Welcome to Keira Knightley Fan,
an up-to-date and in-depth fan resource for the talented actress. Serving fans since 2004, we are now the longest running fansite dedicated to Keira. Nominated for two Academy Awards, Keira is recogised worldwide for her memorable big screen roles that include 'Pride & Prejudice', 'Atonement', 'The Imitation Game' and Disney's 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise. Our aim is to bring you all the latest news, articles, and photos relating to Keira's career, and strive to remain 100% gossip-and-paparazzi-free. Thank you for visiting!.
Quoting Keira
"All through my life what I've loved doing is watching movies. I love the escapism of film, I love stories. So it is incredible to be able to be in them as much as I am, to see them from the first stitch in a costume to the end product."
Anna Karenina
Home » Career » Filmography | 2010-2019

Tagline: You can’t ask why about love.
Keira as: Anna Karenina
Genre: Drama, Romance
Duration: 129 minutes
Written by: Tom Stoppard, Leo Tolstoy (novel)
Directed by: Joe Wright
Other cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jude Law, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen
Release date: November 16, 2012
Production budget:
Total worldwide gross: $68.9m
Filming locations: Kizhi, Karelia, Russia and Shepperton, Surrey, England, UK

The time is 1874. Vibrant and beautiful, Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) has what any of her contemporaries would aspire to; she is the wife of Karenin (Jude Law), a high-ranking government official to whom she has borne a son, and her social standing in St. Petersburg could scarcely be higher. She journeys to Moscow after a letter from her philandering brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) arrives, asking for Anna to come and help save his marriage to Dolly (Kelly Macdonald). En route, Anna makes the acquaintance of Countess Vronsky (Olivia Williams), who is then met at the train station by her son, the dashing cavalry officer Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). When Anna is introduced to Vronsky, there is a mutual spark of instant attraction that cannot – and will not – be ignored.

The Moscow household is also visited by Oblonsky’s best friend Levin (Domhnall Gleeson), an overly sensitive and compassionate landowner. Levin is in love with Dolly’s younger sister Kitty (Alicia Vikander). Inopportunely, he proposes to Kitty but she is infatuated with Vronsky. Devastated, Levin returns to his Pokrovskoe estate and throws himself into farm work. Kitty herself is heartbroken when, at a grand ball, Vronsky only has eyes for Anna and the married woman reciprocates the younger man’s interest.

Anna struggles to regain her equilibrium by rushing home to St. Petersburg, where Vronsky follows her. She attempts to resume her familial routine, but is consumed by thoughts of Vronsky. A passionate affair ensues, which scandalizes St. Petersburg society. Karenin is placed in an untenable position and is forced to give his wife an ultimatum. In attempting to attain happiness, the decisions Anna makes pierce the veneer of an image-obsessed society, reverberating with romantic and tragic consequences that dramatically change her and the lives of all around her.

