Fans of Keira Knightley know the actress for her outstanding work in period-themed films such as Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina and Pirates of the Caribbean, but her role in the new movie Begin Again has a more modern challenge for Knightley, who reportedly learned to sing for the film. Knightley plays the love interest of pop music superstar, Adam Levine of Maroon 5 in Begin Again.
The storyline of Begin Again follows Knightley’s character, Greta, who writes music of her own and finally works up the courage to make her way to the stage and take a stab at singing. Greta begins her pursuit of a new career just as she breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, Dave (played by Adam Levine) who is a rock musician, himself, and is on the verge of a break-through in his own career. Greta finds solace in performing in small venues and bars around New York City and, by chance, an A&R man who is down on his luck (played by Mark Ruffalo) discovers her vocal chops and inevitably takes action to produce Greta’s first album, jumpstarting her career.
The director of the film, John Carney, actually co-wrote a great amount of the songs that are performed by Knightley and Levine throughout the movie. Carney also took the reins as director of the indie movie musical Once which was adapted into a hit Broadway musical that won an impressive 8 Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical. The tone of Once is inevitably likely to be present throughout Begin Again which could amount to much positive reception from the film’s targeted audience.
Keira Knightly states that learning to truly sing as a singer-songwriter would for her role in this new movie proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Knightly says she would turn to Levine for advice on vocal performance and he would, as kindly as possible, brush her off and say, “You’ll be fine.” Knightley also states that she would reciprocate the same reaction when Levine would come to her for acting advice, resulting in a playful banter between the two that can lend itself very well to the onscreen chemistry of the two performers.
Knightley is not the first actress to take on the challenge of learning a new skill in order to do justice to a role assigned to her. Natalie Portman, who studied ballet as a child, returned to the ballet barre and trained rigorously in the craft for an entire year before beginning production on Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller, Black Swan. Portman’s dedication to the role and to the art of ballet paid off immensely, earning her both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her portrayal of the ballerina, Nina Sayers, in the film. 3-Time-Oscar-Winner Meryl Streep served as the replacement for pop icon Madonna in the film Music of the Heart in which she had to learn the mechanics of playing the violin. Streep, reportedly practiced playing the violin for six hours a day, four days a week in preparation for the role and, subsequently, earned another Academy Award nomination for her efforts.
Keira Knightley has taken on the challenge of learning to sing for her role in the new movie Begin Again and one can only hope the result of her efforts will reflect that of Natalie Portman’s and Meryl Streep’s. Begin Again opens in theaters, nationwide, on July 2.
By Cody Collier