Underworld: Awakenings marks Kate Beckinsale’s third outing — after skipping the franchise’s last installment — as ruthless, gun-toting vampire Selene, so the British actress has had time to adjust to her character’s temper. “I suppose it’s my second or third time playing the character, so I’m used to the fact that she doesn’t hold back when she’s annoyed,” she says.
Annoyed is one way to put it. In the new film, Selene bites, shoots and stabs her way through countless human and werewolf foe after waking up from a forced 12-year hibernation. And after three films, Beckinsale is still amazed she’s developed a reputation as an action star. “It’s so crazy, it’s absolutely mad. And you’d think I’d be more used to it now,” she says.
So what would the Oxford-educated actress like to be doing besides dispatching bad guys? Making people laugh. “I’m quite smiley and jolly in real life,” she says. “I’d love to do more comedy. I don’t find very many comedies where I find the women’s parts are very funny. Bridesmaids was so exciting because that doesn’t happen very often.”
Of course, Kristen Wiig and her Bridesmaids crew had to write those parts for themselves. “Interestingly, they don’t have children,” Beckinsale says with a laugh. “I realize there’s a limit to the multitasking that I’m capable of. There are people who are much more capable of doing 20 things, and I’m doing two as well as I can. So I know that I’m moving into a very different stage with my daughter. She’s about to be 13 this month, and whilst obviously you’re still their mother, it’s in a slightly different way than when they’re three years old. I’m anticipating a little bit more free time while she’s on Facebook.”
At 38, Beckinsale is by no means old, but Hollywood can be a cruel place for actresses. She acknowledges the industry’s double standard for women and men when it comes to maturity, but she’s ignoring it. “You’re talking to someone who’s just spent the entire year running about on a wire,” she says. “For me, I haven’t been handed my carpet slippers or experienced any career hot-flashes yet. I’m sure I will, but this hasn’t been it. So I’m able to live in my little bubble where I’m not about to be 70 years old.”
In fact, when comparing how she handled the stunt work on the first Underworld film to Underworld: Awakenings, Beckinsale says she’s actually getting better with age. “I just feel better because I was such a novice then,” she says. “Whether I’ve lost energy, eggs, hope, bone density, whatever — fullness in my breasts — I’m not aware of that as much as I am the fact that I’m more confident in the stuff.”