Kathryn Bailey "Kate" Beckinsale (born 26 July 1973) is an English actress.
She initially came to prominence in the 1990s for her roles in costume dramas such as Cold Comfort Farm, Much Ado About Nothing and Emma. Following a breakout performance in 2001's Pearl Harbor, she has appeared in big-budget Hollywood movies like The Aviator, the Underworld films and Van Helsing as well as smaller independent movies such as Everybody's Fine and Winged Creatures. She earned a Critic's Choice Award nomination for her performance in 2008's Nothing But the Truth.
She has three films set for release in 2012: Underworld 4, Contraband and Total Recall.
Beckinsale was born in London to actor Richard Beckinsale and actress Judy Loe. Her father unexpectedly died from a heart attack in 1979 (at the age of 31) when she was just five years old. Her mother later married director Roy Battersby, and Beckinsale was raised alongside his four sons and daughter. She also has a paternal half-sister, actress Samantha Beckinsale.
Beckinsale attended Godolphin and Latymer School in West Londonand was involved with the Orange Tree Youth Theatre.]In her teens, she twice won the W. H. Smith Young Writers' competition—once for short stories and once for poetry. She had a nervous breakdown and developed anorexia at the age of fifteen and underwent Freudian psychoanalysis for four years.
She studied French and Russian literature at New College, Oxford University and was involved with the Oxford University Dramatic Society, most notably being directed by fellow student Tom Hooper in a production of A View from the Bridge at the Oxford Playhouse.
She spent her third year in Paris as part of Oxford's study-abroad program, after which she decided to leave university to concentrate on her burgeoning acting career.