• "i'm a very un-athletic sort of person"
"Caution: Blood" reads a sign on the Underworld: Evolution Vancouver set, designed to resemble the interior of a medieval ship. Nearby, a weapons chest sits before an array of battle gear including helms, chainmail, a double-headed axe, swords, daggers and a morning star.
On this dreary January day, the 21st century has invaded the Middle Ages-inspired setting in the shape of journalists armed with tape recorders, digital cameras and microphones. Although director Len Wiseman and actor Scott Speedman are also dressed in modern clothes, star Kate Beckinsale stands out in her signature Selene garb - a black, skintight leather body suit that she wore in the original Underworld in 2003 and has donned again for its follow-up.
"There's one costume for the whole movie, and then you put the same one on again," says Beckinsale. "You're right back and your hair is the same and you go, 'Wow, I have more wrinkles now,' 'cause you notice what's different."
Similarly, this film has the trappings of the first, namely the ongoing vampire-werewolf feud, with a few new wrinkles. Vampire Selene (Beckinsale) has to deal with the repercussions of killing off Viktor (Bill Nighy), one of her coven's elders. She's aided by a new breed of monster, Michael (Speedman) who is a vampire-lycan (werewolf) hybrid. Together they uncover intrigue, strange alliances and secrets that date back to medieval times.
After her first foray into action films with Underworld, Beckinsale is no longer a newcomer to stunts and handling weapons.
"I'm a very un-athletic sort of rather wet, frightened person in life. I had much more of a dance background, and if I did any jumps or anything ... it was gentle reminders of 'You're not in Peter Pan right now. Look tough, look tough.'" she explains. "I remember the first time I shot a gun was on the set. I felt immediately afterwards like please, just go into the corner and quietly sob because it was quite a shock. Whereas now it's crossbows and God knows what else. That seems to have just absorbed now."
And while she's also married to the director this time around, it's her character's relationship with Michael that's the big change.
"In the first movie ... he was human, and she was vampire. She was doing a lot of sort of telling him, bringing him up to speed with what was happening," says Beckinsale. "He was just generally confused and not really knowing what was going on. By the time they start this movie he's no longer just human, and they just got a little bit more time to get to know each other, so they're much more partners than they were before."
Case in point is the scene that's being filmed today on the sound stage next door. Selene and Michael have infiltrated a monastery, hunting down the traitorous vampire Tanis (Steven Mackintosh) who's been exiled for centuries. Just moments before, Tanis was enjoying a vampire blood orgy - a scene conveniently shot before the journalists traipsed on set.
The actors are in the monastery's wine cellar, surrounded by shabby antique furniture, paintings and tapestries. Discovering a cache of ultra violet fluid and ammunition clips - used to off vampires - Selene confronts Tanis about his betrayal and then reveals that she killed Viktor, the vampire who imprisoned him.
"You? Killed Viktor?" says Mackintosh as Tanis. "No, I think not. Unless ... you learned the truth."
Although Viktor died in the previous film, he appears in the sequel thanks to the medieval flashback sequences that explain the origins of the supernatural feud. One of Michael's ancestors, Alexander Corvinus, who carries the unique gene that makes vampire-lycan hybridisation possible, also makes an appearance.
As one of two hybrids in the film - the other is Marcus, Tony Curran's vampire-bird mix - Speedman endures a more intricate and lengthy makeup process than the other actors.
"For whatever reason I really like that process," says Speedman. "Just physically, I love that you kind of get to - it sounds kind of corny - to disappear into the whole makeup thing. And I love jumping around in it and being kind of crazy."
A quick walk through the makeup trailer reveals an odd assortment of items such as fake fangs in Ziploc bags and KY lube. Cabinets are labelled hair goop, blood supplies, slime and baby wipes. Speedman doesn't always have to submit to elaborate costuming, however, because when he reverts to his human form, he's usually naked.
Says Beckinsale, "He provides most of the nipples in the movie."
Underworld: Evolution opens nationwide on Friday, 20 January. back to the top
• "alias" star to star in erotic thriller
According to Reuters, Jennifer Garner and her Vandalia Films production company have sold the erotic thriller Sabbatical to Buena Vista as a starring vehicle for her.
The story follows a couple that hits the doldrums in their seventh year of marriage. To inject some life into their union, they decide to take a two-week sabbatical from each other during which, within a set of rules, they can do whatever they want.
