Kathrin Romary "Kate" Beckinsale (born 26 July 1973) is a British actress and model. After some minor television roles, she made her film debut in Much Ado About Nothing (1993) while still a student at the University of Oxford. She then appeared in British costume dramas such as Prince of Jutland (1994), Cold Comfort Farm (1995), Emma (1996), and The Golden Bowl (2000), in addition to various stage and radio productions. She began to seek film work in the United States in the late 1990s and, after appearing in small-scale dramas The Last Days of Disco (1998) and Brokedown Palace (1999), she had starring roles in the war drama Pearl Harbor and the romantic comedy Serendipity. She followed those with appearances in The Aviator (2004) and Click (2006).
Since being cast as Selene in the Underworld film series (2003-present), Beckinsale has become known primarily for her work in action films, including Van Helsing (2004), Whiteout (2009), Contraband (2012), and Total Recall (2012). She also continues to make appearances in smaller dramatic projects such as Snow Angels (2007), Nothing but the Truth (2008), and Everybody's Fine (2009). In 2016, she appeared in Whit Stillman's Jane Austen comedy Love & Friendship.
Early life and education Beckinsale was born in Chiswick, London, England. She is the only child of actor Richard Beckinsale and actress Judy Loe. She has an older paternal half-sister, actress Samantha Beckinsale, but they have not had regular contact. Her father was of one quarter Burmese descent. She made her first television appearance at the age of four, in an episode of This is Your Life dedicated to her father. When she was five years old, her 31-year-old father died suddenly of a heart attack. Beckinsale was deeply traumatised by the loss and "started expecting bad things to happen." Her widowed mother moved in with director Roy Battersby when Beckinsale was nine and she was brought up alongside his four sons and daughter. She has a close relationship with her step-father, who was a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party during her childhood. Beckinsale helped to sell The News Line, a Trotskyist newspaper, as a child and has said the household phone was tapped following Battersby's blacklisting by the BBC. Family friends included Ken Loach and Vanessa Redgrave.
Beckinsale was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School, an independent school for girls in Hammersmith, West London and was involved with the Orange Tree Youth Theatre. She is a twice winner of the WH Smith Young Writers Award for both fiction and poetry. She has described herself as a "late bloomer": "All of my friends were kissing boys and drinking cider way before me. I found it really depressing that we weren't making camp fires and everyone was doing grown-up stuff." "I loathed being a teenager." She had a nervous breakdown and developed anorexia at the age of 15 and underwent Freudian psychoanalysis for four years.
Beckinsale read French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford, and was later described by a contemporary, journalist Victoria Coren Mitchell, as "whip-clever, slightly nuts, and very charming". She 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. As a Modern Languages student, she was required to spend her third year abroad, and studied in Paris. She then decided to quit university to concentrate on her burgeoning acting career: "It was getting to the point where I wasn't enjoying either thing enough because both were very high pressure."
Acting career 1991–97: Early acting roles Beckinsale decided at a young age she wanted to be an actress: "I grew up immersed in film. My family were in the business. I quickly realised that my parents seemed to have much more fun in their work than any of my friends’ parents." She was inspired by the performances of Jeanne Moreau. She made her television debut in 1991 with a small part in an ITV adaptation of P. D. James’ Devices and Desires. Also that year, she appeared as a young woman engaging in a forbidden affair with a Nazi officer in the Hallmark film One Against the Wind. In 1992 she starred alongside Christopher Eccleston in Rachel’s Dream, a 30‑minute Channel 4 short, and in 1993, she appeared in the pilot of the ITV detective series, Anna Lee, starring Imogen Stubbs.
In 1993, Beckinsale landed the role of Hero in Kenneth Branagh's big-screen adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. It was filmed in Tuscany, Italy, during a summer holiday from Oxford University. She attended the film's Cannes Film Festival premiere and remembered it as an overwhelming experience ...
Religion Beckinsale's religion is Christian.