You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Keira Knightley Says ‘Begin Again’ Was Welcome Break from Dying On Screen

Keira Knightley was tired of being depressed and ill. On screen, at least.

The Oscar-nominated actress spent five years playing a series of heavy roles — from a young woman harvested for her organs in “Never Let Me Go” to a love-struck Russian aristocrat who has an unfortunate encounter with a train in “Anna Karenina.”

“It had all been very, very dark with very little hope and I wanted to find something with hope in it where I didn’t die in the end,” Knightley told Variety at Wednesday’s New York premiere of “Begin Again.”

The film, an uplifting story about a young woman and a washed-out record producer who help each other rebound from a series of personal setbacks, was the perfect antidote.

“Romantic comedies aren’t normally a genre I go for, but I read this one and thought it actually makes me feel good,” said Knightley. “It actually makes me feel hopeful without making me feel like I’m being drowned in sugar.”

PHOTOS: More from the “Begin Again” premiere + More of This Week’s Parties

The film pairs Knightley, the cinematic embodiment of poshness, with Mark Ruffalo, as a down and out music producer so hard on his luck audiences can practically touch the stubble and smell the cheap booze. Director John Carney (“Once”) said he was inspired to put the two actors together on screen because of their radically different personas.

“It was a little bit ‘Guys and Dolls’-ish,” said Carney.  “A little bit Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons. They had a transatlantic sort of chemistry.”

Begin Again” inspired a bidding war when it debuted at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, with the Weinstein Co. emerging as the winner.  At the premiere, the studio’s chief Harvey Weinstein told the audience inside the SVA Theatre that he fell in love with the picture in large part because of the way it captures New York City, his hometown.

The title may have been another matter. “Begin Again” was originally known as “Can a Song Save Your Life?”

Producer Judd Apatow seems to have made his peace with the rechristening.

“It’s an appropriate title for the movie and the movie is beautiful regardless of the title,” he said.

“Some people thought the other title might have been too dark,” Apatow added. “It’s hard to know. It had a lot of words in it, the old title. It would take up several rows of print.”

The red carpet unfolded inside a makeshift tent that grew increasingly greenhouse-like as temperatures rose and camera crews huddled to capture the film’s cast in their finery.

Asked if it was the hottest red carpet he’d ever been on, co-star James Corden quipped, “Yes, for all the wrong reasons.”

“My forehead at some point is going to explode,” he added.

After the screening, the afterparty continued at the Bowery Hotel.


Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Lowell Smokes Cafe Marijuana

    With Cannabis Lounges, On-Site Consumption, Marijuana-Infused Meals Go Legit

    Can this century’s Roaring ’20s repeat history but with pre-rolled joints instead of whiskey flasks and soccer moms as the new flappers? This month, West Hollywood will see the opening of the nation’s first at least quasi-legal cannabis consumption lounge, officially dubbed Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café, located at 1211 N. La Brea between Fountain [...]

  • Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter,

    'Downton Abbey' Movie Sequel? Producers Tease That They Have 'Some Ideas'

    “Downton Abbey” holds the record as the most-nominated international show at the Emmy Awards with 69 nominations and 15 wins — and now, it stands a chance to nab an Oscar. More than three years after the beloved series signed off the air following six critically-acclaimed seasons, “Downton Abbey” is making its big-screen debut. “It [...]

  • Thandie Newton and Regina King70th Primetime

    Emmys 2019: The Ultimate Party Guide

    The 71st annual Emmy Awards may be going hostless this year, but that doesn’t mean the big night will be any less of a celebration. For all the details on the biggest bashes happening this week and throughout the weekend, check out Variety‘s Ultimate Emmys Party Guide below. Tuesday, Sept. 17 Variety’s Showrunners DinnerEveleigh, 7:30 p.m [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content