Keira Knightley’s directors take to Twitter to defend her talent, professionalism


As we discussed yesterday, director John Carney gave an interview to The Independent a few days ago and the interview has gotten a crazy amount of attention. Carney directed Keira Knightley in Begin Again, a film released a few years back. Carney claims – repeatedly, and with some blatantly sexist language – that Keira is a diva constantly surrounded by an entourage, that she made it difficult to get “real work done,” that she doesn’t have the requisite “honesty and self-analysis” to be a proper actor, and that she is a “supermodel” (which is apparently the worst pejorative ever). The whole interview made me feel sick to my stomach. He dragged Keira so hard, you would have thought she had hurt his family or something.

Thankfully, it seemed like most people saw through John Carney’s sexist bulls—t. Keira still hasn’t said a word and I hope she doesn’t say anything about it, because why would she? But her friends in the industry are tweeting about Carney’s interview and defending her. Mark Romanek directed Keira in Never Let Me Go in 2010, and this is what he had to say:

Lynn Shleton, who directed Keira in Laggies, tweeted this:

Director Lorene Scafaria, who worked with Keira in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World responded to both Shelton and Romanek:

And finally, this is what David Cronenberg had to say about Keira after working with her in A Dangerous Method.

While we already knew that John Carney was and is an a—hole, and we didn’t NEED to see Keira’s coworkers defending her, it is nice to see. I’m glad that she has so much respect and love within the industry.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

93 Responses to “Keira Knightley’s directors take to Twitter to defend her talent, professionalism”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. alex says:

    I mean she’s still not a great actress he got that part right

    • Zuzus girl says:

      Haha. Agree. She certainly didn’t deserve to be verbally trashed like that.

    • Tiffany says:

      That is not what was truly being questioned. He said she was diva and flat out generalizing her. Not cool.

      • bluhare says:

        I agree with all three of you. I don’t think she’s a great actress either; her best work is a pout or gazing off looking thoughtful, but he did not need to demean her by calling her a super model.

    • Naya says:

      Meh. I think she is a fantastic actress as does David Cronenberg. To each his/her own but what this dbag tried to do to her was unacceptable.

      • layla says:

        I enjoy her as well. She was fantastic in Laggies!

        Either way – he had no right to tarnish her name in such a way in regards to her professionalism.

    • Mia4s says:

      That’s not the point though. OK you don’t think she’s a good actress, whatever, I’m sure she’ll cry on her two Oscar nominations and tens of millions of dollars over the opinion of a bitter indie director and a couple of message board nobodies 🙄….

      The issue is the attack on her professionalism. This is used far too often against women to boost up the fragile ego of mediocre men.

    • Adrien says:

      He called Adam Levine a good actor so his point is invalid.

    • Neelyo says:

      Agreed, she’s just Winona Ryder with an accent.

      • Ariadne says:

        I think you mean Winona Ryder WITHOUT an accent 😉

      • Cindy Lou says:

        Neelyo, at one time I may have (kind of) agreed with you about Ryder. But I am truly blown away by her work the past few years. The layer of toughness that has been added over the vulnerability that was so often one note has made her characters so much more interesting.

    • kibbles says:

      Keira is a decent actress who can carry a movie. Would I say she is at the same caliber as Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, or Judi Dench? No, but that isn’t the point. Carney was describing Keira as unprofessional with a huge entourage. From her interviews she seems well-spoken and thoughtful. I’ve never heard of her being a diva on set or to her fans. She has always come off as a down to earth person both at work and in real life. Her professionalism and good nature is why she is so popular with many directors.

    • k says:

      Yeah but he said Adam Levine was fantastic so clearly he has no idea what is or isn’t good. And the only issue on the film was the woman? Sorry don’t buy it.

      Also she has been nominated for two Oscars so she can’t be to bad, and he called out her professionalism and used a degrading word used for women in Hollywood to belittle and diminish their work, power and influence.

    • Nikki says:

      But he didn’t just say she’s not a great actress; he basically said she’s not even in the category of being an actress, but rather is an emotionally closed supermodel who also causes chaos with her entourage! Holy crap! She’s not my favorite actress either, but no WAY does she deserve such disrespect and hostility after so many years of professionalism. I think it makes HIM look like a huge jerk. And frankly , it makes me wonder if she spurned him or somehow offended his pride, for him to be this vituperative. ICK.

  2. jess1632 says:

    This makes me happy to see these friends and colleagues come to her defence like this 🙂
    She seems sweet, must be true

    • Amelia says:

      Totally agree.
      Manners cost nothing, but apparently reap dividends when an old boss tries to drag your name through the mud.

