It seems that every actress in the industry has a story about being asked to slim down for a role or change their body in some way. Kate Beckinsale is no exception, but in a new interview with Health, she said that she did see one upside to being asked to work out for her role in Pearl Harbor: At least no one was asking her to change her smile.
Beckinsale has spoken out before about how director Michael Bay allegedly made subtle jabs at her appearance after filming the World War II movie, specifically claiming on The Graham Norton Show in 2016 that Bay said Beckinsale wasn’t so attractive she would “alienate the female audience.” Specifically, Bay told MovieLine in 2001 that he “didn't want someone who was too beautiful” because “women feel disturbed when they see someone's too pretty.”
Beckinsale also revealed on Norton’s program that she was instructed to work out and lose weight for the part, despite the fact that her character was a nurse at wartime who probably didn’t have a lot of free time to make it to Pilates. In her interview with Health, she brought up the situation again, but revealed the reason she didn’t feel overly slighted by the remark.
"[Being told to lose weight for the part] wasn’t great, it didn’t make me feel good, and in general, I think women are body-shamed 100 million percent more than men. But on this particular project, I wasn’t," she told Health of her time on Pearl Harbor.
Who was? Well, apparently, it was her co-star Ben Affleck who really had to change his aesthetic to suit Bay’s preference.
"Ben [Affleck], who’d already done a movie with the director, was like, 'This happened to me. They made me get new teeth,'" Beckinsale told the outlet. "And I was like, 'Cool, at least I get to hang on to my actual teeth.'"
On the DVD commentary for Armageddon, per The Ringer, Bay said that production paid $20,000 to get Affleck new teeth for the 1998 movie. The reason for the change was because Affleck had “baby teeth” that didn’t suit the “heroic” shots he was required to do for Armageddon, according to Bay.
While Affleck definitely had a hard time on Bay’s movies (at least his new teeth suit him?!) it’s worth mentioning that women are criticised for how they look on camera at a rate that far surpasses their male co-stars going through cosmetic dentistry procedures. That, coupled with the many people who have opened up about being survivors of sexual harassment in Hollywood, suggests that it’s still women who have a more challenging time navigating this often-sexist landscape...on or off a Bay set.
Refinery29 reached out to Bay, Affleck, and Beckinsale for comment.