Kate Beckinsale - Biography & Career
Beckinsale was born in London to Judy Loe, a stage and television actress, and Richard Beckinsale, a well-known television actor who died in 1979 at the age of 31. She has a paternal half-sister, Samantha, who is also an actress. Beckinsale's paternal great-grandfather was Burmese, and Beckinsale claims that she was "very oriental-looking" as a child.
Beckinsale attended the private Godolphin and Latymer School, and in her teens twice won the W. H. Smith Young Writers' competition - once for three short stories and once for three poems. After a rebelious adolescence, including a period of anorexia and starting a smoking habit, she followed in the footsteps of her parents and began her acting career. Her first role was in One Against the Wind, a television film about World War II that was first aired in 1991. Having gained three language A levels, Beckinsale studied French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford University, though she did not finish her degree. She thought that having an academic background studying foreign language and literature would broaden her range of acting roles.
During her first year at Oxford, Beckinsale was offered a part in Kenneth Branagh's big-screen film, Much Ado About Nothing, adapted from the Shakespeare play. She spent her last year of studies in Paris, after which she decided to quit the university and concentrate on her acting career. She subsequently appeared in a few low-profile films, including Shooting Fish and The Last Days of Disco (both in 1998). During this time, Beckinsale also appeared in television films and in stage roles, including the well-received Cold Comfort Farm, opposite British silver and small screen notables Rufus Sewell, Eileen Atkins, and Joanna Lumley.
Her first major American film, Brokedown Palace (1999), was not a commercial success. Soon after, Beckinsale was cast in the 2001 film, Pearl Harbor, which was one of the highest grossing films of its year. In the years following, she appeared in a series of American films that were high-profile, but were given a somewhat poor critical reception, including Serendipity (2001), Underworld (2003) and Van Helsing (2004). Notably, she appeared as Ava Gardner in The Aviator, a role for which she gained 20 pounds.
In 2006, Beckinsale was placed at #78 in FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World", after being #71 in 2005. She has also been placed at #16 in Maxim magazine's "HOT 100" (2003), #63 in Stuff Magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" (2002), and was chosen by Hello magazine as "EnglandТs #1 Beauty", also in 2002.
In January 2006, Beckinsale reprised her role as a vampire in the movie Underworld: Evolution, a sequel to her 2003 film, Underworld, again directed by her husband, Len Wiseman. The film opened at the #1 spot at the box office, grossing over $26 million in its first weekend of release. On January 24, 2006, Beckinsale was featured on the MTV series, Punk'd. The set-up for the segment took place at the Avalon Hotel in Los Angeles.
Beckinsale's most recent role was in the Adam Sandler starring comedy, Click, which opened on June 23, 2006. Her next film will be Snow Angels, which is currently in post-production and will be released in 2006. A September 2006 article in the Hollywood Reporter announced that Beckinsale has signed on to replace Sarah Jessica Parker in the film Vacancy.
Beckinsale dated Welsh actor Michael Sheen for a long period of time, and the two have a daughter, Lily Mo Sheen (born 31 January 1999). Sheen co-starred with Beckinsale in Underworld, and had a flashback appearance in its sequel.
In June 2003, a few months after she had separated from Sheen, Beckinsale became engaged to the director of Underworld, Len Wiseman, and the two were married on 9 May 2004 in Bel-Air, California.