Keira Knightley Interview For ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’
Taking audiences on a humorous, moving, and intimate journey against an epic backdrop of Earth’s final days, ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ is the feature directorial debut of screenwriter Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist). The story centers on the events surrounding an asteroid spiraling towards Earth, threatening to end all life. Steve Carell plays a man whose wife leaves him as a result of the whole “the world is ending” news, and decides to seek out his high school sweetheart. Keira Knightley stars as Carell’s neighbor who decides to accompany him on his journey. Alongside Carell and Knightley, the film co-stars Patton Oswalt, Rob Heubel, Connie Britton, Gillian Jacobs, Rob Corddry, Adam Brody, Derek Luke, Melanie Lynskey, T.J. Miller, and Melinda Dillon. ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ arrives in cinemas June 22nd in the US and July 13th in the UK.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character Penny in ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,’ what would you say are her defining qualities?
Keira Knightley: I think Penny is one of the most positive characters I’ve ever played. She’s certainly at a time in her life when everything is kind of changing, and she doesn’t quite know where she’s meant to be, or who she’s meant to be with – which I think is a place a lot of people in their mid-to-late 20s find themselves in. And it just so happens the world is ending and she still doesn’t know who she’s meant to be or who she’s meant to with (laughs). It’s sort of about her finding somebody incredibly unlikely and wonderful to spend that time with. I think Penny is definitely an optimist, that’s her defining quality.
What was it about the screenplay for ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ that grabbed you?
Keira Knightley: I think what I loved about the project in general was that it was one of the most unique scripts I’ve ever read. I thought you’ve got this thing that is about the end of the world, but actually it’s incredibly positive. And it’s sort of about what becomes important, what is most important; love, friendship, companionship and the wonderful moments in life. Not actually about death, doom and destruction. I thought that was wonderful. And I love working with writer-directors, true writer-directors, because they know the project inside out. If something changes on set they can move to accommodate it.
You’ve worked with a number of first time directors. What was it about Lorene Scafaria that intrigued you?
Keira Knightley: Lorene’s script was completely sensational, and the dialogue was amazing. You know, quite a few people have been asking if we improvised, but we didn’t improvise at all because she’s a wonderful, wonderful writer. I really thought that her vision was incredibly clear in the script. I spoke to her on the phone and I thought she was wonderful, we had an amazing hour and a half’s conversation – I think we talked about absolutely everything (laughs). I just thought that this was somebody I wanted to spend some time with because I think she’s extraordinary. And she is, she’s an extraordinary talent. She’s so cool and so calm and I couldn’t believe it was her first film. She was just completely on top of it. Lorene was phenomenal, she brings such a fun, collaborative vibe to the set. It was one of the happiest film sets I’ve ever been on.
What was the experience like working with Steve Carell, someone with such great depth, but at the same time he’s a bit of a genius comically?
Keira Knightley: He is (laughs). Steve Carell is fabulous, he’s a fabulous man. He is the consummate professional. I’ve done a lot of tragedy and I’ve done a lot of drama, I haven’t done a lot of comedy. Just watching him and watching his timing and his physical comedy was amazing. Particularly in this where he’s playing a character who is quite dark and quite down, it’s not the kind of wacky, board comedy, it’s very subtle. He’s wonderful at finding those comic moments, even in the most tragic ones.
I loved working with Steve. Steve is completely brilliant. He is an absolute sweetheart. He’s so funny and he’s not funny in a frightening way (laughs), you how you can get a bit scared of incredibly funny people (laughs)? But he’s not like that at all, he’s lovely. I was a big fan anyway, he’s got that amazing thing of having such depth to him. He’s a comic actor but he can play such tragedy and actually that makes it even funnier! It’s very rare to get somebody who can play both sides of it.
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