Tragic Details About Kate Beckinsale

The following article includes mentions of an eating disorder.

Actor Kate Beckinsale launched her career in the early 1990s after landing her first serious role in Kenneth Branagh's on-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." Since then, she has appeared in numerous blockbuster films, including "Underworld" and "Pearl Harbor," and has also continued to work steadily in television — culminating in an estimated $25 million net worth.

The "Guilty Party" actor grew up idolizing her late father, fellow actor Richard Beckinsale, and was inspired by him to follow in the family business as a young adult. "That was a time when any British actor coming out to LA was a highly suspicious character," she reflected to The Guardian of her onscreen success following her own stateside move. "It made you seem insanely ambitious, like a perfectly obvious character flaw. It was a real prejudice 20 years ago and I think I hit it right at its peak."

While this actor has garnered great fame and acclaim in her lifetime, her road to stardom did not come without some bumps along the way. From experiencing personal losses and struggling as a teen to having high-profile romantic relationships end while in the spotlight, these are the tragic details about Kate Beckinsale's life.

Kate Beckinsale lost her father at a young age

Kate Beckinsale was born on July 26, 1973 to actor parents Richard Beckinsale and Judy Loe. As she was growing up, Kate's father was a popular comedy actor in British television who starred in many beloved sitcoms of the 1970s, including "Porridge" and "Rising Damp." At the peak of Richard's success, however, he experienced bouts of dizziness and started feeling generally unwell at points. After consulting with a doctor, he was found to have no major health issues or concerns outside of somewhat elevated cholesterol levels and "an overactive stomach lining," as reported by the Mirror, and otherwise appeared to be young, fit, and healthy. But tragically, Richard died of an unexpected heart attack in his sleep on March 19, 1979, per People. He was just 31 years old.

Losing a parent at any age is difficult, but for five-year-old Kate, the loss profoundly affected the "Underworld" star. While speaking with the Belfast Telegraph in 2016, she said, "[My father's death] was 100% soul-destroying and totally impacted me forever." To cope with the loss, she glued herself to the television and watched reruns of his shows as a means to keep his spirit alive. 

Four decades after her dad's passing, Kate continued to remember and honor him, writing in a June 2021 tribute post on Instagram, "Partners in crime for life and beyond. I'll give you a big kiss when I see you. Happy Father's Day. I miss you so much."

She struggled with an eating disorder as a teen

After experiencing the loss of her father, Kate Beckinsale began dealing with her grief in a number of different ways, which took a turn for the worse when she was a teenager. At 15 years old, the actor started struggling with anorexia, an eating disorder that typically manifests as a means to deal with anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Speaking about her own experience, the actor later told the Independent, "Although I know not everybody who gets anorexia has a parent that's died, if you learn as a kid that seemingly fairly healthy people drop dead at 31 it sets you up in a fairly crap way. And there's a certain amount of guilt that flies around." During this time, Beckinsale weighed only five stone (about 70 pounds) and would eventually seek out therapy to manage her mental health issues, as reported by The Telegraph. Speaking with the outlet in 2006, she simply stated, "It was 17 years ago and there's not much that's applicable to me now as a 32-year-old woman. Let's just say that it wasn't a great period of my life."

Thankfully, with the right support system, Beckinsale healed and recovered. She would go on to pursue higher education at the prestigious University of Oxford and begin dabbling in acting. A traumatic experience in college, however, would ultimately push her toward a more serious acting career.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

A tragic death led to Kate Beckinsale dropping out of college

Kate Beckinsale may be exclusively known as an actor these days, but the "Pearl Harbor" star was once enrolled in New College, Oxford to study French and Russian literature. During this time, she also pursued acting, as reported by the Independent, and eventually landed the first movie role of her career in Kenneth Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing," a 1993 screen adaptation of William Shakespeare's comedic play. 

However, balancing her courses and a budding acting career wasn't exactly easy, with Beckinsale telling the outlet that as the burnout-level of pressure from both worlds started to zero in, she felt that had to choose between the two. This decision about her career path came abruptly prior to her last year of studies in 1992. After contracting mono, Beckinsale temporarily went back home while her close-knit group of friends remained on campus. "My friends were party people and I wasn't," she told the Daily Mail in 2021. "... While I was home, one of my dear friends there ended up jumping out of a window and dying." 

Per the outlet, the late friend in question, 21-year-old Henry Skelton, had consumed alcohol and LSD prior to his death, which greatly impacted Beckinsale, and most of their mutual pals were suspended following the tragic incident. "When I was considering going back, nobody was there and there was this horrible whiff of death everywhere," she reflected on her decision to drop out. "That was the reason why I didn't go back."

