A Hollywood Moment with Keira Knightley and the Cast of ‘Anna Karenina’

On November 16, director Joe Wright is resurrecting one of Leo Tolstoy's greatest works, “Anna Karenina,” and bringing the classic love story to the silver screen. That date will also mark the third debut of the director's collaboration with Keira Knightley, the force who brought his adaptations of “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement” to life. For this dynamic duo, though, the third time is just as charming as the first two. Glam spoke with the pair about their latest offering and how their working relationship has impacted the productions they've partnered on. We also heard from Knightley's co-stars Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander on preparing to be part of the all-star cast.

(l to r) Alicia Vikander, Keira Knightley, Joe Wright, Domhnall Gleeson

Wright on the best thing about working with Keira Knightley:

For me, personally, one of the best things about it is the fact that I've known her since she was 17. She was 18 when we made “Pride & Prejudice.” And so, we have a very intimate understanding of how each other works, and we can be very honest with each other as well. We're kind of like siblings, really. We're honest and we love and laugh and fight and we know that we're in it for the long haul.

Wright on the biggest challenge of adapting “Anna Karenina” for film:

It's a very challenging book and I think one of the pitfalls that people sometimes fall into is to make Anna this proto-feminist heroine, martyred by society. Actually, what we were interested in doing is something more subtle, and sort of explore the contradictions within the character. She's sometimes very wrong and sometimes right. That ambivalent portrayal is essential to the film.

Gleeson on reading the Tolstoy tome before taking on the role of Konstantin Levin:

Joe asked me to audition, and I read the book in four days before I auditioned and nearly killed myself in the process… and then read it again before we started filming. The script is very concise and very accurate. So that was the template that I worked off.

Gleeson on getting into character for the film:

Myself and Alicia rehearsed very strongly together to create a feeling of connectedness, of being meant for each other. Once we were on set, we spent a lot of time with each other in between scenes, and tried to feel like we could create a space for love to happen. And I think we did that in the end.

Vikander on how “Anna Karenina” prepared her for future roles:

This was my first English-speaking film — that was a huge step. [First] doing the whole British accent and then, when the words don't come out of your body the same way that they come out of your mouth [can be a challenge]. But I think the next time, I'll do a film in this language.

Vikander on playing designer for “Kitty's” on-screen costumes:

Jacqueline Durran, who designed the dresses, she kind of made them along the way. I remember she asked me what I liked. I wear a lot of aprons [in the film] and the first apron she made me had the most beautiful, detailed pocket, and I loved it so much! The next day, I had a costume that I had worn before and I said [to Jacqueline] “You put a pocket on it!” She was like, “Yeah. It's your Kitty pocket now.” She put it on four or five of the aprons.

Knightley on style statements in the film:

A lot of the costumes were based on 1950s couture as opposed to 1870s kind of stuff, and they were absolutely stunning. And I loved working with Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer, because it's all about character and symbolism and how the costumes can tell that bit of the story. I love working with people like that. I didn't take any of it home though!

Knightley on teaming up with Wright again:

It's great. It's always wonderful. I'm incredibly lucky to have the sort of relationship that I have with Joe and to be in the incredibly privileged position of watching him change and grow as a director and as a person — I feel incredibly fortunate. I think what's interesting is it always changes. I think we always expect it to be the same as the last time, [but] it's always different. I love that, because it means that we're both changing, for better or for worse, we're going in a different direction.