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INTERVIEW: Keira Knightley Makes a New Friend

The popular stage and screen actress discusses her new film with Steve Carell, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. logo
Keira Knightley and Steve Carell in
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
(© Focus Features)
27-year-old Keira Knightley has an enviable career, already having gained international stardom in popular films like Bend it Like Beckham, the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Pride and Prejudice (for which she earned an Academy Award nomination), Atonement, and A Dangerous Method, as well as her stage work in The Misanthrope and A Children's Hour.

In her new romantic comedy, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Knightley co-stars with funnyman Steve Carell as two people facing their last days on Earth. TheaterMania recently spoke to Knightley about the demands of the stage, what appealed to her about this film, and working with her celebrated co-star.

THEATERMANIA: You didn't take a break between doing The Children's Hourand this film. How hard was it to transition from one to the other?
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: It was massive and I don't know that I'd do it that quickly again. They're such different mindsets and skill sets; trying to jump from stage to film is tricky.

TM: Was it hard to leave behind such a serious role like Karen Wright in The Children's Hour?
KK: Yes. Particular ones stay with you, so I definitely didn't want to go into another one straightaway where I couldn't shake her off. That is the path to madness. I knew that I was doing the film of Anna Karenina at the end of the year, as well, so I thought doing something nice will be very nice!

TM: What appealed to you most about this story?
KK: My mom said "You choose upbeat and it's about the end of the world!" I never read anything like it. I found it incredibly uplifting. The whole vibe of the piece is what's important: It's love, it's friendship, it's companionship. Penny is an amazingly positive character. She's able to say '"this moment is wonderful." There are so few people like that.

Keira Knightley
(© Focus Features)
TM: Are you like Penny in that way?
KK: No ,I'm not like that. I will easily say "I'm really unhappy" but I never say "This is brilliant." I just loved that about her. I would love to be more like her. I'm really striving to be.

TM: What did you find in yourself to relate to her?
KK: I think a lot of people in their mid-to-late 20s suddenly say "I'm a grown up. But am I doing what I should be doing? Am I with the person I should be with?" I love the fact that she's completely in that stage. It might be the end of the world, but you're not going to get out of those questions.

TM: What was it like doing comedy with Steve Carell?
KK: He's amazing, and he is just a lovely man. He's very quiet, not one of those comedians who use comedy as a defense mechanism when they chuck one joke after another. He's incredibly inclusive when he's being funny and he makes everyone around him feel like they're being funny too.

TM: What would you do if you knew the world was coming to an end?
KK: I think I'd be terrified and crying in a corner! I'd love to say I'd be at a party, but I'd want to hide! If an asteroid was coming to earth I'd be going "Is this going to hurt?" We all talked about it. The only thing I'd want to do is be with people I love.

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