Perhaps one of actor Kate Beckinsale’s most known roles is her work as the vampire warrior Selena in the Underworld franchise. The series has benefited Beckinsale in more ways than one. Not only did starring in the franchise help increase the actor’s profile, it also helped change the actor’s image in Hollywood.
Kate Beckinsale had a feeling that the first ‘Underworld’ film was going to be a B movie
Beckinsale was already fairly well known in Hollywood’s landscape having starred in films like Pearl Harbor and Serendipity. When Underworld was first brought to her attention, it came in with a bunch of other scripts that were sent to the actor. But Beckinsale was hesitant to pick up the script at first.
“I wasn’t in a big rush to read it because I had a feeling it was going to be a B-movie, kind of schlocky horror thing when I heard it was werewolves and vampires. And I didn’t fancy running about in a white nightgown, screaming and all that,” she once said in an interview with IGN. “But it happened to be that the director [Len Wiseman] had done all these drawings that he’d sort of put inside the script. So, I saw those and said, ‘Oh! OK, that looks kind of like what I’d like seeing.’”
Beckinsale would later decide to do the film series because of her fascination with action films.
“I thought it was great. I must say, I really do seriously always have loved action movies. When you get sent a great script for an action movie, and want to play the boys part…. You know, because normally… it’s like in Die Hard. I don’t want to be sitting on an airplane making phone calls. I want to be blowing up the elevator shaft,” she added.
Kate Beckinsale starred in ‘Underworld’ to change her image
Another reason for Beckinsale’s transition into action films was it gave the actor an opportunity to break away from a specific type of role. The Jolt actor was aware she was largely known for performing in a certain genre of film.
“I feel like I’ve done a bunch of period stuff and then a bunch of romantic comedies. It was a big thing for me, suddenly, having been with that English royalty and, if you can imagine being out there, playing [similar roles] for the last six years,” she said. “I felt kind of like… I’m glad I’ve never been so successful that I couldn’t stop doing one thing. I’ve kind of been able to just kick it along and switch around.”
Beckinsale was also motivated to take on the character because of being turned down for other film roles.
“I’d had some feedback from casting directors kind of saying, ‘We don’t know if we really want to see her for this part, because it’s a cop, and she’s really very delicate and British and fragile,’” she once told the LA Times (via Digital Spy). “And I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something about that. I’ve got to play something that has a little bit more edge to it.’”
Kate Beckinsale didn’t expect the ‘Underworld’ franchise to take off the way it did
The first Underworld was the catalyst for a franchise that led to four more Underworld movies. Beckinsale reprised her role in four out of the five movies, which was a commitment she didn’t expect. In an interview with Yahoo, the actor discussed her surprise in the lasting success of the series.
“I didn’t think I’d do another one after the first one! Really, the first one was an experiment for me; it wasn’t in my career trajectory or plan,” she said. “I saw the beginning of my career as an apprenticeship. My rule of thumb was: ‘If it scares the s*** out of me, I should probably do it.’ I didn’t know it was going to take off, and that I’d be doing the fifth film in a franchise. The fact that it’s become so closely allied with me is a weird feeling, but there’s also something really cool about it.”