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Knightley Talks 'Anna Karenina,' and How Cronenberg Set Her Free (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 10, 2012 at 5:15PM

Keira Knightley has done her best work with director Joe Wright and producers Working Title--she earned an Oscar nomination as Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice" and more kudos for the wartime romance "Atonement."
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Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley has done her best work with director Joe Wright and producers Working Title--she earned an Oscar nomination as Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride and Prejudice" and more kudos for the wartime romance "Atonement." Which is one reason why I had great expectations for Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic, which has been remade many times by filmmakers all over the world.

That's one reason why Wright suddenly abandoned his intention to do a straight and naturalistic version of the tragic St. Petersberg triangle of dashing Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Anna Karenina (Knightley) and her older husband Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). On a scouting trip to Russian locations Wright kept being told which productions had filmed there. He then came up with the idea of setting his movie--which is about a society consumed by outer appearances and social status--on one stage after another.

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina"
Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina"

The audacious decision to create these theatrical tableaux actually freed Wright to open up the movie visually with several elaborately expressive set pieces with Knightley front and center in one sumptuous costume after another. The movie will certainly gain awards attention for its crafts--production design, cinematography, score and costumes--and Knightley and Jude Law, depending on support from critics--could too.

Knightley talks about how her character evolved, the way the costumes reveal her gilded cage, and how director David Cronenberg freed her as an actress, in our interview below.

This article is related to: Festivals, Toronto International Film Festival, Festivals, Video, Academy Awards, Awards, Awards, Oscars, Keira Knightley, Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.