When the wife returns to the agreed-upon meeting place two weeks later, however, she discovers that her husband has disappeared. back to the top
• "this is ridiculous"
Until Saturday, Jessica Alba was still wearing a blue bikini top. By Sunday, Alba's torso on a movie hoarding in Bangalore, India, was covered with a white sheet of paper.
Apparently, the city's not ready to see the actress' body; so the theatre showing the film Into The Blue was asked by the Bangalore City Corporation to either take the movie hoarding down or cover up everything except Alba's face.
Said a theatre representative, "The Corporation asked us to cover Alba up. They think that since it's a public place, the hoarding isn't appropriate for such a spot. They probably feel there's too much skin on display."
When the Bangalore Times contacted the Corporation, a spokesperson denied that they had given any such orders. However, for the average Bangalorean, it's taking moral policing too far.
"This is ridiculous," fumed entertainment pro Rohit Barker. "Now if we show our toes too often, we'll be reprimanded. And compared to the Hindi movie posters you see around, this is nothing.
"What about a wet choli? Or Aishwarya Rai in Kajra Re? Is that okay because it's from India?" Or was Alba really showing too much cleavage?
"I don't think so," says model Rachel Bayros. "If you've got it flaunt it. With me, even when I'm covered from head to toe, people stare anyway.
"But there's always a small section of people who are so narrowminded that they get shocked by such posters."
If anything needed covering up, it was probably posters of Mallika Sherawat in Murder, believes Rachel. "That was overdone."
Even style professional Gauri Kapur says the Into The Blue poster was tasteful. "It was fine. Going topless is going overboard. I just think that people who think dirty will do so anyway." back to the top
• "messed-up teeth are so sexy"
Kirsten Dunst refuses to fix her teeth because she thinks stars who don't look perfect are the sexiest.
The Spider-Man star admits her mother is constantly nagging her to straighten her front teeth, but the actress insists that's a part of her that is extra special.
She says, "That's one of the things I like about me. Messed-up teeth are so sexy."
And, to emphasise her point, Dunst admits she has a huge crush on Patricia Arquette - another actress with unstraight teeth.
She says, "I have a girl crush on her. She's a real woman - she's not anorexic or perfectly tan [sic], she's not trying to be anything but what she is, and that's the most sexy thing." back to the top
• "i just didn't want the whole country to hate me!"
If you're in the UK and haven't seen it already then you've probably missed Australian horror film Wolf Creek at your local multiplex, but for those who did see it, Moviehole has an interview with stars Cassandra Magrath (Liz) and Kestie Morassi (Kristy). back to the top
• "i'm having a great time "
The Angel/Alias connection continued last Thursday (13 October), with the debut of Amy Acker, playing Kelly Preston, a member of a rogue spy organisation.
Acker now finds herself working for executive producer Jeffrey Bell, who took over as showrunner on Angel after the departure of Tim Minear, who went to work on Firefly with Angel co-creator Joss Whedon. Also on hand is Alias producer Drew Goddard, who previously worked on Lost and Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which gave birth to Angel.
Also, Acker is working with Rachel Nichols, who plays Preston's former colleague - and now foe Rachel Gibson, who has discovered she's not working for the good guys after all. Nichols came to Alias after a stint on Fox's short-lived crime drama The Inside, created by Tim Minear.
"I saw Tim at the Serenity premiere," Acker says. "I said, 'I'm working with your girl.' The whole crew of Angel was on The Inside, so we keep finding people we know in common."
Although it took a while to come to fruition, Acker first auditioned for Alias back when she was on Angel. At the time, her character, science geek Fred, had transformed into a blue-skinned demon called Illyria. Acker was trying for the role of Sydney's sister Nadia, a part eventually taken by Mia Maestro.
"I actually had to go to the audition right from Angel," Acker says. "We had a break, and I was in the blue makeup. I had to drive across down in the blue makeup and go in.
"That was the first time that I met all those guys, but we kept in touch since that. So I was just happy they asked me to do it."
Because she was working long hours on Angel, Acker didn't get a chance to see much of Alias, but she caught up quickly.
"I borrowed the DVDs from my friends and made my husband" - actor James Carpinello - "watch five episodes of Alias every day, so we're caught up. It's great."
Acker soon learned that attention must be paid if a viewer has any hope of following the convoluted Alias storylines. "James missed a couple in the middle, and I said, 'I can't explain it. Just og with it.'"
In the great Alias tradition, Acker is doing fight scenes, something she already got to do on Angel, and something she's trained for.
"In college," she says, "I did three years of fight training. We did rapier and dagger, broadsword, quarterstaff and an animal kung fu style. I thought it was fun.
