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January 2006
Underworld 2: Evolution: An Interview with Kate Beckinsale

Underworld 2: Evolution: An Interview with Kate Beckinsal, continued

By Brad Balfour

 

DO YOU NEED TO RECOVER FROM A SEEMING BOX OFFICE BOMB LIKE "VAN HELSING?"

KB: I think you do a bit. I have to say in the grand scheme of things flopping and doing terribly badly, people will come up to me and say "My god, you know, how do you feel about 'Pearl Harbor' being such a flop, or 'Van Helsing' being such a flop, I think "Well thank god at least they've made sort of 17 zillion dollars worldwide." Would that all my flops continue to make so much money. But yeah, it's difficult for an actor. I watch what Len does, and if the movie doesn't go well, we can feel incredibly gypped, because it's out of our hands, whereas he has to go and actually become suicidal, because everybody blames him. But it's a weird thing, because the movies don't always come out exactly as you'd imagined, and it's you win some and you lose some, and you go home and cry, but then you get over it.


WHAT PROJECTS ARE IN THE CAN?

KB: I just finished an Adam Sandler movie called "Click" with Christopher Walken.


IT LOOKS FUN.

KB: It is really fun, and every time I try to describe it, it sounds really lame. But Adam Sandler plays a workaholic architect, with a wife and a couple of kids, and he's constantly blowing off camping weekends and family dinners to get ahead at work, and then goes into the back door of Bed, Bath, and Beyond and finds creepy Christopher Walken who gives him this universal remote that's going to change his life, and it works. Basically he can speed through anything tedious, in his life. A lot of which is me. And then it starts to actually have a memory, and take on, speed for him, fast forward through things, and so he finds he will get into bed with his wife, and suddenly they've gotten to the end of it before he wanted to, and everything starts to get out of control. He misses decades and all of that. So it's actually very funny and very, very moving and sweet as well; it's a cool movie.


AND YOU'RE THE WIFE?

KB: Yeah, I'm the wife.


WALKEN IS SUPPOSED TO BE A PLEASURE TO WORK WITH.

KB: Totally. It was amazing, like summer camp. We had Henry Winkler and Julie Kavner and Jennifer Coolidge, really brilliant people, so it was a real shame when it ended. I might be able to do sequels of that, I'll just do sequels now.


HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH ADAM SANDLER?

KB: Fantastic. He's literally like this far behind my husband in the how-much-I-like-a-man stakes. He's just the best. It probably helps that I grew up with four brothers, so it was a vibe that I'm used to. He didn't give me as many wedgies as I'd had at home. He didn't give me any fortunately. But he looked like he was always about to.


YOU HAVEN'T GOTTEN ANY LATELY.

KB: I probably have, my daughter's quite a... Or that thing, what's that called? [Noogies] Yeah, I get that a lot. They're my least favorite [laughs].


WILL YOU TAKE SOME TIME OFF NOW AND JUST BE WITH THE FAMILY?


KB: After we finished "Underworld," I had a couple of months and then I did "Click," and I finished "Click" around in about August, so I've taken a little time, and in a few weeks I'm going to go to Nova Scotia and do a short independent movie with Sam Rockwell, called "Snow Angels," and then I might go to London and do a play.


DO YOU KNOW WHAT PLAY YOU'RE GOING TO DO?

KB: I'm not sure yet. But it's a comedy.


WHAT ABOUT THE SAM ROCKWELL PICTURE?

KB: Yeah, it's based on a book called "Snow Angels." It's a director called David Gordon Green.


WHO DID "UNDERTOW."

KB: Yes, he did 'Undertow and he's really quite brilliant, and an incredibly perfect soul. It's quite a dark tale, there's a few stories in the movie, but mine is a woman who has a child and quite a crumbled relationship and various things going on. No guns in that one. Actually, there is a gun in it, sorry. [laughs]


WHO ELSE IS IN 'SNOW ANGELS?

KB: Amy Sedaris is in it. I'm not entirely sure, it's not completely finished casting.


HAVE YOU PICKED UP ANY GOTH FANS?

KB: Yeah, my eyes were really opened with the various comic book conventions, suddenly being exposed to... It's like being a Beatle for about five minutes. People sort of dress up as you. I have to say, it's never going to be like when I've gone there--I went there with Hugh Jackman, and it was like walking around with Elvis; they would have torn his pants off if they could. And half of them were dressed as Wolverine. It's an extraordinary thing. I do sort of understand it though, because I was one of those girls who used to go to the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' every Saturday night, and dress up and throw things, so I feel it's in that vein. And you take it more seriously.


HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TRIED THAT FAN THING, CRYING AT YOU LIKE WHAT HAPPENED AT ONE CONVENTION--TELL THE STORY.

