It’s been 15 years since Kate Beckinsale starred alongside Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, and while the actress has made a successful career for herself (including a hilarious lead role in the newly-released Love & Friendship), there are aspects of her first blockbuster film that she doesn’t look back on with particular fondness.
During the casting process for Pearl Harbor, Beckinsale says her looks and body type appeared to baffle director Michael Bay: “I don’t think I fit the type of actress [he] had met before,” she said in a recent interview on The Graham Norton Show. In 2001, Beckinsale had spoken out about being subjected to photographs “from every angle”, which she suspects happened because they were “quite interested in what [her] body looks like” since she’d recently had a baby.
And after the film had wrapped, Bay still apparently couldn’t get a handle on things, only able to come up with Beckinsale’s looks as the reason for why he’d cast her in the first place. Beckinsale expanded further in her Graham Norton interview:
When we were promoting the film, Michael was asked why he had chosen Ben [Affleck] and Josh [Hartnett], and he said, ‘I have worked with Ben before and I love him, and Josh is so manly and a wonderful actor’. Then when he was asked about me, he’d say, ‘Kate wasn’t so attractive that she would alienate the female audience.’
Vanity Fair confirmed the truth behind the quote in an interview Bay gave with Movieline back in 2001, where he said that he’d cast Beckinsale in the film because he “I didn’t want someone who was too beautiful”, because “women feel disturbed when they see someone’s too pretty.”
This isn’t the first unfortunate anecdote we’ve heard about Bay’s sexist treatment of his actresses; in response to a question about how she was cast in Transformers, Megan Fox once revealed that when she showed up at Bay’s house to audition he filmed her washing his Ferrari. The footage, of course, is now nowhere to be found, but there’s a lot about Transformers that makes much more sense now.
It’s likely that Beckinsale has moved on from what happened, but it’s clear that Bay’s words have lingered with her to some degree if she’s this readily able to recall them. What’s frustrating is the fact that this is still being tolerated–not just from directors like Bay but others who haven’t been called out for their behavior yet.
(via Vanity Fair)
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