“Let’s put some hair on her”: Kate Beckinsale Didn’t Like Michael Bay’s Last Minute Changes in $449 Million War Movie

Kate Beckinsale had an outrageous demand from director Michael Bay while shooting her 2001 war drama film.

kate beckinsale. michael bay


  • Kate Beckinsale starred opposite Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor.
  • The director took a commercially viable take on the Pearl Harbor attacks and thus wanted all of his actors to look attractive.
  • Beckinsale was asked to put on fake hair and a stuffed bra as Bay didn't find her attractive.
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Kate Beckinsale was one of the leading actresses who made her breakthrough in the 90s in her small but impressive role as Her in Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing. She continued showcasing her incredible versatility in British costume films such as Prince of Jutland, Cold Comfort Farm, Emma, and The Golden Bowl.

Kate Beckinsale in 1996's Emma
Kate Beckinsale in 1996’s Emma

2001’s Pearl Harbor was her first tentpole studio film where she starred alongside Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. Director Michael Bay had a specific treatment that he wanted to have for the film depicting the horrible Pearl Harbor attacks. Going the commercial route rather than focusing on historical accuracy, the director had a weird demand for Beckinsale that proved to be humiliating for the actress.

Michael Bay Wanted Kate Beckinsale to Have a Stuffed Bra on Pearl Harbor

Kate Beckinsale as Lieutenant Evelyn Johnson in Pearl Harbor
Kate Beckinsale played Lieutenant Evelyn Johnson in Pearl Harbor

Michael Bay took on the behemoth responsibility of telling the horrifying event of the Pearl Harbor bombings in the 40s through Pearl Harbor. The film had Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett played soldiers who were in the middle of a love triangle with Kate Beckinsale‘s character Evelyn. In pure Bay fashion, the film was more focused on explosions and romance, rather than being historically accurate to the horrific event.


The film was Beckinsale’s first big tentpole film and according to her, she didn’t fit the type of woman that Bay wanted for the film. She recalled how there were concerns about how to make her attractive as she “wasn’t blond and my boobs weren’t bigger than my head” (via Yahoo). In another interview with The Off Camera Show, Beckinsale recalled another instance where Bay suggested some humiliating changes to her character.

Beckinsale stated that she had short hair and a pale body at the time, which Bay found unattractive. While she loved the initial script, the additional changes that came slowly became uninteresting. The director suggested that she put more fake hair and her bra to be stuffed with ‘things’. The actress said,

“I think I had short hair at the time and was really pale. That was a bit jarring. It was like, ‘Let’s put some hair on her, let’s put some things in her bra.’ There was a lot of that going on. It was a completely new experience. And I was really in love with the script and then the new pages kept coming in, and they weren’t as good”

The incident led to fans believing that the two were not on good terms after the film. However, Bay dismissed all those rumors and claimed that all the discourse was “totally untrue” in a statement (via Entertainment Weekly). He further stated that they both are still on friendly terms and called her a fantastic actress, The film itself was a hit grossing $449 million against a $140 million production budget (via Box Office Mojo).


Kate Beckinsale Didn’t Understand Why She Had to Workout For a Nurse Role in Pearl Harbor

Despite Michael Bay not liking her for Pearl Harbr, the two became frimds after the shoot
Despite Michael Bay initially not liking Kate Beckinsale for Pearl Harbor, the two became friends after the shoot

Kate Beckinsale played Lieutenant Evelyn Johnson, a nurse who attended to the injuries and victims of the Pearl Harbor attack in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor. The actress was not Bay’s ideal woman for the role and she was told to work out to look attractive.

In an interview, the actress revealed that he had just delivered a baby and had lost weight when the film came to her. However, she was still told to hit the gym. Beckinsale did not understand why a 1940s nurse had to have a toned body amidst the war. The actress said (via Vanity Fair),

“I’d just had my daughter and had lost weight, but was told that if I got the part, I’d have to work out. And I just didn’t understand why a 1940s nurse would do that.”

While the duo had differences during the film. they are still friendly with each other. Currently, Beckinsale has an action film coming up titled Canary Black, directed by Pierre Morel. Fans can watch/rent Beckinsale’s Pearl Harbor on Apple TV+. 


Written by Rahul Thokchom

Articles Published: 1014

Rahul Thokchom is a content writer at Fandomwire who is passionate about covering the world of pop culture and entertainment. He has a Masters Degree in English that contributes to the richness and creativity in his works.