From creator Rebecca Addelman, the 10-episode Paramount+ half-hour dramedy Guilty Party follows Beth Burgess (Kate Beckinsale), a journalist whose discredited career leads her to a young mother, Toni Plimpton (Jules Latimer), who’s in prison with claims of innocence. Deciding to try to uncover the truth, Beth quickly finds herself in over her head, but still determined enough to put her life back on track that she keeps pursuing the story.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Beckinsale talked about how much fun Beth Burgess was to play, what it’s like to deliver lines in a scene while someone is sucking your toes, the relationship dynamic between Beth and Toni, having Latimer for a scene partner, and whether the series could continue.
Collider: This woman is something of a mess, but she seems so much fun, at the same time. How much absolute fun was she to play?
KATE BECKINSALE: She was really fun. Actors love getting characters who are in a free-fall state. She’s at sea, in so many different areas of her life and therefore does reckless things and messy things, and overreacts to things. And so, she was really fun to play.
Did you know how far some of that would go? Were there conversations about that? How did you gauge how far things would go with her?
BECKINSALE: I didn’t know. Once you’re into something you go for it, but on the whole, there was a lot of collaboration and discussion. I didn’t do anything I wasn’t comfortable with, apart from kissing Geoff [Stults], which was awful. [Editor’s note: She’s kidding.] Other than that, it was fine.
How hard is it to deliver lines in a scene while someone is sucking on your toes? Did you crack up with that going on?
BECKINSALE: I felt so bad for her. That’s the thing. I’m not incredibly ticklish on my feet, which was lovely because we managed to do a lot of takes without me peeing my pants or anything, but I felt so bad for her. She was on set for a day, and that’s what she had to do. We had an awkward, “Oh, hello. Nice to meet you.” And the next thing, she was swallowing my feet. She was so nice as well. I felt terrible. My makeup artist and I were bleaching and scrubbing and perfuming. We probably chemically poisoned her, but I didn’t want to smell a bit sockish.
It’s such a funny moment because she is so sincere and earnest about it.
BECKINSALE: She was so fantastic. And also, I had not met her beforehand. You read the script, and then this person turns up. She was just perfectly brilliant and so lovable. At one point, they were like, “You know, we have a foot double for you.” And I was like, “Okay, I don’t know how that’s gonna work because there’s all these wide shots where it’s clearly me.” And then went, “Yes, but for the close-ups, the foot double will do it.” I said, “That means that girl’s got to have two people’s feet in her mouth. At least we’ve broken the ice. Let’s just carry on.” So, I did all of it.
Is there a sense of freedom and fun, playing someone who clearly doesn’t think about the consequences of her actions or what her behavior could do, even for herself?
BECKINSALE: Yeah. There’s something even childlike about her, with certain aspects. She’s a grown woman and she’s functioning, and all that, but she’s got these blindspots where she reacts like somebody much younger would and just does things without really thinking them through. That is quite fun, yeah.
What did you make of the relationship between Beth and Toni? They have a lot of similarities and they’re stuck having to rely on each other, but they also are very different, especially with one of them being in prison?
BECKINSALE: They have had different experiences and backgrounds. The nice thing is that they come in and they should never have met and they probably wouldn’t ever normally be friends, and they get thrown into this situation where I think both of them have put themselves in each other’s shoes, in a way that they never normally would. That’s quite touching, actually, within the show having a lot of dark comedy and stuff. Their relationship is pretty touching. They really go at it with each other. You’re never really proper friends unless you’ve had some really good arguments and recovered, and they do that.
Have you had conversations about how this could continue on and whether this is a story that you could keep telling, or a character that you could keep playing? Do you know how that would work?
BECKINSALE: Yeah. The end of the show is definitely left open. And certainly the boys – Geoff and Laurie [Davidson] and Andre [Hyland] – were constantly pitching a Season 2 that very heavily featured themselves. I’m sure that there’s definitely an opening for that.
What did you love about Beth Burgess, from day one? Were there qualities of hers that just endeared you to her, from the beginning?
BECKINSALE: Yeah. I liked her blindspots. Actors love to get ahold of a character who’s in a crisis and she’s just wobbly in so many areas of her life. Her identity is at stake, as far as she’s considered, so she’s hurling herself at things. She feels like it’s a last chance sort of thing, so she does this stuff. It’s not really fun being that person, but it’s quite fun playing that person.
It’s weird to just call this a TV show because the projects that you’ve done in television have been in the streaming space. Did you make a conscious decision to start exploring characters in a longer format? Was there something that you found appealing and interesting about really getting to delve into someone?
BECKINSALE: I haven’t made a conscious decision about anything. I’ve just fumbled along. I do really like that side of it, I have to say. I love movies and I love doing movies, but there is something incredibly satisfying about having a little bit longer to spend with a character. I do really like that aspect of it.
You’re so good at the comedy in this. Is that something that you’d like to do more of? Is that something you try to do more of and people just don’t see you that way because they think of you as the serious action person?
BECKINSALE: There was a period awhile ago. It’s much more my sensibility and my comfort zone, actually, than waving machine guns at people. That’s a big stretch for me. But I do think that people really bought the machine guns, so it took them a minute for that to change. But yeah, I feel I’ve been lucky getting to do that sort of thing recently.
Do you know what you’re going to be doing next?
BECKINSALE: I just finished a movie with Brian Cox, called Prisoner’s Daughter, that’s pretty emotional. We just finished that.
That must’ve been a fun acting experience.
BECKINSALE: It was great, yeah. I played his daughter once before, when I was 18, so it was nice to get to see him again. He’s fantastic.
What was it like to have Jules Latimer as a scene partner? This is her big introduction to Hollywood, even though she does have training as an actor. What was it like to do scenes with her?
BECKINSALE: Fantastic. You can’t get a degree in acting and then suddenly, right now, you’re good. Jules wasn’t hugely experienced on a film set, but none of us were experienced on a COVID set. Jules would say, “I have no idea what this is or what that is,” but she’s very poised and she’s very good. It didn’t feel like, “Oh, here’s this brand new person who doesn’t know what they’re doing.” It was like, “here’s this really fantastic actress who I really like.” It was sad that she didn’t get to have the experience that most of us had on our first jobs, where you get to go out and hang out, and everyone takes you under their wings socially as well. She didn’t really get to do that, and that must have been really rough. But you wouldn’t know it was her first job at all. She’s brilliant.
Was it challenging to get past the distraction of being on a COVID set, having everybody in masks and, and having all of that going on while you’re trying to do a scene?
BECKINSALE: It’s really different. In Canada, the COVID test is very deeply down the throat, so every single day, you were gagging, which is not generally how I start my work day. And then, there’s the shock of seeing people’s chins that you’ve been working with for five or six months, and that’s not what you were expecting at all. People have wild mustaches and beards that you didn’t know about. It’s all very new.
I appreciate you talking to me about this. I’m absolutely loving this character and I’m excited to take the rest of her journey with her.
BECKINSALE: It gets wild, so stick with it.
Guilty Party is available to stream at Paramount+.
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