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Happy discoveries intrigue Kate; FILM: Beckinsale pleased with Pearl Harbor's 'success' and fateful in Serendipity.

Byline: ROB DRISCOLL

MENTION fate and destiny to Kate Beckinsale, and she takes a deep breath. "I can get a bit bored about all that, " says the drop-dead gorgeous British star of Pearl Harbor. "I can start talking about Jung and stuff but everyone glazes over and gets really bored. Let's just say I don't live my life by it - but I've had funny things happen."

In her latest movie, the seasonallyromantic comedy-drama Serendipity, the characters played by Beckinsale and her co-star John Cusack are clearly destined to be together, come what may.

In real life, Beckinsale's own brush with serendipity came in the form of curly-haired Welshman Michael Sheen, the man she describes as her soul mate.

She met the Newport-born actor seven years ago, during a stage production of The Seagull; they've lived together ever since and have a twoyear-old daughter Lily.

"Michael and I almost met 25 times before we actually did meet, " says 28-year-old Beckinsale, daughter of the late TV and stage actor Richard Beckinsale.

"We'd been in the same lift together and not realised it and we later found out that we'd lived on the same street in Paris, so in a way we felt that maybe we were always meant for each other but we weren't quite ready."

In Serendipity, an almost impossibly cutesey Hollywood product, Beckinsale's character Sara first bumps into complete stranger Jonathan (Cusack) in New York's famous Bloomingdale's department store, one bustling Christmas shopping day in 1990.

Despite their obvious mutual attraction, while both trying to buy the same pair of gloves and after spending a romantic evening together, they are both betrothed to other people - so nothing happens. Instead, Sara decides that Jonathan should write his name on a five-dollar bill and she writes her name inside a book and sells it to a used book store.

The rest is left to fate - and if they are meant to meet again, she's convinced they will, even if it's 10 years later.

For Beckinsale, the chance to work on a relatively small-scale and intimate project like Serendipity was something of a relief after the massive Hollywood machine of Pearl Harbor.

"Nobody shouted at me or threw things at me and we actually got to rehearse. The films did overlap a little bit. I finished the week in Los Angeles doing Pearl Harbor, then I came out for a couple of days to New York to start on Serendipity, then I had to fly back - that was a bit tricky, that cross-over period."

But she has absolutely no regrets about Pearl Harbor, the $135m blockbuster in which she starred as World War II nurse Evelyn Johnson, caught up in a tragic love triangle against the backdrop of Japan's massive air attack on the Hawaiian military base.

"It's funny, because people will say to me, 'How do you feel that Pearl Harbor was such a terrible box-office bomb?' And I thought, would that all my big failures made so much money at the box office. I don't mind that kind of failure so much.

"I wouldn't rule out doing another big movie like that again but it would all depend on the sensibilities of the director and producer. With Pearl Harbor, originally the script was slightly more nuanced, complicated and interesting than it ended up. But that's the Hollywood game."

Home for Beckinsale and partner Sheen is a combination of London and Los Angeles, although they aim to be in Britain a lot more when Lily starts going to school.

Pregnant pause made its mark KATE Beckinsale had actually met her Serendipity co-star John Cusack in London long before the production started, when he was preparing to make High Fidelity.

"They called me in for a meeting about Serendipity and I was more pregnant than you can be. I think I was three days overdue and it was quite difficult moving me in and out of doorways - but we had a really nice meeting.

"I think he was disappointed when I finally turned up to do Serendipity, because I'd had these giant boobs and blonde hair and then suddenly I didn't any more - I think that's actually what he liked." Serendipity opens on Boxing Day.

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RELIEF: Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity - a chance to work on a relatively small-scale project
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 21, 2001
Words:718
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