She is arguably the most beautiful actress on screen today. Kate Beckinsale, though, is more than just a pretty face. The former Oxford University attendee admits her life might not be as exciting as other celebrities. She is happily married. Her daughter is not crazy. She hasn’t suddenly decided she is lesbian. She is the subject of plastic surgery rumors, that while false, she has learned to accept.
In her latest role, Beckinsale takes to the screen in Nothing But The Truth. She plays a political journalist based on Judith Miller, formerly of the New York Times. The role has earned her a Critics Choice Award nomination. There might be an Oscar nomination in the not too distant future.
Listen to the Kate Beckinsale interview:
Chris Yandek: Is this role your greatest accomplishment?
Kate Beckinsale: “Oh my God! I don’t know. I have a few I am proud of, but certainly this one is very special to me. Yes. Absolutely.
CY: And why is that?
KB: “It was just one of those ones where the script was really great, the director was awesome, the rest of the cast was just amazing, and the rest of the cast came together so well that I think what you’re intending to do as an actor before you start shooting a movie largely actually happened which doesn’t always happen.”
CY: There has been a lot of award buzz and congrats on the Critics Choice Award nomination but what would you say to the Academy about considering your performance for an Oscar nomination?
KB: “Oh my God! I probably wouldn’t. That’s very English of me. I am so happy given that the movie is small and the studio did not got tons of money to put the campaigns behind everybody. The fact that we have managed to have a couple of nominations, I was nominated and Vera Farmiga is a brilliant actress whose also nominated in the movie as best supporting actress. The fact that we are getting attention at all given that there are so many huge movies ahead of us I think is amazing and we all feel incredibly lucky and blessed.”
CY: Is it going to be hard for people to get past the fact this movie is only loosely based off of Judith Miller and this is not really the story of her life?
KB: “I think if people are looking for a movie about Judith Miller, I think that has yet to be made. I know that there are some people who initially felt hostile about the film because they thought possibly we were glorifying or making a heroine attitude. I think it’s just the director knowing a lot about that case, and thinking, and what if I use some of the elements in a dramatic story about a completely different sort of character. What would that be like? I think if you’re looking for a movie about Judith Miller obviously you’re going to be disappointed because it isn’t at all.”
CY: What did you learn about her in the time you spent with her?
KB: “I wasn’t really interested. I think she was gun shy a bit about the same thing except she didn’t want to have a movie about her that made her evil and wicked. She also is a human being. I really wanted to meet with her just in terms of talking to her as a resource, as somebody who from the background and the career that she is in has the unsettling and surprising experiences of finding herself in jail. I just wanted to talk with her from that perspective. I didn’t get to know her personally at all.”
CY: If you were in her shoes, how do you feel you would’ve dealt with the situation?
KB: “It’s impossible for me to say because I wasn’t. I wouldn’t like to comment on that one at all. I am an actor. I am not a journalist, certainly not a political journalist. I have to say I think I would have to follow my beliefs and principles and I am sure she would say the same thing.”
CY: You actually filmed some scenes in a real prison. While filming the prison scenes, did any of those male or female prisoners recognize who you were? I am sure you got some response.
KB: “A bit. We spent a bit of time in the prison before we started shooting. I went around and signed a bunch of people’s Bibles and things like that. They were extremely nice and very friendly. That was the women’s prison. I didn’t do that in the men’s prison. Probably not quite as wise to do that there. It was a functioning prison that we shot in so they were there everyday. We’d see them every day when they were shooting. We didn’t become friends with them. They definitely kept us separated. Nobody was mean.”
CY: I am sure the men had never seen anything like that as long as they were locked up.
KB: “Fortunately for everybody I wasn’t looking my best.”
CY: This is an amazing cast around you that included Alan Alda, Matt Dillon, and Angela Bassett. What was it like working with these three veteran performers?
KB: “It was great. It really was. I’d been looking forward to working with Alan. I actually had done The Aviator, which we were both in, but we didn’t have scenes together. I felt like we definitely got a second fling at that and he’s such an extraordinary, interesting person aside from being an actor. You just want to talk to film and find out his opinion on everything and hear all his stories. Angela was great. It was amazing having such an iconic strong woman around. She was fantastic. I loved working with Matt Dillon too. I think he’s brilliant in the movie. Everybody was really…really cool. I was there all the time and people – everyone would just pop in and out. It was just a great pleasure every time someone came back and you got to work with them. It was a nice acting workout.”
CY: So how has your perspective changed on journalism and what a journalist does?
