In 'Begin Again,' Keira Knightley tunefully leaves comfort zone

Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:41pm EDT
 
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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 starting over.

"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 interview.

"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.   Continued...

 
Actress Keira Knightley poses for photos at the European Premiere of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" in Leicester Square, central London January 20, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning