The actress just made a really good point about the reality of dating as a celebrity.
That’s the story. That’s the whole story. Or at least it should be, except that – for whatever reason – the actress’ relationship with the comedian has become tabloid fodder of late.
Since the two were first linked after the Golden Globes in January, paparazzi have been staked outside her house near permanently. Even when Beckinsale is giving interviews about her work, like her starring turn in Amazon Prime’s new television series The Widow, she is asked about her private life.
“I’d rather not have people hiding outside my house,” Beckinsale told Los Angeles Times in a recent interview. “It’s a little old-fashioned to have a woman’s personal life [looked at like that]. It’s a little bit tired.”
She added: “I’m surprised by the interest. I’ve never been in this position before – never dated anybody who comes with their own bag of mischief. It’s all quite shocking, and something to get used to. I think if you liked the person less, you would bow out of it. If that were the main thrust of the relationship, there would be a problem. But it’s not.”
Beckinsale has perfectly summed up the dark subtext to the current obsession with her private life, which reduces her work and her career to the sum of the parts of her dating history.
Beckinsale is about to star in one of the biggest and most complex roles of her life as a woman investigating the disappearance of her husband in the television series The Widow. She’s receiving rave reviews for her performance, with critics saying that she carries the entire series.
“Beckinsale is the kind of actor who can make listening or standing in silence a vital, compelling act,” one review read. “She’s subtle enough to make the clichés more palatable, dynamic enough to add emotional vitality to even the most flat piece of exposition, and thoughtful enough to bring it all back to this idea of grief – in nearly every scene, she gives the impression of a person who’s long been holding her breath.”
That’s a rave review for a performance that Beckinsale clearly poured herself into. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, she admitted that it was one of the first jobs she was able to take since her daughter left for college and Beckinsale became more able to travel for work.
“I was a single mum for a really long time,” she said. “Even when my daughter was a teenager, I wanted to be home or within shouting distance. So when she went off to college, I said, ‘Now I can take a job in Africa or India, or I can do a play with a longish run.”
She called the role “very emotionally intense”, understandable given it was filmed over a six month shoot in South Africa. “People that you’re working with are seeing you sobbing and suffering hours and hours a day, so that’s a quick route to become close to people,” she said.
And yet the glare of the tabloid media is firmly on her personal life. Beckinsale is right to call out the paparazzi staking out her house and following her around Los Angeles. She is right to call gossip speculation about the relationship “tired” and “old-fashioned”.
Because when we intensely speculate about a public woman’s private life like this, we make the point that the most important part of her currency and value is her dating life. Who cares about her work and her career – the only thing that matters is who she takes home of an evening.
Beckinsale and Davidson are both consenting adults and I very much hope they’re having a fantastic time together enjoying what Beckinsale called Davidson’s “bag of mischief”. Good – and I cannot stress this enough – for her.
But it’s also none of my business. It’s none of all of our businesses, actually. And I’m starting to understand more and more why celebrities like Emma Watson are refusing to discuss their personal life in interviews at all.
As Watson put it in 2017: “I want to be consistent. I can’t talk about my boyfriend in an interview, and then expect people not to take paparazzi pictures of me walking around outside my home… I’ve noticed, in Hollywood, who you’re dating gets tied up into your film promotion and becomes part of the performance and the circus. I would hate anyone that I were with to feel like they were in any way part of a show or an act.”
Beckinsale has stressed repeatedly that she’s not in her relationship for the gossip headlines. So let’s stop reducing her career achievements to them.