In 2001, director and producer Michael Bay set out to action the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces in 1941 with a good old-fashioned Hollywood romance. With his mega-budgeted film, he cast Ben Affleck as First Lieutenant Rafe McCawley; Josh Hartnet for Second Lieutenant Danny Walker; and Kate Beckinsale as Nurse Evelyn Johnson.
The movie resulted in one of the highest-grossing films ever made at $449 million worldwide on its opening weekend...
“There are worse love triangles to be in, for sure,” Beckinsale laughed during a 2016 Role Recall interview with Yahoo Entertainment (watch above, with Pearl Harbor segment, which turns 20 on Tuesday, starting at 1:27).
“I think he was very alarmed because I wasn’t blond and my boobs weren’t bigger than my head, I didn’t make sense to him as an attractive woman,” said Beckinsale of Bay, whose Transformers movies had earned a reputation for introducing actresses like Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Nicola Peltz at the time of our 2016 interview.
“So there was a lot of panic and concern over ‘how on earth are we gonna make her attractive?' You’d think you’d take that really personally, but I sort of managed not to. It’s so extreme I kind of didn’t.”
While the movie is visually stimulating, Beckinsale had difficulty comprehending certain aspects of it that she thought were misleading.
“I’d never seen a movie on that scale before and I really wasn’t prepared for it,” she said. “There were four units going at once, there were diet plans and exercise regimens that [were] really punishing. [They] really baffled me because I couldn’t understand why a '40s nurse needed to work out that much. It was just a whole different situation.
“But I was so lucky because Ben had had a lot of experience in that department. He’d go, ‘Don’t worry, they’ve got me on the same diet.’”
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