Kate Beckinsale (1973-) b. London, England.
The daughter of Rising Damp and Porridge actor Richard Beckinsale, Kate was raised by her mother after her father’s death from a heart attack in 1979. Beckinsale decided to follow in her father’s acting footsteps and made her movie debut in Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (1993) while still studying at Oxford. She left Oxford the following year and appeared in John Schlesinger‘s adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, initially made for BBC television, it proved to be a minor hit on the art-house circuit. In 1995 she starred opposite Adian Quinn and Sir John Gielgud in the eerie Haunted.
Beckinsale then starred as the altruistic temp in the quirky romantic comedy Shooting Fish, becoming one of 1997′s highest grossing films. Her performance as a catty New York sophisticate in Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998) earned her serious plaudits. She then worked on the Merchant/Ivory production of Henry James’ The Golden Bowl (2000), Michael Bay’s lavish World War II epic Pearl Harbour, and opposite John Cusack in the romantic comedy Serendipity (2001). With her willing grasp of an American accent, Hollywood was beckoning.
Her highest profile role to date came in Underworld (2003), a glossy supernatural thriller with Romeo-and-Juliet overtones, in which Beckinsale played a vampire embroiled in a long feud with a werewolf clan. She followed this up with another action-packed supernatural thriller, teaming with Hugh Jackman for the comic-book action film Van Helsing (2004). The actress was better served by director Martin Scorsese’s visually arresting Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator (2004), in which she portrayed fiery film icon Ava Gardner.
Beckinsale next revived the vampire Selene for the lacklustre sequel, Underworld: Evolution (2006). Meanwhile, she turned her hand to comedy to star as Adam Sandler’s wife in Click (2006), an amusing if unexceptional film about an overworked architect whose life changes when he receives a remote that can pause, rewind or fast-forward time. A more meaty role was offered up in the downbeat ensemble drama Snow Angels (2008), playing a woman whose turbulent marriage recalls dark memories from the past.