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Kate Beckinsale Joins Hugh Jackman in "Van Helsing"
November 26, 2002

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Kate Beckinsale ("Pearl Harbor") will star opposite Hugh Jackman in Universal Pictures' "Van Helsing," the new epic action adventure from writer-director Stephen Sommers scheduled to begin production in January. Joining Jackman and Beckinsale is a multi- talented international cast including Richard Roxburgh ("Moulin Rouge"), David Wenham ("The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"), Shuler Hensley ("Oklahoma!"), Will Kemp (the upcoming "Mindhunters") and Kevin J. O'Connor ("The Mummy"). "Van Helsing," which is produced by Sommers and Bob Ducsay, will be released on May 21, 2004.

Sommers, who reinvigorated a genre with his 1999 smash hit "The Mummy" and its blockbuster sequel "The Mummy Returns," once again draws inspiration from Universal's classic horror properties with his latest project. The "Van Helsing" character first appeared onscreen in the seminal 1931 Universal classic "Dracula" and has since appeared in hundreds of motion picture and theatrical adaptations of Bram Stoker's novel.

Set in the late 19th century, "Van Helsing" finds Stoker's legendary monster hunter summoned to a distant and dangerous Eastern European land on a quest to vanquish evil. And, for the first time since the 1940s, Universal's greatest classic monsters -- "Dracula," the Frankenstein monster and the Wolf Man -- will return to the screen along with Van Helsing as complex, multi- dimensional beings re-imagined by Sommers.

Hugh Jackman, who portrays Van Helsing, starred as the dual character 'Wolverine/Logan' in Bryan Singer's hit comic book adaptation "X-Men" in 2000. In 2001, he played convicted hacker 'Stanley Jobson' opposite John Travolta in "Swordfish." Jackman also starred as a romantic leading man that year, opposite Meg Ryan in "Kate & Leopold," and received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a musical or comedy for the performance. Jackman was nominated for the Olivier Award for his portrayal of Curly in the Royal National Theatre's London production of "Oklahoma!" He previously worked in film and television in his native Australia and was nominated by the Australian Film Institute for its Best Actor award. He was named one of "The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People magazine in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Kate Beckinsale will portray Anna, the fiercely proud daughter of a family committed to the pursuit of the vampire Dracula. Most recently seen in the film "Serendipity," Beckinsale has also appeared in "Pearl Harbor," "The Golden Bowl," "Brokedown Palace," "The Last Days of Disco" and "Cold Comfort Farm." The British-born actress made her U.S. film debut in Kenneth Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing."

Richard Roxburgh portrays Dracula, the lethally seductive character first introduced in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel. Roxburgh's Oscar(R)-nominated films include "Oscar and Lucinda" and "Moulin Rouge," in which he played The Duke. His film credits also include "Mission Impossible II," "The Touch," "Passion, Children of the Revolution," "Thank God He Met Lizzie" and "Doing Time for Patsy Cline," for which he received an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Roxburgh received his first AFI nomination for Best Actor for his work in the television drama "Blue Murder." He has also been awarded the Sydney Theatre Critics' Circle Award for Best Actor for his performance in "Hamlet," and the Sydney Theatre Critics' Circle John Tasker Award for Freelance Director for "That Eye The Sky." Roxburgh recently completed filming "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" starring Sean Connery and directed by Stephen Norrington.

As the fabled monster created by author Mary Shelley's fictional "Dr. Frankenstein," Shuler Hensley takes on the role of a truly iconic character, and brings impressive credentials to the assignment. The actor won the Tony this year for his portrayal of tormented farmhand Jud Fry in the Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" He first performed the role in London, opposite "Van Helsing" star Hugh Jackman. Hensley made his Broadway debut as Javert in the long-running musical "Les Miserables" in October 2000. His television appearances include the recurring role of Bob Arnovitz in the comedy series "Ed" and the role of celebrated sports commentator Keith Jackson in the TNT movie "Monday Night Mayhem." His film credits include the romantic comedy "Someone Like You" and the independent film "The Bread, My Sweet."

Playing Carl, a friar entrusted with ensuring Van Helsing's safe return from his dangerous mission, is David Wenham. A five-time nominee for the Australian Film Institute (AFI)'s Best Actor award, Wenham won the honor in 1997 for his role in the television series "Simone De Beauvoir's Babies." He is best-known in Australia as Diver Dan in the television series "Seachange." Wenham has also appeared in "Moulin Rouge," "Better Than Sex," "Idiot Box," "A Little Bit of Soul," "Dust," "Pure" and the second and third films of "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy. Wenham's stage credits include "Art" (with Tom Conti), "Tartuffe," "Hamlet," "The Tempest," "Cosi," "The Headbutt" and "That Eye the Sky."

Will Kemp, who has had a stellar career as a member of Matthew Bourne's cutting edge dance company Adventures in Motion Pictures, portrays Anna's brother Velkan, who masks a secret, supernatural affliction -- when the moon is full, he transforms into the Wolf Man. Kemp has danced the lead in Bourne's critically acclaimed productions of "Swan Lake," "Cinderella," "The Car Man" and "A Play Without Words." He makes his feature film debut this spring in Renny Harlin's Mindhunters opposite Val Kilmer. Kemp was featured prominently in the fall TV and print campaigns for the Gap.

Kevin J. O'Connor, who has acted for Sommers in both "The Mummy" and "Deep Rising," has been cast as Dr. Frankenstein's deceitful assistant Igor. O'Connor's diverse film credits include Steven Spielberg's "Amistad," "Gods And Monsters," "Peggy Sue Got Married," "The Moderns," "Steel Magnolias," "Hero," "The Color of Night" and "Canadian Bacon." His television appearances include roles in Robert Altman's production of "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" and HBO's "Tanner '88." The actor trained with the DePaul/Goodman School of Drama in Chicago before appearing in the stage production El Salvador at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater, followed by Colorado Catechism at the Circle Repertory in New York City.

The "Van Helsing" cast also includes three dangerously alluring female characters, who will be portrayed by Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca, and Josie Maran, all newcomers to the American film scene. Anaya, a stage and film actress in her native Spain, was nominated for a Goya Award, Spain's top film honor, for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "Sex and Lucia." Colloca, who makes her American feature film debut in "Van Helsing," currently stars in the Italian television series "Lawyers." A mezzo soprano, she gave an award-winning performance in Rossini's "Italian in Algeri." Maran made her film debut as the lead in the independent film "The Mallory Effect" and has been featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for three consecutive years.

Universal Pictures signed Stephen Sommers to a multi-year term deal to write, produce and direct films for the studio in the wake of the phenomenal success of his films "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns." "The Mummy Returns," an action-adventure thrill ride starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr and Patricia Velasquez, launched Universal's Summer 2001 with a record-breaking opening weekend of $68.1 million in domestic box office and later became the first film to cross the $200 million milestone overseas in 2001. The worldwide box office tally for "The Mummy Returns" has reached $429 million.

SOURCE: Universal Pictures

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