Production Info
  • Some modern audience members have been confused by the object that Karenin (Jude Law) takes out of a small, oblong box in his and Anna’s bedroom several times during the movie. This is a condom; for most of the history of contraception, condoms were made of animal- or plant-based materials (such as chemical-treated linen or sheep intestines or bladders), and they were not disposable (being rather expensive, they were often washed and reused). The first vulcanized rubber condoms were produced in the mid-1800s, but they were thick and unwieldy, so it is not unlikely that someone of Karenin’s wealth and societal stature would still be using a reusable condom by the time of the setting of this story.
  • One of Alicia Vikander’s favorite experiences from the production was the filming that took place in the countryside outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. The temperatures soared below -40 °C, and she stayed in a cabin for five days that didn’t have hot water and only featured benches instead of beds. Meanwhile, Russian security guards protected her and co-star Domhnall Gleeson from wild wolves and bears that dominated the deserted area.
  • Inspired by Orlando Figes’ 2002 production of Natasha’s Dance, Joe Wright adopted an experimental approach to convey the essence of the story. The majority of the film was shot on a run down theater built from scratch in Shepperton. Locations such as skating rink, train station, horse stables were dressed on top of the theater. To create fluid linearity, doors are used to lead to Russian landscapes or some actors will walk from one set to another set under the stage. For cutaway wide exterior shots, toy trains and doll houses were used for filming. The only main cast member who is allowed to be venture out of the theater is Domhnall Gleeson (Levin) because Wright wanted to amplify the fact that Levin is the only authentic character in the group that reflects with the real world.
  • Joe Wright briefly considered having the actors use Russian accents but later decided against it thinking it would be hard for him to assess their performances.
  • The soundtrack for several of the country scenes makes use of a Russian folk song that was also adapted (but without the words) by Tchaikovsky in his Fourth Symphony, written in the same period as was Tolstoy’s novel.
  • James McAvoy (Levin), Saoirse Ronan (Kitty), Cate Blanchett (Countess Lydia), Benedict Cumberbatch (Oblonsky), and Andrea Riseborough (Princess Betsy), all of whom had worked with Joe Wright before, turned down roles in the film. They were replaced, respectively, by Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Emily Watson, Matthew Macfadyen, and Ruth Wilson.
  • The song that Masha (‘Tannishtha Chatterjee’) hums and sings when she and Kitty are taking care of Nikolai is a Bengali (a language spoken in Bangladesh and the West Bengal part of India) lullaby. Tannishtha Chatterjee is in fact a Bengali.
  • Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina) and Matthew Macfayden (Oblonsky) played lovers in Pride and Prejudice, as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, respectively. Here, they play sister and brother.
  • Saoirse Ronan was offered the role of Kitty but turned it down in order to star in Byzantium and The Host. Her reasoning for turning down the film was its long production schedule which would have required her to turn down movie roles from Fall 2011 to late Spring 2012 in order to film what would have ended up as a supporting role. By turning down the role, she was able to take the lead role in two films. She was replaced by Alicia Vikander.
  • Director of photography Philippe Rousselot had to leave in pre-production to have back surgery, as excruciating pain from sciatica made it impossible for him to continue working on the film. He was replaced by Seamus McGarvey, director Joe Wright’s regular collaborator.
  • Character Quotes
  • Alexei, do you think nine years of marriage and children should count for nothing against an infatuation?
  • Oh, God! Oh, forgive me! It’s the end of everything. I’ve got nothing left now except you, remember that.
  • Happiness? You murdered my happiness. Murderer.
  • Why do you call him my husband? He isn’t my husband, he’s a clock.
  • Do you think of your honor when you’re sharing whores with your Colonel?
  • I’ll be glad to die before you start to hate me.
  • You think he won’t forgive me but you don’t know him. No one knows him except me. I’m not afraid of him, now. I’m afraid of death, though.
  • I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I’ve done. Are you ashamed for me?
  • Anna: What he wants is you. He loves you, Dolly. You and the children are everything to him.
    Dolly: Are we? And there is room for a governess?
    Anna: That was shameful, disgraceful, but it was not love. It was the animal in man, not the soul. Stiva’s remorse is from the soul.
    Dolly: Well, what about me? Does his remorse make it easier for me?
    Anna: I know you are suffering. But, Dolly, you must tell me. Is there enough love left in your heart? Enough to forgive him?
    Dolly: Well, when I think of them together, I can’t forgive him. No.
    Anna: My poor lamb. So you would rather accept your fate?
  • Vronsky: Dance with me.
    Anna: I’m not used to being spoken to like that by a man I met once at a railway station.
  • Anna: Why are you leaving Moscow?
    Vronsky: What else can I do? I have to be where you are.
    Anna: Stop, that’s enough. Go back to Kitty.
    Vronsky: No.
    Anna: This is wrong.
    Vronsky: It makes no difference.
    Anna: You have no right.
    Vronsky: It makes no difference.
    Anna: You must forget me. If you’re a good man, you’ll forget everything.
  • Anna: Just as I was thinking your manners had improved since Moscow. You behaved badly. Very badly.
    Vronsky: And who was responsible for that?
  • Karenin: I must warn you about something.
    Anna: Warn me? Oh, it’s really rather late.
    Karenin: I wish to warn you that you may, inadvertently by indiscretion and carelessness, give the world occasion to talk about you.
    Anna: I am not a committee. Please say what you want to tell me.
    Karenin: You and Count Vronsky attracted attention tonight.
    Anna: You don’t like it when I don’t talk to people, and you don’t like it when I do.
  • Anna: This must stop. You make me feel as if I were guilty of something.
    Vronsky: What do you want me to do?
    Anna: I want you to go to Moscow and beg Kitty to forgive you.
    Vronsky: No, that’s not what you want. Moscow? I can do better than that. Tonight I refused a posting to Tashkent. I can change my mind, and you’ll never see me again.
    Anna: If you have any thought for me, you will give me back my peace.
  • Vronsky: I’ll never forgive myself for your unhappiness.
    Anna: Unhappiness? I’m like a starving beggar who’s been given food. I, unhappy? No. This is my happiness.
  • Karenin: I have to tell you, you behaved improperly today.
    Anna: How is that?
    Karenin: By making plain your feeling when one of the riders fell. Your conduct was improper. It must not occur again. I have said it before. You will say my concern is unnecessary and ridiculous. You are my wife. I’m wrong to think that. Yes? Perhaps I was mistaken…
    Anna: No. You were not mistaken. I love him. I am his mistress. Do what you like to me.
  • Anna: I will not live like this. This waiting for hour after hour, not knowing when I’ll ever see you again. Sorry. It’s my demon. I can’t help it.
    Vronsky: You wrote that you were ill.
    Anna: Don’t worry, it won’t be for long.
    Vronsky: Stop.
    Anna: No, it’s true. I was told it in a dream.
    Vronsky: There. It was only a bad dream.
    Anna: Yes, and I’m only going to die having your baby.
    Vronsky: That’s all nonsence.
    Anna: Tell me it is. Tell me it is. You love me, only me.
  • Anna: I’m a bad woman. But I can’t breathe. Your kindness, which I can’t repay, and your forgiveness…
    Karenin: You begged me for my forgiveness.
    Anna: But I didn’t die, and now I have to live with it.
    Karenin: Then what? What do you want? Do you know what you want? Do you want to see Count Vronsky?
    Anna: Not to say goodbye.
  • Karenin: It would be a sin to help you destroy yourself.
    Anna: You forget something. Count Vronsky and I love each other.
    Karenin: And this love sanctifies a criminal folly?
    Anna: All I know is that I sent him away and it’s as if I’d shot myself through the heart!
    Karenin: I see. And what of Serozha?
    Anna: I would die for him, but I won’t live like this for him. When he knows of love, he will forgive me.
  • Anna: I had an inspiration. Why do we have to wait here? Why can’t we wait in the country? I don’t want to hear any more about a divorce or think about it.
    Vronsky: Good, I’m bored here. When should we go?
    Anna: If I bore you here, I’ll bore you in the country.
    Vronsky: I didn’t say you bore me, Moscow bores me. When should we go? Tomorrow?
    Anna: I can’t be ready by tomorrow.
    Vronsky: The day after, then.
    Anna: If you like.
    Vronsky: No, wait, that’s Sunday. I have to see Maman.
    Anna: That’s 20 minutes away on the train. You could go to see her tomorrow. Or was it that you wanted to spend Sunday with Princess Sorokina?
    Vronsky: Please. Don’t spoil everything. I can’t see Maman tomorrow because she won’t have read the papers she has to sign.
    Anna: In that case, let’s not bother. I’ll leave on Sunday or not at all.
    Vronsky: That’s absurd.
    Anna: It’s absurd to you because you have no understanding of my life here.
    Vronsky: Anna.
    Anna: No, you’ve stopped loving me. You’ve given up everything for me and it’s turned you against me. Why lie about it?
    Vronsky: Stop! I put off our departure for a day or two and you tell me I don’t love you.
    Anna: Because I’ve been living off your love and there’s none left. So this is over. Finished.
  • Vronsky: I’ll be out today making the arrangements.
    Anna: Is that your way of telling me you’ll be at your mother’s with that simpering little princess?
    Vronsky: No. I’ll be at my lawyer’s, waiting for some documents. Then I’m having dinner to say goodbye to old comrades.
    Anna: I know what that means.
    Vronsky: My God, this is unendurable! I can invite them here, if you like.
    Anna: Thank you, but if I’m not fit to dine in society, I won’t eat with the band.
  • Quoting: Keira Knightley

