Better Late Than Never: Wiseman/Beckinsale on ‘Evolution’

It’s amazing how much being out of town can kill your week, and sitting through movie all day didn’t help any more. Now that I’m finally getting caught up on everything I missed because of Sundance, I can feel the stress lifting off my shoulder (ahhhh). So without further a du, inside you’ll find Clint Davis’ article on his interviews with Underworld: Evolution (review)star Kate Beckinsale and Director Len Wiseman. The film has made over $35 million to date!Kate Beckinsale/Len wiseman Roundtable – 01/19/05
By: Clint Davis

Kate Beckinsale and Len Wiseman sat down with reporters at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manhattan last Thursday to discuss their new film, Underworld: Evolution. While much was discussed about their personal lives (the two met on the set of the original Underworld and were wed soon there after) and about their respective starts in the business, I was able to glean some comments regarding the actual shooting of U:E and about their involvement in the horror genre itself.

Beckinsale, who was interviewed first, spoke about her role as Selene, stating that it wasn’t just a “badass” role. On the contrary, it was “one of the most difficult acting jobs I’ve ever had, trying to walk the line between strong and subordinate in the first film, and then having her be more sure-footed in this one.” Also, she jokingly said that it was “hard to turn the character off at the end of the day. I’ve been banned from my local Sav-On for constantly elbowing people.” When asked about her role in shaping the sequel’s screenplay and, specifically, her character’s arc, she said that, “as it [the creative process] was taking place in my living room, I had full involvement.” She quickly added, laughing, that she wasn’t “a Yoko or anything” and that she mainly helped shape the medieval-set prologue that opens the film.

The talk turned to the films numerous and admittedly impressive stunts, most of which were done by the actor’s themselves. “All of the dangerous stunts, where we’d be jumping 50 feet off of a cliff… all went perfectly, not a hitch. It was the little things where I’d hurt myself.” She added, “The first punch I threw during shooting, I missed the mark and hit the side of the camera. Really hurt my hand, and that was on something small.” She praised the work of the entire stunt crew, also saying that she “really enjoyed the physical aspect of the movie, hard though it was.”

Finally, Beckinsale talked about the new fan-base that has been opened up to her, now that she has entered the horror mainstream. She said that she now finds herself quite popular with the “Goth” kids, as well as those who attend comic conventions, and is very happy to have them as fans. She recounted the following story: “At a comic convention, a panel… we were answering questions and this girl came up to the mic, shouted ‘I love you’ and then started crying, like, breaking down. I didn’t know what to do… had never experienced that kind of reaction. I guess the mother in me kicked in and I leapt over the table and gave the girl a hug. I was really afraid she wasn’t going to be okay.”

After Beckinsale’s time was finished, Len wiseman, director of Underworld and Underworld: Evolution answered a few questions.

When one watches Underworld: Evolution, one is struck immediately by the exponentially large increase in gore; arterial sprays, decapitations, savage maulings… everything that was missing, for the most part, from the first film. On this, wiseman had to say, “it wasn’t a conscious decision to make the film gorier. In fact, I wanted to make the first one gory too, but there was no time. Blood rigs, effects like that, all take time and, when you’re running late, they’re the first thing’s to get scrapped. With this one, we had more time, more money… it was just easier to do those sort’s of things.” Parenthetically, wiseman stated that the studio, “was behind me a hundred percent on everything… there was certainly a lot more responsibility this go around… more pressure… and they were really great with the support.” He was also quick to point out that, at every available opportunity, he was able to use practical effects. “I don’t like digital effects. There were some, when we have a Lycan jump from a roof on to a horse to take it down or something like that that cannot be done physically, but otherwise, it was all practicals. In the opening battle sequence, there were only four digital shots.” If you’ve seen the movie, you will know how impressive this is.

wiseman admits to being a control freak on the set, though he states, “I’m a control freak, not an asshole. There’s a big difference.” He tries to shoot everything himself, but as that’s not always impossible, he has the entire movie already mapped out. “I draw everything… every frame of the movie is drawn out by me, or sketched out by me then drawn by storyboard artists. I like to have everything planned before I shoot it; it drives me nuts to not.”
The film’s budget was brought up, a subject that is a very strong point with wiseman. The film was made for a relatively modest 48 million, which, these days, when the Superman movie is breaking records with a reported budget of 300 million, isn’t a lot. “Movies just don’t need to be that expensive. I’d love to have a little disclaimer before the movie screens… I’d come out and say, ‘Hey, just so you know, this movie was made for the same amount of money as the freeway chase scene in the Matrix 2. Just so you know.’”

On his future plans in the genre he says, “I’ve been offered every remake you could possibly imagine… Clash of the Titans, everything. Even the [perennially passed around] script for I Am Legend. Though he wouldn’t say more, wiseman confirmed that, “I am working on sci-fi script; one that doesn’t require a bunch of people in fuzzy suits.” When asked about going along with the new trend of “Versus” movies (Freddy vs. Jason, Alien Vs. Predator, etc.), he laughed, saying “yeah, there’s been some talk… specifically about Selene Vs. Blade, but it’s, besides legal issues, it’s too hard to force one world into another. I would probably never make that movie, though if it were made, I would certainly watch it.”