After helming several mini-series for British television, Wright made his theatrical feature debut with 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice.” The pic won him BAFTA’s newcomer kudo and also scored four Oscar nominations, including one for actress Keira Knightley. Wright’s second feature, “Atonement,” an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s romantic novel about regret and imagination — also starring Knightley — could take him and his crew back to the Oscars this coming year.
GENESIS: “(Producer) Tim Bevan brought (“Atonement”) to me while I was cutting ‘Pride & Prejudice.’ ‘Pride’ was the first one I did with a happy ending, something I’d always thought was a cop-out. But I ended up finding it’s a very important thing, for the artist and the audience. So ‘Atonement’ chimed perfectly with the issues I was thinking about at the time. And, with this one, I knew I wouldn’t make the same film as anyone else.”
VISION: “I had the film playing in my head when I read the book. Everyone said the book was unfilmable. I felt one needed to be as faithful to the book as possible — to find the cinematic equivalent to McEwan’s prose: What is the cinematic expression of first person, staccato rhythm, etc.? It’s actually very liberating to give oneself that limitation.”
CHALLENGES: “How to express the interior life of these characters, especially for the war section. All these characters’ strands start together and then explode into their own separate strands. The challenge was to keep them connected to the rest of the story.”
MAGIC: “Saoirse Ronan. We were so, so lucky to find that kid. She lives south of Dublin. She’d heard we were making the film and put herself on tape. She’s so unlike Briony in real life, except she also has an extraordinary imagination. She uses it to sympathize with the characters she’s playing.”