A/V Room









The Jacket - Keira Knightley Q&A

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q: Your character, Jackie, is an alcoholic. Do you think she’s similar to the heroin-addict girl you played in Pure?
It was, in a way of desperate, lonely girl. Yeah. Just moved to Vermont, really. That was specifically heroin, whereas this is alcohol and I don’t think moved onto heroin – but possibly going down that street. It was pretty similar in terms of genre.

Q: Do you like playing damaged girls?
I like playing both. To tell you the truth, I really enjoy going to the cinema and I enjoy going to see the big blockbusters and the smaller, more arty films as well. And that goes for the parts as well. I like playing the happy, funny ones and the damaged ones as well. That’s the whole point of the gig.

Q: What made you want to do The Jacket?
I was in Dublin shooting King Arthur and I’d been sent ten scripts, all perfectly good. Nine of them melted into one, the very English plucky type vibe. Which is marvellous if you can get it.
Then I read The Jacket. It was just completely different, a totally unique piece of work. It was an opportunity to do an American accent, which I hadn’t tried. It was just a very exciting thing. Also, I don’t normally get offered parts like this, or the one in Pure. So it was a really amazing opportunity.

Q: What do you think of Jackie?
She’s a character who is completely alone and on the edge of complete self-destruction. As people who are often in that kind of situation, she’s quite a selfish being, partly because there is nobody but herself.
So I think, ‘How can she be anything but selfish?’ What saves her is that suddenly there is a man that she focuses everything onto. There’s the process where she moves from being in her own head the entire time to actually caring about somebody else, which is completely different for her.

Q: You were reported as saying you don’t want to do any more costume dramas. Is The Jacket the first step towards this?
I didn’t say that. What I said was, I don’t want to only be in a costume drama or a corset. That is what the job is. I don’t know want people’s perception of what an actress is, but my perception of it is that it’s the opportunity to play as many different characters as possible.
It doesn’t matter when the piece is set – though a corset is not the most comfortable thing, and therefore it gets quite annoying working in them. But it’s what the story is like is important.
Whether me, as a person who does go to the cinema a lot, whether it’s a film I’d like to see. If it’s a film that I’d like to see, then it’s a film I’d like to be a part of. I don’t care when it’s set. I don’t care what type of genre it is. As long as it’s with people who are obsessed with filmmaking, and who I believe to be talented, then I don’t mind who I work with either. It’s about changing and trying to do as many genres as possible, otherwise what’s the point?

Q: Is it frustrating being offered period films in America?
As an English actress working in Hollywood, what you are more likely to get offered are period pieces. Which is fair enough. If it’s ever possible to try and get longevity out of an acting career, then what you have to do is prove that you can be as versatile as possible. So you have to change as much as possible.
If you’re just relying on pouting, lovely hair and very pretty costumes, then you’re going to have a very short career. Even shorter than it will be anyway.
I’m not necessarily saying that if you do change as much as possible, that means you will definitely are going to have a career that’s going to last a long time, but it’s certainly going to be better than if you don’t.
And I think all you can do is try to show that you can be different people and characters, and move away from previous perceptions of yourself. That’s all I can do to try and make my career as long as possible. Whether it works or not, I haven’t a clue – but I’ve got to try it.

Q: Do you mind that many of your films to date have been about escapism?
I’ve always though that acting is an amazing profession, and if you can do it well, create dreams in people’s heads and take people out of themselves, then that’s a really amazing thing to be able to do. And I think the films that I have been a part of, have managed to give people complete escapism. I don’t think you can do much more.
In some ways, I wasn’t asked to really stretch myself as an actress. This one did. I’m not a hundred per cent happy with what I did. But then if you’re ever a hundred per cent happy with your performance, then you might as well stop, because you’re just going to turn into a smug bastard. But I think I’m getting there. I think I’m learning.

Q: So you weren’t entirely happy with your work on The Jacket?
I have never been happy with any performance that I’ve given. I did The Jacket when I was 18, last January, February. I would say I was completely different person then to how I am now. We all change. No matter how old you are.
You can only give a performance based on who you are at that moment. Because I’m a different person now to the way I was then, I would look at different things. I would have a different opinion about the character and draw out something else. That’s the amazing thing about film. It captures forever that one single moment. You would never play the same scene the same twice.

Q: You had some nude scenes in the film. How did that feel?
It wasn’t the first time I’ve done it. You have to make a decision very early on in your career about what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not comfortable with, and nudity is something that’s never phased me. That’s not to say I’m happy with my body and rather embarrassed by it, because I am. But I do think that if it’s necessary to the story – and sometimes it is – I really don’t have a problem with it.

Q: How did you react when executive producer George Clooney came on set?
I said ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye!’ That was it. And the ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ were rather breathless. I had a friend who was the First AD. She kept saying, ‘Go up and talk to him!’ and I said ‘I don’t know what to say! So I failed completely and haven’t seen him since.

Q: Do you ever wonder how your career has happened so quickly for you?
I think everybody does – step back and go ‘how did that happen?’ And the answer is, I haven’t got a fucking clue. Not even a clue.
You look at it, and go, ‘Well, I’m not the most beautiful, I’m not the most talented. I’m not the most of anything.’ I’ve got friends who are a million times better than me.
For one reason or another, I have got parts and they haven’t. I have no explanation whatsoever, so I try not to look into it too much because I don’t have the answer, so what’s the point. I just try and enjoy what’s coming along. And if it stops tomorrow, all you can do is enjoy for now.

Q: You’ve recently finished a new version of Pride and Prejudice. Is this a traditional take on the novel?
It’s a pretty traditional one. Very often in period pieces it’s very polished. The costumes are perfect, the hair’s in perfect ringlets. It is not that at all. It’s trying to find the reality of a family without enough money to try and support five near-teenage girls. It’s amazing. It has a look that is pretty original to period pieces, which is pretty exciting.

Q: And you’re about to go and do Pirates of the Caribbean 2. What can you tell us about that?
I’ll tell you when I’ve read the script! I’ve been training. Not particularly swords, but they got me a personal trainer because they said there’s going to be a lot of action, so you need to be fit.

Q: What films did you see last year that you enjoyed?
I loved Closer and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

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