Intensity. « It’s a term I like a lot. I’m interested in people who are on the edge, who have neuroses, who dabble in the extreme. That’s why I’ve always chosen intense characters that burn you. I’d like to keep them at a distance, they’re so complex, but I’m inevitably attracted to them. But that’s only as far as scripts and movies are concerned. In my real life I can spend even a whole afternoon listening to popcorn music: we’re made of contrasts ».
British actor Keira Knightley won’t talk about the new adaptation of « The Nutcracker and the Four Realms », Lasse Hallström’s Nutcracker produced by Disney, in which she plays the Sugar Plum Fairy. So the conversation shifts to her ability to move from indies to Hollywood blockbusters. « I learn a lot from the work I do, every time. What I like about acting is to be able to concentrate on differences, on the gap of unlived life between me and my part. The further it is from me, the happier I am. To me, characters are strangers to find out about, and they’re often driven by some kind of madness. Jumping from a Disney mega-production to a Chanel commercial or a theater role they pay you a lot of money for, that really interests me. At the end of the day, I only do stories that I’d like to go and see as an ordinary member of the audience ».
Many of the roles she is famous for were romantic: Anna Karenina, Cecilia Tallis in « Atonement », Guinevere in « King Arthur » and, above all, Elizabeth Bennet in « Pride and Prejudice ». Throughout her career, Keira has often combined romantic love with a physicality in which classic and contemporary mingle to create something special, a mixture of sublime imperfections. « I’m not aware that perhaps my body or face are special precisely because of their defects, but I think I’ve always accepted myself. Ever since I was I child, the only thing I wanted to do was act, and I think any attention on my looks faded into the background. I started when I was six. My father was an actor, my mother was a writer. I spent every day with them, they were involved in a highly political, left-leaning theater, and this forged me. When you’re little, if people around you believe that art is an instrument of change, then that’s it, you’ll do the same thing ».
Keira Knightley constantly radiates intensity and assertiveness, as if neither her heart nor her mind ever prevailed over each other. And so, when her two Oscar nominations for « Pride and Prejudice » and « The Imitation Game » are mentioned, she laughs and says, « I’d like to win one sooner or later ». Then she checks herself and adds, « My only ambition is always to find the thing that suits me, that represents me and makes me feel satisfied. Even if I were covered in nominations, I’d stop if I didn’t feel completely aware of what I’m doing ». Today, Keira is a mother who couldn’t see her daughter, Edie.
« When you’re a parent, you hope you can take the best possible care of your child. Edie’s tiny, she’s one and a half, and this evening I could kill myself because I can’t see her. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes less so, being a mother, doing this job. Some weeks I think I’ve nailed it, then some I don’t, I think I should change something, but luckily she’s a glorious little girl, that’s the right word, we mustn’t mess things up with her ». This sudden shift to slang is strident but, at the same time, helps to introduce realism to the subject of elegance. « I think force is a very elegant element. Unusual people are elegant, those whose self-awareness is such that they don’t take any notice of it. People who are well-dressed but without standing in front of a mirror all day; they’re just naturally like that ».
Francesco Brunacci, Vogue Italia, April 2017, n.800, pag.250