Long before Gal Gadot ever took on the role of Wonder Woman, Kate Beckinsale was one of many actresses up for the part in the mid-2000s. However, she ultimately turned the role down -- and now we know why.
In an interview with Yahoo! Movies, Beckinsale made it clear that the films she was up for weren't anything close to 2017's Wonder Woman in terms of quality. “The incarnations that I was seeing were…” she trails off, unable to finish what she started to say. “They weren’t this one [the 2017 film].”
While avoided openly criticizing the script she was given and the direction she would have been asked to portray, it's evident level of quality just wasn't anything close to what Gadot and director Patty Jenkins were ultimately able to provide. It is assumed that Beckinsale was up for the title role in Joss Whedon's failed Wonder Woman film, the script for which has since been leaked online.
At the time, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins provided new promise for DC Comics heroes, and Bryan Singer was still hopeful for a Superman Returns sequel. It was only natural that Warner Bros. would also want to launch a Wonder Woman solo movie.
Beckinsale had been starring in the Underworld films around the same time, and was very familiar with spandex. She joked that she wasn't interested in any more skin-tight suits, saying, “I don’t know if I was desperate to be in a leotard. I’d already done the rubber trousers. You have to take in that you have a child at some point and how much could you possibly embarrass them.”
The implication from this interview seems to be that she was offered the role on multiple occasions for different projects. While she may have been on the shortlist for several different Wonder Woman solo films, it's also possible she was up for the role in Justice League: Mortal. That movie ultimately cast Megan Gale in the role before production was halted just before filming.
Despite not taking the role of Wonder Woman, Beckinsale has since starred in five Underworld films. The most recent one, Underworld: Blood Wars, released in the United States in January. She's glad to see that film is not as fearful of a female lead as it once was, saying, "...it’s nice to have been part of moving that needle. It’s nice to have that."
Beckinsale is featured in Marc Webb's (The Amazing Spider-Man) The Only Living Boy in New York, which is currently in theaters. The film stars Callum Turner, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Bridges, Kiersey Clemons, and Debi Mazar.