Kate Beckinsale: I'm fighting fit
Kate Beckinsale, whose new movie Contraband hits cinemas next month, talks about living in Hollywood and how her strict workout regime helps her stay in shape for her action-packed roles.
Hollywood actresses are required to strut their stuff to promote their movies, and surely few do it better than Kate Beckinsale. Posing and showing off her enviable figure, scantily clad in a billowing blue shirt, a pair of gleaming white pants and pink stilettos, she says: “It's been about two years since I've posed in my knickers like this — now I'm at it all the time,” as she prances around obligingly on what, from the ground, appears like a precarious platform set on a rooftop, high over Sunset Boulevard.
At 38, the daughter of the late actor Richard Beckinsale looks every inch a Hollywood bombshell — all big hair and golden skin.
But for the last two years, not much has been seen of her. A film she worked on in 2009 with Matt Dillon and Vera Farmiga went straight to DVD, and a Hollywood writers' strike meant there were few projects around.
“I didn't plan on a sabbatical, there just wasn't anything I was dying to do and I have to really make a decision — is it worth me being away from my kid?” she explains.
She has a daughter, Lily, from her eight-year relationship with Welsh actor Michael Sheen, who is famous for playing prime minister Tony Blair in the film, The Queen.
“She's 13 now, so I've only got a few more years with her before she goes off to college. These years are important,” Beckinsale says.
She split with Sheen in 2003 when she met American film director Len Wiseman (39) on the set of the first Underworld film. The couple married in 2004.
As well as a turning point in her personal life, it marked a new direction in her professional one too, as she became known for her action-packed roles.
Last year she made three movies back-to-back, the action thriller Contraband, opening in cinemas on March 16, where she plays the wife of an ex-criminal played by Mark Wahlberg, then the fourth Underworld film, reprising her role as uber-slinky vampire Selene and finally Total Recall opposite Colin Farrell.
It's all been rather a surprising development for the academic Beckinsale, who studied languages and literature at Oxford University and early in her career made her name in a variety of serious dramas such as a film of Cold Comfort Farm, in theatre in The Seagull, and ITV's Emma. While we meet she impressively also manages to multi-task by simultaneously giving an interview to new magazine Women's Health (womenshealthmag.co.uk).
“It's not really in my nature to do all this ass-kicking,” she confesses with a smile, revealing that she suffers a lot of bumps and bruises while filming the physically demanding roles.
“When I first started training for Underworld they were like, ‘She can't even run!' And I couldn't!”
But her disciplined professionalism regarding her career has been replicated in her approach to her fitness, even though she described it initially as “a challenge”.
“It's not a mystery. I just have to get on with it,” she says.
Beckinsale has a strict diet, which includes lean protein meals every three hours, and works out with routines and yoga daily at her home in Los Angeles.
“I have a personal instructor who comes round and we work out in the kitchen near the dog bowl,” she says.
“If I'm away, or she is, we do it on Skype. I really like that you have a bit of a lie-down at the end, that keeps me going!”
She insists that her glowing good looks aren't down to any artificial help, saying she's never had any “work done” — not even on her teeth.
“You're welcome to look for scars,” she says, leaning forward obligingly.
“I haven't even done Botox. Look, I can move my face. But according to popular opinion, I've had everything on my face replaced.
“I read somewhere I had my chin replaced. I wouldn't know the first place to get a chin!”
“Maybe I'll start getting everything replaced when I'm 50 — start at the ankles and work up.”
Working with her husband, who directed her in the first two Underworlds and in Total Recall, has strengthened their relationship rather than tested it, she says.
“Being separated for five or six months [working away on set] I think is worse,” she says.
And she reveals her husband is relaxed about the fact that sometimes for her roles she has to get intimate with other actors, as happened with Colin Farrell on Total Recall.
“I've done it before on Underworld and Len was all right with it,” she says.
She adds jokingly, “I think it was worse for Colin. It's awkward if you have to fondle the director's wife. Especially with Len saying, ‘All right, that's it, you're fired'.”
Contraband opens in cinemas on March 16