'As actors, we are always looking to try something new; that's why we are insane,' says Kate Beckinsale who is back with Guilty Party

She talks about her character’s idiosyncrasies, how similar she is to Beth, and working with a strong crew of women

Ayesha Tabassum Published :  29th October 2021 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  29th October 2021 06:00 AM
Kate Beckinsale in Guilty Party

Kate Beckinsale in Guilty Party

Kate Beckinsale has been ruling the hearts of her fans since she played Selene, the protagonist of the Underworld film series. She was among the first female stars to pave the way for other actresses to be cast in powerful action-oriented roles. However, the British actress’ journey in Hollywood has been a lot more than her action movies. She’s also acted in comedies and romantic films with equal flair. Not just on-screen, Kate has kept her fans engaged and intrigued with her entertaining social media posts especially on Instagram. From posting images of intimate moments with her family to fun pictures with her pet dogs, the actress continues to put her life out there without any inhibitions. At a time when the world is still grappling with the effects of the pandemic and everything seems to be in a state of flux, this celebrity’s candidness online comes as a breath of fresh air.

Now, Kate is back on screen with a new show titled Guilty Party. An American dark comedy created by Rebecca Addelman and directed by Trent O’Donnell, the show casts the actress as Beth Baker, a journalist. Beth wins an award for fearless journalism, but soon after the ceremony, she is discredited for falsifying a quote in one of her stories. Kate, who also played a journalist in the 2008 movie Nothing But The Truth, steps into the shoes of a desperate scribe who wants to reclaim her career and credibility. In a roundtable interview, the actress talks about the show, her experience shooting it and why this character will be special to her. Excerpts:

What drew you to this project?
I really liked the character, I liked that we find her at this moment in her life when it’s messy and wobbly. She’s a woman who is having a problem in her career, she is not sure of what’s going on in her marriage, she’s under pressure to have a child, and she doesn’t know if she wants to. I thought it was an interesting place to start.

How did you prepare for the role of a journalist?
Beth is American so I had to work on my dialect. We weren’t able to visit any newspaper offices because we were working on this show in the middle of a pandemic. A few years ago, I did this movie called Nothing But The Truth and I did get to spend time at newspaper offices. I also was lucky to go to the LA Times office. The world was closed when we were shooting this, so the preparation was mostly about reading various books. I found John Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed very helpful because it has a story about a journalist who was shamed online. Rebecca also suggested some books about journalism that were helpful.

Beth is in a messy situation and in an attempt to salvage her career, she does some questionable things. Yet, as viewers, we sympathise with her. What’s your take on this?
That was one of the things that attracted me to Beth’s character. She’s in this free fall. Nothing in her life is going well, and she doesn’t know how to get herself out of it. So she is desperate. She may be myopic or ignorant about certain things and maybe hot-headed, but essentially she is a decent person. The way she reacts impulsively is like how a child would react to situations. I liked that about her. She doesn’t know fear. She doesn’t know herself that well. She’s at a crisis point and thinks she needs to fix her career or it will be too late. Her husband wants to have a baby. She is quite pressured and does things which she normally wouldn’t do.

What was it like working with Rebecca, Jules Latimer and other women on the show?
We were really lucky. We had Jules, Rebecca and two female directors Morenike (Joela Evans) and Stacey (Muhammad). It was wonderful. Rebecca was the creator, she was the showrunner and was wonderfully collaborative and sensitive, she also has a great sense of humour and was open to trying things that would be fun. It didn’t feel like a ‘female-female’ kind of production, there were also a ton of great guys. I think the core was strongly female and that made it a pleasant experience. It doesn’t mean that men are unpleasant, this just helped!

Like your character Beth, did you ever feel like reinventing your acting career?
My job is different from hers. I can’t be doing the same job forever. Beth was onto really good things. She had won an award and was working for a paper. She then got discredited — a lot of what happens to her comes from being very humiliated, ashamed, and shocked. That is what is propelling her. So far I haven’t felt the same in my career. But as actors, the moment we finish something, we are always looking to try something new and different. But this is something you are aware of when getting into acting, it’s kind of a long apprenticeship, it’s good to learn things that you haven’t done before that test you and frighten you. That’s why we are all insane. I think more sensible people get a job.

How did playing a journalist change your perception of journalists?
I am very sympathetic towards my character and I obviously had to be. I don’t think my perception has changed much but I like the fact that she is so focused on how this is going to save her and she actually doesn’t prepare for her first interview which goes very badly. I think that’s very typical of somebody who is in a very desperate state. I think she’s a better journalist than that and this isn’t her finest moment. So I enjoyed playing someone who isn’t on top of things.

There is an intimate scene with a woman, who has a foot fetish, in one of the episodes. Your reactions were spontaneous, but did you feel uncomfortable?
You tend to act spontaneously when someone you’ve just met starts licking your feet. It was weird. Nowadays on TV production sets, there’s a person who is an intimacy monitor to ensure everyone is comfortable for any kind of kissing or touching scenes. So they told me they have a foot double. But I was shooting wide shots and wasn’t sure how this would work out. They clarified that for close-ups, I could use the foot double. I thought it was so much worse for that poor girl to have several people’s feet in her mouth in one day. So I asked her if she’d rather stick to my foot. It’s a conversation that one wouldn’t expect to have in one’s life. She was very nice about it and she said she may not tell her parents about this show. It was a strange thing for her. But she was amazing.

What aspects of Beth’s personality can you relate to?
I guess I am personally not so desperate. But I can certainly relate to doing things more recklessly when I have been in more difficult situations in my life. I think she is bright, smart, and has a lot to figure out in terms of who she is. She has several unresolved issues like her relationship with her parents — we dig more into it as the show goes on. She is very bold and is very likeable. I like her very much even though she does a few unlikeable things.

Beth is trying to reclaim her credibility by investigating and reporting the story of Toni (Jules) who is accused of murder. What are your thoughts on the relationship these two women share?
I love it. This was one of the things that was appealing to me. I wanted to see where this relationship, between the two people who have nothing in common, would go. They are thrust together and take on each other’s experiences. It’s actually very touching and even though it’s within a dark comedy format. The story is very special.

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