    on her character: She’s an extraordinary creature because she’s everything. She’s an innocent and a victim. But she’s also guilty and manipulative and needy, as well as being this wonderful, energetic person.

    on relating to Anna: There wasn’t anything I couldn’t relate to, and that was the most shocking thing in itself. Certainly being a woman now is much easier. Nonetheless, we live in societies with rules, and if you break them, the pack turn against you. In that way, no matter where you live, you can understand why Anna feels ostracized and trapped by rules that don’t necessarily fit. She gets destroyed by being the most honest person in the whole film. That honesty, that lack of ability to live within a lie, is what leads to her destruction.

    on the costumes: A massive part of Anna’s character is her vanity. As everything starts crumbling around her, she takes more and more stock of her appearance. The reason I love working with [costume designer] Jacqueline [Durran] is she works from a character base, and everything is full of symbolism. We viewed Anna as a bird trapped in a cage. Her veils and corsets are like cages.

    on the source material: I read the book for the first time in my late teens, and I remember just being swept away and thinking it was so romantic and wonderful. Coming back to it last summer, I suddenly went, whoa, this is really different from what I remember. A lot of people disagree with me on this, but I think Tolstoy hated her at some points while writing it. He is holding her up to be judged. It’s almost like he’s going, this is the whole of Babylon. This is the destructive female.

