Since coming on the scene, this English actress has consistently shown her ability to play versatile roles with the kinds of projects she has opted for. Kate Beckinsale movies include everything from comedy and romance to heart-stopping action. While she is mostly remembered for her time as Selene in the Underworld series, the actress already had a relatively successful career that began a decade before the first Underworld movie.
Kate grew up in an entertainment family. Before her father’s untimely heart attack, he was a popular British actor. Kate would eventually follow in his footsteps, pursuing a career in acting. Her first few roles came while she was in university and when she could no longer cope with the stress of combining school with her young career, she eventually dropped school in favor of her acting career.
She made her big-screen debut in 1993’s Much Ado About Nothing. She followed it up quickly with roles in small movies like Prince of Jutland (1994), Haunted (1995), and Shooting Fish (1997), the last of which earned her a little recognition being the third highest-grossing movie of 1997 in the UK.
Kate Beckinsale’s acting portfolio makes for good reading and has been perused by hundreds of fans and critics alike. The following list highlights a few of her roles and reveals the general overview of these projects as well as how her performance in each resonated with fans and critics alike.
Kate Beckinsale Movies – Reviews and Summaries
1. Love & Friendship (2016)
The plot tells the story of a young widow Lady Susan Vernon, played by Kate Beckinsale who is hell-bent on securing wealthy suitors for both herself and her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark). She soon sets her sights on an unsuspecting “victim”, Sir Reginald De Courcy (Xavier Samuel) whom she is determined to get for herself.
Beckinsale was hailed for her superb interpretation of Lady Susan. She was recognized as one of the meatiest characters in the drama. She flawlessly portrayed Lady Susan’s pompous, flirtatious, and manipulative disposition. This was something her fans and critics were pleased with, noting that it was far removed from many of the other roles that didn’t require from her anything more than looking pretty and doing the right and expected things all the time.
The film, being a period drama, is set in the late 1700s and is adapted from one of Jane Austen’s posthumously published works—a novella titled Lady Susan. The movie was directed by Whit Stillman and received high praise for the way he adapted the novella, creating a film that perfectly balances comedy and romance. It was not as commercially successful as some other Kate Beckinsale movies in terms of gross income, due to the fact that the movie didn’t open in as many theatres. Still, it was a box office success with a gross of $19.7 million over a production budget of $3 million. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics gave the drama an overwhelming 97 percent approval rating.
2. Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
This movie is unsurprisingly named after the Shakespearean play it was adapted from. It tells the story of two sets of star-crossed lovers who show their affection towards each other differently. A respected warrior, Count Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) falls in love with Hero (Kate Beckinsale), the daughter of the Governor of Messina (Richard Briers). The plot sees them battle outside forces that threaten to tear them apart while they try with the help of some friends like Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) to bring together Benedick (Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson).
Much Ado About Nothing was only the second movie that Kenneth Branagh had directed and he showed just how much he could bring to the table with the heart and energy he infused in the film. Overall, the movie had a lot of elements that felt like it belonged in a stage production. This attribute was hailed by critics who believed this helped preserve the authenticity and purity of the original story.
Being the earliest of our Kate Beckinsale movies on this list that was made for the big screen, her portrayal of Hero was surprisingly refreshing. She was praised for her ability to believably portray her character’s naivety and sweet innocence. The movie also showed that Kate — although just 19 at the time — could hold her own even when surrounded by a star-studded cast.
The period drama proved a box office success, more than tripling its production budget of $11 million. It earned a worldwide gross of $36 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an 86 percent audience approval rating and a 90 percent approval rating from a total of 48 critics.
3. Nothing But The Truth (2008)
This legal drama was inspired by the true-life story of New York Times journalist Judith Miller who refused to testify to a federal grand jury. Miller refused to give up the source that helped her blow the cover of a CIA operative and was sentenced to jail as a result.