Her two major relationships ended in the spotlight

Being a celebrity means having just about every aspect of your life thrust into the public eye, including your relationships. Kate Beckinsale's real-life meet-cute with Welsh actor Michael Sheen occurred when the two were working together in a play called "The Seagull" in 1995, as reported by the Daily Mail. The pair connected right away and would welcome their daughter, Lily Sheen, in 1999. However, Beckinsale and the "Twilight" star called it quits in 2003 after working on the film "Underworld" together.

Shortly afterward, Beckinsale started dating their "Underworld" director, Len Wiseman, and the couple married less than a year later in 2004 — which made many speculate about the swiftness of their relationship. Speaking about the situation, the "Serendipity" actor told Entertainment Weekly in 2012, "The popular notion of how Michael and I broke up — that we were on [the first 'Underworld'] and I ran off with the director [Wiseman] — is just not true. If that were the case, I think it would be very difficult and peculiar to have an okay situation." For their part, Beckinsale and Wiseman were married for 11 years before ultimately breaking up in 2015, according to People, and finalizing their divorce four years later. 

Despite both of her long-term relationships ending in the spotlight, Beckinsale has maintained amicable relationships with both of her famous exes — especially, it seems, Michael Sheen. Speaking about the "Good Omens" star in 2016, she told the Evening Standard, "I really love him and like him and we make each other roar with laughter."

Kate Beckinsale kept her miscarriage a secret

The loss of a child is unfathomable, regardless of whether the child is born or not. In the late 2000s, Kate Beckinsale was expecting a baby with then-husband Len Wiseman, but her pregnancy would sadly end with a miscarriage. However, the British actor kept the tragedy private for over 10 years before coming forward to share her story. 

Inspired by the bravery and vulnerability of model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, who had shared the news of her own miscarriage in September 2020, Beckinsale took to Instagram to show support and reveal her experience, as well. In the post, she wrote in part, "Years ago, I lost a baby at 20 weeks. I had managed to keep my pregnancy quiet and I absolutely collapsed inside and no one would have known." Beckinsale continued to describe how this type of loss can lead to "the loneliest, most soul destroying period of time," as the body may continue to function as if it were still taking care of a baby. 

Beckinsale also commended Teigen for publicly sharing the reality that so many people experience on a private level, saying, "Thank you @chrissyteigen for making sure it is abundantly clear how devastating this is, and how life changing it can be without support."

The pandemic kept her from her daughter

The COVID-19 pandemic completely dismantled all aspects of life for people from all over the world — including, of course, celebrities. For her part, Kate Beckinsale revealed on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" in July 2021 that it had kept her from being able to see her daughter, Lily Sheen, in person. She told the talk show hosts, "I haven't seen my daughter for two years because of everything. Also, I went to Canada working, and she couldn't come see me. ... Two years of not seeing your child, to me, is the most preposterous thought."

Following in the footsteps of her famous parents, Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, Lily is also an actor. She was studying at New York University during the onset of the pandemic and had remained in the Big Apple since then, as reported by Page Six. Due to travel restrictions and conflicting work schedules, Lily and her mother were unable to see one another, but the pair were thankfully reunited around the time of Beckinsale's "Live" interview.

Their physical separation didn't stop the mother-daughter duo from keeping in touch, however. Beckinsale elaborated on their close relationship during the same interview, jokingly saying, "Thank god for FaceTime and all that ... but we're both panicking that we're going to look really old to each other." Talk about relatable.

Kate Beckinsale's faced negative comments about her age

Kate Beckinsale may be a beautiful figure in Hollywood both inside and out, but the star unfortunately still gets her fair share of hate and criticism in the press and social media sphere. In a 2021 interview with People, the "Click" actor revealed that she has gotten intense pressure from the media regarding her age over the years. "The minute I turned 31, press-wise, they'd say, 'Heading towards 40.' And you just go, 'Pardon?' Nobody said that to me when I was 10 and I was almost 20," she explained. Around this time, Beckinsale partnered with brand MRVL Skin Solutions for their line of anti-aging skincare products marketed toward women seeking to smooth their skin and diminish the appearance of wrinkles. 

But sadly, the media hasn't been the only group to churn out negativity surrounding the actor's age and looks. Beckinsale, who is active on social media and particularly Instagram, has dealt with numerous trolls online. In 2019, for example, she responded to several Instagram users for claiming that, among other things, she was supposedly "too old" to post a bikini picture, facing a mid-life crisis, or simply "looking for attention." In a lengthy, compassionate response, Beckinsale wrote in part (via Page Six), "The people or press that are scaring you that your value is tied up in youth, or in fact anything that is not currently within your reach, is noise I do hope you allow yourself to ignore." Well said.