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Kate Beckinsale in 'Total Recall' (Photo: Columbia Pictures)
Kate Beckinsale in ‘Total Recall’ (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

In the reboot of the 1990 action film Total Recall – out today (August 3) – Kate Beckinsale plays a villain for the first time.

Others might view her character Lori in unpleasant terms but Beckinsale definitely liked playing her. “I thought she was wonderful. I thought she was dangerously nuts – which is always really fun for an actor to play – and rather kind of wounded and a little bit myopic about things and relentless,” she says.

When the cameras were rolling Beckinsale was taking orders from her husband Len Wiseman who directed the film. It’s not a new working arrangement – Wiseman directed Beckinsale twice before in the first two Underworld pictures.

Beckinsale thinks the husband-wife familiarity can help on set. “You have a shorthand with each other and we have a lot of similar tastes on a lot of things so that’s quite expedient,” she says.

But knowing the director so closely has made her aware of the demands being put on him. She says: “It makes you sensitive to not wanting to take up an awful lot of his time – and as an actor you tend to want to drive the director crazy and call him a lot about your character – and I was very aware of how much other people were doing that to him in every department.”

Beckinsale has made real headway in action films – a genre in which relatively few women succeed. She recalls looking for female role models when she did her first portrayal of the vampire warrior Selene in the first Underworld film a decade ago.

She says: “Really at that point, there weren’t very many. There was Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton, and that was really it – and now it seems like there has been a great difference over the last ten years that there are a lot more of these roles for women, so who knows? Maybe they will carry on.”

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By Tom Brook