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.
Daniel Radcliffe on Dating, Broadway, and Dumbledore
By Cole Smithey
Teen desire and romance hits Hogwarts like a contagious virus in the sixth Harry Potter film, and goes a long way to providing lightheaded contrast to the skullduggery being perpetrated by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), and three supernatural Death Eaters that swirl around the story like exterminating angels of the apocalypse. For their part, the actors have all aged well into their familiar roles, with Daniel Radcliffe showing evermore confidence in playing the "Chosen One" with a reserve of humor and restrained emotion. It's yet to be seen what kind of monster-in-a-box the Potter films will make of Radcliffe as an actor but it seems certain, based on his Broadway performance in "Eqquis," that more surprises are in store.
I had the opportunity to ask the energetic young actor some questions at a press conference at the Waldorf Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
CS: What's the biggest change in Harry Potter for this movie?
DR: The big change for Harry this year is his relationship with Dumbledore. Previously, it's always been very much teacher and student, and this year it changes to his being the general's favorite leftenant. Harry becomes a foot soldier, and happy to be so. Also, in all of the other ones [movies], you always see Harry as being, "We're going to get Voldemort. We're gonna get him and kill him." But he never really does anything towards it, whereas this year he's actually being pro-active and sort of planning, and actually trying to do something toward the destruction of Voldemort.
CS: Has it set in that your time with Harry Potter is ending?
DR: For me, it hadn't until this week when everyone is telling me that it's almost over. I was actually kind of getting along quite nicely until everyone said, "Well, your dream's coming to an end."
We've got a year left on "seven," and then we've got to do a lot of publicity twice more. So there's a long way to go.
CS: How do you weather the world of dating?
DR: I don't feel like I'm in the world of dating. I don't have that sort of life. I'm working, and I'm happy to be working. It's not the case that I don't have time to have a girlfriend--I do. It's weird because people sometimes ask, "What's it like to be Harry Potter? Does it help you get girls?" I was like nine when I started doing Harry Potter, so I don't know what it's like to get girls without having the aid of being Harry.
CS: After doing Equus on Broadway, do you have any other plans for returning to the boards?
DR: No, nothing specific. But I would love to be back on stage in the next two or three years. There's nothing planned at all, but obviously I'd love to do something in England, and if Broadway would have me back then that would be incredible because I had an amazing time here [in New York].
CS: Can you tell me about shooting the scene where you lose Dumbledore?
DR: It was a hard scene for me because at the time of filming, I had never lost anyone close to me. You can never hope to imagine what that must feel like. I was, in a way, having to imagine the feelings, and if it came within even a third of the way close to being real then I'm happy with that, to be honest. In terms of losing Dumbledore in the series, it's very sad for me because I won't get to work so much with Michael [Gambon] in the seventh film. I'll miss him because we have a great time together.
CS: Are you able to go back and watch yourself in the previous Harry Potter movies?
DR: I haven't watched any of the films after they'd been done. I think it would be an almost entirely destructive experience for me. I would just become far too critical. I remember we were having a conversation on the fourth film and I said something to Emma like, "I saw a clip from the first film the other day. I can't believe how bad I am in it. Why on earth did they cast me?" The only reason I remember that it was on the fourth film that we had this conversation was because Mike Newell's massive booming voice from the other side of the set came back, [in a false scream] "Because you are absolutely bloody charming."
CS: There's plenty of sexual tension in the film. What's your personal take on that kind of tension as a narrative element?
DR: With Harry, I find it very endearing that he's kind of an acclaimed wizard, and he's crap with women. I think it's a wonderful, rather endearing quality that he has. I think this film demonstrates basically two types of teenaged relationships. One, which is mine and Bonnie's, which is that kind of teenaged thing where you're just in love, and it's pure and innocent, and all that matters in your life. It's when you're 14 or 15 and you fall in love, and it's all there is. And the other kind, which is much more carnal and energetic, and was the one Rupert was lucky enough to have in this film. I think most teenagers have a complete inability to control hormones or desire, and it's no different with wizard children.
CS: How did you go about getting into Harry's more altered state of mind for this movie?
DR: To be honest, I just let the more manic side of myself, that I suppress for 23 hours of every day, loose for awhile on-set and just became a kind of uncontrollable, vaguely irritating, but vaguely amusing person that I keep hidden. It was great fun. It is a side of the character that hasn't been seen before.
If you spent a proper amount of time with me, you would probably wonder if I was on drugs--I'm not. I'm just incredibly hyperactive and manic. I can be quiet and serious at the same time. But at the premiere in England, I was this kind of beast that had been unleashed onto the red carpet. It was incredible.
CS: How is if for you reading the books and knowing that you will eventually play out Harry's actions.
DR: My reading of the books was always one of sort of, "Oh God, there's another one dead. It's another death scene." I would always be able to very much enjoy them when they came out, but I would also get nervous when I would read them about whether I would be able to do justice to certain aspects of them--which is probably not the healthiest mindset to be in when you read them, but I couldn't help it.
CS: Do you plan to continue acting after the Potter films are done?
D.R.: I definitely want to go on acting for as long as I can find employment. I'm never happier than when I'm on a film set. I just want to keep working.
CS: How does David Yates compare to other directors on the franchise?
DR: I have nothing but great things to say about David. We get closer every year. We get on very well off-set. We have a very good relationship, not only professionally but personally as well. As we go on in the films, we get more in tune with each other to the point where he can say "cut," and I will know if what I've just done is what he wanted, simply because I know what he's looking for in a performance. He's very good at being honest with me as well, and saying to me, "You can do better than that." And that's a wonderful thing to have is that kind of trust in a relationship with a director.