With 'Underworld: Awakening' released on DVD and Blu-ray this month, the film's star Kate Beckinsale talks about getting in shape for Selene's suit, her preferred vampire qualities - and scaring her husband.
A. It's great. I'm fond of her. She's cool. I like being one of the girls that gets to do these movies. There aren't many of us.Q. What do you like about her?
A. That she's such a badass. I like that she's a contradiction. I like that she's a sort of rather vulnerable, wounded creature who also happens to be okay in a fight.Q. Did you have any input on the screenplay?
A. When they came to say they were interested in doing a fourth one, obviously my husband and I were both thinking, what would be the big different thing to justify doing that? We didn't want to just remake the second 'Underworld' or the first 'Underworld'. We did all kick around ideas about what direction it could go in.Q. What was it like being involved from the beginning?
A. I've not been on very many films where I'm involved from the germination stage of "Hey, what do you think: should we do this or not?" Obviously, I'm married to the producer so I was pulled in more around that than I would have been ordinarily. That was really great and it's fascinating as well. You go to a cinema and see a movie and if it's really bad, you come out and go, "Oh my God, it's crap." Now that I've spent so much time kind of watching it go from nothing to so much work, you can never just dismiss a movie like that. It's terrible, but you do anyway.Q. Why did you take a couple years off from making films?
A. It wasn't really by design. I didn't think, right now, I'm taking two years off. It was a combination of things, really. I had done a movie called 'Nothing But The Truth' that didn't actually end up coming out and I was really proud of it. For the first three or four months after that I was a bit dispirited and sad because I was so proud of it and it was such a shame. I guess the film company went bankrupt and nobody got to see the movie, which was sad.
Then there was the writers' strike and there was rather a dip in interesting material. Then, my daughter suddenly became an age where, up until [that] point, it was always been okay if I go and do a movie. I take her with me and she goes to a school in Montreal or she goes to a school in London and she loved all of that, but at 10, it wasn't quite as appropriate. They are doing these quite complex projects at school and they've got all these friends and social life that you can't do that anymore.
As I was trying to figure out how I was going to figure out being an actress with a child who isn't portable anymore, it really became a question of, "Can I really live without doing this movie or not?" And I could live without a lot of them. It was really only once I kind of got a bit more used to that and some projects came in that I thought would be interesting and it had turned out to be about two years, but it hadn't been something I'd planned on at all. I've done that a few times. I did 'Serendipity' and 'Pearl Harbor' together and then didn't work for 18 months. It's happened to me quite a bit.Q. What do you like about this life as an actor, despite its downsides?
A. I don't really know anything else, I have to say. I realise, having grown up with actors - my Dad was an actor, my Mum was an actress and my stepfather was a director - I really have no experience ever of people who have sort of a normal life. So I don't think I necessarily appreciate how sometimes stressful our life is. I must say, on the whole, I really like the people who are attracted to this kind of weird lifestyle, whether they're a bunch of oddball, damaged souls - I do rather like those people. It feels familiar to me as well.Q. Was it easier this time to relate to Selene because she's also a mother?
A. The time I did the first 'Underworld', it was such an experiment and so far beyond my comfort zone and a character that I didn't really understand very well. I was so freaked out by the fact that I was doing it at all and had a lot to learn. In the first movie, she was sort of frozen and cold and shut down. By the fourth movie, that's kind of shifted a bit and she's opened up a fair bit, for her. She's still a bit chilly.Q. How do you think the vampires of 'Underworld' differ from the other myths?
A. There are so many now compared to when we did the first 'Underworld'. I'm very flattered everyone copied us [laughs]. I don't know. I know that ours are different in the sense that we've got a lot more modern technology and a little bit more vicious and we don't sparkle, which is a shame. I'd love to sparkle. I think everyone should. Like, in life right now. [Laughs]Q. What qualities of a vampire would you like to possess?
A. I think the jumping off things, suddenly appearing really quickly and things like that would be good. I love scaring my husband.
Q. How do you scare him? Hiding in the closet?
A. Oh yeah, all the time. Also because I don't drive, he never knows if I'm home or not, so he can't just check the driveway. I'm always kind of rolling out from under his desk. [Laughs] He freaks out every time. Or if he's asleep. We've got video that Lily will take of me getting on top of the wardrobe and then dropping on his head from a great height. Simple pleasures. Everybody enjoys that sort of thing.Q. Was it difficult getting in shape for the role of Selene?
A. You don't have your dessert as much when you've got a suit like this coming down the pike. I tend to stay reasonably in shape anyway. I think I would probably just do a bit more cardio and obviously learning all the fight choreography is quite physical in itself.Q. Do you enjoy beating up people and things on screen?
A. I really enjoy it afterwards because it doesn't feel like it looks. I feel like a ridiculous English person flailing around and then I look at it and go, "Wow, it actually looks convincing!" But it doesn't feel like that and I wish that it did because when you watch a movie like that you think, God, that would feel amazing. But all you feel is, oh my God, I'm ruining it and f**king it up. I guess I've been very well trained.Q. How comfortable is Selene's outfit?
A. The suit is okay. The suit's quite comfortable. You do all the fight training and the choreography in your sweatpants and your yoga clothes and you think, I've got this. Then you put the costume on and the corset and you’re like, "Oh my God, I can't move." It is quite restrictive and the boots are quite restrictive so just bending your legs is different. It is a little more restrictive.Q. How was it working with 3D technology?
A. In terms of acting, it didn't really feel enormously different. The camera looks a bit different, but for us, it was just a bit more waiting around because the cameras stop working now and again. Your arm doesn't suddenly extend differently.Q. What did you enjoy most about the work on this film?
A. I think that I really don't feel comfortable with it. It's not something that I ever thought I'd be doing. It still frightens me a bit: pulling off all the action and the physical stuff. It's a very different sensibility than my natural one. They keep increasing the action every time. I think it's good to go to work panicking that you're going to ruin it for everybody. I think that's good and healthy.Q. Can we expect to see a fifth 'Underworld'?
A. I'm the worst person to ask. I said there wasn't going to be a fourth one. I'm very gullible. They said it was a trilogy, so I kept saying it was a trilogy. I don't know. Hopefully people will enjoy this one.'Underworld: Awakening' is out on DVD and Blu-ray this month.