The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS | FOCUS - SAYS AMY KAUF­MAN

At irst, Keira Knight­ley thought ev­ery­thing was go­ing to be ine. Her preg­nancy had been de­light­ful, so she’d give birth to her irst child and then con­tinue work­ing at her nor­mal pace. A Broad­way show and two ilms in a year? Try her. But af­ter Knight­ley had her daugh­ter, Edie, things didn’t go ac­cord­ing to plan. She was hor­monal, for one. And tired. Be­cause Edie never seemed to sleep. Still, she in­tended to keep her obli­ga­tions. She per­formed eight times a week in a stage pro­duc­tion of “Therese Raquin” and then ilmed a sup­port­ing role in the drama “Col­lat­eral Beauty.” But in the sum­mer of 2016, star­ing down the lead role in the pe­riod drama “Co­lette,” Knight­ley de­cided she needed a break. “I can’t deal with this big char­ac­ter right now. So they very sweetly said, ‘We’ll put it off for a year.’”

Di­rec­tor Wash West­more­land wasn’t ex­actly thrilled to push the start date on “Co­lette” — “no one wel­comes that news,” he said _ but that de­lay ended up be­ing “the best thing that ever hap­pened.” The ilm­maker was able to spend the year iness­ing the script about the renowned French novelist, who ini­tially wrote un­der her hus­band’s name un­til her work be­came so suc­cess­ful in the early 1900s that she fought for recog­ni­tion. Alas, Edie — then age 2 — still wasn’t sleep­ing reg­u­larly when pro­duc­tion be­gan in Bu­dapest in 2017.

On her way from Lon­don to the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, where “Co­lette” screened last week af­ter pre­mier­ing ear­lier this year at Sun­dance, she was seated next to the ac­tress Rosamund Pike on the plane. “And my irst ques­tion was, ‘So, what the (hell) do you do when they go to school? How are you deal­ing with this?” Knight­ley said, pep­per­ing her speech with her favourite four-let­ter f-word. (Pike has two chil­dren.) “I don’t think any­body’s got an an­swer to it. The an­swer to it is that it’s messy and re­ally di­fi­cult, and some­how, you do it.”

Her hus­band, the mu­si­cian James Righton, is con­stantly work­ing in the stu­dio — but he can do that “as and when he wants,” the 33-year-old said, “whereas I need a film set and have to go where the work is.” “(For men) we go, ‘Oh, gosh, yes, ab­so­lutely, of course you don’t see your chil­dren when you work, be­cause you’ve got to con­cen­trate,’” she said, her voice drip­ping with sar­casm. “Can you imag­ine a wo­man say­ing that? Can you imag­ine if I went, ‘Oh, no, I just never see her’?”

Co­lette, she felt, was a hero. Knight­ley wanted a bit of her courage and felt like she was “stand­ing tall” when she em­bod­ied her. “Women feel shame or that we should hide in so many ways — parts of our per­son­al­ity that aren’t fem­i­nine enough or what we’re meant to be,” she said. “And with Co­lette, she just went, ‘Boom, this is what I am.’ I love that. I don’t think I’m that strong. I think I’ve still got a bit of, ‘Oh, (hell). I want to say the right thing.’” In the past year, in par­tic­u­lar, Knight­ley said she’s been grap­pling with how much to use her voice.

Knight­ley was a teenager when she irst gar­nered pub­lic ac­claim in the 2002 soc­cer ilm “Bend It Like Beck­ham,” and a year later be­came a house­hold name af­ter she was cast in the “Pi­rates of the Caribbean” fran­chise. Mean­while, Knight­ley has earned a rep­u­ta­tion for play­ing the lead­ing lady in pe­riod dra­mas such as “Pride & Prej­u­dice,” which brought her an Os­car nom­i­na­tion in 2006, and “Atone­ment” — some­thing she re­turns to with “Co­lette.”

West­more­land and his ilm­mak­ing part­ner, Richard Glatzer, had talked about Knight­ley play­ing “Co­lette” at var­i­ous points over the 17 years they spent try­ing to get the movie pro­duced. Af­ter mak­ing the ilm “Still Alice” to­gether, the two men watched Julianne Moore ac­cept her lead ac­tress Os­car while Glatzer was in the ICU at Cedars Si­nai. There, as his body de­te­ri­o­rated from ight­ing ALS, he used his toe on a speak­ing de­vice to spell out what he wanted West­more­land to make next: “Co­lette.”

Asked if she’s felt an in­creas­ing sense of power in the in­dus­try as she’s aged, the ac­tress said she’s no­ticed in the last ive years that “peo­ple think I’m good at what I do.” “Whereas be­fore, it was like, ‘She’s just a pretty face and she can’t do that,’ “said Knight­ley, who was nom­i­nated for a sec­ond Os­car in 2014 for her sup­port­ing turn in “The Im­i­ta­tion Game.” “There’s been a switch, and I feel quite good about that. There was a mo­ment where it didn’t feel like that was gonna hap­pen.”

Denise Gough Keira Knight­ley, (cen­tre), in a scene from ‘Co­lette.’ Eleanor Tom­lin­son Do­minic West in a scene

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.