Daughter of comedy actor Richard Beckinsale (1947–1979) and actress Judy Loe, Kate made her film debut while she was a still a student at Oxford University, where she majored in Russian and French literature. In her student days she appeared in British costume dramas such as ‘Emma’ (1996) and ‘The Golden Bowl’ (2000). Her Hollywood breakout happened with starring roles in the war film ‘Pearl Harbor’ (she got the lead female role after Charlize Theron pulled out), the romantic comedy ‘Serendipity’ and the Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic ‘The Aviator’, in which she played Ava Gardner.
Beckinsale became a real star following her appearance as the vampire action heroine in 2003’s ‘Underworld’. The story of the war between vampires and lycans got mostly negative reviews from critics, but the film was a hit at the box offices and Kate decided to portray the vampire Selene in another three sequels (actually, two sequels and one prequel).
On the movie set of 2003’s Underworld she met her husband Len Wiseman. Currently they live in Los Angeles with Lily, her daughter from the relationship with the actor Michael Sheen.
In 2012, Beckinsale appeared as the villain in the sci-fi action remake ‘Total Recall’, directed by her husband.
Kate Beckinsale has been nominated 3 times for an MTV Movie Award: in 2002 for ‘Best Female Performance’ in the movie ‘Pearl Harbor’, in 2004 for ‘Best Trans-Atlantic Breakthrough Performer’ and in 2006 for ‘Best Hero’ in ‘Underworld 2: Evolution’. Her action roles got her two nominations for People’s Choice Awards, in 2005 and 2007, for ‘Favorite Female Action Star’. However, the actress was also nominated for not-so-prestigious Razzie award (which honors the worst ‘in film“) for ‘Pearl Harbor’ in the category ‘Worst Screen Couple’, with Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett.