Beckinsale hails from a family of actors. Her deceased father, Richard Beckinsale, was a popular British television actor in the 1970s. Fiction and poetry were her first loves, and she won two Young Writers awards as a schoolgirl. She made her acting debut at age 17 in the World War II television movie, One Against the Wind. While at New College, Oxford, where she majored in French and Russian literature, Beckinsale nabbed a role in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (1993). She then went on to appear in John Schlesinger's modest hit, Cold Comfort Farm (1995). More mainstream flicks followed, including The Last Days of Disco and Brokedown Palace, opposite Claire Danes. 2001 has been her busiest year yet, with roles in the critically panned Merchant-Ivory production of The Golden Bowl and Michael Bay's mega-hyped World War II epic, Pearl Harbor (2001). Kate is married to English actor Michael Sheen. Their daughter, Lily, was born 1999.