Thank you for asking me to interview you, this is so fun! First of all, I want to say that I loved the movie, it was fantastic. I loved your character Lindy, and I loved seeing that type of heroine in a movie.
It's funny, there are people who absolutely love it and get it, and then there are people who don't. I'm just glad I've put this character out into the world because she’s English and funny and sort of damaged, and while it's a very “tropey” movie, the character’s really unique. I was so glad I got to do that.
It was so well done, and really funny. I've never seen you do a role like that before!
I haven’t ever got to. I know when we first met, we were in a romantic comedy, but after that, ever since the minute I was handed a machine gun, people have been nervous of putting me in a comedy. But that’s actually the thing I'm the most comfortable with, and you know that because you know me in real life. I definitely was like the English Jackie Chan for a minute there though, which was a complete accident.
You really are one of the funniest people I know, you make me laugh harder than anyone and you always have. You are the funniest, wittiest, and smartest person, and so watching it I was like, “Kate has to be improvising this. There's no way a writer could write something funnier than she could say”. Did you improvise?
A little bit. They were great in giving me latitude to colour in the character dialogue a bit, so I was allowed to have a play with things, and write certain bits. It was really nice to have that latitude, because I felt like I wanted Lindy to be so specifically like that.
That's great, what about the scene where you first come in and you're so excited, you're talking about the date when you kiss, and you're like, “it was so great, it was filthy and his penis…” That's you, right?
I knew it! I was like, “this has to be Kate!” Just the words that you use, I was like, “there's no way a writer could have written this, this is 100% the best of Kate Beckinsale.” You’re so funny, you should always do that!
Well it’s not often that I get to play an English person with a sense of humour like that, and that was one of the things I liked about the film. Originally, in the early incarnation of the script she was more of a cartoony American but once it shifted, I was like “oh, this is a really good opportunity” because I do find that dry, English, slightly dirty humour, so funny. And there aren’t very many action movies that have someone like that in them, especially a woman.
I’ve actually never seen it done before. I love the bit after you find out that he died and you’re shocking yourself. It just had so many levels: it was disturbing, funny, scary, adventurous. It was really a wild ride, I loved it.
Thanks, I really appreciate that because some people dismiss it like, “oh, it's got all these tropes in it”. Sure it has, but actually it's quite a subversive little film, and I think people will discover that.
Sometimes people want to see women a certain way, and a more layered woman, or a woman who has anger or rage, makes them uncomfortable.
Yeah, it is a bit provoking and I love that. It’s really hard to get a female character with a full spectrum of colour into this kind of action movie, and having done a couple of those, I’m really pleased with how many layers to Lindy there are, from her humour to her vulnerability. It feels like a groundbreaking move.
Yeah, and we need so much more of that, so you're really leading the way as a multi-dimensional heroine in the action genre. I'm actually reading this book called “The Sociopath Next Door” -
Oh my god, I read that book too!
It’s so good!
There's a quote in it, “when you teach your daughter that she must ignore her outrage, that she must be kind and accepting to the point of not defending herself or other people, that she must not rock the boat for any reason, you are not strengthening her prosocial sense; you are diminishing it - and the first person she will stop protecting is herself.” The film made me think about that.
Yeah, that’s another thing. Of course, it’s a fun movie so people are enjoying it on that level, but I've also had so many messages from women who are like, “I feel like this all the time and it’s such a wish fulfilment thing for me”. Being raised in an English family I can relate to that, everyone is extremely polite. I mean we’re people who unwrap sweets in the cinema as slowly as possible so nobody gets irritated by hearing the rustling. My mum raised me like that and I've done the same thing bringing up my daughter, but I remember there being a point where I suddenly went, “I'm not keeping her safe by making her polite like this”. I was the sort of person who, if someone was behind me saying they’d forgotten their key trying to get into my building, I’d be like “oh after you” when they could be a fucking rapist. You have to have the option of being rude to protect yourself because so many attacks on women come from the woman being taught to put politeness before her own safety. There was a period of time I was flashed at constantly because I was always taking the tube in England, and I remember the third time some guy called me over and went “can you help me find this on the map?” I was probably about 15, and I peered in the window to look at his A-Z book, and his penis was up the spine of the book. I went, “Oh, I'm so sorry!” Why was I apologising for the fact that he sneakily put his penis into a map and made me look at it? But that's the instinct, rather than to hit it with your shoe. So I try to teach my daughter to speak up when she’s uncomfortable, even if it means risking looking rude.
I want to say, Lily is just the loveliest, she’s so funny and smart and warm and bubbly. You've raised such a marvellous young woman. She's incredible.
She showed up incredible. I feel like she was this amazing baby with a sense of humour and intelligence and coolness. I can't really take any credit, because she turned up like that.
You've had such incredible success since I first met you, I mean, your career could not have gone better. How were you able to build that whilst being such a hands-on single mom?
I had Lily really early in my career. I remember a few years ago I was like, “I wonder what it feels like to blow up in Hollywood,” and then I was like “oh, I guess I did my version of that.” I just wasn't aware at the time because I was so focused on Lily that I kind of missed my moment. I was so distracted by that, it was absolutely my first priority, and I do think it probably affected my career. There were certain places I didn't really want to go because it was hard for me with Lily. Or I’d make a decision to do a movie because it was in LA, I didn’t have the luxury of asking myself, “what creatively do I want to do the most?” Sometimes you have to dovetail the things that work for your family - I'm sure you've probably done that a few times. But on the other hand, when I came to LA, I didn't ever really socialise: I was either working or I was with Lily. I missed that awful bit that people have when they first come to Hollywood and they're at bleak parties worrying about if they’re popular or not. I just absolutely knew I wasn't, and it wasn't even on my list. I didn't really ever have a babysitter, and I didn't really go anywhere. So in a way I suppose, yes, I missed out on having a wild social life in my twenties and thirties but actually, I think I really got lucky in terms of having Lily as a kind of shield, so that I was just focused on my work. People would ask me, “what's the LA scene like?” and I’d say, “I have absolutely no idea”. I knew what Gymboree was like, but I had no experience of the LA scene, and I think that was actually incredibly helpful.