Nowadays, most successful actors’ careers go a little something like this: You score some gig in a blockbuster franchise, usually a Marvel or a DC expanded universe. Those keep the lights on, and in your spare time you do the serious fare you truly love.
Kate Beckinsale was doing that before comic books truly took over everything. When the English actress broke through in the early aughts, she lucked into the Underworld franchise, the other franchise about vampires and werewolves (sorry: lycans), at the same time she was doing thoughtful fare like Laurel Canyon and The Aviator for no less than Martin Scorsese.
In a new interview with Variety, Beckinsale left no doubt which kind of movie she preferred. While at the Toronto International Film Festival promoting her new drama Farming, the actress was inevitably asked about Underworld, of which she’s made five entries and which also appeared alongside Brits like Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy. Midway through, the journalist asked her if she’d do another one. Her answer was concise: “I wouldn’t return. I’ve done plenty of those.”
If you’d like, compare and contrast that clipped response with Beckinsale’s answers about non-Underworld films in the interview, which are wordy and passionate. She gave much of her 30s and some of her 40s to the series, each one about bloodsuckers and hair-mongers locked in an eternal battle, with Beckinsale, on the former side, decked out in a Matrix-y combo of trenchcoats and handguns.
You’d almost think she had never done Shakespeare, which she did, in Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film of Much Ado About Nothing. But Beckinsale, whose last Underworld was 2016’s Blood Wars, should be fine without Selene, her vampiric sorta-hero. Only two years ago she earned the best reviews of her life for the Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship, which reunited her with her The Last Days of Disco director Whit Stillman and co-star Chloë Sevigny.
In Farming, she plays the white foster mother of a Nigerian child, based on the life of its maker, actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. She’d much rather talk about that than about Underworld, or even Wonder Woman, whom she almost played in the ’00s, and about which she simply said, “It would have been a terrible movie based on the script that I read.” Besides, not doing blockbusters means not having to hear Michael Bay’s terrible thoughts about her.