Phase9 Entertainment

LOVE ACTUALLY - Q&A with Keira Knightley

Movie Interview by Martyn Palmer

Whilst Keira Knightley's real life wedding day - whenever that may be - will doubtless be a wonderful and memorable occasion, she does admit that it will have to be something very special indeed to compare with her movie nuptials that millions will witness in RIchard Curtis's LOVE ACTUALLY. In fact, says Keira, it was so moving and emotional that even hard bitten veterans on the crew were virtually reaching for the Kleenex as they filmed it.
"It was quite possibly the most romantic thing I've ever seen," says 21 year-old Keira. "And you know, we had some real lads there, sparks and ADs and the rest of the crew and they were all standing there with little stupid grins on their faces during the marriage scene. It was great. And I was thinking to myself 'oh, yes, this works..."

Keira plays Juliet, who, in the lavish opening sequence of the movie, marries Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as a gospel choir sings 'All You Need Is Love' and thousands of rose petals cascade down on the deliriously happy couple. It is, to say the least, memorable and very, very romantic. These lavish surprises have been planned by Peter's best friend and best man, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) who secretly, is also in love with the stunning bride himself.
"It's a bit of a love triangle really," explains Keira, "but Juliet has always thought that Mark hated her and it turns out that he is actually completely madly in love with her. And you know, the entire story is played out in about five or six scenes. It could be a whole film but Richard is so clever because everything you need to know is there. It's really beautifully written."

Keira, who was born and raised in London, is one of the most sought after young actresses working today. Since she played the soccer mad tomboy in BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM in 2002 she has hardly stopped. She starred with Johnny Depp in one of the summer's biggest, most enjoyable hits, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, and is currently filming the epic KING ARTHUR on location in Ireland with Clive Owen and Ray Winstone. Keira plays Guinevere.

Keira's parents are playwright Sharman MacDonald and actor Will Knightley and she first acted in school and youth club productions. She made her film debut in 1994 in A VILLAGE AFFAIR and her other credits include INNOCENT LIES (95), TREASURE SEEKERS (96) COMING HOME (98) and PURE (2002). Her first major role was as a handmaiden to Queen Amidala in STARS WARS: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE. On television, she was critically acclaimed for her role as Lara in DR ZHIVAGO and the TV film PRINCESS OF THIEVES.

LOVE ACTUALLY marks Richard Curtis's directing debut. The acclaimed writer of THE TALL GUY, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, NOTTING HILL, MR BEAN and television hits like BLACKADDER and THE VICAR OF DIBLEY, Curtis recruited an all star British and American cast for LOVE ACTUALLY.

A series of intertwined stories set in contemporary London, it stars Hugh Grant as a bachelor Prime Minister who falls for his tea lady, played by Martine McCutcheon, a grief stricken father, Liam Neeson, worried that his young step son is struggling to cope, Emma Thompson as a happily married mother who can sense that her husband (Alan Rickman) may be tempted into an affair with a beautiful, younger work colleague and Colin Firth as a heartbroken writer who seeks refuge in rural France and finds that love doesn't have to speak the same language.

So what was it like working with Richard and this huge cast?

It was about five scenes! (Laughs) Two weeks and I laughed my way through the whole thing. I never stopped laughing. It was me and Chewy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Andy Lincoln. Andy is fantastic and I knew of knew him, I'd met him through friends of friends and Chewy is one of the most exciting British actors around at the moment. Have you seen DIRTY PRETTY THINGS? Or BLUE ORANGE? He is stunning. He's a lovely man.

So you obviously liked your immediate co-stars?

Oh yeah. It was really exciting to get the chance to work with two people I admired so much and really, we weren't doing anything (laughs). I got married, got to kiss a couple of really good looking guys and you know, all is good! Lovely costumes, lovely hair and lovely make up, and no corsets, which was nice. It was really cool.

And Richard's first time as a director. How was that?

Oh he's got nothing to worry about and he's a nice man, a really good bloke. Richard is just a really great guy and I know he was very nervous doing it but having written it, he knew everything inside out and he just knew what he was doing. You would get in in the morning and it was all there, it was done and dusted.

It's a pretty amazing wedding scene. What was that like to film?

It was quite possibly the most romantic thing I've ever seen. And you know, we had some real lads there, sparks and ADs and the rest of the crew and they were all standing there with little stupid grins on their faces during the marriage scene. It was great. And I was thinking to myself 'oh, yes, this works...''

Do you like the genre?

I love romantic comedies, I think they are really important. They are 100 per cent escapism. You just sit there and lose yourself in this world. Lovely. I cry my eyes out or laugh or both. I love them.

And how about Richard Curtis films in particular?

Oh yes. The thing about Richard is that he makes feel good movies and he makes them well and that's very difficult to do. Because the thing about the feel good movie is that it's something they all try and do and there is nothing more disgusting than a patronising feel good, smarmy movie because you just think 'my brain has been turned to mush and that was a disgusting experience...' So to be able to do it well is an amazing talent. And there are very few who can do it and Richard is at the top of that list, no question. It's absolutely incredible how you can sit through all of his films with a stupid grin on your face and you do - no matter if you come out and say 'oh no it's not my sort of thing, I'm very arthouse...' you still smile at those films. I defy anyone not to.

I understand that the whole cast was brought together for a read through in a hall in Notting Hill [London]. What was that like?

Agony! (Laughs). I have five scenes and I have never been more nervous in my entire life. I mean, I've done read throughs before. I've done them with Johnny Depp and that wasn't terrifying. But there were like 50 people sitting around this huge table. It was astonishing. You looked up and there was Hugh Grant, over there Alan Rickman. Oh there's Liam Neeson, there's Emma Thompson. I mean, come on, can you blame me for being nervous? I mean, just the fact that all of those people turned up for this read through shows how much respect they have for Richard. It was huge, huge. And at the end of it I was like 'ah! I can't handle this!' And I ran away, I got out of there as fast as I could.

Presumably BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM had come out at that point?

Yeah it had. But that didn't make any difference. I was still so nervous (laughs). We were in this old church hall near Richard's office.

The film has a lot of different stories, loosely connected. Did you feel like you were working in your own little movie with your part?

Yeah you did really. Me, Chewy and Andy. And we did our big wedding thing and we were like the stars of the show (laughs).

But then you have the scene at Heathrow [London] where virtually all of you are there at the same time...

Yeah. And then suddenly you've got all these other people with their stories. And it was like 'excuse me! I know you're Alan Rickman but get of my film please!' (Laughs)

I read somewhere that you might go to university. Is that true?

Well, I think my Mum and Dad think I'm going to university. They probably expect me to become a doctor or something. But no, I think I'll stick with this. I am having a very good time.

Question & Answer Text Copyright UIP