Kathryn Bailey “Kate” Beckinsale (born 26 July 1973) is an English actress.
She initially came to prominence in the 1990s for her roles in costume dramas such as Cold Comfort Farm, Much Ado About Nothing and Emma. Following a breakout performance in 2001’s Pearl Harbor, she has appeared in big-budget Hollywood movies like The Aviator, the Underworld films and Van Helsing as well as smaller independent movies such as Everybody’s Fine and Winged Creatures. She earned a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for her performance in 2008’s Nothing But the Truth.
She has three films set for release in 2012: Underworld: Awakening, Contraband and Total Recall.
Beckinsale was born in London to actor Richard Beckinsale and actress Judy Loe. Her father unexpectedly died from a heart attack in 1979 (at the age of 31) when she was five years old. Her mother later remarried, to director Roy Battersby, and Beckinsale was raised alongside his four sons and daughter. She also has a paternal half-sister, actress Samantha Beckinsale.
Beckinsale attended Godolphin and Latymer School in West London and was involved with the Orange Tree Youth Theatre. In her teens, she twice won the W. H. Smith Young Writers’ competition—once for short stories and once for poetry. She had a nervous breakdown and developed anorexia at the age of fifteen and underwent Freudian psychoanalysis for four years.
She studied French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford University and was involved with the Oxford University Dramatic Society, most notably being directed by fellow student Tom Hooper in a production of A View from the Bridge at the Oxford Playhouse. She spent her third year in Paris as part of Oxford’s study-abroad program, after which she decided to leave university to concentrate on her burgeoning acting career.
Beckinsale landed her first major role, in Kenneth Branagh’s big-screen Shakespearean adaptation, Much Ado About Nothing, during her first year at Oxford University. She filmed three other movies while at university: Prince of Jutland, Uncovered and French-language Marie-Louise Ou La Permission. Shortly after leaving Oxford, Beckinsale appeared in Cold Comfort Farm, Haunted and the TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. In 1995 and 1996, Beckinsale worked on four plays, most notably The Seagull opposite Michael Sheen. In 1997, she starred in Shooting Fish and as Juliet in a radio production of Romeo and Juliet opposite her then partner, Michael Sheen, who also directed.
Beckinsale then began to seek work in Los Angeles, starring in 1998’s The Last Days of Disco with Chloe Sevigny and 1999’s Brokedown Palace with Claire Danes. The former earned her a London Critics Circle Film Award. After a 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 its year. She followed this with Serendipity, The Golden Bowl and Laurel Canyon.
She became known as an action star following staring roles in Underworld and Van Helsing. In 2004, she portrayed Ava Gardner in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a role for which she gained almost 1½ stones (21 lbs). Other roles included Click with Adam Sandler and Tiptoes with Gary Oldman.
In 2006, Beckinsale reprised her role as a vampire in the successful sequel Underworld: Evolution and, in 2007, she appeared in thriller Vacancy and independent film Snow Angels. In 2008, she appeared in Winged Creatures and Nothing But the Truth, receiving a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for her performance in the latter. Despite strong award buzz for both Beckinsale and co-star Vera Farmiga, the film never received a full theatrical release after the distributor filed for bankruptcy. In 2009, she starred in the comic-book adaption Whiteout and Everybody’s Fine opposite Robert De Niro.
Beckinsale has three films set for release in 2012: Underworld: Awakening, Contraband and Total Recall.
Beckinsale married American film director Len Wiseman on 9 May 2004 in Bel-Air, California. They live in Los Angeles with Beckinsale’s daughter, Lily Mo Sheen.
Beckinsale previously had an eight-year relationship with Welsh actor Michael Sheen from 1995 to 2003, after meeting when cast in a touring production of The Seagull. Their daughter, Lily Mo Sheen, was born 31 January 1999. The relationship ended after the filming of Underworld (in which they both starred) because Beckinsale realised she had fallen for Len Wiseman, the film’s married director. The former couple have remained close friends. Beckinsale has said, “I love him dearly – I would miss him dreadfully if he wasn’t in my life.” “He is one of the most thoughtful, principled people and Lily is so lucky to have him as a dad.”
Text taken from Wikipedia