Kate Beckinsale made her movie debut in Kenneth Branagh's production of Much Ado About Nothing after studying French and Russian literature at Oxford University.
Landing a leading role opposite Keanu Reeves, Emma Thompson and Denzel Washington would be quite an achievement for an established performer, but for a silver screen newcomer it was nothing short of remarkable.
When was Kate Beckinsale born?
Born in London on July 26, 1973, Kate is the daughter of the late actor Richard Beckinsale, of Porridge fame, and theatre actress Judy Loe. Her early years were marked by tragedy and personal challenges, with the loss of her father at the age of five and a near-fatal battle with anorexia in her teens. The aspiring thespian emerged a strong and determined young woman, however, and when her high-profile Shakespearean debut provoked a flood of movie offers, she abandoned her studies to pursue acting full-time.
What films has Kate Beckinsale been in?
A series of independent films such as Cold Comfort Farm and Shooting Fish followed, along with some well-received theatre productions. Kate's growing reputation as the queen of art house cinema was blown sky-high when she landed the role of Nurse Johnson opposite Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, in the 2001 mega-blockbuster Pearl Harbor. And suddenly Kate found herself within Hollywood's big-budget embrace, her name inevitably attached to the label "English Rose".
She wasn't about to become a victim of typecasting, however, and smashed the "rose" mould with the supernatural thriller Underworld.
"I'm just glad to be doing a film where I'm not wearing some sort of corset or restrictive girdle," joked the actress.
She took several years off but returned in 2016 in the acclaimed romantic comedy Love & Friendship, which was based on Jane Austen's Lady Susan. She also returned to TV, starring in the Amazon Prime series The Widow (2019), her first TV series for more than 20 years.
Who has Kate Beckinsale dated?
In 1995, she met and fell in love with British actor Michael Sheen, with whom, four years later, she had a daughter, Lily.
Making the film Underworld would prove as pivotal for her personal life as her career though, as speculation that she had embarked upon a romance with director Len Wiseman abounded after both she and the first-time filmmaker ended their respective relationships.
The rumors were confirmed when the pair announced their engagement in June 2003. Falling for Len made life somewhat complicated, especially considering that Kate's long-time partner Michael was co-starring in the film. But as the actress points out, falling in love isn't something you can control.
"When you know, you really do," she says. "If you meet someone who makes you feel like you'd die if you're not with them, there's not much you can do about that."
Kate and Len married in 2004 but but she filed for divorce in 2016, citing "irreconcilable difference," and it was finalized in November 2019.