Although it’s chilly here in New York City, there’s one person who is sure to raise the temperature of things a bit, and that’s the Death Dealer herself, Kate Beckinsale. Having just attended a press screening of Underworld Evolution, both my colleagues and I were anxious to speak with her. After the initial disappointment wore off that she wasn’t armed or wearing that skin-tight leather number, I settled in for a little round table junket mayhem!
Q: So for this film did you have any input on the character or the direction of the story?
Kate Beckinsale: Well, I was never involved in a movie from the first germ of an idea through the whole editing process, so it was a great thing for me. I definitely wasn’t like a “Yoko Ono” trying to control anything that was going on, but I couldn’t help but be involved considering the movie was taking place in my living room most the time. But yeah, it was nice to actually get a second chance at it and to open up Selene’s character a little bit more. I think that’s what Len had in mind by having me involved.
Q: How involved were you in the genre before this started?
KB: Not so much, but I was very much into action movies. That was a symptom of having a child quite young and not being able to get a babysitter very often. I would get an adrenaline rush from watching people leap off of buildings and things. That’s how I happened to read the first script for Underworld, as an action script that just happened to have more of a backdrop of vampires and werewolves.
Q: In the scene where we see Selene as a little girl…
KB: That’s actually my little girl.
Q: Did you find it interesting that Selene could ever be so innocent?
KB: Yeah, I find that an interesting thing because I don’t think anyone is born tough. I think you learn tough for whatever terrible reason.
Q: How was she taking direction?
KB: Obviously we were worried that she wouldn’t treat us as authority figures while working. But she suddenly became highly professional to the point where she was asking Len to call her Selene on the set.
Q:How was it having to do a love scene in front of your husband?
KB: Well, it wasn’t too bad actually because we blocked out the moves together. Because he’s actually allowed to touch me. It was tougher for Scott because he’s become quite the family friend. I think it’s easier to do something like that with somebody you haven’t had over for Fourth of July barbecues. We kept postponing it and postponing it for weeks. When we finally got to it, Len and I were okay, but Scott was absolutely tortured. I think it was much worse for him.
Q: How would you say a genre movie like this is elevated by the use of fine actors like yourself, Bill Nighy, and Derek Jacobi?
KB: Well, because this is about vampires, actors had to be cast that could be found believable as being around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Actors that have a certain weight and gravitas to them. So I do think it makes a difference. It’s nice that not everybody’s got his or her own MTV special.
Q: Have you gotten more comfortable with Len’s collection of action figures?
KB: Those things that are not to be called toys? Yeah, he’s actually good with it. We watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin and howled with laughter because it is a bit like that in our house, although he just does keep it to his office.
Q: It’s nice to see a fan boy triumph every now and then.
KB: What we say in our house is that “the geek shall inherit the Earth”.
Q: Is there a master plan for a number of films? Or do you just wait to see what the returns are and then based on that proceed?
KB: I think it’s a combination of both. I think Len and Danny were planning on three, never expecting any of them to happen. They were hoping that they would. I think they conceived that the third one would always be some sort of prequel. Stuff in Medieval times. I don’t think that I would be invited to that anyways. I don’t know. I do think it’s very dependent on if people actually go.
Q: So right now Len is planning on a trilogy?
KB: He’s not. People are talking about it a lot. I can’t speak completely on his behalf because he’s not here, but I’m going to anyways. I think he would love an opportunity to not just be doing creature movies because it can be very oppressive being that he likes to do things so practically. You know having a guy in a six-foot rubber wolf suit is tough going. And he’s not that guy; he just sort of got his start with Underworld so I think before a third film happened he would actually like to try some other stuff.
Q: If there was a third one, do you actually think they would go forward with it without you attached?
KB: I think it entirely depends on when it would be. I mean if Len does three movies first, I’m not sure my ass would be in any state to get back into that suit again. I could be forty-five or something and I don’t think anyone wants to go see that. It’s just one of those things where we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens.
Q: When you and Len look back at this, is he ever surprised in terms of how well you were cast?
KB: I think what convinced him was a movie I did called The Last Days Of Disco in which I am quite bitchy. He saw something that he responded to. I don’t think that he panicked or anything when casting me. Now that he knows me better, he realizes what a gigantic acting stretch it was for me because I’m such a girly girl. He now finds it amusing as before he didn’t know I was like that.
Q: Have you picked up any Goth / punk fans through Underworld?
KB: Yeah, my eyes were opened through various comic conventions I’ve been exposed to. It’s like being a Beatle for like five minutes. People sort of dress up like you, but I have to say it’s never going to be like when I went there with Hugh Jackman. It was like walking around with Elvis! They would have torn his pants off if they could! It is an extraordinary thing, but I do sort of understand it because I was one of those girls who went to The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night all dressed up and ready to throw things. I feel it’s in that vein you know?
Q: You’ve done a few roles now where they accentuate your looks. Would you like to anything like Nicole or Charlize in which you have to do something like put on weight?
KB: Oh yeah! I mean I put on twenty pounds for The Aviator, but everyone just thought I had a boob job. My Robert DeNiro moment sort of backfired horribly.
Q: The DVD of the first film is actually very different from the theatrical edition. I was wondering if you’re aware of anything in this movie that may turn up in a special edition DVD of this film later on?
KB: No, it’s different. There was so much stuff in the first movie that Len was under quite a lot of pressure to cut, and cut, and cut down because the version that he made was longer than the studio wanted. It was really hard for him to do that. This one was always supposed to be shorter, and I don’t think he had to get rid of much. He may come in after me and tell you something quite different though.
Q: Can you tell us about the time a fan started crying to you at a convention? How many people have tried that on you since then?
KB: I never had anything like that happen before. We were doing a panel, in which people arrive in mad costumes and ask you questions like “Why is your movie so shit?”, and then suddenly this young girl gets up and says, “You know I really like you”. She then started hysterically sobbing and shouting that she loved me. I didn’t know what to do. I found myself bounding over the table to go over and sort of calm her down. All my maternal instincts were kicking in. Afterwards I felt like a bit of a fool. I was a bit concerned that she was going to have some sort of breakdown and it would be my fault.
Q: How often does your very British cheeky humor get you in trouble?
KB: Constantly. You know what? Especially written down because I think I look much less funny. I’m funnier than people tend to think that I am because I’ve got that very stiff English face. People tend to think I’m way more arrogant than I ever could be. I always vow that I’m going to go in and say politically correct things all the time, and then I fail.
Big thanks to the fine folks over at Sony Pictures for making this happen, and don’t forget to visit Underworld Evolution‘s official website right here!
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