Kate Beckinsale is known for her killer looks as well as her killer instinct as the star of the Underworld series and the upcoming Total Recall remake. But the action star says she feels most herself when she’s spending time at home with her 13-year-old daughter Lily, doing yoga, and catching up on her reading.
The 38-year-old actress is helping kick-off National Reading Month by teaming up with “The Nestlé Share the Joy of Reading Program” to raise awareness about the importance of children’s literacy.
Beckinsale talked to Parade.com about her Hunger Games obsession, working with her husband on the set of Total Recall, and relating to her daughter’s difficult teen years.
On life with a teenage daughter.
“I’m literally a couple months into that. It has been largely about Bar Mitzvahs lately! I had a child young enough that it doesn’t feel too far away from my own experience. I feel like I flunked at adolescence really badly. I found it really difficult. I’m very supportive of how tricky seventh and eighth grade are for girls. I think it’s a very difficult time, but she’s doing great.”
On balancing work and motherhood.
“It’s a constant juggle. It tends to be one extreme to another. I guess that’s how I’ve managed it all this time. I’ll do a crazy blast of working and then I’ll be home for a bit. It’s tricky and something that I don’t think I’d be able to pull off without having my parents come out and help out. I do feel that family is very important and I’m lucky enough that my parents are very happy to come and stay with us for a couple months. I think the thing that you miss out on is some extra hours of sleep, which would be really welcomed, but that tends to fall behind!
On her on-set relationship with husband, director Len Wiseman.
“The fist time we met each other was when we were filming Underworld, and then we worked together again after we’d been married a short while, and now we’ve been married seven years, so I’ve had quite a few different experiences along the way. It’s different each time. We love it. I think one of the things we like least about our jobs is that it can force separation from each other. One of the things that’s so nice about working together is that not only do we enjoy each other professionally, but we actually get to sleep in the same bed at night and hang out with our kid on the weekends, so it’s great. As far as any secrets I have to working together? I guess always argue over text so other people aren’t embarrassed!”
On being an action star.
“I still find it an incredible novelty that I’m allowed to do that. My mother still laughs at the thought of me running around based on my success in P.E. as a child, which was very poor! It’s fantasy. My comfort zone is probably more in the independent sphere, but there’s something very fascinating about doing this movie and then six or seven months later when you actually see it with the special effects and all that, it looks very different than what it felt like when you were doing it.”
On her love of reading.
“I grew up as an only child and my mother was also an only child, so we were both very passionate about reading. I think I passed that on to my daughter, who went plowing through Harry Potter and every other book possible! I just think especially in this day and age when you’re constantly fighting the pull of the Internet and television, there’s something about reading that is an active thing for children to do. It opens up their world completely and improves their vocabulary and they can use their imagination. I’m quite old fashioned about things like that, and I really do believe it’s terribly important.”
On her favorite books as a kid.
“I loved all the E. Nesbit books like Five Children and It and The Enchanted Castle. As I got older, we had a real craze in our country called The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, which everybody was really into. I was reading Jane Eyre when I was 11 and I loved that. Actually, my daughter read Jane Eyre when she was 11, too. I wasn’t very frightened of classic novels. I feel like my brain is more geared towards a novel than it is to a movie.”
She’s a fan of The Hunger Games.
“Oh yeah! Actually, my daughter’s school encouraged all the parents and teachers and students to read The Hunger Games, so it promoted a massive discussion of it. For some reason, my daughter was a little bit resistant to it at first, but then we just were all completely overwhelmed by it. It was actually this summer that we were all reading it and loving it. We can’t wait for the movie. It looks fantastic.”
On life in California vs. her native London.
“When I’m in California, I do miss a lot of things about London, and when I’m in London, I miss a lot of things about L.A. I think that’s one of the tradeoffs when you live somewhere that you’re not from — you are never completely fully at home anywhere after that. But I’m very happy about the weather! I’ve forgotten what cold actually is. Plus, I like being near the ocean and I have really good friends here.”
On her tried and true beauty secret.
“The secret to everything for me is doing yoga every day. It does do nice things for your body, but it also kind of calms you down and chills you out. Other than that, I don’t really drink alcohol and I always take my makeup off at night!”