Beckinsale is starring in The Face of an Angel, a film loosely based on the murder of British student Meredith Kercher and the subsequent conviction, then acquittal, of her American roommate Amanda Knox and Knox's Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.
The British actress, 40, is playing a character based on Barbie Latza Nadeau, the American journalist who covered the case for Newsweek, the Daily Beast and CNN, and later wrote a book, Angel Face.
With a retrial of Knox and Sollecito ongoing in Italy, public opinion is still sharply divided over whether the pair were victims of a gross miscarriage of justice, or were playing a sick game that left a young girl dead.
Beckinsale doesn't flinch at the strong feelings the case still evokes.
“Don’t think I haven’t had my share of nutters," she said. "I’ve worn latex head-to-toe in three movies, after all."
Instead, it's another demand for the role -- learning to drive -- that has Beckinsale nervous.
“I can’t actually drive, but then I got a call from my manager to say 'can you learn to drive in the next four days?’" she said. "I don’t think it would be a very good idea -- I’d probably end up killing myself and others, especially in Rome. Maybe if it was Arkansas or somewhere it would be less daunting.”
Fortunately for Beckinsale -- and Italian drivers anywhere near the film's sets in Rome and Siena -- the filmmakers will be mocking up her driving scenes.