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Kate Beckinsale On Her Return To Underworld

Words: John Gaudiosi
Photo: Flickr/ CC Food Travel

Kate Beckinsale talks vampires, the Underworld franchise and what the future holds in store for the British actress

Kate Beckinsale knows her vampire character, Selene, incredibly well. After all, she’s inhabited this character (off and on) for over a decade. Since Underworld debuted in 2003, the British actress has grown with her “death dealer” character.

The film franchise, which has grossed over $458 million worldwide, has a fifth instalment out soon in the form of Underworld: Blood Wars. And Beckinsale is happy to be back after a hiatus in which she’s been busy working on projects like the Total Recall reboot, The Elder Scrolls Online video game and The Disappointments Room.

“It’s only been five years,” Beckinsale said. “That doesn’t seem – if it had been between the first one and this one I think it would have been a bit more hair raising. But she feels quite familiar now.”

The tag line for the new movie is “The war to end all wars.” Beckinsale’s character is now a powerful Corvinus Strain hybrid. Both the lycans and the vampire clan that betrayed her are out for her blood and the blood of her daughter.

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“Do I look worried?” #UnderworldMovie in theaters January 6th.

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“Selene starts out the movie sort of at her lowest she’s ever been,” says Beckinsale. “She’s on the run from obviously Lycans, as ever, but vampires also. She’s lost Michael. She doesn’t know where her daughter is. She’s had enough. It’s always nice to start with somebody who’s basically so low that she doesn’t give a shit anymore, which is kind of fun (to play).”

First-time director Anna Foerster is behind the newest exploration of the Underworld mythology. At a panel during New York Comic Con, Beckinsale said “I’m all about as many vaginas being involved as possible.” She also took a more serious note about the dearth of female directors in Hollywood. “I hope that in a few years the conversation of a female as a director being unusual will be unusual, too.”

Along for the ride again in the new film are David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), vampires trying to end the never-ending war against the Lycan. The latest sequel promises to broaden the world with more of everything, including new environments.

“There’s a whole bunch of new characters, new adversaries, new villains, new worlds, new covens,” Beckinsale said. “The stakes are really high for Selene this time. So there’s a lot going on. It was definitely worth another visit based on what the story was that we came up with.”

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The original Underworld predates the Twilight and The Vampire Diaries franchises, which are just two examples of Hollywood embracing vampires. Beckinsale was involved with werewolves in Van Helsing just a year after Underworld came out.

“It’s baffling to me because I really do remember when I was first sent the script of Underworld by somebody, it obviously said ‘imagine if vampires and werewolves were fighting,’” Beckinsale said. “It was such a fresh and new idea and everybody was really excited about it. And now I feel like I don’t think anyone can imagine that being a groundbreaker because everyone’s done it. But it does feel nice to have been at ground zero for that.”

It’s also been nice returning to a role that she’s helped evolve over the five films, especially given how much Selene has grown as a character.

“She started out in the first movie as part of an army,” Beckinsale said. “She had a mentor. She fell in love. All that turned to shit. This is a really big deal for her. I think she’s probably the closest to suicidal a vampire has got in movie history.”

The franchise has even spawned some video games. Back in 2004, the first-person shooter Underworld: The Eternal War shipped on PlayStation 2. And now there’s a free Underworld collectible card game on mobile devices. Beckinsale’s likeness is featured in the game, along with the rest of the cast. But she also has some experience working in interactive entertainment, having played Queen Ayrenn in The Elder Scrolls Online.

“It was cool,” Beckinsale said. “It was a great company to work with and it was really fun, and she’s a badass too.”

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