Actress Kate Beckinsale, who had her blockbuster breakthrough 15 years ago this month in Pearl Harbor, is beautiful, funny, and arguably the coolest ex-girlfriend a person could have. Unless, that is, you ask the film's director and producer, Michael Bay. “I don't think I fit the type of actress Michael Bay had met before,” Beckinsale revealed in a new interview on The Graham Norton Show, as reported by Digital Spy. “I think he was baffled by me because my boobs weren't bigger than my head and I wasn't blonde.” "I'd just had my daughter and had lost weight, but was told that if I got the part, I'd have to work out," she explained. "And I just didn't understand why a 1940s nurse would do that." We know now that Beckinsale did, of course, get the part of the alluring World War II nurse that won the on-screen affection of the film's two male leads, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. But that wasn't enough to win over Bay, who did not shy away from sharing his less-than-flattering appraisal of Beckinsale with the media. "When we were promoting the film, Michael was asked why he had chosen Ben and Josh, and he said, 'I have worked with Ben before and I love him, and Josh is so manly and a wonderful actor,'" Beckinsale told Norton. "Then, when he was asked about me, he'd say, 'Kate wasn't so attractive that she would alienate the female audience.' He kept saying it everywhere we went, and we went to a lot of places." Lest you think Beckinsale is exaggerating, a quick fact-check courtesy of Vanity Fair proves her to be quite truthful in her retelling. Promoting Pearl Harbor on Movieline back in 2001, Bay proudly praised the film's two male stars, calling Hartnett "rugged" and a "guy's guy" while describing Affleck as having "what some of the fighter pilots I'd met had. They were a whole different breed, these guys. They were so determined to do their jobs." But when Movieline followed up by asking about the film's female lead, Bay swiftly came down with a misogynistic case of foot-in-mouth disease...and decided to take another beloved — and beautiful — British actress along for the ride. "I didn't want someone who was too beautiful. Women feel disturbed when they see someone's too pretty," Bay postured. "I'm not saying Kate's not pretty. When you look at Titanic, Kate Winslet is pretty, but not overwhelmingly beautiful. That makes it work better for women. Our Kate is very funny, could hang with the guys. She's not so neurotic about everything, like some actresses. She was solid and I think the three of them had some really nice chemistry." Thank you, Michael Bay, for enlightening us as to the real reason so many people loved Titanic. Oof.
This summer, we're celebrating the biggest movie season of the year with a new series called Blockbust-HER. We'll be looking at everything film-related from the female perspective, interviewing major players in the industry and discussing where Hollywood is doing right by women and where (all too often) it is failing them. And now...let's go to the movies!