Kathryn Bailey "Kate" Beckinsale is an English actress. After some minor television roles, her first widely seen appearance was in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), filmed while she was a student at Oxford University. 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 a breakout year in 2001 with starring roles in war epic Pearl Harbor and romantic comedy Serendipity. She built on this success with appearances in The Aviator (2004) and Click (2006).
She has also worked occasionally as a model in television and print campaigns to promote Gap denim, Diet Coke, Absolut Vodka and Lux shampoo. Publications such as Esquire and People Magazine have repeatedly included her in their annual rankings of the world's sexiest and most beautiful women.
She is the only child of actors RichardBeckinsale (1947–1979) and Judy Loe and was raised in London, England. She had an eight-year relationship with Welsh actor Michael Sheen from 1995 until 2003. Their daughter, Lily Mo Sheen, was born in London, England in 1999. She married American film director Len Wiseman in 2004 and they live in Los Angeles, California
Beckinsale was born in London, England, the only child of actor Richard Beckinsale and actress Judy Loe. 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 six 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". While she has seen her father "more on television than I have in life," "there are certainly enough memories for me not to feel that it's somebody I didn't know." Her widowed mother moved in with director Roy Battersby when Beckinsale was nine and she was raised alongside his four sons and daughter. She has a close relationship with her step-father: "I couldn't have knitted a better one ... He wasn't pushy, he let me come to him." She has a paternal half-sister, actress Samantha Beckinsale, but they have never had regular contact.
She read French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford University and was later described by a contemporary, journalist Victoria Coren 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. She spent her third year in Paris as part of Oxford's study-abroad program, after which she decided to leave 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. I was burning out and I knew I had to make a decision.
Beckinsale was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School in West London and was involved with the Orange Tree Youth Theatre. In her teens, she twice won the W. H. Smith Young Writers' competition—once for short stories and once for 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 fifteen and underwent Freudian psychoanalysis for four years
Kate Beckinsale garnered a reputation as an action star following an appearance as a vampire in 2003'sUnderworld and has since starred in Van Helsing (2004), Underworld: Evolution (2006) andWhiteout (2009). She has also continued to work on smaller independent projects such as Snow Angels (2007), Winged Creatures (2008), Nothing But the Truth (for which she earned a Critic's Choice Award nomination in 2008) and Everybody's Fine (2009). She has three films set for release in 2012: the fourth installment of vampire franchise Underworld: Awakening, crime thrillerContraband and sci-fi remake Total Recall.