Actress Keira Knightley and her latest character, Anna Karenina, go back a ways. Now 27, Knightley first read Tolstoy's classic novel about the young Russian princess when she was a teenager, and she recently got reacquainted with the character in preparation for Joe Wright's new film adaptation.
As Knightley tells the Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Keegan in this excerpt from the Envelope Screening Series, she found Anna Karenina to be a much more complex character then she originally recalled.
"I had a weird relationship with her because I first read the book when I was about 19, and I just remembered her being innocent and everybody else being wrong," Knightley says.
"And then all of a sudden I went back to the book last summer before we started shooting and was totally shocked that my view of her and the story as a whole had so completely changed. I suddenly saw her as being very morally ambiguous … I think in coming to it this time that was something that we were interested in playing with."
Revisiting Tolstoy's text also helped Knightley get inside the character's head, although it wasn't always a simple task.
"I’d imagined it was going to be much easier than it was," Knightley says. "I thought, OK, well there’s going to be streams of consciousness and I’ll just do that. And actually a lot of the time there wasn’t. … So it was a fascinating process of really just trying to mine the text for everything that it was worth and trying to pull out anything that was helpful."