Article taken from Glamour.
Kate Beckinsale, 33, has a past that’s gossip-column gold. In 2003 the actress left actor Michael Sheen (father of her then four-year-old daughter, Lily) and started dating Len Wiseman, director of Underworld—the film in which both she and Sheen were starring. Juicy stuff for the tabloids…and yet somehow Beckinsale managed to escape unscathed: She remained friends with her ex, avoided media scrutiny and held on to her wholesome image. How did she succeed where other high-profile heartbreakers have failed? “From the beginning, all three of us put Lily first, and then it was kind of easy,” Beckinsale explains. Today, she is so close with her ex that sometimes they, along with their partners, all put Lily to bed together.
Early on, Beckinsale was forced to adapt to life’s toughest situations: When she was five, her much-beloved father, Richard Beckinsale—one of Britain’s most famous television actors—died unexpectedly of a heart attack at 31. She and her mother moved to London, and Beckinsale kept her father’s legacy alive by becoming an actress. Her big break came when she was cast as the lead in the 2001 blockbuster Pearl Harbor, followed by 2004’s Van Helsing and The Aviator, and 2006’s Click. Today, Beckinsale finds herself in the position every actress dreams about: She lands starring roles but still manages to travel below the radar. During her Glamour interview at Shutters Hotel on the Beach in Santa Monica, California, no one blinks an eye at her, despite the fact that she looks every inch the A-list star. Too bad for all of them—if they’d just listened in a bit, they’d have discovered just how clever, charming and flat-out cool Beckinsale is. Read on to see for yourself.
GLAMOUR: So you’re starring in Vacancy, a horror movie in which you and Luke Wilson play a couple who realize they’re about to become the victims of a snuff film. You also met your husband on the set of a vampire movie. What’s the deal—do you have a thing for getting chopped up on screen?
KATE BECKINSALE: [Laughs.] Yes, it is one of those horror movies that has lots of blood, guts and gore, but it’s also about a relationship that’s falling apart. That’s what attracted me to the material. I hear it’s very good, but I haven’t seen it!
GLAMOUR: Would you promote a film you hated?
KB: It happens. But what’s really lovely is when you’re proud of a movie you’ve done and look forward to doing the press. Obviously I’ve had great experiences with people I’ve worked with on films—I’ve married half of them! I should come with a warning sign that says, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to marry you. I’m done.” [Laughs.]
GLAMOUR: What’s it like to be married to a director?
KB: It’s awful! He’s always busy, and his jobs last for 18 months. Right now Len’s shooting Live Free or Die Hard [the fourth Die Hard sequel]. He works from 5 A.M. until 11 P.M. I tell him, “If you had told me what it was going to be like when we met, I never would have gotten involved with you!”
GLAMOUR: Will you work together again?
KB: I hope so. He tried to get me cast as John McClane [the role played by Bruce Willis] in his current project, but they didn’t go for it. [Laughs.]
GLAMOUR: Do you ever worry that your relationship will become another Hollywood casualty?
KB: There’s no way we’ll become a Hollywood casualty because we don’t have a Hollywood lifestyle. If going to a premiere means missing Lily’s bath time, I won’t miss bath time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to present at the Golden Globes, come home, whipped the dress off and read to my daughter wearing gazillion-dollar earrings. That’s how it goes in my house, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
GLAMOUR: How did you grow up?
KB: My family lived in a very big house on the outskirts of London until my father died. When I was nine, my mother got together with my stepfather, who came with four boys and a girl. It was hard: Losing a parent when you’re so young is a very big deal, and [blending] two families into one is a lot more difficult than it looks.
GLAMOUR: You and your ex are still close. How did you pull that off?
KB: It took three people who were willing to be incredibly generous, grown-up and mature. I give enormous credit to Michael and Len for the way they’ve handled things. As a result, I have an amazing child with three great parents. I feel slightly sorry for kids who’ve got only two!
GLAMOUR: What was your relationship with your own father like?
KB: He was a great dad. He was madly in love with me. I really wish he hadn’t died. The other night my daughter said, “I’m so lucky I’ve got two lovely daddies—I wish your daddy was still alive.” Then she gave me a little hand squeeze. I thought, you’re eight! I was so fantastically moved.
GLAMOUR: How did you get into acting?
KB: When I was in high school, I was in a play and there happened to be a casting agent in the audience. She asked whether I’d like to audition for television. I didn’t get the role, but I did get the next one I auditioned for. After that, it went quite quickly.
GLAMOUR: Is there anything about living in L.A. you’ll never get used to?
KB: This is what’s sick about living in L.A. My eight-year-old daughter will point to a woman and say, “Look! That woman’s had too much Botox.” She spots them because they all look a bit like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter.
GLAMOUR: Has anything surprised you about being married to an American?
KB: I do find it extraordinary that men are so prepared to pay for your dinner here. That simply never happens in England. When I first got together with Len, I couldn’t understand why it seemed like he was always trying to get into my side of the car. He was holding the door open for me! I don’t know what you teach American men in school here, but you have to keep it up, because it’s extremely charming.
GLAMOUR: [Laughs.] We try! Now, do you think the ideal “look” in England is different from that in Hollywood?
KB: What’s considered ideal in Hollywood is completely different than anywhere else in the world. I don’t think you can aspire to it, nor can I. Everybody is retouched, stretched, lengthened, slimmed and trimmed. I could look at a picture of myself from the past and think, why don’t I look like that now? It’s because I never have!
GLAMOUR: Have you ever been unhappy with overly retouched photos of yourself?
KB: I’m more upset about what they haven’t done. The six-foot-long legs I ordered never arrived! [Laughs.]
GLAMOUR: You gained 20 pounds to play Ava Gardner in The Aviator. What was it like to gain weight for a role?
KB: There’s always a slightly defeating moment where your regular jeans won’t fit and you’re going, holy smoke, I can’t get that button anywhere near! But my body needed to look more robust to play Ava. At the time, I was early into my relationship with Len, so I could have covered myself in dirt and he would have gone, “Wow!”
GLAMOUR: Well, you’ve got a rockin’ body. What’s the most drastic change it has ever gone through?
KB: When I was pregnant, everyone told me you’re going to be one of those women with a little football in front. And then this…thing, this Scooby-Doo monster belly arrived. I gained 65 pounds. Every single part of my body was thicker—even my scalp! But that’s the advantage of being young—it went right back.
GLAMOUR: You struggled with anorexia as a teen. Do you think you’ll share your story with your daughter?
KB: I haven’t yet—I don’t want to call too much attention to it. But in general, I believe anorexia, alcoholism and drug abuse in teens are more about what is happening in the home than a problem with images in the media. It’s the nice girl’s way of becoming a crack whore. It means they are in some kind of pain that needs to be addressed.
GLAMOUR: So what’s one question you’d like never to be asked again?
KB: Well, I’d like to have finally answered the anorexic question so profoundly and definitively, that would be the end of it. The only reason I ever brought it up in the first place is because when I was young, I read a lot of misinformation about eating disorders. But because I picked the wrong magazine to tell my story to, I wished I’d never said anything. It was totally sensationalized and that’s been a real drag. I felt terribly violated.
GLAMOUR: And where do you see yourself in 10 years?
KB: In a few years, I’d like to be back home in England; poor Len will be trying to understand what we’re all talking about. Careerwise, I’d like to do some theater. Now that my daughter doesn’t require me to put her to bed every night, I can be a teeny bit more selfish and immerse myself in a project in a way I found difficult to do when she was younger. But who knows? My life has not been predictable. I never would have imagined I’d be living where I’m living, doing what I’m doing or married to an American guy. I’m interested to see what will happen next!