Why Michael Bay Was Impossible To Work With On Pearl Harbor, According To Kate Beckinsale

Michael Bay has a reputation for being difficult on set. Some view his behavior as that of a tyrant. Others appreciate how economical, and all-encompassing, Bay’s style might be. I mean, Transformers starlet Megan Fox once compared Bay to Hitler, and there’s really no way to spin that as positive. Years after you have left a Michael Bay set, you still end up talking about him, as when Pearl Harbor actress Kate Beckinsale recently remembered the bizarre reasons she felt working with Bay was beyond difficult.

Kate Beckinsale was the third leg of a love triangle in Michael Bay’s historical epic, Pearl Harbor. But, as she recalls, she doesn’t think that the director would have been attracted to her, because she wasn’t exactly pretty or buxom enough. During a recent interview on the Graham Norton Show (via The Wrap), Beckinsale said of the bombastic filmmaker:

I think he was baffled by me because my boobs weren’t bigger than my head, and I wasn’t blonde. … I don’t think I fit the type of actress Michael Bay had met before. When we were promoting the film, Michael was asked why he had chosen Ben and Josh, and he said, ‘I have worked with Ben before and I love him, and Josh is so manly and a wonderful actor. Then when he was asked about me, he’d say, ‘Kate wasn’t so attractive that she would alienate the female audience.’ He kept saying it everywhere we went, and we went to a lot of places.

Now that’s a passive-aggressive dig. And anyone who thinks Kate Beckinsale isn’t beyond attractive needs to have their eyes examined. In Pearl Harbor, alone, she exudes a classic beauty that allowed her to play a dedicated nurse caught between two soldiers during a time of war. She may not be Bay’s type, but she’s certainly gorgeous.

If you look at Bay’s casting choices over the years, though, he doesn’t go for blondes. A brunette Tea Leoni came between two Bad Boys in the original movie, while a similar brunette – the aforementioned Megan Fox – entertained audiences in the initial Transformers movies.

Could Michael Bay have said something nicer about his lead actress, Kate Beckinsale, to the throngs of global media while promoting Pearl Harbor? Absolutely. The movie came out in theaters in 2001, and the director’s comments still sting Beckinsale 15 years later. But Bay continues to work. And actresses, like Nickelodeon star Isabela Moner, keep signing up to work for him. The Hollywood cycle spins on.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.