Kate Beckinsale explains why she never played Wonder Woman

Kate Beckinsale at the premiere of ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ (Getty Images)
Kate Beckinsale at the premiere of ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ (Getty Images)

Kate Beckinsale is proud that her tenure as the death-dealing vampire Selene in the Underworld saga helped turn the tide for female-led action franchises. The 44-year-old actress remembers that throughout its development, the series, launched in 2003, faced questions over its financial viability because the hero had double-X chromosomes.

“And now, for my daughter’s generation, they’re not questioning that at all,” Beckinsale told Yahoo Movies at the Los Angeles press day for her new drama, The Only Living Boy in New York. “You know, Wonder Woman smacked everybody at the box office…. That’s normal to them and that feels like a short period of time for quite a big change. It’s nice to have been part of moving that needle. It’s nice to have that.”

Wonder Woman muscled past the $400 million mark Tuesday at the domestic box office — an increasingly difficult feat for any film to achieve in North America.

There was a time shortly after her Underworld bow that Beckinsale could have played Wonder Woman, too. The Londoner’s name was perennially in the mix for the golden lasso in the mid-2000s as Warner Bros. attempted to bring Diana Prince to the big screen , most notably in a version that would have been written and directed by Joss Whedon.

Her casting was buoyed by speculation, rumors, and our capacity in 2006 to still be susceptible to online April Fool’s pranks , but Beckinsale confirmed she was at least reading what Warners was selling.

“But the incarnations that I was seeing were…” Beckinsale trails off, however. If we had to do our speculating, we would’ve guessed the next word would have been an expletive. “They weren’t this one [the 2017 film].”

There was also the matter of Beckinsale not exactly yearning for another skin-tight heroine’s suit. “I don’t know if I was desperate to be in a leotard. I’d already done the rubber trousers,” she said. “You have to take in that you have a child at some point and how much could you possibly embarrass them.” (Beckinsale’s daughter, Lily, was born in 1999.)

We wondered out loud if it wouldn’t be a cool claim to call your mother Wonder Woman. “That’s such an oppressive thing,” Beckinsale countered before adding with a laugh: “If your mother is Wonder Woman, you’re gonna have issues.”

Beckinsale is aware of all the fan art that was created over the years imagining her in the role. “There’s also a very big alternate universe where I’m Catwoman. There’s a lot of that,” she said.

Kate Beckinsale as Wonder Woman in fan art (Photo: Pinterest)
Kate Beckinsale as Wonder Woman in fan art (Photo: Pinterest)

But that actress doesn’t appear fully at ease with the type of adulation that comes from fan armies of Comic-Con-centric fare. “I was just at some comic convention the other weekend, and the number of people who’ve got a tattoo of my face, I mean, what an extraordinary commitment,” she said. “That’s the wildest thing, especially because I grew up not expecting to do movies like this one. That is a real head-spinner. Like yeah, I think that’s good?

“It makes you want to apologize for some reason, like, ‘Oh, god, I’m so sorry, what have you done that for?'” One fan even had Beckinsale sign underneath a tattoo, then subsequently turned that signature into a tat. “I didn’t realize that they were going to get that tattooed as well otherwise I would’ve done much neater handwriting,” she laughed.

Beckinsale wrapped up her four-film, decade-and-a-half run as Selene with last year’s Underworld: Blood Wars but says she’d be game for more action… even if she detests to what it takes to stay in action shape. “I always am [in shape]. But you know you get a little but more anxious if you’ve got a skin-tight suit and got to jump off a building. You step up the cardio a bit,” she said. “I hate working out by the way, I hate it. I like sitting down and reading.”

Kate Beckinsale in ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ (Screen Gems)
Kate Beckinsale in ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ (Screen Gems)

There is also the small chance that she’ll do another Underworld film. “I never felt there’s a sequel coming, ever. So I feel exactly the same as I always do, that Underworld is in the past, I’ve felt that way since [after] the first one.

“I suppose I still could. I highly doubt I would do another one. I feel like I’ve played that character a lot of times, so I highly doubt I would do that. But again I’ve been saying that since the first one. So, I don’t trust myself.”

The Only Living Boy in New York opens Friday.

Watch our Role Recall interview with Kate Beckinsale:

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