Kate Beckinsale: Life in Austenworld


Does your character, Susan, really control her daughters a lot? Do you control? Do you have curfews, like for her using a cell-phone because your daughter 16-years-old, right?
Kate Beckinsale: She’s 17 now. She’s driving. When you say control, I picture a horse with the saddle off raging through the desert. That’s what it feels like. No, she’s really good. She’s a good kid. It’s a very important time to individuate and separate, whilst also having the feeling that you’re safe. I think your role as a parent becomes a bit more hands off. You’re sort of required to be a body that sits boringly in the house, if required. Do you know what I mean? You don’t want to be inserting yourself in to all of their experiences all the time, but at the same time you can’t detach and not be there, like Lady Susan. It’s a different sort of balance, and who knows if any of us are getting it right, but I’m definitely not like Lady Susan, so that’s something. I don’t think she’s particularly interested in being a parent. She’s not a natural mother and her daughter’s more than anything a bit of an inconvenience. I think if she were transplanted to now, I’m not sure Lady Susan would be rushing to have a child.

Kate BeckinsaleWhen you were dissecting the script for yourself did you see that in her, the manipulation of her daughter for her own gain?
Kate Beckinsale: She’s got a fairly strong narcissistic streak, Lady Susan has, which makes her entertaining to watch but not an ideal parent. I think in terms of not judging her, she’s very much a product of the period of time that she’s in. As a woman, it’s a very constraining period of time, especially if you’re an intelligent woman.

Did you find Chloe totally unflappable at times, because she’s reacting to you so well in those scenes, and you have much more dialogue?
Kate Beckinsale: I was always worried about the other people in the scenes. There was me banging on for 30 minutes and then the other person would have one line and then I would go off again. I’d think, “One of these days I’m going to turn around and one of these actors is going to be asleep and I’d be really embarrassed.” But they weren’t. No, she was wonderful. It was lovely to have the chance to have a relationship with Chloe on screen that wasn’t me just bullying her and being mean like we were in Last Days of Disco. I love to see female relationships. There’s a light there.

It’s not that common. There’s something very nice about seeing that kind of female friendship, even though they’re plotting terrible things and being plenty ruthless. I really liked doing that with her.