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Kate Beckinsale on returning to UK for new ITV drama

ITV drama The Widow, starring Kate Beckinsale, follows one woman's mission to find her disappeared husband.

The Widow.?Pictured: Kate Beckinsale as Georgia Wells.
The Widow.?Pictured: Kate Beckinsale as Georgia Wells.

By Georgia Humphreys

Marks & Spencer, black cabs and her mum; three things Kate Beckinsale, quite understandably, misses about life in the UK. Never mind the fact that, over here, "everyone has the same silly references that you have and a certain sort of sense of humour".

"Most particularly in men. There's a kind of machismo in America," suggests the London-born actress (45), who now lives in California. "I love that English men have a kind of self-deprecating humour about themselves, on the whole. It's really healthy and I miss that."

It's been 26 years since Beckinsale made her film debut in Much Ado About Nothing, while still a student at Oxford. She later moved to work in Hollywood and became famous for a variety of roles, including Pearl Harbor and the Underworld series.

But last year saw her return to the UK for a job - new ITV drama The Widow, in which she plays the lead role, Georgia Wells.

The mysterious story follows Georgia as her search to solve the disappearance of her husband Will (Matthew Le Nevez) leads her to the Congo.

For Beckinsale, the character was "somebody who has had blow after blow personally and was in an incredibly vulnerable state of retreat". She elaborates: "She's moved to this very remote area of Wales, she doesn't interact with human beings very much, she's clearly depressed and at a real kind of crossroads in her life."

In the first episode, Georgia is sitting in a doctor's waiting room watching the news, when she sees a man on-screen who she thinks might be her husband.

The next thing you know, she's jumping on a plane to the Congo to find out if it could really be him, considering she believed he died in a plane crash three years earlier.

Does Beckinsale think she would act in the same way in Georgia's situation?

"It's one of those things that's very common when somebody's lost a loved one. Almost everyone's had that weird experience when they're on the Tube and think they see them, or they're somewhere public, 'Oh my God, there's my boyfriend, or my dad, or my mum'. And that's such a jarring thing," says the actress, who is the only child of actors Richard Beckinsale and Judy Loe.

The process of filming The Widow was quite an unusual one for Beckinsale. Initially, she was only given the first few episodes to read (the rest weren't written yet), so, she signed on completely unaware of the outcome of the series, which is written by brothers Harry and Jack Williams, also responsible for hit dramas such as The Missing and Liar.

"It was very intriguing to receive the first few episodes and go, 'I wonder what's going to happen to this woman', but at the same time, it's a bit unnerving. Normally, you're not four months into shooting when you find out what happens at the end."

The actress has appeared on-screen a couple of times with daughter Lily-Mo Sheen, in rom-com Click and Underworld: Evolution.

But she isn't sure the 20-year-old, whose dad is Welsh actor Michael Sheen (he and Beckinsale met while starring in a play together in 1995, but split in 2003), will end up following her parents' footsteps into the acting industry full-time.

"She's an extremely talented actress. She's also very good at a lot of other things. One of the nice things about the university years is that you get to really feel your way through to see what your deep passion is. She's got a lot of options. Following me not being high priority, I think."

There has been a fair bit of media attention on Beckinsale's love life over the years - most recently she's been papped on what looks like dates with 25-year-old Pete Davidson, a comedian known for Saturday Night Live.

But while there's no denying she's a much-talked about star, she comes across as charmingly down-to-earth.

"There's an English shop here where you can buy food that you would never buy in England, so you find yourself coming home, emotionally clutching a bag full of brown sauce and Instant Whip and things like that, that you'd never buy at home," she says.

"And it's a bit similar with television - you suddenly find that you've watched every Loose Women episode or you're devoted to Celebrity Big Brother."

She's invested enough time in Loose Women to discuss her favourite panel member.

"That's tricky. In terms of who would I go on holiday with? I'd say I'm always quite pleased when Katie Price is on, but if I had to go on a mini-break, I'd probably go with Jane (Moore) or Nadia (Sawalha). I might go with Nadia."

The Widow, ITV, Monday, 9pm

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