KB: I'd never had anything like that happen before. We were doing a panel. And the various people arrive in flippers and mad costumes and ask you questions of why is your movie so shit, and things like that. There was like 2000 people, and then suddenly this very young girl gets up and says, I really like you, and then started to hysterically sobbing and bawling and shouting that she loved me, and I didn't know what to do. I mean, Len's done that, usually at home [laughs]. So I didn't know what to do, and I found myself sort of bounding over the table, trying to calm her down, the maternal instinct was kicking in, and then felt a bit of a fool, but I was a bit concerned that she was going to have some kind of Ǩ" it'd be my fault.


ARE YOU GETTING MORE OFFERS TO DO THESE GENRE FILMS, HORROR, SCI FI?

KB: I'd like to do as many different kinds of things as I can. I know there's been a theme of vampires, but in terms of I really wanted to try out an action movie, I'd never done a sort of, adventure-y, action thing, but 'Van Helsing' wasn't " as I say, some you win some you lose. They sort of get lumped into the same cast, whereas for me, it was quite a different speed. A very different type of a tone, of a movie. But like I said, I want to do some theatre, I'd like to do a small independent movie, I'd love to do a really great thriller. I'd love to do a romantic comedy. As long as I get the chance to do as many different things, I'd like to keep doing that, really.


HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT DOING THE UGLY ROLE, LIKE CHARLIZE THERON OR NICOLE KIDMAN HAVE DONE?

KB: I put on 20 pounds for "The Aviator." Yeah, but everyone just thought I'd had a boob job, I'm not going to get any credit for that. It was my Robert DeNiro moment sort of backfired horribly.


YOU WERE STILL BEAUTIFUL. WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO ONE WHERE YOU WEREN'T?

KB: I would love to. It's not what I've been offered lately. The next movie I'm doing is certainly not particularly glamorous, I'm a waitress in a Chinese restaurant with a divorce and a small child. Yeah, that would be quite nice.


HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON ANY WRITING?

KB: I haven't, no. I have to say I'm experiencing a really different feeling that my daughter's now six, nearly seven, and I suddenly have got 12 minutes of the day to myself, which I hadn't actually had before. So that's becoming much more of a reality now. I'd like to do some theatre first, and then that would be the next thing I'd like to do.


DO YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN WRITING A COMIC BOOK?

KB: Len reads comic books and stuff. The comics I grew up with in England are not what you're talking about at all. So these are quite new for me. So I'm not really in that world, and I do feel there's one family member who's obsessed with that type of thing, it's probably enough.


YOU DON'T FEEL YOU HAVE INSIGHT INTO COMIC BOOKS?

KB: I like reading books. I do prefer to read an actual novel. We'll sit at home in bed at night and I'll have a book and he'll have a comic book. And that's our roles in our house.


WHAT TYPE OF NOVEL?

KB: Oh God, all different. I studied Russian and French literature, so it feels like completely cheating for me to read a book that's actually in English. And I loved the James Frey book "A Million Little Pieces" I just read. That was great. But I love Raymond Carver short stories. All sorts of different things. I do get a bit of a thrill out of reading, as a modern American, like I said, it feels like coasting.


WHICH DID YOU PREFER, RUSSIAN OR FRENCH?

KB: French is easier. French, it's one of those things, that actually Russian becomes more difficult, the more you study it, which is so unfair, you think you spend two years, and then three and then four and then five, and it's harder then, because every rule that you've been told is a rule that turns out not to be a rule, and they just told you that, to get you through. And I also had a lot more opportunity to speak French. However I think there is a coolness factor to be able to write and sort of leave yourself secret notes and things like that.


AND THIS MOVIE WAS SHOT IN BUDAPEST?

KB: The first movie was shot in Budapest, and the second movie was shot in Vancouver. [laughs]


DID YOU USE YOUR RUSSIAN, SLAVIC, IN BUDAPEST?

KB: What was funny, in Budapest, I did find actually speaking Russian really helped me to understand what they were saying, and in Prague also. And then I would try to respond in a kind of weird hybrid Russian and nobody would understand me at all. But it did help me have a sense of what was going on. It's like if you start speaking Spanish, in Italy, they kind of sound the same to me, but nobody knows.


SO YOU HAND YOUR DAUGHTER BOOKS AND YOUR HUSBAND GIVES HER COMIC BOOKS?

KB: She's actually quite between both, she's sort of more in to the comic book stuff than me, but she's a big reader. In fact, last week she told me I was psycho-neurotically disturbed, and I panicked. Until I realized it came from "Lemony Snicket."


DO YOU HAVE ANY OBSESSIONS?

KB: Everybody makes fun of me all the time. I do have that slightly Howard Hughes thing of having to make sure I've locked the door forty times at night. I panicked a bit when I did 'the Aviator,' because aside from the peeing in milk bottles, that's quite close to what I'm like. [laughs]Ǭ But gosh, what can I admit to? Terrible images are just flying into my head, I'm not going to admit to any of them.


HAVE YOU LOOKED FOR A COSTUME DRAMA?

