She followed those with appearances in The Aviator (2004) and Click (2006).
Since being cast as Selene in the Underworld film series (2003-present), Beckinsale has become known primarily for her work in action films, including Van Helsing (2004), Whiteout (2009), Contraband (2012), and Total Recall (2012).
The John Schlesinger-directed film was an adaptation of Stella Gibbons's novel and also featured Joanna Lumley, Eileen Atkins, Ian Mc Kellen, Rufus Sewell and Stephen Fry.
Beckinsale was initially considered too young, but was cast after she wrote a pleading letter to the director. He's the most outrageously talented person I've ever met." Beckinsale next starred in an ITV adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, playing Emma to Mark Strong's Mr Knightley and Samantha Morton's Harriet Smith.
1995 also saw Beckinsale's first professional stage appearance as Nina in The Seagull at Theatre Royal, Bath. "You shouldn't necessarily like Emma," Beckinsale has said of her character.
The Merchant/Ivory production was based on the novel by Henry James and also starred Uma Thurman and Jeremy Northam.
She was drawn to the project by the script: "It's so unusual these days to read a script that has those old-fashioned values to it. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly praised "the avid eyed, ruby lipped Kate Beckinsale, the rare actress whose intelligence gives her a sensual bloom; she's like Parker Posey without irony." However, Mike Clark of USA Today felt that the "usually appealing Kate Beckinsale" is "inexplicably submerged —like her hospital colleagues —under heaps of tarty makeup that even actresses of the era didn't wear." Beckinsale's second film appearance of 2001 was in the romantic comedy Serendipity as the love interest of John Cusack.
It was filmed directly after Pearl Harbor and Beckinsale found it "a real relief to return to something slightly more familiar." Turan praised the "appealing and believable" leads, adding that Beckinsale "reinforces the strong impression she made in Cold Comfort Farm, The Golden Bowl, and The Last Days of Disco" after "recovering nicely" from her appearance in the much-maligned Pearl Harbor.
The opportunity to play a mother "was one of the things that was attractive to me" about the part.
Beckinsale then made a return to smaller-scale projects: "My experience is that I sort of stepped away from the independent movies and did a couple of big movies.