Based on the comic book series by Greg Rucka, the dramatic thriller Whiteout is set in the Antarctica and follows U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) as she investigates the continent's first murder. At the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, Beckinsale talked about working in inhospitable conditions and why she enjoys making the trip to San Diego to interact with genre fans.
How closely does the movie follow the comic book?
“It’s not absolutely the same. I mean what was nice was that we did have Greg Rucka around on the set quite a lot, so I feel like he at least approved of where it went because it just had to be sort of adapted for the film. I was slightly sorry I didn’t get to be an alcoholic, but I still lost my fingers and my blonde female sidekick became a man, but…”
What attracted you to this role?
“She’s vulnerable and that was what actually attracted me. She’s got this job where you imagine she’s going to be just a totally tough bad ass, but the reason that she’s actually gone all the way out there is that she’s kind of on the run from her life. She’s complicated and she’s frightened, and kind of feels like she’s lost her strength. She starts out the movie, she’s basically checking items off an inventory. She hasn’t really seen any action of her own choice for a long time. So it’s a nice arc sometimes, being an actor, to see somebody kind of have to get herself together.”
It’s nice in a movie of this type, it was nice to play a human. I like the fact that she’s human just because she’s not a superhero, but she’s very human. She’s very flawed and she’s not your typical kind of action hero. She’s kind of surprised into it and complicated, and I like that. I spoke to Joel [Silver] and I spoke to Dom [Sena] and their vision of how it was going to be with the environment and with this character was really interesting.”
Do you get tossed around a lot in this film?
“Oh yeah, always.”
Was it a physically punishing film?
“She suffers a lot but I’ve got more padding on me this time. Three pairs of trousers and a parka gives you a bit more protection than the latex suit.”
How was working with director Dominic Sena?
“He’s lovely. He’s lovely and really funny and he’s like a sort of savant visually. He’s this strange little, interesting, very witty person but he’s got the most amazing eye. I had a lovely time with him. He’s very civilized. He had his daughter working; she was one of the A.D.’s. It was a nice friendly set to be on.”
What was it like filming in Canada?
“It’s so beautiful. It’s amazing. When we were in Manitoba just a certain time of the day where the sky’s white and the snow obviously is white and if you look one way, you can feel completely disoriented because you can’t see anything but white. It’s really a beautiful place.”
Living in that cold environment had to be difficult.
“The cold? Oh yeah. They said it’s going be really cold and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve worked in Prague and I’ve worked in Budapest.’ I’m always wearing fewer clothes than everybody else in the movie so I felt I’d handle it. Then it was just a different level of cold. I think it was minus 58 when we were there, where you just can’t believe it.”
Do you like the travel part of your work?
“I like it when we get there; I kind of bitch about it before I go. I want them to invent time travel or that thing where you just show up. I don’t like the traveling part. I like arrival.”
Do you enjoy being an action movie star?
“I mean to me, it’s a stretch. It’s getting less so. I’m getting more used to it, but it’s still ridiculous that I’m allowed. I just go straight back to being the last one picked at PE.”
You’re no stranger to the Comic Con experience.
“Yeah, I think this is even my third or fourth time.”
Are you used to it now?
“It’s kind of like a summer camp reunion is what it feels like to me. I can’t believe it.”
Is it nice to be at Comic Con promoting something that’s not about vampires?
“Yes it is. It’s very nice. But I’ll tell you what is also nice. Emotionally, these kinds of movies, in the grand scheme, critics hate these kinds of movies with a passion. So it’s actually nice to be around the people who you’re making the movie for, with people who really appreciate it and like it. I really wish that there was a level of review for genre movies that was written by people who like genre movies. I much prefer to read a movie by someone who like genre movies. If they say it’s crap, then I’ll believe it. But if someone who only wants to see independent movies from Sundance is reviewing. Do you know what I mean? It just seems like it’s really unfair. I do think there is some s**t in genre movies, but as a genre, I think it’s just [meant to entertain] and I love it. So it is nice to come here where I feel like there are people who really dig it.”
But fans can be very passionate about their opinions.
“There’s no one more virulent than, I mean, God, you go on IMDB, go on these fansites, you read some really heinous s**t. People have got death threats on you for these plot points you left out or whatever. They’re very passionate about it. But I’d much prefer someone to slag off my movie who is a genre fan.”
You’ve done action films and horror movies and dramas. How do you plan them out and how would you label this film?
“This is definitely a genre movie. For me I kind of…it’s spaced out. I did Underworld and the way they’re clumped together, I did Underworld then I did Van Helsing . Then I did The Aviator , then I did Underworld Evolution , then I did Click. And then I did Snow Angels, which is a movie I’m really proud of, and then right in the middle of this movie I actually shot Winged Creatures. This movie we started, we did three weeks and then they shot down so that I could do Winged Creatures and then they started it up. And so Winged Creatures and Snow Angels are a different sort of vibe and the next movie I’m doing is with Rod Lurie, which is much more of a drama. So I really do enjoy these and once in a while I’ll pop up and do one of these.”