Underworld: Vampires are an endless lore, a never-ending darkness of tales. They are present and hungry and always feeding, whether upon the flesh of an English maiden or the imagination of a fearful world. Vampires have always been, to some degree, our decadent counterparts, drawing away our moral curtains for a moonlight made of lust. They are, in many ways, as much a statement as a fictional creation, calling out from beyond the boundaries of our social morality, breaking at the skin of religion, of power, of restraint and shame. Their voices are easy and calm and always seductive, because they are, in a way, our own.
So it comes as no surprise that actress Kate Beckinsale so deliciously enjoyed portraying the vampire Selene in the upcoming Vampire vs. Werewolf flick, Underworld.
In preparation for the film's release, Lights Out had the pleasure of sitting down with Beckinsale, whose take on the history of vampires is clearly well-defined.
"I didn't realize the level of obsession that exists," says the lovely British actress. "The largest part that endures is that they have this visceral sexiness?and I think that whether you're repressed by the era that you're in or the diseases that are around, there's a kind of gay abandon for mingling body fluids. It's sort of hedonistic and attractive. The whole transformation process of kissing someone, or biting someone, or fucking someone and turning them into somebody else is very trippy, and also romantic in the literary sense."
But despite the temptation to overplay the role with vampiric flare, Beckinsale found a necessary restraint in the character of Selene. A skilled hunter of the vampire's arch-enemy, the werewolf, Selene is caught up in a far-reaching and historic web of lies, as she struggles to unravel the mystery a human-turned-wolf (played by Scott Speedman), who has been hunted down and bitten by her sworn enemies. Through the course of the film, Selene must come to terms with both her remaining humanity and the ever-present past.
"I think that we get a hint of what's driving her there," says Beckinsale concerning the few years of her life before Selene was turned. "I actually watch the movie and I see this very vulnerable girl who is obviously conflicted and tormented. I like the fact that she has tried her hardest to forget about being human. And meeting Scott Speedman and realizing that things are not quite what they seem put her back in touch with this painful part of herself that is human. That's what I see, as an actress, so it's weird to be told what a badass I am?"
Bad-ass, of course, in the sense that Underwold is a comic book-style film and brimming, as such films do, with sequence after sequence of fast-paced gunplay - a task that Beckinsale was glad to tackle.
"I would love to have done an action movie years ago," says Beckinsale, "but usually, you just want to play the boy's part. The girls in actions movies are usually, like, on the plane, making the phone call. I didn't want to be that, I wanted to be blowing up the elevator shaft."
"In fact," she continues, "I would love to only do action films. The nice thing is that I've never been quite successful enough to get stuck doing only one thing. I feel like I've been in unusual position of being able to go from romantic comedy to Shakespeare to drama to Merchant Ivory to action film, and it's great to keep doing that."
Thankfully, however, Underworld is as different from her previous projects as her next film is likely to be, and every bit as sexy. Recently voted England's Sexiest Woman, Beckinsale is, of course, inundated with questions regarding her obvious beauty. All of which she laughs off modestly.
"I'm not like a model," she insists playfully. "I can totally look unattractive. It's never been a problem, and actually I think it's more the reverse. I can remember on Pearl Harbor, them worrying that I wasn't pretty enough."
And while the character of Selene might not bare a tremendous amount of visible cleavage in the film, Beckinsale laughs, saying, "I find that the latex suit with the very shiny bottom takes care of a lot of things."
So when Underworld opens its gates on September 19th, you will, in fact, discover why God created leather, and the Devil shaped his vampire.
- By Chris Monfette