Kate Beckinsale not a vampire this time (but, oh, those leather pants) – Sentinel & Enterprise

By Bob Strauss

Los Angeles Daily News

“The Only Living Boy in New York” will come off to some as a young man’s fantasy fulfillment narrative. That’s a logical supposition, considering its protagonist, Thomas Webb, played by English actor Callum Turner, has an affair in the film with the gorgeous mistress of his father Ethan (Pierce Brosnan), and she’s played by the eminently appealing Kate Beckinsale.

It’s a lot more complicated than that, however. And you can thank Beckinsale for turning this kind of reconfigured “Graduate” set in Manhattan publishing circles into a multifaceted character study that evolves her character Johanna from a modern-day Mrs. Robinson into a sympathetic searcher on her own terms.

“What I love is that everyone feels that a coming-of-age story is early 20s or teens, but we all come of age so many different times in our lives,” says the 44-year-old British actress, who herself is experiencing a successful return to her more literary roots (see her knockout performance in last year’s naughty Jane Austen adaptation “Love & Friendship”) after more than a decade of being mainly thought of as the leather-clad vampire heroine Seline from the “Underwolrd” movie franchise.

“I feel like everyone in the movie is having their own coming-of-age moment in it, whether it’s the man in an unhappy marriage who’s fallen in love with someone else or it’s the woman deciding who she loves,” adds Beckinsale, down-to-earth while glam-cranked to 11 in a white bustier and flowing half-gown over black pants.

And as mentioned, Beckinsale was instrumental in making sure that that aspect of her sophisticated editor was front and center. An early script by Allan Loeb, who went on to write such things as “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and “Collateral Beauty,” “Only Living Boy,” which opened last week, spent a number of years on the Hollywood Blacklist of the industry’s most well-regarded, unproduced screenplays. When “500 Days of Summer” director Marc Webb chose it for one of his post-“Amazing Spider-Man” projects, he didn’t just cast Beckinsale in the key female role. He asked for her help.

“The character of Johanna was a bit more opaque than she is now,” the actress reveals. “I love an excavation of a character, and I felt strongly that, at that time we made it in 2016, we’d had enough mysterious femme fatales who do things for reasons that nobody understands. I just think that we’re done with that kind of trope. And particularly in this story, with everybody being so vulnerable and at such a particular point, I really felt that it was important that she wasn’t a kind of sociopath agent of mayhem.

“Marc was like, ‘Oh, I haven’t thought about her like that and I have been feeling kind of baffled by her.’ So he asked me to come out two weeks early and work with him and Allan to shape her. That was such a brilliant, creative gift. They were both, like, it’s so great to actually have a woman come in and have a woman’s perspective. And you know, Hollywood is not necessarily known for that.”

Next up, Beckinsale plays a working-class English foster mom of a boy from Nigeria who, ironically, grows up to lead a gang of racist London skinheads in the movie “Farming.” It’s another new role for a performer who has continued to make small but distinctive movies throughout a career that commenced in the mid-1990s with Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh’s “Much Ado About Nothing”). Then there was the big Hollywood “Pearl Harbor” and all those “Underworlds” — five she has been in counting last year’s “Blood Wars.” Now, more than ever perhaps, Beckinsale feels that moviegoers can discover there’s much more to her than Seline’s leather pants.

“Obviously, there have been a few installments of the vampire movies,” she acknowledges. “But that was such a reach for me. … it was quite a schizophrenic period of time for me, a lot of me going. ‘I can’t believe I have to remind people that I’m not this person.’

“But you do have to, I suppose,” Beckinsale says without regret, “and I feel I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve gotten to do a lot of different things. Not everybody does.”

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Kate Beckinsale not a vampire this time (but, oh, those leather pants) – Sentinel & Enterprise

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