“Keira has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done, and so I was very ready to come back to Ireland and make films that nobody cared about who was in it or any of that crap.”
Keira Knightley has been nominated for two Oscars and starred in such hit movies as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, but it seems that not everyone is a fan.
Her Begin Again director, John Carney — whose new movie, Sing Street, is in theaters now — recently told the U.K.’s Independent in a very candid interview that he became “disenchanted” after working with her on the 2013 musical film, which co-starred Mark Ruffalo and Adam Levine.
“I think the real problem was that Keira wasn’t a singer and wasn’t a guitar player and it’s very hard to make music seem real if it’s not with musicians,” said Carney, who also directed the musical Once. “And I think the audience struggled a little bit with that in Begin Again. And as much as I tried to make it work, I think that she didn’t quite come out as a guitar-playing singer-songwriter. So I really wanted to work with musicians and actors that could play their instruments properly and sing and stuff like that.”
He said it was a relief to return to Ireland to make Sing Street following his experience on Begin Again (watch the trailer above).
“I had just come back from making this far bigger movie in America, and I was a bit disenchanted with working with certain movie stars in that movie and I wanted a break,” he said. “I didn’t enjoy that experience of paparazzi and fabulous openings. The movie-star world is not something that ever appealed to me. I like working with actors and I wanted to come back to what I knew and enjoy filmmaking again — not that I didn’t enjoy Begin Again, but Keira has an entourage that follow her everywhere so it’s very hard to get any real work done, and so I was very ready to come back to Ireland and make films that nobody cared about who was in it or any of that crap.”
As a result, Carney said, “I learned that I’ll never make a film with supermodels again.”
Carney went on to praise Ruffalo as a “fantastic actor” and Levin as “a joy to work with and actually quite unpretentious and not a bit scared of exposing himself on camera and exploring who he is as an individual.”
The filmmaker continued: “I think that that’s what you need as an actor; you need to not be afraid to find out who you really are when the camera’s rolling. Keira’s thing is to hide who you are and I don’t think you can be an actor and do that. And working with the kids on this film and real instruments there was no hiding going on. It really was a bit of a journey of self-discovery for the actors in Sing Street and that appeals to me. So it’s not like I hate the Hollywood thing but I like to work with curious, proper film actors as opposed to movie stars. I don’t want to rubbish Keira, but you know it’s hard being a film actor and it requires a certain level of honesty and self-analysis that I don’t think she’s ready for yet and I certainly don’t think she was ready for on that film.”
Knightley has been nominated for an Oscar twice, in 2006 for best actress for Pride and Prejudice and again last year for best supporting actress for The Imitation Game.
Sing Street, a coming-of-age film set in the 1980s that features a cast of unknowns, has earned a 97 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of the positive reviews, Carney said: “It’s fantastic. I’m very surprised; it’s a small personal movie with no Keira Knightleys in it. It’s really rewarding.”
Sing Street came and went quietly in theaters since its limited debut in mid-April, earning $2.6 million so far. It is winding down its run. Begin Again got a high-profile limited summer release in June 2014 and even went nationwide later in July but underperformed in the U.S., taking in $16.2 million domestically, along with $47.3 million overseas for a $63.5 million worldwide total. Both movies were released in the U.S. by The Weinstein Co.
Knightley’s rep has not yet responded to The Hollywood Reporter’s request for comment.