KATE BECKINSALE on 'WHITEOUT'
Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
July 27, 2007, introduction updated September 8, 2009
At one point, Kate Beckinsale had an ongoing tradition of attending Comic-Con, armed with a string of sci-fi and action films aimed at genre fans: Underworld, Van Helsing, and Underworld: Evolution. Her streak continued through the summer of 2007, when she came to the annual convention with Whiteout, based on the acclaimed comic book series written by Greg Rucka. At the time, the murder mystery thriller had a relatively imminent theatrical release date planned. But that original timetable was derailed, and Whiteout's big screen debut was ultimately delayed by some two years.
Now, with the film finally upon us, we thought it would be fun to re-visit what Kate had to say about it back in the day. In this interview conducted at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con, she previews her part in the film, talking about her character and the experience of shooting in the extreme cold of Manitoba. As an amusing aside, she also gives an update on her status as one of the only non-drivers in all of Los Angeles.
KATE: Hello! How are you?
MEDIA: Good. And you?
So...Another year, another Comic-Con...
Isn't that unbelievable? I've been doing so many other types of things, and I still manage to squeak in.
I'm staying at a hotel that is starting to remind me of the one in Vacancy...
Oh my God, so did I, on Whiteout! I finished Vacancy, went to Whiteout, and they put us in one of those.
What attracted you to this project?
Well, it was actually quite nice to do one of these type of movies. I love genre movies. I love other kinds of movies, too, but I do like these kinds of movies, and it was nice to play someone who is a human, actually, for a change. Usually, I'm grappling with how to make this realistic when she's been alive for 700 years and all that. And I thought it was an interesting story. I thought it was an interesting character.
Was this role physically challenging?
It wasn't so much. There wasn't as much action as I'm used to--it wasn't weapons and fighting as much. It was more just the conditions were really different. And especially the first few weeks, it was like -58 where we were. You know, I'm thinking, "I did Van Helsing in Prague and that was cold, and I did Underworld in a latex suit in Budapest!" And it was just completely different.
Well, first of all, when we arrived in the hotel, they gave us sort of a telephone directory of "these are all the different ways that you can die of being cold." [laughs] You can get frostbite and hypothermia, and your fingers falling off, and if you've ever had an alcoholic drink in your life, basically, forget it! So half the crew were freaking out. In fact, all the crew were freaking out. And, you know, when you see movies and they've got like the frost in the beard, and it always looks a little bit fake...When I got on the set, I'm like, "Well, why has the director got [that]? Have they done make-up tests on the whole crew?" But it was real! [laughs] And my hair...I had a bob in the movie, and my hair would, just from breathing on it, freeze into a white point. And I had never known anything like that. So really what was tiring was every time you get inside anywhere, you have to take all the clothes off, otherwise you overheat. So most of the movie was just pulling on five pairs of pants and pulling off five pairs of pants. [laughs]
Does your character in the film differ from her comic book version?
A little bit. They wanted her as a kind of jumping off point. I mean, the whole comic book was fairly different. I found out that my co-star actually should've been a woman--you know, Gabriel Macht's character is a chick in the comic book. But they wanted her to be very real and earthy, and they gave her a big backstory of terrible things that have happened to her, and she's gone out to kind of forget about it. You know, you can understand why somebody might [lose themselves out there]. I mean, we just went to Manitoba. God knows what it would be like in [Antarctica]. [laughs]
Do they keep her struggle with alcoholism?
No. I was kind of bummed about that, because I thought that was a nice beat. But I guess this is Hollywood... [laughs]
What did you like about the comic book?
You know, I have an 8-year-old daughter, I like to be part of [stories that empower women]. There's some strong women's roles out there, and it seems to be that a lot of the strongest women's roles are actually in the genre movies, weirdly enough. So I really like to do that. And she had some complicated stuff going on. She had a really good story. It wasn't just running around and skidding on some ice--you know, the [physical struggles] and all the reason that she's actually come out there, I thought, were interesting.
Do you have a favorite scene from the movie?
I have seen absolutely no footage at all. I was even stuck behind the train and missed the clips [shown to the fans]. So I don't know. But the whiteout [blizzard] stuff is really cool, and it was great to actually do that there in the cold.
Was your family with you while you were shooting in these harsh conditions?
My kid always comes with me. [laughs]
Does she watch your films?
She won't watch any of them. Not any.
Not even the action adventures?
No. We tried to, actually...We were just on holiday and it was on pay-per-view, Van Helsing, and she was like, [shouts fiercely] "No! No! No, no!" Some Like It Hot is her favorite movie.
Has she seen Click?
She's in Click for a split-second. She's furious because her line was cut, so Click's a totally sensitive subject around our house. [laughs]
So...Have you learned to drive yet?
No. [jokes] I was busy. I was in the North Pole! [laughs]
Surely there must be someone else in LA who doesn't drive...
There's like three of us. Apparently Penelope Cruz doesn't.
Are you going to eventually learn?
I'm going to. Because when I get a bit older, it's going to not be like "how interesting, eccentric, and cute!" Because I also have two cats! [laughs] It's all going to become a disaster soon.
Is there a type of role that you're still searching for?
Oh my God, I haven't even started! Yes, very much. I mean, I've been looking for a comedy that I think is funny for so many years. [laughs] With Click, it may be a comedy, but the woman's not that funny, you know what I mean? I love Noel Coward and that kind of humor. So I'd love something that had a real, intelligent wit to it. That's what I'd love to do.
Kate, thanks for your time. You're as cool as always.
Oh, that's so nice of you. It was really nice to see you guys.