KB: I think honestly, "Underworld" was such a move away from it. I'd done "Much Ado About Nothing,: I'd done a TV version of "Emma". We cut our teeth on that stuff. I'd done Chekhov plays, various things, so I felt like that was a given. And then this is a huge acting stretch for me, it's never really seen as any acting, but for me just personally as an actress, this is quite a leap. So I'm more comfortable with that stuff. And I was quite keen to get away from it. You all think, Europe 's quite cool, and it's same thing, we all want to try something different too. But no, I feel I've taken a large enough stride away from it, that it'd be good to do it again.


SANAA LATHAN IN 'ALIEN VS PREDATOR' SAID HER THEATRE TRAINING HELPED HER WITH ACTION MOVEMENT, DID YOU FIND THAT?

KB: I haven't had any theatre training. I did theatre, but I just got sort of holed into it, without any preparation, like most things. But it's nice to just sort of coast along as an English person, because everyone seems so terribly clever and trained massively, and I'm actually not.


ARE YOU AWARE OF THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN CUT THAT MAY TURN UP ON THE DVD?

KB: Um, God. No, not so much. It's different, there was so much stuff in the first movie, Len was quite under pressure to cut and cut down. because the original movie he'd made was longer than people wanted. So it was really hard for him to cut that down. Whereas this one was always shorter, and I don't think he had as much to get rid of. He may come in after me and tell you something quite different, but I think that's the case.


WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL?

KB: I did at one point, because I actually didn't finish my degree, I left, I went to Paris for a year abroad, studying abroad for a year, which is par for the course, and I never went back. So part of me would like to have actually studied English instead, which was always sort of my first passion. But I think, you know, my kid's social life and education seems to be dictating most things, so I don't know, maybe when I'm old I will, and she's left me.


HOW OFTEN DOES YOUR CHEEKY BRITISH HUMOR GET YOU IN TROUBLE HERE?

KB: Constantly. Constantly. Do you know what? Especially written down, because I think I look much less fun and funny than people tend to think that I am, because I've got that slightly stiff English face, and people tend to probably think I'm way more arrogant than I ever would be. And then you see things written down without the sort of lightness to it, and sometimes you think, oh shit, I wish I'd kept my mouth shut and said yes, everything's lovely. But it'd be boring, you know. So yeah. I always vow that I'm never going " I'm just going to go in and say politically correct things, all the time, and then I fail.


YOU SHOULD USE YOUR CHEEKINESS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE, IN DEVELOPING STORIES.

KB: Yeah, that's my next thing. I'm bored with being English and stiff. In the eyes of the world.


SO YOU CAN PLAY AGAINST THAT ROLE.

KB: Yeah, that would be nice. People don't always understand what I'm saying, just because of my accent as well, so I have got that hurdle. And fast food restaurants grind to a halt.


IT'S BEEN WHILE SINCE YOU'VE DONE A FILM, THEN...

KB: Yeah, before I did "Underworld" I did a film called 'Tiptoes' that I don't think anyone saw, and then I did ' Laurel Canyon.'Ǭ So since those twoǨa couple of years, I mean, I've been mothering mainly. I really haven't Ǩ" I've done the work that I've been able to do, but like I said, she's a bit more independent, I've got a bit more time.ǨǨHAVING HER ON SET, DOES THAT HELP HER UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DO?

KB: She's been on film sets since she was about seven months old. I think she had a fairly good sense of it. I don't think she realized how boring it would be. I think she really did get a sense of my god, why would anyone want to do that. Especially going on 'Van Helsing,' I think she thought I was just sort of flinging about on a wire all day. Which would be fun, you know, but yeah, she's very much going to be a writer or president of something. Something small like that.


WILL SHE GET TO SEE THIS MOVIE?

KB: Oh no. No. I've not done one movie that she's remotely interested in. I need to play a talking fish.


SO YOU DON'T SHOW HER THE SCENES SHE DID?

KB: We show her her bits, and frankly they're the only bits she's interested in [laughs].


IS THERE A PG VERSION FOR AIRLINES OR SOMETHING?

KB: Honestly, she has no interest. Gwen Stefani's not on the soundtrack, Anne Hathaway's not in it, she's not interested. And there's not a talking bear.


HOW WAS WORKING ON THE FILM "TIPTOES?"

KB: It was an interesting experience, it was a different sort of experience than I had ever had, you know, it was a bit more rough and ready, and I've never had my bottom pinched so many times. Little people were sort of that height, so it was kind of tempting fate, really, standing around. And then they'd all run off, so I'd never know who'd done it.


DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE GENRE OR ROLE?

KB: I really enjoy comedy, I haven't had an opportunity to do it very much, and I'm a huge snob about it, I very rarely find the romantic comedy scripts, they're not usually they're quite romantic, but they're not very funny. And my father was a comedian, so I do admit to being a big snob about it. I was depressed after I watched '40 Year Old Virgin,' because I wished I'd written it and was in it, and everything. So that was one of my favorite films this year. But yeah, I'd like definitely to do some more comedy.


ARE YOU FUNNY IN 'CLICK?

KB: Funny in 'Click?' I'm funny, yeah, probably not as funny as David Hasselhoff. but who is?


BUT CAN YOU SING?

KB: Not well.


UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION opens on January 20th, 2006



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