Kate Beckinsale on "Whiteout"
The same actress who landed her first feature role in Kenneth Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing" in 1993 has gone on to carve out one of the most interesting careers of any actress in the business. Although celebrated for her stunning beauty, Kate Beckinsale has never been one to shy away from earthy roles in films such as "Brokedown Palace" (1999), "Laurel Canyon" (2002), or Atom Egoyan's 2008 "Nothing But the Truth." No stranger to comic book action films (the "Underworld" franchise, and the unfortunate "Van Helsing" - 2004), Kate's current role in an adaptation of the "Whiteout" graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, finds the British beauty playing U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko who gets assigned to Antarctica to investigate the continent's first murder. Murder mystery proves an ideal genre for the ever-impressive Beckinsale to exert her athletic physicality in an unforgiving cold climate for which Manitoba did Antarctic stand-in duty. At a recent press conference in LA, Kate Beckinsale shared her thoughts about her role, Manitoba, and working in other genres.
KB: It's hard to say. It may have been, but I think nothing was harder than going from never having done it before to doing it. I'd had a background in ballet before I did "Underworld," and so the whole training/physical thing wasn't a complete shock and totally new to me. Before filming, I'd never been dragged around on a homemade surfboard through snow, but in the realm of action movies, there's nothing like the first time. It was definitely manageable. We had a great stunt team.
CS: How was this kind of action movie different from fighting vampires?
KB: It was a lot colder. It was a lot more intense actually because we were all worried we were going to die of hypothermia every other second. It's a woman in an extreme situation with extreme weather. Being the only girl--I've done that a couple of times now--it was much more intense just because of the weather.
CS: Did you have to do much CGI work for this movie?
KB: We weren't doing a lot of reacting to stuff that wasn't there. I haven't had a huge amount of experience with that--I imagine that's quite difficult, but when we're being dragged through snow, we're [really] having stuff thrown at us.
CS: Will you ever do another "Underworld"?
KB: I don't know anything about a fourth "Underworld" at this point. It was always conceived as a trilogy, and I was never going to be in the third one. I think if they came up with an amazing script then, sure, I wouldn't be averse to it, but it's not planned or anything. I don't think my daughter needs to see my bottom in rubber for another ten years. I heard they were talking about a fourth one, but I don't know if that's officially happening or if that's just a rumor. As far as I'm concerned it's a rumor.
CS: How was it working in Northern Manitoba?
KB: When we arrived they put a small telephone directory under our hotel doors the night before we started shooting saying, "These are the different ways it is possible to die here, from being too cold, or from being too hot if you keep your clothes on too long when you go inside, or if you've ever had an alcoholic drink, or if you breathe in a westerly direction." We all panicked. The most I remember was taking off and putting on 15 layers of clothes about 70 times a day. There's a game in England where you put on loads and loads of clothes and then you get to eat chocolate, but [in Manitoba] the chocolate never showed up. When we first came up, the men all had beards full of ice that I thought was from make-up department tests, but it wasn't--it was real. My hair froze into a point just from breathing on it. Living in England, I never had to handle cold that was anything like that.
On the very first day--coming out of the trailer--I didn't know if I was going to be able to speak at all--say a line ever--because my throat closed on that first breath.
KB: In Winnipeg, I got a root canal, which was excellent and it's held up really well. The dentists were fantastic in Winnipeg. In cold weather they have great things to do inside with kids, so I went to awesome museums and children's theater places. I had my daughter with me for the whole thing. I got to do a lot of that stuff in Winnipeg.
CS: What other types of genres would you like to explore?
KB: Well, I shot an independent movie while I was shooting this movie. So I've done three or four independent movies, and now this. I'd love to do some comedy actually. I'd like to maybe do a character that's English. I'd like to maybe do something more classical. But I really enjoy doing lots of different types of things, so I hope that continues.
CS: You've been living in the states for a while now. Do you ever get homesick for England.
KB: I've just come back from being in London for five months. I was a little homesick actually, and my daughter went to school there for a little bit. I went to see some of my relatives, so I've got it out of my system for a little while. Five months was a good long time. I've been working so much that I haven't really been able to do that since moving here six or seven years ago. So, because I was taking a bit of a break it was nice to be able to go home for a little bit.
I'm always open to working in England. It just hasn't really come up.