She danced, she twerked, and she sang. She changed from a figure-hugging sparkling silver bodysuit into a slinky red peekaboo cutout dress slit to the thigh to a Playboy bunny outfit with a pushup bustier and floppy rabbit ears.
As she celebrated her 50th birthday last week, Kate Beckinsale proved that she can look and act like a woman half her age — a priceless talent for an actress in Hollywood, where turning 30 can be career suicide.
“What a party — full of love and glitter and the best people,” the Oxford-educated actress wrote on Instagram.
Ms Beckinsale is one of the most successful British actresses in Hollywood, yet it has been 11 years since she last appeared in a film that earned more than $100 million (£78 million): the remake of Total Recall.
She won Best Actress honours two years running in Britain’s National Film Awards, but neither movie was a box office success: 2021 racial drama Farming earned only £70,000 worldwide, and Jolt took £187,000 last year.
Yet Ms Beckinsale has achieved the formidable tightrope act of enduring as a Hollywood star despite never cracking the A-list.
She lives in a £4.4 million modernist mansion in the Hollywood Hills and is worth a reported £19.5 million, and earns at least £1.5 million a year. Paid an estimated £7.8 million for the fifth film in her Vampires vs Werewolves Underworld franchise in 2016, Ms Beckinsale says she is open to appearing in a sixth.
Meanwhile, with 5.6 million Instagram followers, social media is her financial anchor; experts say she could easily command £30,000 a post for brand endorsements.
Her Instagram following dwarfs that of most other British actresses. Mission: Impossible star Hayley Atwell has 1.8 million followers; Kate Winslet 1.4 million; Sienna Miller 1.3 million; and Dame Helen Mirren 1.1 million.
London-born Ms Beckinsale has appeared in commercials for Gap denim, Diet Coke and Lux shampoo, advertised Absolut vodka and Nestle, was the first US brand ambassador for home appliance maker Russell Hobbs, and since 2021 has been the face of MRVL Skin Solutions, a skincare line.
On Instagram, she has given shoutouts to places and products, including the Castle Elvira luxury hotel in Puglia, Italy; Julia Clancey clothing; Jane Doe Latex dresses; Candy Ice Jewellery; Les Girls Les Boys clothing; and Carversteak at Resorts World in Las Vegas.
Her red-carpet appearances at fashion shows, including Chanel, Elie Saab and Bulgari jewellery, may also have been lucrative.
“Her story serves as a reminder that success in the entertainment industry isn’t always a straightforward path,” says Los Angeles talent manager Wendy Alane Wright.
“Throughout her career, she has worked and collaborated with incredible co-stars on ambitious projects, even if they didn’t achieve the desired level of success.”
Talent manager Chris Wright says: “She’s a better actress than she gets the credit for. Unfortunately, some films that were supposed to make a difference in her career didn’t do so. Yet even her not-so-good movies are ones that everyone remembers, such as Pearl Harbor.”
The daughter of Porridge star Richard Beckinsale, who died in 1979 at the age of 31 when Kate was only five, she made her film debut in Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing. The 2001 blockbuster Pearl Harbor, where she appeared alongside Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, was expected to launch a stellar screen career.
“Pearl Harbor was a costly missed opportunity,” says Wendy Wright. “Critics panned the film, and audiences were left unimpressed.”
Ms Beckinsale next starred in the romantic comedy Serendipity but, says Wendy Wright, it “failed to make a lasting impression”.
She then turned to an action adventure with the 2003 hit Underworld, falling in love with its director, Len Wiseman. Previously she had been in a long relationship with Welsh actor Michael Sheen, with whom she has a 24-year-old daughter.
Underworld spawned four lucrative sequels, but though the vampire saga developed a cult following, it struggled to resonate with a broader audience, says Wendy Wright. “Kate’s connection to the series’ director, whom she was married to at the time, kept her tied to the project for more years than she may have otherwise chosen.” Ms Beckinsale and Wiseman married but divorced after 15 years in 2019.
Hollywood’s increasing focus on big-budget blockbusters also limited Ms Beckinsale’s opportunities. “Kate Beckinsale has appeared at her best in small indie films,” another Hollywood talent manager says.
Yet her evergreen popularity makes her highly marketable beyond Hollywood. “The magic of celebrity influencer marketing is no passing trend, and there’s no better example than Kate Beckinsale,” says Stacy Jones, chief executive officer of leading pop culture marketing agency Hollywood Branded.
“What makes Kate’s online presence a goldmine for marketers is not just her massive follower count. Based predominantly in the US but across the UK, Brazil, Mexico, and India, her followers provide a vast, engaged and demographically diverse market.”
Ms Beckinsale credits her age-defying beauty to genetics and occasional “facials with platelet-rich plasma”. She insists: “No thread lift, no Botox, no laser, no nose job, no filler.”
Stacy Jones adds: “What sets Kate Beckinsale apart is the trust and personal connection she fosters with her followers. That trust is marketing gold.”
Talent manager Chris Wright is optimistic about her future. “There are still roles for her that encompass danger, beauty, sexuality, and her obvious sense of humour.”
But until that call comes, Kate Beckinsale will remain in the money — grabbing attention on social media in skintight bunny costumes and bejewelled bodysuits.