Adam Levine may have won several Grammy Awards and sold millions of albums worldwide through the band Maroon 5 but in the film BEGIN AGAIN, he gets upstaged as the spotlight turns to actress actress Kiera Knightley.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” admits Knightley who is best known for her costume dramas and period films such as “Pride & Prejudice,” and “Atonement,” as well as the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
29 years old Kiera Knightley has earned nominations to the Academy Award, Golden Globe and many other US and international award-giving bodies.
“My character has pretty much died in everything I’ve done for the last five years,” she jokes. “I decided I’d like to do something where I didn’t have to go through heavy emotional turmoil and die, if at all possible. There’s a touch of emotional turmoil in this, but in the end I found it to be incredibly hopeful. It’s rare to find pieces of work that are so full of hope.”
The latest film from writer-director John Carney, BEGIN AGAIN tells the story of two lost souls who meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own.
Disgraced record-label exec, Dan Mulligan (played by Mark Ruffalo) is facing a failing marriage, a career he can’t keep up with, and a daughter he can’t connect to. But at his most desperate moment, he hears a powerful song by Gretta, an unknown musician on the brink of giving up her musical dreams after unexpected heartbreak and frustration. An unlikely pair who are brought together by equal parts inspiration and desperation, the film follows them as their musical partnership develops into a deep friendship, and their lives take unexpected turns.
Bound together by their mutual determination to bring Gretta’s music to life by recording her songs outdoors – with the sounds and rhythms of New York City as a sonic backdrop – they ultimately find themselves enmeshed in one another’s emotional lives, unsure of how the boundaries between friend, partner, and potential lover are supposed to be drawn.
“It’s an odd-couple type of relationship,” observes Knightley. “These aren’t necessarily two people who would find each other, but this happens at a very strange moment in their lives, and they end up being exactly what the other needs.”
Director John Carney on Kiera
“Keira brought an extra dimension to the script,” says Carney. “We suddenly had an English-American relationship which added a dimension of charm, and allowed us to have a very different tone from a cast of all Americans or all New Yorkers. In a way it reminded me of old films like CHARADE, where those two cultures meeting is part of the story’s appeal. I think as a filmmaker I need to play to the strengths of the actors, so Mark and Keira really shaped the film. As a director, I use the skills the people have, rather than what I wrote. Not to take advantage of that is a crime.”
Also discovering her musical talent is Hailee Steinfeld, who earned an Oscar nomination for her scene-stealing role in the Coen Brothers’ TRUE GRIT opposite Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Wisely deciding to only pursue roles that will offer her a challenge and not interfere with her everyday teenage life, Steinfeld was excited to be part of BEGIN AGAIN.
“There was never a minute when I felt bored. It’s not easy to find a group of people like that,” she says. “John really helped me out – when you see your director speak so highly of what you are doing, it’s really great.”
Steinfeld also picked up some guitar to play the part of Violet, who moves from being a sullen teenager to mending bridges with her father thanks to the kinship she forges with Gretta.
“Music is important in this film,” says Steinfeld. “And music is a very big thing in my life. It really came in handy with the work that I did in the film. The vibe was just so great.”
Did you know that Hailee Steinfeld has a Filipino blood in her? Her mom is of English, Filipino and German descent.
BEGIN AGAIN opens on July 9, 2014 in theaters nationwide and is distributed locally by SOLAR PICTURES.
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