Thank you to Spencer Blohm for this blogs' first guest post about a one of my favorite actresses, Kate Beckinsale. Happy Belated Birthday.
The talented and beautiful Kate Beckinsale turned 40 this past week. In honor of this milestone, I have collaborated with Jen to do a celebratory post on her life and career. Happy birthday Kate, I don’t think 40 has ever looked so good!
Kathrin Romary Beckinsale was born on July 26, 1973 in London. The only child of two actors, it seemed destined that Kate would join in the family business. Her first television appearance happened when she was four. She appeared on an episode of the British biographical series This is Your Life which had dedicated an episode to her father. Unfortunately, the following year, when Kate was only five, her father suffered from a heart attack and died. Kate and her mother then moved in with director Roy Battersby and she was raised with his five children.
Kate attended the Godolphin and Latymer School during her teen years and became involved with a local youth theater group. Despite being considered one of the most beautiful women in the business today, in high school Kate was a shy and reserved teen who hadn’t yet grown into her looks. She spent her teen years miserable and isolated, resulting in a difficult battle with anorexia. Eventually she suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to undergo years of therapy to recover. She feels she fell prey to the disease primarily because of the trauma surrounding her father’s death. She discussed the rough patch with report Janie Lawrence in 1997 saying, “For some kids, if something traumatic happens to them when they're very young they pick something safer to worry about...The worst thing about it is that it takes on a life of its own separate from whatever's caused it.”
She moved on from that dark period while at New College in Oxford where she studied French and Russian literature. She excelled in college, earning the WH Smith Young Writers Award twice and joining the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Her first acting role came in 1991 when she appeared in the mini-series Devices and Desires. That same year she appeared in Hallmark made-for-TV movie One Against the Wind. Her first major role came in 1993 when she landed the role of Hero in the film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. She appeared in a few more films while attending school, but ultimately decided to quit school in 1995 to put all her time and energy into her acting career.
The same year she dropped out of school she received critical praise for her portrayal of Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm, also that year she starred in the horror film Haunted. She followed Haunted with her first professional theater appearance in The Seagull. It was during this time she met her boyfriend Michael Sheen. They stayed together until 2003, and Sheen is the father of her daughter. After starring in three more plays during 1996 she began work as the title character in the mini-series Emma, which was based on Jane Austen’s novel.
In 1998 she and Sheen moved to New York and she landed her first American movie: The Last Days of Disco. Kate received many positive reviews for her role as the uptight and snobby Charlotte. She continued to act in a series of lesser known American films through the end of the 90’s. In 2001 she landed her first leading role as a nurse torn between two best friends in the Michael Bay war epic Pearl Harbor. Despite differences with Bay and mixed reviews of the film, Kate’s star began to rise. She ended 2001 with a co-starring role alongside John Cusack in Serendipity.
Kate’s signature, most well-known role, came in 2003 when she starred as the vampire vixen Selene in Underworld. Her second action film came in 2004 when she starred in Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman. That same year she married director Len Wiseman at the Hotel Bel-Air. In a bid to diversify her resume, she accepted the role of screen siren Ava Gardner in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a Howard Hughes biopic. In 2006 she showcased her acting skills by reprising her character in Underworld: Evolution and also starred in the family comedy Click.
Kate spent the following years appearing in series of independent films, most of which received mixed reviews. Her most critically praised role, in Nothing but The Truth, earned her a Critic’s Choice Award nomination, but the film is generally forgotten because of its lack of a theatrical release due to the film company filing for bankruptcy in 2008. Following two films in 2009, Everybody’s Fine and Whiteout, Kate took a break from acting for three years.
She made her return in 2012 with three back-to-back action films; Contraband, Underworld: Awakening, and Total Recall. Up next for Kate is the release of her film The Trials of Cate McCall later this year. She is currently filming Eliza Graves, a thriller where she plays a patient in a mental institution.
Through the years Kate has managed to create a body of work that is unique and diverse, both in subject matter and in scale. She continues to captivate audiences no matter what role she chooses. Kate Beckinsale is, and will remain, one of a kind. Happy birthday Kate!
About the Author: Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment and film blogger for GetDirectTV.org. A fan of Kate’s since seeing her in The Aviator, he still considers that one of her best roles (alongside The Last Days of Disco and Pearl Harbor). He lives and works in Chicago with his cat Rupert.