With the surprising success of the 2003 flick “Underworld,” movie geeks all over the world learned two important truths: Kate Beckinsale sucks, and Scott Speedman has hair in all the wrong places. Now, three years later, the “Evolution” of the genre-bending franchise has brought back the curvaceous vampire and confused half-werewolf, along with their shared dreams of immortality, retribution and peace between the races.
And, for Beckinsale at least, “Evolution” has also brought back dreams of returning to regular clothes. “By the end of the movie … I was excited to get into some sweats,” she recently laughed, referring to the iconic leather cat suit her character wears throughout the first film and its sequel.
But it’s a sequel that “starts off in a prequel,” Speedman said, referring to the flashback scenes detailing the medieval origins of the warring Death Dealers and Lycans. “The movie really starts after that prequel, where we left off. And that’s a great way to do it, I think.”
The series’ intensely loyal fans will undoubtedly savor some vampire-size bites of the movie’s returning hallmarks (the clothes, the monstrous wolves), revelations (the current existence of immortal leader Alexander, for one) and amped-up action scenes (involving a truck, a helicopter and lots of really big guns). Similarly moving up to the next level is the forbidden romance between Beckinsale’s Selene and Speedman’s Michael. “Me and Kate’s characters are much less antagonistic in this movie, and much more of a couple,” the actor insisted.
In one soon-to-be-talked-about scene, Selene finally unzips that suit — resulting in a lengthy vampire sex scene so steamy that you half expect Count Dracula to cameo as a sleazy pizza delivery guy. But with Beckinsale’s husband, Len Wiseman, directing the film, Speedman admitted things occasionally got a bit weird. “I’ll tell the truth: It was terrible; it was awkward,” laughed the brawny actor.
“I know, it’s Kate Beckinsale, and she’s beautiful and sexy and all that, but I really was nervous,” he continued. “They were much more relaxed, and [Wiseman], I don’t know why, was fine with it. I don’t know how, but he was all right with it. He fired me after the first take, which was funny — and after awhile you kind of got into it and it was OK.”
According to the actress, being married to the creative mind behind the “Underworld” franchise means she must occasionally take a back seat, but she doesn’t mind. In fact, it was on their honeymoon that Wiseman dreamed up the mysterious “Cleaners,” the SWAT-team-like men sent in to clean up the aftermath of the film’s bloody battles.
“I didn’t know how [working with a married couple] was going to be,” Speedman said, adding that “they’re a little cutesy. They like each other a lot; it’s kind of vomit-inducing at times.”
Speaking of upset stomachs, one of the most creative moments in “Evolution” comes about when Speedman’s character, trying to resist the temptations of his transformation, attempts to satisfy his hunger for blood with a hearty meal instead. The central question of whether a vampire would still eat food is something most filmmakers would never consider, but for Wiseman (who has defiantly ignored garlic and other genre trappings), such outside-the-box thinking makes the creatures more believable.
|Check out clips from “Underworld: Evolution” and see Kate Beckinsale discuss her sweaty love scenes with Scott Speedman, on Overdrive.|
“I love that sequence,” Speedman said of scarfing down the food, then barfing it up while he hungrily eyes the necks of those around him. “Len, really, he’s a talented guy, and he really is meticulous about all these details. I think some people, with movies like this, they’re concerned more with (making a good-looking) preview, but Len really tries to get into it and get under it and try to figure out the logic.”
The end result is a bigger, leaner, sexier “Underworld” that has one happy couple — and their very good friend — beaming with pride. “I found [the sequel] a lot easier, because I had done it before,” Beckinsale said of her onscreen poise. “In the first movie, I had not thrown a punch. I’d run for a bus, but I’d run like a girl. I had to be really coached into it a lot in the first movie. All of that stuff was done, so this time we could really go for the choreography and the fighting, and I was much more confident.”
“We’ve got great actors [this time],” Speedman said, bringing up the additions to the cast. “Tony Curran (Marcus) and Derek Jacobi (Alexander) and Steve Mackintosh (Tanis), this great British actor who is really, really strong, As opposed to the first one, it really helped this movie give it weight, give it credit. I mean, these guys really bring something. They’re really good actors … there’s a bit of a Shakespearean feel to all that family stuff, which I liked.”
Now, with “Evolution” finally hitting theaters, the stars look forward to fans getting all of their questions answered — even the lame ones. “Len gets asked all the ones about the plot,” Beckinsale shrugged. “I tend to get asked, ‘What is it like kissing Scott Speedman?’ ”
One answer she can safely give is that, yes, a third “Underworld” movie is indeed on its way. “It was always conceived as a three-movie thing,” Beckinsale explained. “When they made it up in Len’s sitting room several years ago, and didn’t think it would ever get made, I think they saw it as a movie, a sequel and then a prequel.”
“Maybe for ‘Underworld 3,’ I’ll be the ‘lovey,’ ” laughed Speedman, referring to one of Wiseman’s pet names for his wife. “That’s what I’m really hoping for.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Underworld: Evolution.”
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