Nothing But The Truth follows almost the same storyline. Kate Beckinsale plays the role of Rachel Armstrong, a reporter for a fictional newspaper known as the Capital Sun-Times. She discovers that the mother of one of her son’s classmates is an undercover CIA operative. The woman, Erica Van Doren (Vera Farmiga), refuses to confirm nor deny it when Rachel confronts her. However, Rachel is convinced that she is right and makes it headline news with the help of editor Bonnie Benjamin (Angela Bassett). The story quickly devolved into a long drawn out court case where Rachel consistently refuses to give up her source, even after Erica Van Doren is killed in a politically motivated attack. She is eventually sentenced to jail for it.
The movie is hailed for the way it brought the real-life story to the screen while putting together a script that paints a beautifully disruptive story that involves politics, national security and the ethics of journalism.
Even though divulging the identity of a security operative is a treasonous offense, Beckinsale’s role endeared her to the viewers for her refusal to go against the ethics of journalism by revealing her source. However, the love for the actress is heightened when it is discovered at the end of the film that her major reason for keeping mum is because she was trying to protect Van Doren’s daughter who was her original source, albeit unwittingly.
The movie was loved by viewers and garnered an 81 percent approval from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 73 percent approval from the audience. Still, it was a cataclysmic box office failure; it grossed a pitiable $409,832 against a budget of $11.5 million. This was not due to negative reception though, but due to the fact that it was never received in the first place.
The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and planned to open in theatres in New York City and Los Angeles but the distribution company meant to handle the process filed for Chapter 11 protection and the movie never saw a theatrical release.
4. Van Helsing (2004)
This film is one of Kate Beckinsale earlier action-packed movies. Here she plays Anna Valerious, the last descendant from a Vampire killing Romanian bloodline, band together with Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) on a mission to kill the original vampire—Dracula. As the plot unravels, Anna and Van face untold dangers against many foes including, the brides of Count Dracula, Frankenstein, Igor, Dr. Hyde, Velkan (Anna’s werewolf brother) and Dracula himself.
This is the second vampire story that Kate Beckinsale was involved in. Although this was a shift from the kind of roles she had done in the past, Beckinsale proved just how adaptable she was as an actress. She was involved in so many action-packed sequences and looked at home in each and every one.
However, critics bashed the movie for its action scenes. They noted that there was a glaring over-reliance on computer-generated imagery that made the fight scenes appear plastic a lot of times.
Van Helsing was not well-received and garnered generally negative reviews. It could only manage a critic’s approval rating of 24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a rating of 57 percent from the audience. Still, the movie was a commercial success, grossing $300.3 million on a $160 million production cost.
5. Underworld (2003)
Of course, any list of Kate Beckinsale movies would be incomplete without at least one of the installments of the Underworld franchise. This says a lot to how these movies influenced Kate’s career from the early 2000s.
Kate plays the lead role of Selene, werewolf killing machine who falls in love with medical student Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). Michael witnesses a fight between two underground gangs of werewolves and vampires. Scared that the werewolf gang — known as the Death Dealers — is planning something big, Selene begins to shadow Michael every day. She is devastated, however, when he is bitten by the top werewolf, Lucian (Michael Sheen), and transforms into something she has hated and fought her whole life — a werewolf.
In comparison to Kate’s time on Van Helsing, the actress executed a lot more fight scenes on Underworld, which was not surprising seeing as the was the lead character and protagonist in an action/horror thriller. While Kate was praised for her individual performance, like a few others in the film, the movie wasn’t so lucky.
Critics tore into the film, again, for its CGI reliance. There was also the fact that stories involving vampires and werewolves had become so many it was becoming impossible to make anything original and unique from such a plot.
The critic’s consensus on Rotten Tomatoes admitted the movies stylishness but admitted that it was derivative and tedious to watch. They gave it a poor 31 percent rating from 161 critics.
The audience and moviegoers seemed to disagree with their perspective though as evidenced by the film’s box office success. It was made on a $22 million budget and mustered a worldwide gross of $95.7 million. The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes was 3.93 out of a possible 5, translating to a 79 percent approval rating.