Actress KATE BECKINSALE is shedding her corset for a storming performance in surprise hit movie Shooting FiSh. Words: Anwar Brett

Big f‘ sh, little pan

APPEARANCES, AS WE all know, can be deceptive. You go into The Lost World expecting a cracking movie and you end up sleeping through another effects-heavy snoozorama. You are an English actress with an accent that could cut ice. and you only find

success starring in an endless procession of

costume dramas.

But hold on to your preconceptions. Daughter of Richard Beckinsale. the late lamented comedy star of Porridge. Kate Beckinsale is fast disproving the Bonham Carter theory by attracting plaudits and turning heads in Shooting Fish. A production from the pens of Stefan Schwartz and Richard Holmes. the movie is far from the Merchant- lvory genre.

Fresh from the belated theatrical release of

Cold Comfort Farm. and after a high profile debut in Kenneth Branagh‘s Much Ado About Nothing. Beckinsale has delivered a performance of wit. confidence and much style opposite the scene-stealing seams of co- stars Dan ‘Birdeage‘ Futterman and Stuart Townsend.

lt nearly didn‘t happen though. She had had her wisdom teeth out before meeting Schwartz and Holmes (they sound like a firm of solicitors but most assuredly do not act like them) and her face was swollen up ‘like a hamster‘. She was also branded in their own minds as a ‘period actress’.

16 THE LIST 10 Oct—23 Oct 1997

‘Afterjust five minutes she set Stef alight.’ recalls writer-producer Holmes. She was very funny and although you have this very particular image of her she actually told the filthiest stories.‘

Schwartz adds: ‘l‘d seen her in quite a few period pieces but when she walked into the

‘Kate Beckinsale was very funny and although you have this very particular image of her, she actually told the filthiest stories.’ Richard Holmes

audition I immediately thought 00s woman. She has this great vitality and life. and I thought she would be brilliant for the role Georgie.‘

‘She’s also completely transformed the part with some wonderful lines of her own.‘ continues Holmes. ‘She came with them from a woman‘s point of view. whereas we’d written them from a man's.‘

And there isn‘t a ringlet in sight. yet even with her ultra modern. short cropped hair. the character of Georgie retains a vestige of the independent characters she has portrayed previously. She is less arch btit every bit as self possessed as Cold Cont/int harm‘s Flora Poste. or her portrayal of Emma.

Which is just as well as in Shooting Fish she has to outwit the charming conmen with whom she takes up. in order to put their ill

Kate Beckinsale: look. no corset

gotten gains to a greater good. The film is a surprising addition to a CV that for a while signalled a great classical career ahead. andhas put hours of English Lit classes to practical and profitable application.

‘Mue/t Ado, (‘olt/ (‘oni/ort Farm and Emma. yeah. the English [it classes have really paid off.’ she chuckles. ‘But I gave up English to do Russian. French and German at A-level, so until I get to do The .«lluster ()_/'A’lurgum'itc I won’t feel that I‘ve fulfilled my potential.’

Ambition and talent can extend beyond the limitations of typecasting. and at least Beckinsale has begun the slow process of changing people's opinions. lf Shooting l’ish can repeat the international success of Four ll'm/z/ings And A l’unr’rul. or even The Full Monty. she will be well on the way to fulfilling the early promise of a fascinating career.

‘I do find my ambition will lapse once in a while.‘ admits Beckinsale. ‘l don‘t have a burning ambition to be famous or anything like that. or to win a load of acting prizes. I don‘t want to be an actress for the sake of being an actress.

‘lf it stops being something where l can express certain things and this sounds a bit wanky that are important or relevant to me or anybody else. then I don‘t think I‘d remain interested in it. Once it becomes a job it is difficult to feel the same. about it as you do when you started.‘

Shooting Fish goes on general release on Fri 17 Oct.