Kate Beckinsale Biography

Actress, Film Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress (1973–)
Kate Beckinsale is a British actress whose starring role in the 'Underworld' films catapulted her to international stardom.

Who Is Kate Beckinsale?

Born in London in 1973, actress Kate Beckinsale began her career on the British stage. She enjoyed her first taste of blockbuster success with the 2001 epic Pearl Harbor, and went on to star in Underworld (2003) and several sequels of the horror-action franchise. Beckinsale has also earned acclaim for her performances in dramas like Snow Angels (2007), and in 2019 she began starring in the ITV/Amazon Video series The Widow.

Early Years and Career

Born in London, England, on July 26, 1973, Kate Beckinsale was 5 years old when her father, British comedian and actor Richard Beckinsale, died of a heart attack. The loss affected her deeply, and she later developed anorexia. To overcome the condition, she attended Freudian psychoanalysis five days a week for four years, eventually recovering. 

Beckinsale began acting on the stage while enrolled at Oxford University and landed her first major film role in Kenneth Branagh's big-screen Shakespearean adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing as a freshman.

In 1995, Kate Beckinsale dropped out of Oxford to pursue her blossoming acting career. Shortly thereafter, she appeared in Cold Comfort Farm, Haunted and an adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma for television.

Move to Hollywood: 'The Last Days of Disco' and 'Brokedown Palace'

Kate Beckinsale’s Hollywood career began with 1998's The Last Days of Disco (with Chloe Sevigny). Brokedown Palace (with Claire Danes) soon followed in 1999, and her work in the film earned her a London Critics Circle Film Award.

Also in 1999, Beckinsale gave birth to a daughter, Lily Mo Sheen. Beckinsale and fellow actor Michael Sheen met in 1995, and remained together until 2003.

'Pearl Harbor'

After a short break following the birth of her daughter, Beckinsale was cast in 2001's Pearl Harbor, opposite Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. One of the highest-grossing films of 2001, Pearl Harbor brought Beckinsale a new level of fame, but she followed this blockbuster with Serendipity, The Golden Bowl and Laurel Canyon—a romantic comedy, period piece and character study, respectively—none of which would give any indication to the direction the actress’s career was about to take.

The 'Underworld' Franchise

In 2003, Kate Beckinsale took on the starring role of a vampire in the supernatural action-horror movie Underworld. While the film was nearly universally panned by critics, the movie-going public swept it to the top of the box office, and it raked in over $95 million worldwide.

Underworld was also significant in Beckinsale's personal life. She fell for the film's director, Len Wiseman, and ended her eight-year relationship with Michael Sheen. Becksinale and Wiseman married in 2004, though Wiseman later filed for divorce in 2016.

Beckinsale reprised her role in 2006, in Underworld: Evolution. The film didn’t resonate as well with audiences, but its moderate success led to a third film in the series, the prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009), in which Beckinsale had a small, uncredited role.

The franchise proved to have surprising legs, and Beckinsale returned to star in  Underworld: Awakening (2012) and Underworld: Blood Wars (2016).

'Snow Angels' to 'The Widow'

During the decade-plus run of the Underworld films, Beckinsale also earned acclaim for her performances in the dramas Snow Angels (2007) and Nothing But the Truth (2008).

Following a lull in her career, Beckinsale earned some of her strongest praise for her starring role in the period piece Love & Friendship (2016), based on Jane Austen's Lady Susan. The following year she figured prominently in The Only Living Boy in New York, as a part of a love triangle with a father and son.

In early 2019, Beckinsale pivoted to the small screen with the ITV/Amazon Video drama The Widow, about a woman who heads to Africa to find her missing husband. Around this time, she also made news for her romance with younger funnyman Pete Davidson.

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