"I've had a little experience. I've been trying to figure out how to become more believable as a fighter, but not picking fights in bars or aything."
Acker also got to participate in the show's signature pyrotechnics.
"I blew something up," she says. "I didn't get to actually see the explosion, but I did get to cause an explosion. It's nice, very powerful. You never know what they're going to do. It's like with Joss, you can feel like you're getting to play so many different parts, but you only have to audition for one job."
Right now, Acker is scheduled for 7 to 9 episodes, but she's game for more, saying, "I'm having a great time. I'll stay on it for as long as they'll keep me." back to the top
• "it will surprise you"
Keira Knightley told ComingSoon.net that shooting the two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels has consumed all of her energy. "It is my life now," she told the site in an interview while promoting her latest film, Domino. "There is nothing else. We're doing them both at the same time, and we were halfway through as of yesterday. We were at 100 days yesterday, and we have at least another 100 to go. We've been going since February, but we've had about a month and a half off for hiatus because it's hurricane season."
Knightley said that she is very critical of her own work, but enjoyed having the chance to return to the character of Elizabeth Swann with new ideas. "I possibly hate every performance I've done and I would like to completely change it," she said. "So it's really difficult, therefore, to go back to a performance that I'd like to do completely differently and try to keep that continuity with it, because you suddenly go, 'Oh, but I wish I hadn't done that' and 'I wish she had been like this.' What's kind of nice is that it's three years on, so she's grown up a bit. So I can perhaps fix some of those things."
Knightley also promised that the first sequel, Dead Man's Chest, will defy expectations. "You have no idea what's going to happen in the second [film], and I promise you, it will surprise you." Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is scheduled for release in the summer of 2006. back to the top
• "i'd throw on the boots and the suit"
Eliza Dushku told Wizard World Boston convention goers that there's a Joss Whedon character she'd like to play even more than Faith.
"I hear Joss is doing this little movie called Wonder Woman. If he wants to call me up for that, I'd throw on the boots and the suit. I'd do that," Dushku said.
The 24-year-old actress already was wonderful in the eyes of thousands who turned up at the pop-culture convention. Fans waited in line for hours at the Bayside Expo Center to meet the star attraction.
After taking her fiance's picture with Dushku, 28-year-old Amanda Jordan told Jim Butler, "You're engaged to me, not to her. You can't have her."
Butler replied: "But she said I was cute."
The couple bought some Buffy The Vampire Slayer action figures along with collectibles from Marvel Comics and Serenity. Meeting Dushku was "a happy coincidence," Jordan said. "We came for the action figures, but we were excited to find out she was here, too."
For Dushku, the convention appearance meant a chance to come home and see family and childhood friends.
On Thursday, she said, she begins shooting a new movie, Nobel's Son. Next month, she starts rehearsals for an off-Broadway production, Dog Sees God, that she calls exciting yet terrifying. back to the top
• "it's so much easier to ask an actor who's a fan of your show"
Former Buffy and Angel regular Charisma Carpenter made her debut on last Wednesday's season opener of Veronica Mars. Her character, trophy wife Kendall Casablancas, will appear in at least six episodes.
Charisma has described her role as "a bitch in a bikini", and anyone who saw the episode will know that this looks to be a fair summation of her character.
On comparison's between Buffy and Veronica Mars, Charisma said, "I see a lot of similarities ... and the two writers, with the wit and the humour and the hero involved, the drama of it all, struggling to be your own person and have an unusual life."
Charisma's was one of two names that creator Rob Thomas and executive producer Joel Silver came up with when comparing cast notes for the role. With Heather Graham involved in ABC's midseason comedy Emily's Reasons Why Not, she was first choice.
"What made it much easier," Thomas says, "is that my wife is an acquaintance of Charisma. My wife used to manage a children's bookstore in Los Angeles, and Charisma was a frequent customer. So I already knew Charisma was a big Veronica Mars fan. Trust me, it's so much easier to ask an actor who's a fan of your show to do your show."
Also helpful was the fact that Carpenter attended high school near San Diego, where Mars is filmed. "I'm home," she says. "I went to Bonita and Chula Vista high schools. I've rented a condo in my old stomping grounds, and I've enjoyed that."
(The Zap2it article can be found here, but be warned it contains spoilers for the season 2 opener.)
Season 1 starts on LivingTV tonight at 6.05pm. Although Charisma doesn't appear in the season, her former Buffy co-star Alyson Hannigan guest stars later in the season as Trina Echolls, while Joss Whedon has called it simply the "Best. Show. Ever." back to the top