  3. Samtha says:

    Mark Romanek wins with that hashtag.

  4. mia girl says:

    I’m so glad this Carney guy is getting called out by other directors. Loved this tweet too:

    “Massy Tadjedin, who worked with Keira on both ‘Last Night’ and ‘The Jacket’, tweeted, “I’ve worked with Keira twice and couldn’t find John Carney’s remarks more untrue or inelegant. They reveal so much more about him than her.”

    • Erinn says:

      Ouuu I really like that one.

    • Sally says:

      Also Ava DuVernay: “There are actors that directors won’t call again for whatever reason. But don’t disparage them in the press. C’mon.”

    • lucy2 says:

      That’s an excellent response, and so true. It definitely speaks volumes about what kind of person he is.

    • OhDear says:

      That’s also a great response.

      Love Knightley, love the fact that people who have worked with her are defending her!

    • Cindy Lou says:

      “Inelegant” – new favorite word.

  5. Talie says:

    She probably wasn’t his first choice, so he wanted to lash out. But to say Adam Levine is a better actor…boy, bye!

    • I just can't says:

      Yea Adam Levine was horrendous. I watched this movie last night because of the hubbub and I had the free time. I’m sorry, but was his singing supposed to be good? Like, at all? I mean, not a big Maroon 5 fan to begin, but was be making his voice worse?

  6. Naya says:

    Dont we all know a man like this? She probably very innocently questioned him on something and has carried this stupid grudge for four years, just bidding his time.

    • k says:

      Yep, she probably dared to go against him and or question a direction and bam she’s a “diva” with no talent. We all know men like that of course.

  7. Mandy says:

    Don’t know if she is a diva but she is certainly only an ok actress – hate her way of acting through her teeth without moving her jaws and her permanent pout.

    • neocleo says:

      Agreed. When she speaks all I can see is her bared teeth. I still haven’t forgiven her for her performance in Pride and Prejudice. Truly terrible Elizabeth Bennet.

  8. OTHER RENEE says:

    I enjoyed that movie and thought she was fine in it. He probably hit on her and she told him to stuff it…

  9. HH says:

    This is a nice addition. But I’m sure that other guy lost his credibility when he shaded Keira but praised Adam Levine’s acting chops. Like, what????

  10. CFY says:

    I don’t remember who it was, but there was a tweet about how a director who has made three consecutive romantic movies about musicians shouldn’t be casting judgment about not taking creative risks and playing it safe. I haven’t seen enough of Keira’s work to form an opinion about her acting ability but as a non-actress myself I can tell you a) she’s a better actress than me and b) I really liked her as Elizabeth Bennet.

    • Bettyrose says:

      LOL @ “she’s a better actress than me.” I don’t have much of an opinion on her. I found her annoying on Colbert once when she was really working the “I’m just a normal girl” angle, but these tweets from directors gave me a new respect for her. She sounds like a real professional.

      • VoR says:

        But she’s never been on Colbert…

      • bettyrose says:

        Huh. I guess it must have been Jon Stewart then. The thing I remember most was the host (I would’ve sworn it was Colbert) joking about the RF, and Kiera was basically acting like she didn’t even know who was in line for the throne. I don’t know why that irked me, but it did. Anyhoodle, like I said, these tweets from directors definitely speak well of her professionalism, and I respect that.

  11. Sally says:

    He also dissed in two other interviews
    “I know what you mean. I think a lot of this film, and the reason to make it, came from the experience of working, let’s face it, with a model on my last film. And trying to get somebody to think like an actor who wasn’t an actor per se. I found that frustrating, and a lot of time was wasted trying to get somebody to flex a muscle that they just didn’t have.
    So I really felt when I made that film, working with Mark Ruffallo, who’s a real tried and tested proper theatre actor, and really trained.”

    “I’ve seen what fame can do to certain people. The Keira Knightley thing, it’s like you can’t be taken seriously anymore and you can’t take yourself seriously as an artist with people just trying to get your photograph, and I’m really worried that these kids at this age will be plagued, and particularly Ferdia, by journalists and the industry itself. ”
    “I like Begin Again, I’m really proud of that movie. I just think with Keira it was like asking her to do something that she could not do. I think these films rely completely on their leading man or woman. Mark Ruffalo delivered, Adam Levine too – they all did, because I wasn’t asking them to do anything that they could not do, but she could not do that. She couldn’t make the film seem humble. Had I got somebody who could kill that role and really deliver, I think there would be more continuity between Sing Street and Begin Again and Once – the three would have seemed together, but Begin Again sticks out a little bit, it’s a little awkward in the family of musicals that I’ve made now.”

