymer School, an all-girls'
independent school in London. In her teens, Beckinsale twice won the W. H.
Smith Young Writers' competition—once for three short stories and once for
three poems. She won the Youth's Burp for Fame burping contest at age 16.
After a rebellious adolescence, including a period of anorexia and
starting 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. Having
gained three language A levels, Beckinsale studied French and Russian
literature at New College, Oxford University, though she did not finish
her degree. She thought that having an academic background studying
foreign language and literature would broaden her range of acting roles.
During her first year at Oxford, Beckinsale was offered a part in Kenneth
Branagh's big-screen film, Much Ado About Nothing, adapted from the
Shakespeare play. She spent her last year of studies in Paris, after which
she decided to leave the university and concentrate on her acting career.
In 1994, Beckinsale had a supporting role in Prince of Jutland, working
alongside Christian Bale, with whom she would later reunite in the 2002
drama Laurel Canyon. Kate starred in Haunted (1995) with Aidan Quinn and
John Gielgud and in the 1996 TV film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. She
subsequently appeared in a few low-profile films, including Shooting Fish
and The Last Days of Disco, both in 1998. During this time, Beckinsale
also appeared in television films and in stage roles, including the
well-received Cold Comfort Farm, opposite British film and television
notables Ian McKellen, Rufus Sewell, Eileen Atkins, Joanna Lumley and
Beckinsale's first major American film, Brokedown Palace (1999), was not a
commercial success. Soon after, Beckinsale was cast in the 2001 film Pearl
Harbor as the female lead, after Charlize Theron turned down the part. The
film was one of the highest-grossing films of its year. In the years
following, she appeared in a series of American films that, while
high-profile, it was given mixed reviews, including Serendipity (2001),
Underworld (2003) and Van Helsing (2004). In 2004, she portrayed Ava
Gardner in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, a role for which she gained 20
In 2006, Beckinsale was placed at #23 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 in the #1 spot at
the box office, grossing over $26 million in its first weekend of release.
Also in 2006, Beckinsale appeared in the comedy Click, starring Adam
Sandler, which opened on 23 June. Next, Beckinsale replaced Sarah Jessica
Parker in the film Vacancy, released in 2007. Her next role was in Snow
Angels, which was released in 2008.
At Comic-Con 2007, Beckinsale expressed interest in playing Catwoman in
the current Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films. In April 2007, during
an interview promoting Vacancy, Beckinsale claimed no knowledge of the
rumors linking her to a remake of Barbarella. "I was told on the set
yesterday, someone said, 'Oh I hear you're doing Barbarella,' one of the
grips. So that's the most official it's become. Every woman would consider
Barbarella for a moment, but I don't know." Beckinsale eventually won a
libel lawsuit against the Daily Express concerning the matter.
Beckinsale is Esquire Magazine's Sexiest Woman Alive 2009. She is signed
to Independent Models in London.
As of 2009, Beckinsale's movies have grossed a total of $801,678,915 in
the US. In February 2010 was announced she will return in the Underworld
Beckinsale and her then-partner Michael Sheen have a daughter, Lily Mo
Sheen (born 31 January 1999). She has reported in interviews that the only
time she stopped smoking was while she was pregnant with her daughter
Lily. Her daughter has acted, portraying a young version of her mother in
most roles, including Underworld: Evolution and Everybody's Fine. During
the Underworld shoot, Beckinsale split from Sheen, who was also starring
in the film. She became involved with the director of the film, Len
Wiseman. In June 2003, Beckinsale became engaged to Wiseman, and the two
were married on 9 May 2004 in Bel-Air, California.
"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!"
"No one is more enslaved than a slave who doesn't think they're
"Everybody likes the underdog, because everybody feels like the
underdog. No matter how successful you are, you always think, No
one's being nice enough to me!"
"I try and take lots of vitamins and I don't drink. I do smoke,
though, I'd be insufferable if I didn't smoke, you'd have to push me
off a balcony I'd be so boring",
"With every project you do, you bring out a part of yourself, and it
seems to be quite a good way of expanding a person."
"Apparently, I get facials and manicures all the time. I read this
and think, 'Oh, I wish I did that!' I don't think I've had a facial
since I was 19. When I shave my legs, I use my child's shampoo and a
razor - if I can find one. If I did everything they said I did, I
would never see Lily."
"I dropped out of Oxford, and now I only speak Russian with the
woman who gives me a bikini-wax. See what Hollywood does to you?"
"I think, at 19, I was very grown-up in certain ways and extremely
not so in others. If I had come on to a movie set at that age and
someone had said, 'You're a bit funny-looking, can you go on a
diet?' - I might have jumped off a building. I just didn't have the
confidence to put that into perspective at the time."
"I look at how Keira Knightley is coiffed when she attends events. I
remember going to Cannes with Much Ado About Nothing (1993) when I
was 18, and nobody told me, 'Oh, here's a make-up artist or, 'This
person wants to dress you, what clothes are you wearing?' It just
wasn't like that when I started. Nobody even told me I could bring a
friend! I just sort of showed up in a very expensive pair of
trousers I bought in Harvey Nichols, and something I bought in the
Sock Shop at the airport. But Keira Knightley has like full hair and
make- up and a proper outfit and I think, 'Wow, she's not going to
have the before photos I had to endure!' She's really lucky".
"I don't think he liked being in a cage and wouldn't stop
masturbating and humping his bowl." about her daughter's pet rabbit
"It's the only time my education has come in remotely handy." -on
using her Russian literature studies for copying her "Van Helsing"
script into Russian to acquire a Slavic accent.