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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."
Begin Again
Home » Career » Filmography | 2010-2019

Tagline: You’re only as strong as your next move.
Keira as: Gretta
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Duration: 104 minutes
Written by: John Carney
Directed by: John Carney
Other cast: Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, James Corden
Release date: June 27, 2014
Production budget: $8m
Total worldwide gross: $63.4m
Filming locations: New York City, New York, USA

The latest film from writer-director John Carney (Once), Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira 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. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.

Production Info
  • Filming was completed in just 23 days.
  • Keira Knightley had to learn play guitar for the role. Her husband, musician James Righton, offered his help. According to Knightley, his lessons were disastrous, and almost led to “divorce and murder”.
  • Some of the dialogue is improvised, particularly from Mark Ruffalo and James Corden.
  • The house that is given to Gretta (Keira Knightley) and Dave (Adam Levine) in New York City, was the actual home of Adam Levine and his wife, Behati Prinsloo.
  • Scarlett Johansson was cast in the lead role in early stages of production, but dropped out.
  • Dan’s last name is Mulligan. In golf, a mulligan is a free shot, or a second chance, for a golfer to replay his or her last swing. The surname choice may be a reference Dan’s “second chance” at having a successful career.
  • Keira Knightley’s mother, Sharman Macdonald has a small cameo in the film. She is seated behind Dan and Gretta in a a small café, just before Dan storms out.
  • The red electric guitar that Adam Levine (Dave) plays at the end of the movie is his actual guitar that he plays at concert; it’s his personal favorite.
  • Director John Carney told Variety in an interview, that he considered casting a pop singer as Gretta James, including Adele and Florence Welch.
  • The original working title of the film was Can a Song Save Your Life?
  • Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley spent a couple of weeks hanging out with each other before production began, to build their chemistry and their characters, and to work on their improvisations.
  • In May 2016, John Carney told the Independent, that while he considered Mark Ruffalo a great actor, and Adam Levine a joy, with whom to work, he didn’t like Keira Knightley’s performance in this film under his direction. Carney said “It’s not like I hate the Hollywood thing, but I like to work with curious, proper film actors, as opposed to movie stars”, and “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.” He later apologized and recanted his statement.
  • In the film, Dave Kohl’s debut album is titled ‘Jane’s Last Day’. The title of the album parodies the debut album ‘Songs About Jane’ by Adam Levine’s band Maroon 5.
  • In 2018, while promoting Colette in a podcast with Scott Feinberg, Keira Knightley admitted that she didn’t get along with director John Carney during the shoot. This was the first, and only time that she had encountered problems working with a director. Despite this, she insisted she was pleased with how the film turned out.
  • Character Quotes
  • Are you really an A&R man? You just look more like a homeless man.
  • I just think that an A&R man telling an artist how they should dress or come across is total bullshit. People don’t want that. They want authenticity.
  • I’m in the fucking zone. I’m gonna write a song and I don’t give a shit. I’m gonna write a song.
  • I think that you’ve lost the songs in the production. You know? I mean, okay, take Lost Stars. I wrote it as a, as a ballad, and… I don’t know, it sounds like a piece of stadium pop.
  • Why are you so worried about what other people think?
  • You know, I wasn’t actually trying to win you over. I was trying to tell you to fuck off.
  • I have to get my head around it, um, I mean, the album, it doesn’t have any overhead because… We did it. And then distribution, I mean, it’s not gonna go in stores, it’s gonna go online, and publicity would be, what, word of mouth? So, I think what I’m wondering is, why do you get nine out of 10 of my dollars?
  • It’s amazing when you’re not actually that interested you always win the hand.
  • Steve: I think it would be a really good idea if you got up here and sang one of your songs.
    Gretta: I think it would be a really fucking bad idea.
  • Dan: That’s some song you got there. I promise you it could be a big hit. Plus, you’re beautiful.
    Gretta: Sorry, what… What’s beauty got to do with anything?
    Dan: Jesus, you’re tricky, aren’t you?
    Gretta: No, I actually just think that music is about ears, not eyes. And I’m not Judy Garland just off a Greyhound bus looking for stardom, but really, thank you.
  • Gretta: Were you drunk when you heard my song?
    Dan: Absolutely, babe. That’s when the magic happens.
    Gretta: What magic?
    Dan: I hear things.
    Gretta: You hear things?
    Dan: Arrangements. You need to be drunk for that sort of thing.
    Gretta: Well, you must’ve been drunk tonight, because nobody else heard anything.
  • Gretta: You know, I told you. I write songs from time to time.
    Dan: What do you write them for?
    Gretta: What do you mean what for? For my pleasure. For my cat.
    Dan: Oh, really? Does he like them?
    Gretta: She. Yes, she seems to.
    Dan: How do you know?
    Gretta: Because she purrs.
    Dan: Maybe she’s booing.
    Gretta: No, she purrs at Leonard Cohen too. She has very good taste.
  • Gretta: He’s not ignoring you. You’re beautiful. He knows that you’re there. He’s just hedging his bets. But… I mean, you have to be really sure that you actually like him, you know. That it’s not just that he’s the guy at school to be seen with.
    Violet: No, I do really like him.
    Gretta: Well, then you have to find a way to get him to ask you out.
    Violet: Yes, but how?
    Gretta: Well, for starters, stop dressing like you’re totally easy.
  • Dan: Maybe people in the music industry don’t just… Just don’t make good life partners. Or fathers.
    Gretta: Yeah, it certainly looks that way. I didn’t mean about the fathers bit. You make a very good father.
    Dan: Yeah, right.
    Gretta: Maybe just not a good partner.
  • Dan: What kind of music you got on your phone?
    Gretta: I’m not giving you access to my music library. I’m really not. There’s, like, a lot of embarrassing, very guilty pleasures in there.
    Dan: Mine, too. You can tell a lot about a person by what’s on their playlist.
    Gretta: I know you can. That’s what’s worrying me.
  • Gretta: So, how was touring?
    Dave: Touring was amazing, grueling, punishing, inspiring.
    Gretta: Did you find yourself?
    Dave: I don’t know.
    Gretta: Well, you certainly found a beard, anyway. Look at that thing.
  • Quoting: Keira Knightley

