A/V Room









Pride and Prejudice - Keira Knightley interview

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. You seem to have made a habit out of taking roles with corsets. How were the ones in Pride and Prejudice for you?
These corsets were fine. For me what was really important was that you got a sense that these girls could really run around in a field, walk for miles, do anything they wanted in their clothes.
The corsets in Pride & Prejudice only came down so far, whereas the corsets for something like Pirates of the Caribbean are right the way down, which means your stomach is pulled in and you really can’t breathe.
With these it was like not wearing a corset at all. It was fantastic. So a very easy corset experience for me.

Q. You have been quoted as saying that you do not want to be typecast in costume dramas? Has that changed with this and two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels on the way?
I think the thing is not to be typecast if you can possibly manage it, and what excites me about acting is the idea of changing as much as possible from character to character, and piece to piece.
But you’re not going to read a script that has a fantastic story, a fantastic character and a fantastic director and decide not to do it because it was set 200 years ago. That would be a bit foolish.
You can only go with what interests you and Pride & Prejudice has been a book that I’ve been obsessed with since I was about seven, so the opportunity to play a part like Elizabeth Bennet was one that I couldn’t miss out on.

Q. And in terms of costume dramas – they're very different?
Yeah, they are. Partly because we were looking for a kind of freedom with these costumes, we wanted to be able to really move, to really live in them and be able to run around in these things.
The whole point of the period costume in Pirates is that you can’t breathe, you can’t move and all the rest of it. So yeah, they are very different experiences.

Q. Is Pirates a period film (question from director, Joe Wright)?
That’s the problem. Of course it’s a period film. It’s not accurate to that period obviously, but it’s hardly modern day.

Q. The interaction between the Bennet family on screen seems natural, especially in terms of your relationship with Donald Sutherland? How was working with him?
We adored him. He was amazing, completely amazing. Partly because he did love having six women around him all the time.
We were really lucky, as Brenda said it was an amazing company to work with and be amongst. Everybody got on, and I think you can see that when you see the film.

Q. What do you think is relevant about characters and stories like Pride and Prejudice for modern audiences?
I think reason that Pride & Prejudice, as a story, has been so popular for so long is that fundamentally it doesn’t matter when you set it. You can see that for Bridget Jones, or Bride & Prejudice. For me, it’s about growing up, about making mistakes, it’s about love and it’s about things that are as relevant today as then.
And it’s one of the most beautiful romantic stories ever told. I think it has completely universal appeal, and it doesn’t matter when you set it or when you’re watching or read it. You can’t not love it.

Q. Was Elizabeth a modern woman for her time?
I think so. The reason I was so terrified about taking her on was that when I first got the part I had women coming over to me saying ‘you’re not Elizabeth Bennet, I am’. I think that’s why the character is so loved, because everybody who loves the book is Elizabeth Bennet. Or she’s what you aspire to be, she’s funny, she’s witty and intelligent. She’s a fully rounded and very much loved character.
So it’s terrifying to actually take her on. But equally because I’d been obsessed, I also believed that I was Elizabeth Bennet so I was the right person for it.

Related stories: Read our review

Matthew Macfadyen interview

Brenda Blethyn interview

Joe Wright (director) interview

Pride and Prejudice feature (Keira Knightley)

Special feature: The challenge of casting and shooting

Watch clips from the film

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