Kate Beckinsale exposes sexist demands of famous film director

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Kayleigh Dray
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You’ve probably seen 2001’s Pearl Harbour by this point, but if you missed it (and nobody would blame you), it’s all about two childhood friends (hey there, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) and a nurse (Kate Beckinsale) who find themselves caught up in the horror of an infamous Sunday morning in 1941.

In fact, Beckinsale recently shared a photo of herself from the time she filmed it, in which she can be seen smiling alongside her mother and baby daughter on the film set, as she sits dressed in her wartime nurse’s uniform.

However, the actor has revealed that she very nearly didn’t get the part. And she says it was all because the director, Michael Bay of Transformers fame, wasn’t a fan of her physical appearance – specifically because she had just given birth to her daughter, Lily Mo Sheen.

Speaking to Graham Norton, she explained: “I don’t think I fitted the type of actress Michael Bay, the director, had met before.

“I think he was baffled by me because my boobs weren’t bigger than my head and I wasn’t blonde. I’d just had my daughter and lost weight but was told that if I got the part I’d have to work out.

“[But] I just didn’t understand why a 1940s nurse would do that.”

Beckinsale – who, of course, managed to convince Bay to give her the role – went on to admit that the director would forever more refer to her as being a ‘plain Jane’.

“When he was asked about me [by the press], he’d say, ‘Kate wasn’t so attractive that she would alienate the female audience.’

“He kept saying it everywhere we went, and we went to a lot of places.”

Responding to the body-shaming accusations on his website, Bay mocked the suggestion that he is a “bad guy” for suggesting she work out for an action film.

“So I guess I was the ‘bad guy’ 16 years ago for suggesting a trainer because she just had her new beautiful baby girl – and she was about to enter into an intensive action movie,” he wrote. “Note to reporters: 95% of leads in movies have trainers and drink green juice!”

He added: “Kate and I are friendly. She is a fantastic actress, very funny, witty lady, sassy, speaks her mind and I truly respect her. That’s why she has come to so many of my Christmas parties and Birthday parties.

“This so called ‘problem of us not liking each other’ was reported by a tabloid-esque reporter after Kate appeared on an edgy English talk show, speaking about our meeting 16 years ago.”

Lisa Kudrow – aka Friends’ Phoebe Buffay – similarly has spoken out about sexism in the film and TV industry, revealing that she found herself the recipient of an incredibly misogynist comment from one of the sitcom’s famous guest stars. And all because she had put some make-up on.

“I rehearsed without make-up [for] most of the week,” said Kudrow, as she spoke with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. “And then, on show night, I’m in hair and makeup and I was told, ‘Oh wow, NOW you’re’ – can I say it? [He told me] ‘Now you’re f**kable.’”

Meanwhile, Beckinsale – who often posts about feminism and powerful women on Instagram – recently posted another selfie, referencing another moment of gender politics from her past.

She captioned it: “When I was ten I held a jumble sale and my stepdad bought one of my old tracksuits for my brother under the condition I didn't tell him it was a girl's one and I didn't… but every time he beat me at Uno in it I made this face.”

Images: Rex Pictures


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.