Friday, December 14, 2007

Wizard Insider: "Whiteout's" Kate Beckinsale

Not that much news on the front today, so I'll just post an interview Wizard Universe conducted with smoking hot Kate Beckinsale, who was the lead character in the Underworld movies and will be the lead character in Whiteout:

Spotlighting the hottest thing to hit the Antarctic since th eelectric blanket!

By Andy Serwin

Posted December 13, 2007 2:40 PM

The temperature may read below zero on the ice in Antarctica, but expect the thermometer to rise with steamy Kate Beckinsale (“Underworld”) playing U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko in 2008’s “Whiteout,” a murder mystery set on the polar continent. Here’s what you need to know about Beckinsale’s character and the production before the mercury drops next year with the movie’s release.

To simulate the polar temperatures necessary, producers filmed two weeks’ worth of exteriors in the Gimli region of Manitoba near Winnipeg, Canada, where the mercury routinely hung around 30 degrees below zero. “It was brutal, the most grueling two weeks of my life, and I’ve been in the f---ing jungles of Mexico, Alaska and on every f---ing mountaintop,” explains director Dominic Sena. “The coldest it got was minus-58,” says Beckinsale. “When you saw everyone [on location], they have all this snow and icicles in their beards. I thought, ‘Wow, they’ve done a lot of [makeup] tests on the crew.’ But it was really like that!”

“I play Marshal Carrie Stetko, who is out in Antarctica, but nothing much has happened while I’ve been there until now,” describes Beckinsale. “There’s a good reason, and a fairly complex backstory, for why she decided to put herself as far away from her life as she possibly can.” Adds Sena: “[Kate] was looking to do more character stuff and get under the skin of this character and find the flaws and weaknesses and how she didn’t quite have it together.”

The biggest change from the Greg Rucka-Steve Lieber graphic novel to the film was changing the sex of the British agent who helps Carrie on the ice from female to male. “I think they wanted the essence of the graphic novel, which is probably going to piss all [the comic book fans] off really badly,” laughs Beckinsale. “But I live with the number one geek in the universe [husband/director Les Wiseman], so he already had it on his bookshelf.”

“I’m actually playing a transvestite in this film,” jokes Beckinsale’s co-star Gabriel Macht (“The Spirit”), the recipient of the character’s gender switch. “I’m playing Robert Price, a special U.N. investigator. We’re at odds at the beginning, but slowly we learn to work together.”

Beckinsale, like the character she plays, feels it was important to express her feminist side—she was one of the only female actors in the entire production, a situation mirrored in the movie because Stetko’s one of the only women stationed in Antarctica. “It’s the story of my life,” says Beckinsale. “I have four brothers. Try to give me a wedgie, and you’ll see that I’m quick! My character has to be able to operate professionally in that kind of environment. There’s one point where she walks in on them all watching a porno movie; she’s not prone to bursting into tears and screaming.”

One of the central moments in the entire film comes when Stetko loses two of her fingers in a gripping amputation scene (which according to set insiders, is the reason Reese Witherspoon wasn’t cast in the lead; she balked at having to play the rest of the film minus the digits). “They bind them down, and then you find that you have a really bad pain in your neck and it’s from that,” explains Beckinsale. “I’ve just been trying to negotiate holding a gun and a flashlight. It takes some getting used to. One of the crew got frostbite for real; she didn’t lose a finger, but I don’t think she can feel it. It’s a serious thing.”

One of the film’s big set pieces will be when the eponymous whiteout—done in CGI—occurs during the tense climax, but Beckinsale got a taste for the real thing while in Manitoba, and it didn’t sit well with the star: “We got a bit of a sense of it when you’re standing in the snow and all you can see is white everywhere. It freaked me out a bit when you can’t tell the ground from the sky. I don’t think everyone can hack it. I couldn’t hack it. I’m barely handling this.”

Everyone on location in Manitoba was given a “telephone directory of different ways that it was possible for us to die,” notes Beckinsale. “I called my husband and I was like, ‘They’re trying to kill me!’ There were so many ways to die, things that I hadn’t even thought of myself—and I was taking my kid with me!”

Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber had a vastly different visual representation of Carrie Stetko in their graphic novel: “The Carrie type we put out was [‘24’s’] Janeane Garofalo, so clearly, we were going very different from what they’re filming.”

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