KB: “I definitely became much more sympathetic to the stresses and strains of being on the other side. I think it definitely takes nerve, intellect, and passion to want to be a journalist, to do that with your life. I think there are really hard things about it. I think you have to struggle with your humanness. Having to ask people questions who don’t want to be asked maybe during difficult times in their life where they don’t want to be probed and pressed. I do agree that there is obviously a need for information. There are people who have to go to some lengths to get it available to the public and I think, I suppose I’ve been more so on the entertainment journalism side and trying to keep my professional and private life private. That’s the area of journalism I’ve been most familiar with. This is definitely a sort of different type of it and I could definitely see the nobility and passion that you’d have to have to do it.”
CY: Why do you think there isn’t more press on your personal life? Is it just because you’ve done a good job at keeping it private and watching what you do?
KB: “I think it’s partly that. I think it’s also that I don’t know how interesting it is that my husband and I get along. My kid is not crazy. I am not having three new kids a year or an affair with anybody or I haven’t suddenly decided I am a lesbian. Possibly later in life I’ll become more interesting, but at the moment, I don’t know. Is it interesting people living their lives in a normal way? I’d much rather hear about people doing really peculiar things.”
CY: Being a mother of a daughter whose growing up before your eyes, has your perspective on life changed as the years have gone on?
KB: “Yea. Everything absolutely changed immediately when I had her, but that was almost ten years ago. I don’t really have a memory of what it was like to be myself before her. It’s a complete blur. My life came much more into focus once I had her.”
CY: So what do you do in your spare time when you’re not working? Is it mostly spending time with your daughter and your husband?
KB: “Absolutely. We like to hang out and do things and travel, go the movies, see plays, and go to the art galleries, and see our friends. I have a lot of nice friends that we spend time with and that’s pretty much what we do.”
CY: What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
KB: “I am sure there is many. I think one of the things I found very important is to not pay too much attention. I think there is a public image of you when you’re an actor that is usually, fairly incorrect. I think if you spend a lot of time worrying about it you’re gonna lose. You can’t control it. Yes. There is millions of misconceptions. I can’t really fight them and have a sane existence. If people want to decide that I’ve had eight facelifts and God knows what plastic surgery then in some respects I am going to have to take that as a compliment and let it go. It is annoying because you haven’t. Nobody likes to be accused of doing something they haven’t done. My daughter hates it more than anything in the world and it doesn’t change the older you get. At some point does it ultimately impact anything? No. It doesn’t. I don’t care.”
CY: So what was the thing that was reported that made you laugh because it was so false?
KB: “Yeah. I think it’s mainly the kind of oh my God! I’ve had my eyes lifted, my face lifted, my lips injected. I wish there was a wand that they could pass over your face that would beep if you’ve had surgery.”
CY: Well, not yet. Most of your roles or the majority of your roles you’ve had to have an American accent and we can’t even tell you’re a British person. How are you so good at portraying the American accent?
KB: “I think it was pretty helpful that I was a language student. I went to Oxford University and I studied Russian and French and I’d also studied German in high school. I was really interested in all that. I developed a pretty good ear for accents and I’ve always found it interesting. I am not a fantastic singer, but any kind of musical ear that I do have is much more in that area. I enjoy that. I love that being part of the business. I enjoy working in my own accent. I think there is a different vibe to that. I did a movie in French and I really enjoyed the liberation of speaking a different language in a movie. I love listening to the differences in how people talk. I am fascinated by that. I don’t know. Maybe it becomes more interesting to me because I am so interested in that.”
CY: [Kate used to smoke, but says she hasn’t had smoked in ages.] What would you say to President Barack Obama about quitting smoking while in the White House and is it an important issue the nation should be concerned about?
KB: “I don’t care whether he has a cigarette or not. No. I think it’s just so fantastic we have a President who can finally read. If he’s going to have a cigarette as well, good luck to him. That’s how I feel about that.”
CY: Finally, what’s one thing we should know about you that we don’t?
KB: “Oh my God. I can’t imagine why you’d want to know anything like that. What do I enjoy that you’d be surprised that I enjoy? Watching boxing matches.”
CY: Kind of impressive.
CY: Thanks again for your time. Good luck! Hopefully we’ll see an Oscar nomination for this. It was a great role and maybe the best of your entire career. Good luck to you, your daughter, everybody else, and I can tell you in closing I am not scared of toes like somebody else.
KB: “Oh, ok. Well, that’s good to hear. Not that I thought you actually fell into that category that you were scared of by the way.”
CY: Yeah. I know. But scared of toes? I am not sure where Sean Diddy Combs came up with that.
KB: “That’s pretty funny.”
CY: Yes. It really was. Take care. Good luck! Have a good holiday. Hopefully we can talk sometime in the future.
KB: “That would be lovely.”
Nothing But The Truth comes to theaters in limited release on December 17th.
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Please send mail to the following address below for those interested in sending notes or autograph requests to Kate. They will then be forwarded to her fan mail address in the UK.
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