Keira Knightley covers the February issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. She’s promoting Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the latest reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise with Chris Pine at the helm. Keira plays Jack’s girlfriend who tags along on a trip to Russia and chaos ensues. I was a little surprised that Keira would sign on to that kind of role in this kind of Hollywood franchise, but maybe it just goes along with the “lighter” Keira we’ve been seeing for the past few years. She used to be so serious and morose, but around the time she got together with James Righton, she just seemed to have more fun with her life. It’s nice. Anyway, you can read the Bazaar UK piece here, and here are some highlights:
On feminism: “I think it’s great that the discussions are finally being allowed to be had [about feminism], as opposed to anybody mentioning feminism and everybody going, ‘Oh, f***ing shut up.’ Somehow, it [feminism] became a dirty word. I thought it was really weird for a long time, and I think it’s great that we’re coming out of that.”
She’s often the only woman in an all-male cast: She often finds herself “walking into a room, and talking about why my character is saying this, but I’ll be talking about it to a room of five guys. I’ve lost most of the arguments.”
She needs a wife: “I go to work at 5.30 in the morning; I wouldn’t get back probably until nine o’clock at night. Most of the guys that I talk to – and I’ve spoken to a lot of guys about it – they say [whispers], ‘My wife does everything.’ You think, ‘Why wasn’t I thinking about this five years ago?’” Instead, she was “worrying about a boyfriend and s–t…”
Hollywood needs more powerful women: “Hollywood has a really long way to go. I don’t think that anybody can deny that, really, and I think as much as you are getting more women playing lead roles… they’re still pretty few and far between.” After 20 years of experience (she started acting at the age of 7), Knightly wonders whether she might move behind the camera, and gain more control. “As I get older I get more interested by it… There is a lot of ‘You do what you’re told’ [as an actor]. After watching it and being part of it for so long, you start going, ‘I wonder if there is a journey to the other side.’ I don’t know if there is, but I’m interested in seeing people who have done it.”
Working on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: It involved “lots of running” and is “a piece of popcorn” kind of movie, by which she means big-budget blockbuster material. “Sometimes,” she explains, “people need pieces of popcorn, and sometimes people need to make pieces of popcorn.” This particular piece of popcorn has been made by one of Knightly’s heroes, director Kenneth Branagh, who dispelled any feelings of shame that Knightly may have had about making a blockbuster for blockbuster’s sake, she says. “He [Branagh] was like, ‘Don’t feel guilty… it’s going to be a Hollywood action film, that’s what it’s going to be, and that’s fine.’ It was quite liberating hearing him say that.”
Learning to chill out: For years, Knightly says, she sought public approval and it is only recently that she has learnt to “chill out an awful lot” and worry less about someone telling her she was doing a good job “[I was] spending so much time being neurotic and beating myself up [that I thought] actually, if I didn’t, I might get further by just going, ‘Oh, f–k it.’” Of her propensity for self-doubt, she says, “It’s an English trait, isn’t it?” – and perhaps for her it is also the legacy of the overachieving schoolgirl used to pats on the head and gold stars. She was always a keen worker, she says, but “I wish I hadn’t been. Life would have been so much easier.
She likes the consistency of being married: “These words that you think beforehand, ‘That’s the reason I’ll never do it’… those words that you see as completely negative, and you suddenly see them as being incredibly positive, and that’s actually quite liberating and quite nice.”
Signing on for Twitter but deleting her account after 12 hours: Tired of hearing friends bang on about Twitter, she signed up under a false name – an experiment that lasted 12 hours. “It made me feel a little bit like being in a school playground and not being popular and standing on the sidelines kind of going, ‘Argh.’”
Does she consider herself “haughty”: “No, I think that’s fine… I like being private. I haven’t asked a lot of the actresses who I really admire, ‘How do you do it?’ because I don’t want to know. Maybe I’m childish in that way; I just don’t want to know about your life.” The work, she concludes, is all that matters.
I like the sort of malapropism of “a piece of popcorn movie.” It’s cute the way she explains it. As for her feminism and her desire to see more powerful women in Hollywood… I agree. And I don’t think it’s just lip-service from Keira either. Think about Keira’s career and how much diverse work she’s done over the past 12 years – she’s seen the movie industry from a lot of different angles, she’s played the game at times and she’s shunned the game at times, figuring it out on her own terms. You know what I’d like? I like to see her pair with some powerhouse female director like Kathryn Bigelow on something really awesome. I think Keira would learn a lot.
Photos courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar UK.