Born: July 26, 1973
Date of Birth: July 26, 1973
The daughter of a BBC casting director and famed television actor Richard Beckinsale, Kate Beckinsale was born in England. After her father's death from a heart attack in 1979, the actress was raised by her mother, Judy Loe, who has appeared in a number of dramas and sitcoms. By her own account, Beckinsale's childhood and adolescence were fairly troubled, marked by struggles with anorexia and a smoking habit.
Beckinsale decided to follow in her father's acting footsteps while still a teenager, and in 1991, had her major television debut in Once Against the Wind, a World War II drama in which she played Judy Davis' daughter. The same year, Beckinsale enrolled at Oxford to study French and Russian Literature, and pursued her education until committing herself full-time to acting.
In 1993, while still a student, Beckinsale was cast in Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing. Her supporting role was a memorable one, winning the actress a limited amount of recognition amongst American audiences.
Her third year at university was spent at Oxford's study-abroad program in Paris, France, immersing herself in the French language, Parisian culture, and French cigarettes. A year away from the academic community and living on her own in the French capital caused her to re-evalate the direction of her life. She faced a choice: continue with school, or concentrate on her flourishing acting career. After much thought, she chose the acting career.
In the spring in 1994, Beckinsale left Oxford and appeared in Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm. The film, which was initially made for BBC television, proved to be a modest hit, bringing in respectable box office and glowing reviews.
Acting on the stage consumed the first part of 1995; she toured in England with the Thelma Holts Theatre Company production of Chekov's The Seagull.
Beckinsale followed the film's success with another two years later, starring as an altruistic con artist in the quirky romantic comedy Shooting Fish. The film was an unqualified hit in its native country, becoming the third-highest grossing film in England for 1997. The same year, Beckinsale further increased her visibility with the title role in A&E's Emma.
Beckinsale next graced American movie screens opposite Chlöe Sevigny in The Last Days of Disco (1998). She received good reviews for her portrayal of a cool and catty WASP college graduate, although the movie itself was met with a deeply mixed reaction.
The following year, Beckinsale, in addition to giving birth to a daughter (fathered by long-time boyfriend Michael Sheen), starred in her first big-budget Hollywood feature. Playing opposite Claire Danes in Brokedown Palace, the actress portrayed an American girl who, while on vacation with best friend Danes in Thailand, gets caught with heroin and is sentenced to 33 years in a Thai prison. She next played in Pearl Harbor, followed by Serendipity opposite John Cusack (both 2001). Some of her films include The Aviator (2004), Everybody's Fine (2009), and Contraband (2012). She also plays the lead in the Underworld series of films.
She married director Len Wiseman on May 9, 2004. The couple separated in 2015.