'Begin Again,' Keira Knightley tunefully leaves comfort zone
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[June 28, 2014]
By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - British actress
Keira Knightley, known for playing tragic heroines in period dramas,
strayed into new territory with her first major singing role in
"Begin Again," a feel-good film about the music industry and
"Begin Again," which opens in limited release on Friday and
nationwide next month, was written and directed by Ireland's John
Carney, whose 2006 indie musical "Once" nabbed the best original
song Oscar for "Falling Slowly."
"Once" was also adapted into a Broadway show and won eight Tony
awards, including best musical.
Like its predecessor, "Begin Again" is laced with music and
much of it is sung by Knightley, along with Maroon 5 frontman
Adam Levine, who makes his film debut.
"The whole thing was out of my comfort zone. I am not a singer.
I didn't know how to do that," Knightley, a best actress nominee
in 2006 for her role in "Pride & Prejudice," said in an
"A lot of the film was improvised, and I had never done that
before. I'd say that those two were major things to be grappling
with," added the 29-year-old actress, who took voice lessons to
prepare for the film.
Knightley plays Gretta, a British songwriter and reluctant
singer, who arrives in New York with her longtime boyfriend
Dave, played by Levine, just as he is about to hit the big time.
Fame clouds his judgment and he strays, leaving a bereft Gretta
on the verge of returning home when she is discovered by a
chain-smoking, down-and-out record producer named Dan, played by
Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo.
"Essentially, what it is about is people falling down in life
and trying to pick themselves back up, whether that is
romantically or whatever," said Knightley.
Dan persuades Gretta to record her songs live on the streets of
New York for a CD to revive his nonexistent career. Along the
way, the two strike up an unusual friendship.
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Ruffalo describes his own character's transformation.
"I like the meditation on the character's journey back to his
creative self from this material world, and coupled with a mid-life
crisis and a marriage that is going through a transition," Ruffalo
said about the role.
"There is just a lot of fertile ground," he added about the film
that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year.
Catherine Keener ("Capote") plays Dan's estranged wife, Oscar
nominee Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit") his rebellious daughter, and
2012 best actor Tony winner James Corden ("One Man, Two Guvnors") is
Gretta's struggling musician friend Steve.
Grammy-winning rapper CeeLo Green and Yasiin Bey, formerly known as
hip hop artist Mos Def, play Dan's music colleagues.
Ruffalo, whose career started in the theater, wouldn't mind if like
"Once," Carney's new film is adapted for the stage.
"I think this could be an easy move," he said. "So much of the work
is already done."
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Gunna Dickson)
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