Director Joe Wright Talks ANNA KARENINA; Tom Stoppard Writing the Script; Hints Keira Knightley Will Star

     March 9, 2011

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Director Joe Wright is currently doing press for his upcoming film Hanna, an action-thriller which looks like a big departure from his breakthrough film, 2005’s Pride & Prejudice.  However, Wright isn’t leaving the world of classic literature adaptations behind as he tells About.com that he hopes to shoot Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in the fall.  But how does he hope to translate the 864-page tome into a feature film?  Wright says it’s no problem when you’ve got Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) working on the script:

“He’s done an amazing script which involves Levin’s story as well as Anna’s story. Yeah, Tom Stoppard is just..also, he’s so immersed in Russian history and culture and identity or lack of it.”

Hit the jump for Wright’s explanation of how he plans to make 19th-century Russian family accessible to today’s audiences and who he sees as Anna.

anna-karenina-book-cover-01Wright explains that he’ll drop the stuff about Russian agricultural systems and boil the story down to the family drama.  He also says that the accents of the main characters will be English since Russians in high society actually spoke French.  He may, however, give the serfs a Russian accent or if they’ll speak with a “a really dodgy kind of west country English accents.”

What are the accents going to be? Russian?

JOE WRIGHT: “No, because they didn’t even have Russian accents. The high society was quite French. They didn’t even speak Russian. A lot of them literally didn’t learn their own language so couldn’t talk to their own serfs, their own peasants, because they didn’t speak the same language. So the whole language issue is actually a really fertile one for that society. But I think they’ll be talking English, probably, with English accents. The problem is what you get the peasants to speak, the peasant characters and whether you have them speak the same language or whether you have them do really dodgy kind of west country English accents. They’re more difficult. I might have them speak Russian. I’m not sure.”

Finally, Wright strongly hints that he’ll have his Pride & Prejudice and Atonement star Keira Knightly play Anna:

Who’s your Anna?

WRIGHT: “Not sure yet. It’s fairly obvious, but I can’t quite say. She hasn’t signed on the line yet. I’m loyal to my actors.”

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