From Pride & Prejudice to Anna Karenina and Atonement in between, one could say that Keira Knightley has etched her affinity for period dramas in stone. But like all good things, that era has come to an end.
In an exclusive with the UK’s Sunday Times, Knightley revealed that she was initially drawn to historical roles because they “can f___ with people’s notion of the past.” Now, she insists that she’s done with the category, and its associated corsets, for good.
“The bitch is the time spent getting ready,” Knightley told the publication’s culture magazine. “It was the practicality of life that made me think, after Anna Karenina, how this would be nicer if I got two hours more sleep a day.”
Begin Again, out later this year, will be Knightley’s first post-period drama project, in which she stars with Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine as a meek performer who finds her voice in New York City. The romantic dramedy will also be a discovery of sorts for Knightley.
“Begin Again came at a point when I was questioning what I put out into the world, and I was putting out a lot of dark films,” Knightley says of the movie, which doubles as her on-camera singing debut. “This film is an innocent view of the music industry, not involving drugs or rock ‘n’ roll, so some tribes of music fans will loathe it. But I was looking for something about hope, and that’s certainly what this is.”
Knightley’s new moves also include re-teaming with director Lynn Shelton for Laggies, a female-centric comedy about a bride-to-be who evades her fiancé for a much-needed respite. It will mark the third time Knightley has worked with a female director, something she prefers because “you don’t have to do this loveable, soft version of what the female sex has to be.”
“My friend was saying that she loves Seventies movies, and we both realized that’s because we see ourselves as the main guys in them,” Knightley said. “When I watched The Godfather, I was Al Pacino. I wasn’t his f______ wife. It’s interesting that there’s still this funny construction of femininity. So, yes, it’s nice working with women… It also allows men to understand women, as opposed to them being something fluffy and pink.”
Catch Knightley in Begin Again in select theaters now, or when it opens nationwide on July 2.