    on her character: In a way Gretta has got this life where she’s with this guy and they’re moving to this place and everything’s set, her life is set in stone and then everything gets taken away from her. I think everybody’s been at that point in their life when the car comes out of the side street and knocks you over. You never see the car coming. But the process of standing up again is fascinating. And when you’re lying there, before you have managed to stand up, you can’t imagine what standing up could possibly be like or how the f*** you’d even start. I liked that. That’s what it’s about – someone learning that she has her own two feet and she can stand. It’s something that everybody goes through and it’s something that everybody forgets and has to learn again.

    on her attraction to the role: My character has pretty much died in everything I’ve done for the last five years. 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.

    on the challenges of the role: I’ve never done anything like this. A lot of the music wasn’t finished until I got to New York. I had been working with a vocal coach to find a sound that would work for the character, but two or three of Gretta’s songs were just handed to me on the day we recorded them, so there was been a bit of flying by the seat of our pants and hoping for the best. There’s an old stage saying: ‘It’ll be all right on the night.’ So far, it all seems to have gone all right.

    on pre-recording vocals for the film: We didn’t actually do it live on set. The last film I sang a bit in, we did do totally live on set, and that was completely terrifying… But this one we recorded it all beforehand in the studio. And I’m somebody who likes to prepare a lot before roles or whatever, so it was pretty terrifying to not have the music until two days before. There wasn’t any chance of preparing. But it was really interesting as well, because it meant I had to come to terms with the fact that I don’t express myself through music. Trying to get my head into somebody that did that, it was a challenge.

    on Gretta and Dan’s relationship: It’s an odd-couple type of relationship. 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.

    on working with co-star Adam Levine: He had so much energy that he was literally bouncing off the walls, so it was great fun to work with him. He had never acted before, so he was constantly going, “Oh, I don’t know how to do this.” He was a complete natural, of course, which is a bit annoying, really.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director John Carney: Keira brought an extra dimension to the script. 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.

    Co-star Mark Ruffalo: Keira is fantastic. She’s fun and game for anything and a talented singer.

    Critical Response

    Alonso Duralde, TheWrap:

    Alexander’s compositions are spot-on: they’re catchy enough to hook us in on the first listen and make us see what Dan sees in Gretta’s writing, and they’re flexible enough to exist both as solo guitar pieces or stadium-rock mega-anthems. And yes, that’s Knightley doing her own singing; she’s not going to give Adele any sleepless nights, but she has a sweet voice, with the acting chops to really put over what these songs are about.

    David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:

    Lovely chemistry between Knightley and Ruffalo enriches their many scenes together, while Ruffalo and Keener share different sparks that suggest the deep residual affections of an 18-year marriage.

    Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle:

    Next to Ruffalo, Knightley looks like the essence of freshness, and she has never been more charming onscreen. Her smile is genuine, her poise is winning, and her singing is quite good, even if she sounds like everybody else on the radio. Knightley makes us believe that Dan is right, that Greta is a person of value, who deserves success, whether or not she gets it.

    Claudia Puig, USA Today:

    While her whispery voice is sweet but unremarkable, Knightley’s casting works since she’s meant to be more of a songwriter than singer. And her natural charisma shines through.

    Ann Hornaday, Washington Post:

    Ruffalo and Knightley may not generate white-hot chemistry, but they project an easy affability and don’t try to oversell their native charms. Knightley in particular exudes an Audrey Hepburn-like appeal in a vintage-inspired linen wardrobe that looks as if it was acquired on an all-expense buying binge starting at Madewell and ending in Manhattan’s hippest consignment shops.

    Awards and Nominations

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

    NOMINATED: Awards Circuit Community Awards – Best Actress in a Leading Role
    NOMINATED: Critics’ Choice Award – Best Song (‘Lost Stars’)
    NOMINATED: International Online Cinema Awards – Best Actress
    NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – British Actress of the Year (also for The Imitation Game and Laggies)

    WON: Jupiter Award – Best International Actress