    What a piece of garbage to humiliate her in this way multiple times.

    • e says:

      Wow, these are so much worse than the quotes that were previously discussed here! What a piece of garbage indeed…

      • Sally says:

        And it’s so unwarranted and out of the left field, since the movie is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the audiences gave it at 81% score and it also did pretty well at the box office considering how it was a limited release in the States: 8 million budget and 63.5 million international box office.

    • BritAfrica says:

      She was supposed to fall in love with him and his ‘art’. She didn’t. Tough times…….

    • Samtha says:

      Good lord. What a gigantic A-hole.

    • HH says:

      Wow… Didn’t even see these quotes in the press. He’s out to ruin her career and reputation. Honestly, it sounds like something personal happened. His comments are too vitriolic and too pointed to be anything else. His ego and emotions seem so bruised.

    • lucy2 says:

      I watched the movie a while back (I liked it) and never once felt like Keira was out of her depth or doing something she wasn’t qualified to do. This guy has some kind of personal grudge, and is railing on her professionalism – which given the response from other directors, was the wrong tactic.

      • mia girl says:

        I’ve seen the movie a couple of times and I like it. But if anything, I’ve always thought the writing/direction was a bit sophomoric at times, veering into corny territory. Like some of the scenes where they are recording in the streets of NY (i.e. the little kids being brought in to sing) or the scenes walking around the town sharing ear buds – were a little overplayed.

        If you had asked me last week what I thought about this movie, I would have said it was lovely, but that the actors in the movie deserved a slightly more elevated script/direction.

        So it pisses me off to no end that he wants to put this sh*t on Keira Knightly, who was pretty good.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Has he even watched the film he made? She couldn’t make it humble? She wasn’t chewing scenery and played it all very low-key. She was believable and her scenes with James Corden were delightful

      • Dizzy says:

        I very much agree, especially with Mia girl. I’ve seen this movie several times, first in the theatre and then on my movie network at home. Whenever it’s on I watch it. It’s very sweet and and I like the the music (Gregg Alexander ex. The New Radicals wrote the Oscar Nominated music)
        I enjoy a lot of Kiera Knightley films…especially Pride and Prejudice (another repeat viewing)
        This director is a totally misogynistic a..h….

    • Amanda G says:

      He probably tried to hit on her and she rebuffed him. Now he’s lashing out like the sexist pig that he is. And I’m not even a fan of hers!

    • elle says:

      I love Mark Ruffalo, but honestly thought he was TERRIBLE in this movie. I gave up on it after 10 minutes. Since this is the only performance of his that has ever sent me running in terror, I lay the blame squarely on the DIRECTOR. That would be you, Mr. Carney.

      Keira’s clenched-jaw acting drives me crazy, but I can’t look away from her. She wasn’t the reason I turned Begin Again off.

  12. BritAfrica says:

    John what’s his name expected her to arrive on set pretending to be insecure about her role and seeking his ‘guidance’. Instead she arrived on set and got on with it.

    This equates to the men being professionals while the woman is a ‘know it all’ diva. Nothing new. It made me watch the film though….if that was what the #arrogantshithead was after……and yes, she was rather good in it.

    • Ally8 says:

      Yes, THIS. Keira Knightley has been a working actor for over 20 years with 20 or so high-caliber movies under her belt. And this guy, who’s made three films about people with acoustic guitars, figured she needed his help to get into his simplistic character. Puh-leeze. Sounds like he was Dustin Hoffman and she was Laurence Olivier on this one.*

      (* The story goes: Hoffman arrived on set saying he’d stayed up all night to put himself in the same mental place as his character, on the run after being tortured by a sadist. ‘Why don’t you try acting, dear boy?’ Olivier asked.)

  13. Tash says:

    So glad that people who worked with her are coming to her defense. Whether or not you think she is a good actress (I think she is), what that #arrogantshithead said was unprofessional and uncalled for.

  14. Bey says:

    i agree that the director is a POS but lets not make Keira Knightley into a great actress. she isnt.

  15. Moon says:

    He’s entitled to his opinion. Personally don’t find Kiera a great actress either, but she’s never come across as unprofessional. How is it sexist to criticize her though?

    • Em' says:

      Maybe because he dissed her as a supermodel when she has been acting for the last 20 years. Or because he specifically, and in contrast, praised her two male costars name checking them.
      Sure the bros were so good and so laid back (no doubt Mark Ruffalo was, but Adam Levine…). But the female star of this film… Dude not only was she bad, but she was a diva, she was unprofessionnal. She is the sole reason this movie was not as great as the rest of his genius director’s filmography.

