Keira Knightley plays the title character in Anna Karenina, director Joe Wright’s bold, new romantic drama adaptation of the epic Tolstoy story of forbidden love set in 1874 Imperial Russia, which marks the director’s third collaboration with the Academy Award-nominated actress. We sat down with Knightley at a roundtable interview today to talk about Anna Karenina, and while we were at it we also asked her about her upcoming projects including the Tom Clancy thriller, Jack Ryan, under the direction of Kenneth Branagh, which is currently in production.
Knightley explained why her film choices are all about story rather than where or when it’s set, how she likes period, sci-fi and fantasy films as a dramatic tool, why she decided this year to move away from darker period pieces and do a couple contemporary films that are pure entertainment including the recently completed music drama Can a Song Save Your Life? and the large scale thriller, Jack Ryan. In Jack Ryan, Knightley plays the female lead opposite Chris Pine who steps into the titular role played previously by Alex Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. Hit the jump for more.
Keira Knightley: I’ve just done two contemporary pieces, but no, it’s all about story. It’s not about when it’s set or where it’s set. I like period. I like fantasy as a dramatic tool. I think it’s a really great dramatic tool because it means that you leave yourself behind. Your imagination is required instantly in a period film, because it’s a world that you don’t know with rules you don’t know. I think I certainly relate to characters on an emotional level very differently in period pieces or sci-fi pieces or fantasy pieces, than I do in pieces that are more voyeuristic and present us with the world that we know. I think that’s a very different relationship with the story. So I think that’s why I enjoy doing period things. It’s that tool that I really enjoy.
Can you talk about working on Jack Ryan and how that’s going?
Knightley: Yes, Jack Ryan. I got to the end of Anna Karenina and realized that I’d been sort of doing pieces of work that were incredibly dark and I pretty much died in a lot of them for five years. I wanted this year to be the year of positivity and pure entertainment. So, I did one film called Can a Song Save Your Life? which is about friendship and making an album and possibilities. And, Jack Ryan is a really great, old school, Hollywood thriller and a piece of pure entertainment, and hopefully it will be that.
Are you still filming?
Knightley: I’m currently shooting it in London. I’m nearly at the end of it. I think we finish early December.