The actress talks the future of the franchise and moving away from the genre
Kate Beckinsale returns to her ass-kicking ways in Underworld: Evolution, the sequel to the hit 2003 film. Evolution delves in the history of the vampire/werewolf conflict and provides a back story for Kate's character "Selene". The Underworld series is the brainchild of Kate's husband, director and co-writer Len Wiseman. Kate comments on shooting love scenes before your spouse and the rigors of doing your own stunts.
How involved were you beyond your character in this film?
Kate Beckinsale: I've never been involved with a movie from the moment it's a germ of an idea right through the whole editing process and the special effects. It was a great thing for me. It wasn't like a Yoko Ono sort of controlling thing going on, but I was definitely consulted and involved. I couldn't not be, since it was all taking place in my living room most of the time.
What were you trying to improve from the first movie?
Kate Beckinsale: It was a difficult job, acting-wise, the first movie, because what you're trying to achieve with that character is that basically the whole thing is sold on her being this bad-ass Death Dealer, but she's actually quite low on the food chain. Above her is Craven, and above that is Victor, and she's always a little bit subordinated. In a movie like "Blade" or "Terminator," they're not usually below 17 other people, having to tow the line all the time. It was actually quite difficult to make her as strong as a character, but at the same time, not overbalance where her role in the pecking order was. This time it was a little bit easier, just because Selene and Michael have struck out much more on their own, and you do get a little bit more of a sense of what's happening.
There are a few back scenes that show Selene as a little girl. Were you surprised that the character could ever be so innocent?
Kate Beckinsale: The interesting thing is that I don't think anyone's born tough. I think you learn tough, for whatever horrible reason. For me, that's always been in the back of my mind, but it's nice to have actually been able to share it. That's actually my little girl! We were quite worried because we didn't think she would take either of us that seriously as authority figures on the set.
Is it difficult being married to the director [Len Wiseman]? Do you find yourself taking work home?
Kate Beckinsale: It's more difficult, especially when you're part of a script, and it can be quite an organic process where you have to tweak things as you go along. It's actually not too bad. This is a character that I'm quite familiar with. I think actors always like to think they don't bring the character home, and then their family all laugh and tell you otherwise.
Did you find wearing that skintight costume oppressive?
Kate Beckinsale: It's actually an extremely comfortable costume, surprisingly enough. I think you do panic a bit when you have latex for several months ahead of you and there's not a scene where she gets into sweats.
How tricky is it for you to do a love scene in front of your husband?
Kate Beckinsale: It wasn't too bad. We were able to block out the moves together, obviously, because he was allowed to touch me at home. Then we sort of put it off a bit, because Scott's [Speedman] become quite a family friend. We kept postponing it, and actually, when we came down to it, Len and I were alright, and Scott was just tortured. I think it was much worse for him.
How much is a genre film like this elevated by actors such as Bill Nighy and Derek Jacobi?
Kate Beckinsale: I think that's what we wanted the first time around. That's why we had Michael Sheehan and Bill, because obviously, with vampires, you really have an opportunity to cast people that could be believable as having been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. I think that you do need people who have a certain weight and gravitas to them.
What was the toughest scene to shoot? Did you perform your own stunts?
Kate Beckinsale: Yeah, I did. There was one scene where Len originally wanted me to jump off a cliff, and I think just the sheer panic of killing his wife pulled that one, but most of the others stuff was the same as the first one, where I was allowed to do it. Len likes to do as much as we can, because it's more interesting for the audience to see us risking life and limb. We have this brilliant stunt team, so it really didn't feel unsafe. I think the first punch I threw, I hit the side of the camera and it really hurt.
Do you have any idea what might happen as far as another sequel?
Kate Beckinsale: I think when Len and [writer] Danny [McBride], scraping together as many coins as they could to go to Subway, they planned on three, never thinking that any of them would ever happen. I think they always conceived that the third one would be some sort of prequel set in medieval times, and I don't think I'd be invited to that. I'm a little bit confused, just because of it being a prequel; I think it would be even before I was a vampire, so I would probably be in frocks, which doesn't feel very Selene to me at this point. I think it is very dependent on whether people actually go to see this. People are talking about it a lot, and not wanting to completely speak on Len's behalf, I think he would love an opportunity to not just be doing creature movies.
Do you think they'd go forward with a third one if you weren't in it?
Kate Beckinsale: I think it entirely depends on when it would be. Obviously, if Len does three other movies first, I don't think my ass will be in any state to get into that suit again. If I'm 45, I don't think anyone wants to go see that. It's one of those things where I guess we'll just sort of wait and see what happens.
Have you picked up any goth punk fans because of the movie?
Kate Beckinsale: Yeah! My eyes were really opened with the various comic book conventions. It's like being a Beatle for about five minutes. People dress up as you. 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's an extraordinary thing. I do sort of understand it thought, because I was one of those girls who used to go to the Rocky Horror Show every Saturday night and dress up.
Between Underworld and "Van Helsing", you've done a couple horror-action movies now. Are you hoping to try to get away from that sort of thing?
Kate Beckinsale: I'd like to do as many different kinds of things as I can. I know there's been a theme of vampires, but I really wanted to try out an action movie. I never really did an adventure-action theme that "Van Helsing" was, but they sort of get lumped into the same category. For me, it was a very different speed and tone. Now, I want to go and do some theatre, I'd like to do a small independent movie, and I'd love to do a really great thriller and a romantic comedy.
How was it working with Adam Sandler on Click?
Kate Beckinsale: Fantastic! He's literally like this far behind my husband in how much I like a man. 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 had at home. Actually, he didn't give me any; fortunately, as that would have shocked me, but he looked like he was always about to.
What's next for you?
Kate Beckinsale: I finished "Click" back in August, so I've taken a little time, and in a few weeks, I'm going to go to Nova Scotia and do a small independent movie with Sam Rockwell called "Snow Angels". Then I may go to London and do a play, but I'm not allowed to say but it's a comedy. "Snow Angels" is based on a book, and it's a director called David Gordon Green, who did "Undertow," who is really quite brilliant and poetic. It's quite a dark tale. There are a few stories in the movie, but mine is a woman who has a child and a crumbled relationship, and various things going on. No guns… actually, there is a gun.
Underworld: Evolution opens in theaters everywhere today.