    • Dara says:

      What Em’ said. Adam Levine has done fragrance campaigns and fashion photoshoots galore, and is probably more vain about his looks than most of the women I know, but apparently that sort of thing doesn’t count as being a superficial supermodel in the director’s eyes (what’s his name again?). But Keira – who has been acting for two decades and has two Oscar nominations, three Golden Globe nominations and two BAFTA nominations on her resume does a few commercials and to the director she’s nothing but a pretty face.

  16. Miss M says:

    I call it yesterday that Keira is known to be praised by mane directors. I remember being on the premiere of A dangerous method at NYFF and he had nothjng but praise about her and her work and she was not even there. I am glad directors that she worked with are calling Carney on his bs.

  17. Adrien says:

    The supermodel diss was really irritating, no? As if he is saying he doesn’t know her body of work or she is only nice to look at. Very arrogant. You are the director, if something fails it is your fault. It is not even an ambitious film. I don’t see Keira salivating for that role. It was a drama version of that romcom Drew Barrymore/ Hugh Grant movie. I felt bad for Mark Ruffalo for wasting his dramatic chops for this kind of movie but at the same time he made me respect and love him even more for taking this project seriously.

    • Ally8 says:

      I will say that it can be a hindrance for actors, once they get experience modelling in expensive fashion-y campaigns, where they are trained to work their angles in a model-like way, to get back to behaving naturally instead of posing at their attractive best all the time when filming, which is obviously ego-boosting to them but distracting to the audience.

      I don’t think that this is Keira Knightley’s issue, though. She has her own distinct style and pout, which she had before she ever worked for Chanel. And btw, John Carney, getting Chanel money means she can afford to take parts in smaller arty films like yours.

      As to that comment about people wanting to take her picture all the time, I think she handles her massive fame with remarkable grace and maintains a fairly normal life. Let’s see how he handles the torrent of negative attention he’s going to get this week and which will linger around the rest of his career like a bad smell.

  18. Bunny says:

    To those dissing her acting talents – have you seen The Duchess? She was amazing in that film and it should have garnered her an Oscar nomination.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      That role … yes, we found her portrayal very moving.

    • Ally8 says:

      + Never Let Me Go.

    • Manjit says:

      I never really rated her before “The Duchess” but she completely broke my heart in that film. Her performance was so perfectly pitched, I loved her character without ever really liking her. That’s what a good director does with a well cast actress.

  19. JeanGenie says:

    I’ve liked Knightley in other films, but found her unbearable in Carney’s movie because her singing was terrible. I actually felt sorry for her that she was so miscast. The same is true of an actress whom I love, Connie Britton. No matter how good her work is, her singing is so awful on Nashville that it renders the whole performance unbelievable and (for me) unwatchable.

    • Nik says:

      I don’t think she was miscast. Her (lack of) singing skills made the character more believable. Keep in mind she was always the songwriter and Levine’s character was the star. If she would’ve opened her voice and belted out sounding like Adele that would’ve rang false. It would then lead to questions on why was she never put in the spotlight prior. Her mediocre voice was fitting for the character.

      • JeanGenie says:

        fair enough. maybe it just annoyed me so much that it ruined the film experience:)

  20. Meee says:

    He probably made advances and she rebuffed them. Now, since he’s obviously so mature, he’s going to talk smack to try to make her look bad.

  21. Kelly says:

    Nice to read the support for her.

  22. Loser says:

    Dude’s a loser who hates women. Period. He probably condescended to her the whole time on set while she is a star with years of experience and high box office movies to her credit.
    So Mark Ruffalo, how come you, Mr. Man of the People, aren’t weighing in?

  23. boycott says:

    I certainly won’t see that guy’s latest movie. Can’t waste my money on the little prick.

  24. mrspanda says:

    I’m so happy to read these comments and the responses from other Directors, regardless of her acting abilities she certainly didn’t deserve the vitriol from that idiot!

  25. Bread and Circuses says:

    Given the way he praised another actor for being willing to get naked on screen, and then said Kiera wasn’t open enough, I’d bet this guy was pressuring her to take her clothes off gratuitously.

    In fact, I’m certain all her so-called “diva” behaviour was just Kiera refusing to take his sexist bullshit, and the man-baby couldn’t handle being told no.

