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Kate Beckinsale had to shape up for Pearl Harbor role

Published 27/05/2016

Kate Beckinsale
Kate Beckinsale

The pretty Brit didn't really impress Michael Bay as a leading lady in his 1941 period blockbuster.

Movie boss Michael Bay told Kate Beckinsale to hit the gym in order to win a role in his Pearl Harbor epic, because she didn't fit his leading lady mold.

The British actress was still trying to regain her pre-baby weight after becoming a mum, but she felt really good about herself when she met with Bay for the role of military nurse Lieutenant Evelyn Johnson in the 2001 movie.

But she didn't expect to hear what the blockbuster king said to her.

"I think he was baffled by me because my boobs weren't bigger than my head and I wasn't blonde," Kate said while promoting her new period movie Love And Friendship on Friday night's (27May16) Graham Norton Show in the U.K. "I don't think I fitted the type of actress Michael Bay, the director, had met before."

"I'd just had my daughter and had lost weight but was told that if I got the part I'd have to work out and I just didn't understand why a 1940s nurse would do that," the actress added.

And there was worse to come when the stars began promoting the movie.

"Michael was asked why he had chosen Ben (Affleck) and Josh (Hartnett)," she recalled. "He said, 'I have worked with Ben before and I love him and Josh is so manly and a wonderful actor.

"And then, when he was asked about me, he'd say, 'Kate wasn't so attractive that she would alienate the female audience!' He kept saying it everywhere we went - and we went to a lot of places."

The film was the now-42-year-old's first major role and helped turn her into a Hollywood A-lister, but Bay's tough comments and other criticisms brought back insecurities from her childhood.

"I was going through an ugly stage around seven or eight and my best friend, who was totally beautiful, came into school one day and announced she was going to be in an advert," Kate told Norton. "I thought the world had ended.

"I went home and wrote a letter saying how keen I was to be in an ad, and it had to be really soon! But I sent it to the BBC and I didn't know they didn't do ads!"

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