Anytime Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright meet up, there’s sure to be a stylish literary adaptation left in their wake. The duo has collaborated on two ambitious projects to date, Jane Austen’s most famous novel, “Pride & Prejudice,” and “Atonement,” a so-called inadaptable novel by Ian McEwan.
And now, they’re teaming up again to take on a classic work of Russian literature, Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”
Knightley spoke with MTV News while promoting her new film “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” and she tried to explain what it is about working with Wright that makes her tackle such ambitious stories and keep coming back for more.
The actress said she couldn’t know for sure what makes the partnership work so well, but pointed to several similarities that certainly help. “I don’t know what it is. We really get on. Obviously we do, otherwise we wouldn’t work together so many times,” she said. “We have a similar aesthetic. I think we have a similar way of viewing the world and the kind of interests in it. Clearly, we both love literature. That helps.”
With this kind of working relationship, Knightley said she has never known why they work or don’t work. “I just think it’s one of those things. It’s down to chemistry,” she said. “When it’s films, it’s down to liking a similar sort of film and similar sort of vibe, so you can understand each other.”
For their third collaboration, however, things will be different. According to Knightley, the look of “Anna Karenina” will be much more theatrical than both “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement.”
“The only similarity, I think, in the work is that they’re both based on novels. I think this one is very different, but then I would say that ‘Atonement’ is very different from ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ ” she said. “This one’s very different in that it’s much more theatrical. It’s not a naturalistic take on the piece. It’s a very theatrical, dramatic take on the piece, which for when the trailer comes out that will make a lot more sense, when people start seeing it.”
But like their other films together, “Anna Karenina” is a difficult novel to adapt, so Knightley is hoping for the best. “It’s incredibly difficult. It’s obviously a wonderful, wonderful book, but it’s a massive book, and trying to get that in the film, that’s tricky,” she said. “Hopefully … the stuff I’ve seen is good, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”