Keira’s ‘Karenina’ flips costume drama on its head

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Knightley had just scored with “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” and flopped as Guinevere in “King Arthur” when “Pride & Prejudice” came along, while Wright had directed only for television. So they looked like upstarts taking on Jane Austen’s best-loved novel.

After that worked, they raised eyebrows again with “Atonement,” based on Ian McEwan’s celebrated novel, which many considered unfilmmable because of its elliptical structure that spans six decades.

“Then that worked, too,” Knightley said. “When we got to `Anna Karenina,’ everyone was like, `Oh that’s great, you’ll do that really well.’ I think that freaked both of us out. The idea that people thought they knew what we’d do with it was something I don’t think any of us felt very comfortable with.

“There was a general feeling that if we’re all going to do this again, then we really need to push ourselves. The idea with this is we were very much walking hand in hand with total, absolute failure all the time … If it fails, it fails, but at least you know that everybody’s put everything into it.”

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