In this interview, Kate Beckinsale discusses her research, playing Ava Gardner in "The Aviator," and working with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio:
INTERVIEW WITH KATE BECKINSALE ('Ava Gardner'):
What attracted you to the role?
To Ava Gardner? It was the whole project altogether. I didnt hear about Ava Gardner without Marty and Leo already being attached to it. But she had a very unique spirit and I really found that appealing. It was a broad quality to her that I think these days we tend to no longer have. She was a very feisty, fiery, warm, deeply feminine, tough person, from what I can gather. I just thought that was a lot of interesting qualities all in one.
What do you think attracted Ava Gardner to Howard Hughes?
I did a lot of research and, in fact, it could become a little confusing because theres so much material available to read about it, and so many different reports. I mean, everybody seems to say that they were romantically involved, except for her. In her autobiography she categorically denies that, so as a show of actress solidarity, I had to kind of go with her story.
I think, from what I can gather, he was extremely fun. He had a broadness of vision and a scope for business and for life and for despair, but also for things that were fun. I think that she really enjoyed the fact that these grand gestures would happen and it was kind of it was wild, and she had a wildness. She was attracted to matadors; she was attracted to bull fighting. She lived very much in the heart of that passionate place, and I think thats what she responded to.
What are the traps and joys of playing a real person?
Its always unnerving because I think there will be, inevitably, and there are of course, a certain percentage of people who will be just offended by the fact that youve been cast at all, and you dont evoke her in their heart as maybe somebody else might. I think that would happen with anybody. One of the things about all this Internet battling about what a disaster all of us were cast, is that nobody ever seems to be able to settle on one person who unanimously is the choice.
I think its just that thing of if its a really person, you do feel theres a right way to play it. And normally with an artistic endeavor, the way to play a part is a more organic thing that comes out as youre going along. Youre the authority on the characters emotional life. When its a real person, there is actually a blueprint that you're trying to hit without being able to actually speak to the person if theyve passed away. So that does make it different. And I think once youve done all the research and you immerse yourself in all of that, at some point you do have to actually approach it in the same way as you approach anything else, in a sort of open-hearted creative actress playing a part.
Did you watch a lot of Ava Gardner movies? What was the hook to finding her?
Kind of everything. Im always very attracted to peoples vocal patterns and she had a deeper voice than I had . That was a challenge to pull that off without sounding like youre doing a funny voice, particularly [because] she has an American accent but it was an American accent that began South and then was put through various types of voice coaching to end up with a rather unique movie star accent that doesnt really come from anywhere. So, obviously, there was stuff like that. And Marty was very categorical about the fact that he didnt want us in prosthetic chins and fake eyeballs and God knows what. He didnt want a Saturday Night Live skit of Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner. The most important thing really to capture was the spirit, and thats what we were all aiming to do.
Is research a perk of your job and can you do too much research?
I think you can, definitely. I think its something that what was quite nice about this was that I didnt have all that much notice, so there was really no danger of working on it for a year and getting to the point where I was completely constipated to be able to do anything. So it was actually a really good experience on this, but I do enjoy it. Ive got kind of an academic-y literary background, so when I can go and buy new pens and lots of notebooks and sit in a library for a while, Im usually quite happy.