Roundtable Interview With Kate Beckinsale On Total Recall

We Got This Covered: What kind of physical preparation did you have to do?

Kate Beckinsale: As I said, I had four days. Luckily, the stunt coordinator, Brad Martin who was on Underworld 4 was able to come on to Total Recall and teach me the fight, so we started a little bit. But it’s difficult when you’re shooting a really long day on one movie to be properly choreographing a fight. I am glad that I had done that movie, because I was in decent physical shape. I was a bit tired and bruised, but that was helpful, then it was just a question of learning the choreography. It felt much more on the fly than I’ve ever had that happen. That’s ironic, because these fights were a lot more complicated. It was good, because there was a sort of unhinged hysteria to the character that mirrored how I was feeling how I was going to learn the fight. It all sort of lined up.

We Got This Covered: Was there any special diet regimen you had to maintain?

Kate Beckinsale: I think the most important thing on these kinds of movies is that you have to eat very often, because you’re so busy and engaged that you don’t necessarily feel hungry at the time you’re supposed to eat. So, you’re grabbing or being handed something that contains protein every three hours, otherwise you can’t sustain that level of activity.

We Got This Covered: In a way, it’s two movies in regards to the fantasy aspect. Did you have to approach the character differently?

Kate Beckinsale: Certainly, for the prep, it was very important to explore both ways and make it actually work both ways. You want to have it hold up. That’s the genius part of the movie. It actually does work like that and it’s really complicated. My goodness, you can stay up late figuring it out and talking about it. But I did like to say “Yes, it is real” or “No, it’s not.” That’s the fun part of the movie.

We Got This Covered: What element of Lori helped you become a villain the most?

Kate Beckinsale: It was to figure out what was driving her and I felt that she feels like someone that’s been passed over and actually, largely from being a woman that she’s got the thin end of the wedge. She’s not a superstar like Hauser. She’s been put on this detail where basically she’s pretended to be someone’s wife, sleeping with them and cooking their dinner. She’s the most highly qualified operative ever and she’s pissed and feels really let down. So, I think the fact that she’s got this kind of wound and she’s sad. You can’t play a villain as “I’m a bad guy.” You have to figure out why they think they’re a good guy and what they’re fighting for, because I think most villains tend to think they’re the hero or heroine and I think she’s a damaged soul. It’s really more that. I work that way and the work sort of falls into place.

We Got This Covered: People have asked Colin what’s it like to step into Arnold’s role, but yours was played by Sharon Stone. What are the challenges of reimagining the character?

Kate Beckinsale: I didn’t feel like that. I grew up in England watching one person’s Hamlet and then another person’s Hamlet and then another’s Hamlet. That was fun. I thought that was a good thing. I’m quite surprised that people get disturbed about it when it’s a movie in a way that I just feel it as kind of normal. You could see a Cinderella every year with a different person and that’s kind of cool. I think the fact that the tone of the movie is so incredibly different. You couldn’t transplant her performance and put it in our movie and you can’t transplant mine and put it in theirs. They’re like two different styles completely. There didn’t feel like there was a great danger of having to make it different from hers or emulate it. And plus, I’ve played Eva Gardner. That was much worse, playing a real person (laughs).

We Got This Covered: You describe Lori as being a good soldier. Do you think she thought of the social implications of her actions when you created the character?

Kate Beckinsale: I think she’s entirely myopic. I think she’s in a situation that she’s in and one of the reasons why she is so relentless is because she can’t see beyond the end of her own nose. I think she’s emotionally invested in a way that is dangerous. I think she is trying to be a good soldier. She is looking for approval. She is looking for all of that stuff, but she’s not seeing the wider picture.

We Got This Covered: The movement and the fighting dynamic is so different than what we’re used to seeing from you in the Underworld films. Could you talk about that?

Kate Beckinsale: Absolutely. This is a human being. This is a trained human being. This is not a vampire with magical strange powers and jumping off things. This is a person. Obviously, in a movie, that’s always slightly heightened as far as how many punches you can take without falling over and all that, but I think it’s more realistic. We’re fighting other people. We’re not fighting monsters. It’s less of a comic book style than Underworld, which is a bit more stylized.

We Got This Covered: Was the zero gravity scene as difficult as it looked? Did Len go over it with you?

Kate Beckinsale: I wasn’t in that scene and I was quite happy about it. I think at one point, they were thinking of going into that airplane that makes everybody vomit. I was like “Oh, you couldn’t pay me enough money.” Luckily, I wasn’t in the scene anyway. It’s hard to make upside down people look like they’re not upside down, largely because of what happens to people’s hair. It’s really complicated. They did an amazing job and once again, I’m glad it wasn’t me.

We Got This Covered: Was the fight scene in the elevator tougher because it was in a such a tight space?

Kate Beckinsale: Yes, it was. It really was small. There were four of us in there often, because there was Jessica, Colin, me and the guy in the robot suit, as well. I remember trying to learn the fight thinking I’d never get it, because it was so long and so difficult and I’m fighting everybody and everything is going on. They didn’t show me how small the space was, deliberately at first, I think because I would’ve freaked out thinking “How am I ever going to manage this?” Then, they built a little box for us to practice in and that was terrifying. We really worked and hurt those few days. It was definitely awkward.

That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Kate very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Total Recall, now in theatres.