    I’m glad people who value talent over their own egos are calling him out. The only reason his movie got made was because he had big name talent attached to it. Kiera’s best revenge is to simply never work with him again — and tell her friends not to also, and to tell them exactly why they shouldn’t.

  26. amilu says:

    I am not a Keira Knightley superfan. She’s fine, but I don’t go out of my way to see her films. I watched Begin Again randomly on cable a couple of months ago. I was pleasantly surprised. She was good in the film — both as an actress and as a believable indie singer, and I thought she, not Ruffalo or Levine, gave the standout performance.

    Carney sounds like such a dingus. I’m so glad these other filmmakers are putting him in his stupid, sexist place.

  27. Tig says:

    And let the pile on continue! Sort of half way surprised he hasn’t pulled the ” I was misquoted” BS. At least I was happy to see he didn’t trash Catherine Keener, who was also in that movie.

  28. Betsy says:

    Ms. Knightly is in my personal irrational dislike pile, sitting just beneath Ms. Hathaway, but she’s never struck me as unprofessional.

  29. susanne says:

    I am vehemently against hashtags, but #arrogantshithead makes everything okay.

  30. Amanda G says:

    I’m so glad other directors are sticking up for her. I hope her male co-stars will do the same and call him out for being sexist, but Levine is so full of himself he probably won’t care. And Ruffalo seems to like to avoid confrontation.

  31. Kath says:

    Never Let Me Go was such a haunting, underrated film and Keira (and everyone else in it) was excellent. It’s lovely to see its director ripping that douchebag to shreds.

    #arrogantshithead indeed.

    Beat hashtag ever.

  32. FF says:

    He’s not going to get much work with that attitude…

    Sounds like he wanted a different type of performance and maybe she didn’t see the character that way. Why be so bluntly dismissive when I’m sure he had some choice in the casting? Everyone knows most actors play to particular strengths. Nevermind that it’s also worth pointing out: berating actors is highly unlikely to create the kind of environment that’s going to give him the performance he wants or seems to expect.

    Is he one of those actor-hating directors? I hope everyone considering working him knows he could throw them under a bus after.

    (A Dangerous Method is my favourite performance of hers.)

  33. geneva says:

    It seems that because the movie may not have been a huge hit he is blaming the lead actress a few years later. was it taken out of context..or was it just a cheap shot. It does seem rather cruel to cut her down as a professional in a cut-throat profession…I imagine it did bother her to hear him speak publicly like that. Not fair, really. and a double standard in that who knows…perhaps she was the one actress from the UK working in New York while the other actors actually live in NYC. Would you have more of an entourage..? Did she have some magazine covers to shoot as well? Did she promote her career while in New York. Is that is being a diva or being a smart working professional?

  34. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    I think she’s a good actor. Even in the movie a lot of people seem to dislike – A Dangerous Method – I thought she got the tics & verbal problems down very well. That can’t be easy.

  35. Trashaddict says:

    Regardless of whether she is in fact a great actress or s shitty one, he’s burned a few bridges with his seriously unprofessional behavior. Who would work with a guy who would turn around and say things like that? That’s professional suicide.
    (I happen to really like her. As far as the “model” stuff, well yeah, the camera really likes her and she has more depth than many current ingenues.)

  36. Boo says:

    Really happy about this for Keira. I love her work, all of it.

    Sad to learn that guy directed Once….I LOVED that movie too! Why is he doing and saying these things? 🙁

  37. This guy is basically dissing her for a casting decision that was in his complete control. In the interview he did with The Independent, he was lamenting the fact that he had cast a non-musician in a road of a singer songwriter and it wasn’t what he had hoped. This could be said about every movie about musicians ever made, and I think that in the industry, you just have to suspend your disbelief a touch if you are going to cast A-list actors in these roles. I’m a former professional musician, and the only film I can even name where this wasn’t a thing was Adrian Brody in The Pianist. think of George Clooney in Brother Where Art Thou …thats an excellent example of this, and it didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the film at all. If Carney feels that Knightley’s was incapable of being believable a a musician, this was ENTIRELY HIS DOING by casting her in his film. You want a real musician? Cast one. There are plenty that can do both music and acting well, they just won’t bring the name recognition to the table that he obviously wanted or he would have made this an indie project. Instead he made it personal and attacked her for being a diva and having an entourage…both of which are likely not even true from what I’ve ever read and written about Knightley. I’ve met a lot of guys like this over the years, and I can say with a lot of confidence that he is a self-important a-hole. to diss Knightley while praising Levine is laughable. Carney should look to Catherine Heigel for an example of what will happen to a career if he keeps this sort of thing up.