EXCLUSIVE: Kate Beckinsale talks flirting, a love of pranks and her new film Love and Friendship

And we’ve never loved her more...

K Beckinsale landscape.jpg

And we’ve never loved her more...

You may think that you’ve seen every Austen adaptation out there and know every character inside out – from Mr Collins to Colonel Brandon, Lizzie Bennett to Emma Woodhouse.

Well, you won’t have seen anything like Love and Friendship, the first ever adaptation of Austen’s racy ‘Lady Susan’ – starring none other than the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale. We had a sit down with her to find out a bit more…

‘It was a novella that Jane Austen wrote when she was very young and decided not to publish’ explained Kate, ‘I think possibly because it is that bit darker and more racy. It is probably at base a slightly angry piece of writing.’

The fast-paced film is barely recognisable as an Austen, with the scandalous character of Lady Susan differing so greatly from other better-known heroines. Rather than being kind and patient, Lady Susan is scheming and manipulative – an elegant and penniless widow described as ‘the most accomplished flirt in England. Her sole aim? To marry off her daughter, Frederica, to a wealthy man, and to flirt her way to wealth.

Despite her obvious flaws, the head-strong and razor sharp Lady Susan is mesmerising – not to mention the chicest widow we’ve ever seen – with the most enviable collection of feathered hats and furs.

‘I thought the character was wonderful’ Kate gushed, ‘she’s ruthless, manipulative and witty. There is something very delicious about seeing someone that is not held in by anything and is just going about their life.’

Kate insisted however that unlike her character, she’s not one to flirt her way out of trouble. ‘I think you can get out of parking tickets with flirting’ she told us, ‘but I don’t drive.’

The film saw her reunited with her ‘The Last Days of Disco’ co-star Chloe Sevigny, almost 20 years on – not that there was much time to catch up we imagine, with the film shoot lasting less than a month.

‘It was like being shot out of a cannon: it was filmed in 27 days’ Kate told us, explaining why she refrained from pranking any of her co-stars on set – something that she admitted to doing frequently on The Late Late Show with James Corden just last week.

‘I’ve got a compulsion if I’m walking past a fruit bowl to arrange two apples and a banana in the shape of a willy’, Kate explained. ‘I learnt it from Phyllida Law, Emma Thompson’s mother’ she continued. ‘When I did “Much A Do About Nothing”, I shared a house with her – and I would wake up every morning to two round pieces of fruit and a banana in a willy shape – and I just thought “I want to be like that lady when I’ve grown up” so I’ve just kept it going’.

Whether playing Lady Susan or just being herself, we are huge fans of Kate and want her to be our best friend.

Love and Friendship is in cinemas now. -->

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.