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Kathryn Bailey "Kate" Beckinsale (born July 26, 1973) is an English actress, known for her roles in the films Pearl Harbor (2001), Van Helsing (2004), and Underworld (2003).
Kate Beckinsale was born in London to Judy Loe, a stage and television actress, and Richard Beckinsale, a 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 has said 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 rebellious 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. Kate starred in a 1996 TV film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. 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 as the female lead, after actress Charlize Theron turned down the part. The film 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.
Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator, 2004In 2006, Beckinsale was placed at #23 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World", after being #71 in 2005. She has also been placed at #16 in Maxim's "HOT 100" (2003), #63 in Stuff's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" (2002), and was chosen by the English magazine Hello! as "England's #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.
Also in 2006, Beckinsale appeared in the Adam Sandler starring comedy-drama, Click, which opened on June 23. Next, Beckinsale replaced Sarah Jessica Parker in the film Vacancy, released in 2007. Her next role will be in Snow Angels, which is in post-production and scheduled for release later in 2007.
Beckinsale and her ex-boyfriend Michael Sheen have a daughter, Lily Mo Sheen (born January 31, 1999). She reported in interviews that during her pregnancy with Lily was the only time she's ever stopped smoking. During the Underworld's shoot, Beckinsale split from Sheen, who starred as her mortal enemy, Lucian, leader of the lycans, and hooked up with the director of the film, Len Wiseman. In June 2003, Beckinsale became engaged to Wiseman, and the two were married on 9 May 2004 in Bel-Air, California.
1993 Much Ado About Nothing Hero
1994 Uncovered Julia
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Flora Poste Haunted
1998 The Last Days of Disco Charlotte Pingress Shooting Fish Georgie
Alice Through the Looking Glass Alice made-for-television
1999 Brokedown Palace Darlene Davis
2001 Serendipity Sara Thomas
Pearl Harbor Nurse Lt. Evelyn Johnson Nominated for Best Female Performance by MTV Movie Awards
Nominated for Worst Screen Couple (with Ben Affleck) by Razzie Awards
Nominated for Best Film Chemistry (with Ben Affleck) by Teen Choice Award
The Golden Bowl Maggie Verver
2002 Laurel Canyon Alex
2003 Underworld Selene Nominated for Best Actress by Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
Tiptoes Carol direct-to-video
2004 The Aviator Ava Gardner
Van Helsing Anna Valerious
2006 Click Donna Newman
Underworld: Evolution Selene
2007 Vacancy Amy Fox
Snow Angels Annie Marchand
2008 Winged Creatures Filming
Whiteout Carrie Stetko Filming
April 23 Melinda In Talks