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The Envelope Screening Series

'Anna Karenina': Joe Wright on his directorial 'detective work'

November 23, 2012|By Oliver Gettell

In developing his film adaptation of "Anna Karenina," the classic Tolstoy novel about a scandalous love triangle in Imperial Russia, director Joe Wright found himself donning his sleuthing cap.

"It’s kind of like detective work, trying to figure out the character," Wright says in this excerpt from the Envelope Screening Series with the Los Angeles Times' Rebecca Keegan. "You’re pulling pieces together, and that’s really exciting."

While Tolstoy's text provided an outline, it was up to Wright and his team to fill in the details. Take for example the character of Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the dashing young officer with whom the married socialite Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) has an affair.

"Vronsky’s one of the only characters in the book who isn’t given a specific age," Wright says, "but he’s described as being a boy soldier. And the way he falls in love is so childish, really. So I kind of liked the idea that he would be much younger. … By the time things are unraveling, he’s completely out of his depth."

Knightley also worked with Wright to flesh out Anna's character.

"I think that she is a very emotional being," Knightley says. "I think one of her great tragedies is that she can’t lie. She has this streak in her where she just wants to be honest, and it’s actually what ends up destroying her. And I thought that was kind of an extraordinary thing."


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