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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - Keira Knightley interview

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Interview by Rob Carnevale

KEIRA Knightley talks about the appeal of making a thriller and appearing in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, as well as why playing a fully rounded character, as opposed to a damsel-in-distress, worked for her.

She also discusses working alongside Kevin Costner, being directed by Kenneth Branagh (finally) and why there are still fewer roles for women in Hollywood. She was speaking at a UK press conference.

Q. What was it that marked this script out as special for you?
Keira Knightley: I’d never done a thriller before, I don’t think, and it’s always been a genre that I really like. I think it’s a very difficult one because you combine action with proper storytelling and it needs a proper storyteller to do it. So, I was quite excited by the challenge of it.

Q. It’s been a long time since you made one of these franchise films. Was there any particular reason you were tempted back? And you’re more than just a damsel in distress, so was that important to you in taking this role?
Keira Knightley: Yes. I think when I finished doing Anna Karenina I realised that I’d been playing characters that pretty much died or something horrendous happened to them for about the last five years so I fancied doing something fun. So, I think it was partly to do with that. I also really enjoyed the script. I couldn’t put it down, it was a page-turner. And then there was Ken [Branagh, director] and Ken basically said: “Oh go on, do it!” And I said: “Oh alright then!” So, it was a combination of all of those things really.

Q. And in terms of being a fully rounded character?
Keira Knightley: Absolutely. As far as the relationship between Jack and Cathy goes, I was interested with the idea of what happens to a relationship when there is a secret… you know, when there is something that can’t be discussed, and it’s something that can tear two people apart even though they are completely in love. I was interested in what that did to the relationship and I thought that was a very interesting part of the story as far as what people who work in secret services have to give up and the kind of emotional toll that it takes on them. I thought that was very interesting.

Q. I understand you and Kenneth Branagh first crossed paths when you were about 11 and trying to get a role in a film he was doing? Is this the first time you have crossed paths since then and did you remind him of that?
Keira Knightley: [Laughs] No, I think he probably doesn’t even know now. I went up for Hamlet when I was 11 and I didn’t get it. But he was very lovely. And this was the first time that we’ve crossed paths other than that.

Q. Every year we see two or three British actresses among the Oscar nominees. What’s the secret?
Keira Knightley: I don’t know who is nominated this year…

Q. Dame Judi Dench…
Keira Knightley: Well, Judi Dench is obviously wonderful. Sally Hawkins… she’s not only one of the loveliest people but a wonderful actress, so that’s great. You know, there’s a lot of talent over here. Aren’t we lucky?

Q. You are the only female character really in this film. Is that an advantage or a hindrance for you?
Keira Knightley: Do you mean the fact that there are very few female parts? I’ve been really lucky that I’ve actually worked with a lot of women. There aren’t that many female parts. There are certainly way fewer [roles] than there are for men and that’s always been the case. So, yes I think there’s a lot of competition and there’s a lot of wonderful actresses. It is what it is. I was very happy to get this job.

Q. But do you feel a certain weight on your shoulders because you are the only female character?
Keira Knightley: No, gosh should I? No. I don’t. I think generally speaking, particularly with this genre, you are the only woman in it. No, I didn’t feel a weight. I got on with the guys, so that’s always nice.

Q. How was working with Kevin Costner?
Keira Knightley: Absolutely lovely and very sexy. I only did one scene with him and I wish I’d done more. He was a total delight.

Read our review of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Read our interview with Kenneth Branagh

Read our interview with Chris Pine