Kate Beckinsale visited Park City, Utah, over the weekend to promote her Sundance Film Festival movie, Love & Friendship, an adaptation of the snarky Jane Austen novella Lady Susan. In the film, she plays the devious, witty widow Lady Susan, who manipulates every situation she’s in and every man in her path to get what she wants. It’s a bold representation of 18th-century female empowerment, and it had us rooting for her the entire time when we watched the period film’s premiere at the Ellen Eccles Theatre on Jan. 23.
Earlier that day, we caught up with Beckinsale to ask how it felt to characterize a woman as audacious as Lady Susan. “It was like a lucky gift,” she said. And she wasn’t the only girl power representative on the screen: Her character’s best friend, Alicia Johnson (played by Chloë Sevigny), was just as cunningly intelligent. “I liked being the girlfriend in her life who is admired and loved for her chutzpah,” Sevigny told InStyle.
However, in real life, Beckinsale thinks it’s not as simple. “It’s a hard world for women and girls,” she told us. “I think that women and girls grow up feeling like they have to be as pretty as they can be, as talented as they can be, as intelligent as they can be, and as nice as they can be. There are too many things! Then, if someone actually does achieve it, everybody hates them.”
As a successful, smart mother, wife, and career woman, she’s experienced this herself. “I think every single woman has experienced something like that, including me,” she said. “People are still not necessarily comfortable with women having as much as they should have. People can hate each other for that, which is doubly sad. That is what you don’t anticipate.”
So, how does she deal with it? “You can’t expect everyone to be nice to each other all the time,” she said. “But stay on the right path. Don’t let people not being happy for you put you off.”