The long-awaited film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina hits theaters Friday--which is pretty much like Christmas to book nerds like us. We caught up with the star, Keira Knightley, at the recent premiere to talk classic literature, Russian heroines and great novels we’ve never read.
PureWow: When did you first read Anna Karenina?
Keira Knightley: I reckon I was about 19.
PW: How does it differ, re-reading it as an adult?
KK: I saw it as much darker the second time around. The first time I read it, I didn’t see Anna as an antiheroine. I saw her as the innocent and I saw the whole book as a sweeping love story. But when I read it just before starting this film, I was like, “Whoa this is a much darker, much stranger piece of work, where morality is very much blurred and who you’re meant to agree with changes from moment to moment.”
PW: If you could star in another adaptation of a classic book, what would it be?
KK: I’d go for War and Peace, but I can’t imagine a film adaptation would ever do it justice... and I’m too old to play Natasha.
PW: And it would be seven hours.
KK: And it would be seven hours--which I’m quite up for, but perhaps a miniseries would be better.
PW: What’s one book you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve never read?
KK: There are tons! But Charles Dickens I’m not very up on. I’ve never read Great Expectations. That’s quite embarrassing, I guess.
PW: Well, you must read Dickens. He’s wonderful!
KK: (Laughing) I know, I really must try him someday.