Keira Knightley covers Interview Magazine April 2020. David Cronenberg, who directed Knightley in A Dangerous Method, recently caught up with the 27-year-old actress at home in London, and talked about ‘Anna Karenina’, ‘A Dangerous Method’, her “Russian moment”, her new movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”, and many more.
Speaking about ‘Anna Karenina’, the actress says that, “It is sort of done in an epic way, but it was pretty much all done on one set, so it’s also a very stylized, deeply theatrical kind of piece. It was the opposite of A Dangerous Method in some ways, I think, with a million different shots and, you know, there’s just a completely different vibe. Sabina and Anna are not similar, but there is this similar idea of the mind turning against the person, which seems to be a theme in what I’m doing at the moment. But the actual way of making Anna Karenina was completely different from how we made A Dangerous Method.”
On whether she looked at any of the other adaptations of Anna Karenina that have been done, Keira admits that she did. “I saw a couple of versions ages ago. I’ve seen the one that was on TV in England with Helen McCrory playing Anna, and she’s wonderful. I also saw the Greta Garbo version, but years and years ago. I didn’t want to see it again just before I played the part because I thought if I did something similar that I would want it to be an accident, not because I’ve nicked it,” she says.
On playing two tragic Russian heroines back-to-back-one fictional, one based on a real person, Keira says that, “Well, there’s always the moral question when you’re playing real people. Is there any reason to do this, or are you simply exploiting somebody? Is it like dancing over somebody’s grave? I suppose in a funny kind of way that it’s the same thing with a great fictional character. So many people identify with them. So many people love them in so many different ways. So you don’t want to exploit them either, or take the easy way out by judging them.”
She then continues, “Or, if you are judging them, then you’re judging them in a way that the person would judge themselves, and not in kind of an outside, moralistic way. What’s nice about playing somebody real is that generally there’s more information about them, so a lot of the questions that you’d otherwise have to make up the answers to are already there. Although, playing Sabina was quite tricky, because there wasn’t that much information about her.”
In her interview, Keira also talks about people being able to leave aside an actor’s personal life and focus more on his acting. “I totally agree. I hate knowing too much when I’m going to the cinema and watching as a viewer. I don’t want to know that the actor has just gone through a divorce. I don’t want to know that the person is an alcoholic. It just gets in the way of my pleasure of watching the character on the screen. But right now I don’t think you can avoid it,” the actress says.
“You know, everybody knows absolutely everything, so I wonder whether it suddenly changes what we see — if all of a sudden the stories are suddenly seen in a different light because you have these two realities going on at the same time. I think it does change something — and not for the better. I like watching films when I don’t know anything about the people,” Keira adds.
On choosing her roles, Keira confesses that, “If I had to make a choice, it would be to do the performance-basedpieces, which, generally speaking, are the less technical pieces. When you’re working in a space where it’s really about the technical side of it, then it’s even harder to maintain a performance because you have to do things so many times from so many different angles. It’s actually something that I would like to figure out. I’m quite interested to see whether you could maintain a high-energy performance in that kind of technical arena.”
Knightley’s new film, ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,’ which hits theaters in June, is about two neighbors who are drawn together as an asteroid hurtles toward the Earth. “Yeah, I’ve got a film coming out in June called Seeking a Friend for the End of the World—which is about the end of the world, oddly enough. That’s the one I did just before Anna Karenina. That is with Steve Carell,” Knightley told the magazine.
As on Steve Carell, Keira says that, “Well, Steve is absolutely wonderful. I loved his work on Little Miss Sunshine . He has this amazing ability to be incredibly funny but has that pathos at the same time — sort of that crying – clown thing. The movie itself has comic moments, but it’s about the end of the world, so obviously it has an apocalyptic feel to it that’s not that comic, because everybody dies . . . Other than that, though, it’s hilarious.”
Read Keira Knightley’s full cover story in the April 2020 issue of Interview magazine.
Photos courtesy of Interview