    on the dance sequence: We had about three weeks of rehearsal before we started. A lot of that was movement based. Joe got absolutely fascinated with how to bring movement more into film performances. I think it will be something that he keeps working on. The reason that you don’t have movement in film, is because the closeup is so in vogue at the moment. So most of the time actors don’t use their entire body, they just use their face. It was an interesting process to do these workshops. The rehearsal between me and Aaron, we didn’t really work on the script much at all. We did a ton of movement based improvisations to chart out the characters’ journey.

    on working with co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson: He’s an amazing creature. He works in exactly the opposite way I do. I like to sit at tables, talk about the characters, and go through a book and find different bits of research. Aaron completely works with movement. He’s entirely comfortable in it. His whole body can create a character in a way you rarely see in screen acting because we work in close-ups.

    on working with director Joe Wright: There is an amazing amount of trust, even when we have our bickering moments. We are quite like siblings. But there is never a question that I love him to pieces. That’s why — he said, only twelve weeks before we were going to start shooting, “By the way, I’ve completely changed the concept.” With a lot of directors, my alarm bells would have been going off. This one, we were like, “Wicked. Let’s jump.” It’s a ballsy move.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Joe Wright: Keira was 18 when we made Pride, and when we made Atonement, she was 21. A lot has happened to her since, and that informs your understanding of the world, eventually. Keira is a proper grown-up now, and it really is a proper grown-up performance. She was incredibly powerful when she was 18 and 21, but it wasn’t as focused or as direct. And that’s changed. And I’ve changed, too

    Producer Tim Bevan: Joe [Wright] brings out the best in Keira. He can extract an emotional performance out of her that others are unable to do. He treats her with intellectual respect. Every actor has their tricks and looks, and he knocks that out of her. He insists on proper honesty on-set.

    Producer Paul Webster: Casting Anna, there were no choices. There was just one place to go, and that was to Keira Knightley. Watching Keira on set, she’s like a Zen monk. She would sit between takes completely focused, completely concentrating, oblivious to what was going on around in the pell-mell of production.

    Co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I’ve never seen anyone do so much prep. She breaks down every line and analyzes it. She crafts each scene. She can feel the rhythm to it. Everything was so controlled, including her voice and the way she projected it.

    Co-star Matthew Macfadyen: It’s very funny doing this with Keira after we’d worked together on Pride & Prejudice. It’s fantastic fun having polar opposites. You know, the mad brother and sister.

    Co-star Kelly Macdonald: She’s so totally mesmerizing, which is what Anna Karenina is. She’s got this sparkle and twinkle, and you know, in a room full of people, your eye is gonna be drawn to her.

    Co-star Alicia Vikander: Since the first day I met her, she’s just happy, and she brings a lot of warmth every day here on the set.

    Co-star Michelle Dockery: She’s obviously explored so much of the character herself, and you can see that she’s really embodying the character.

    Critical Response

    Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

    Knightley is glorious, her eyes blazing with a carnal yearning that can turn vindictive at any perceived slight.

    Marc Mohan, Portland Oregonian:

    Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) returns to literary adaptation after a brief hiatus, and brings his favorite actor, Keira Knightley — and her clavicles — along to 1874 Imperial Russia. Knightley’s Anna owes a visual debt to Greta Garbo’s 1935 incarnation, but she makes this paragon of infidelity and indecision her own.

    Olivia Lyttelton, The Playlist:

    Knightley continues to go from strength to strength with each project, giving Anna a flightiness and impulsiveness that feel almost more like an Ibsen heroine than a Tolstoy one, but it’s a smart take on the character, and she truly impresses when she lets the fireworks fly towards the end.

    Richard Corliss, Time:

    Knightley embodies Anna as a girlish woman who has never felt erotic love; once smitten, she is raised to heavenly ecstasy before tumbling into the abyss of shame. It’s a nervy performance, acutely attuned to the volcanic changes a naive creature must enjoy and endure on her first leap into mad passion. She helps make Anna Karenina an operatic romance worth singing about.

    Leslie Felperin, Variety:

    Once again demonstrating that Wright knows how to get the best from Knightley (arguably her best work has been in Pride and Prejudice and Atonement), the actress’s angular beauty, declamatory line delivery and air of self-doubt all work in her favor here. Knightley’s Anna is a silly little flirt, playing at being a romantic heroine, but incapable of thinking through the endgame. Not unlike her turn as Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method, this is a femme more tortured than pleasured by her own uncontrollable desires.

    Awards and Nominations

    Below is a list of all accolades Keira has received for her role in the film.

    NOMINATED: CinEuphoria Awards – Best Actress (International Competition)
    NOMINATED: European Film Awards – European Actress
    NOMINATED: People’s Choice Awards – Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress
    NOMINATED: Satellite Awards – Best Actress in a Motion Picture

    WON: Brașov International Film Festival & Market – Best Actress