EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Joe Wright Discusses ANNA KARENINA Production Design; Wants to Make a Comedy with Judd Apatow
From Golden Globe Award®-nominated director Joe Wright (Atonement) comes a thrilling new vision of the epic story of love, Anna Karenina, adapted by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) from Leo Tolstoy’s timeless classic novel.
At the twilight of an empire, Anna Karenina (Knightley), the beautiful wife of one of Russia’s most esteemed men (Law), has it all. But when she meets the dashing cavalry officer Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson), there is a mutual spark of instant attraction that cannot be ignored. Anna is swept up in a passionate affair that will shock a nation and change the lives of everyone around her.
Academy Award® nominee Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice), Academy Award® nominee Jude Law (Cold Mountain), and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Savages) lead an all-star cast in a story powerfully exploring the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, while illuminating the lavish society that was imperial Russia.
Critical praise for Anna Karenina was highly focused on the beautiful set pieces, costumes and art direction on display. The film has taken home Critics Choice and BAFTA Awards for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, respectively, and has garnered four Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography, Costume and Production Design as well as Best Original Score.
Director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Hanna) felt that literally placing the story on a stage was crucial to helping audiences understand the characters' motivations:
"Russian aristocracy of that era tried very hard to mimic European trendiness. It was said they behaved like actors who were up on a stage. A few months before [filming began] we decided that the best way to show people this mentality was to set the story on an actual stage. And it's noticeable in the most fictionalized scenes, the ballroom one for instance. The more down to earth parts of the story become are realistic as possible, moving away from the theatricality.
"The aesthetic was key to the storytelling. Stylization sometimes takes attention away from the actors so we had to find the right balance that wouldn't overwhelm the audience. We had such great people working on this.. Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer with Jackie Durran on costuming. They found a way to make the environment, and the feel of it, as important as the characters without subtracting from their performances."
Wright has become one of the go-to directors for period pieces, and the lavish designs in Anna Karenina are further proof this genre is his forte. But, similar to his work on the 2011 action thriller Hanna, he also plans to continue experimenting outside of his comfort zone.
"I'll be doing two plays in London soon, really looking forward to that. And I really want to do comedy. I had so much fun doing the [humorous scenes] in Anna Karenina with Matthew MacFadyen. I'd love to work with Judd Apatow, I'm an enormous fan of his. Can you tell him that for me? If he needs any help on his next one let me know [laughs]."
As far as which 2012 film made the most impact of him, Wright's favorite project might surprise some:
"My favorite movie of the year is Holy Motors. My god I loved that film! It's such a risk to blend together so many genres.. fantasy and comedy and drama.. pulling it off so well is rare. It's filled with so much joy and, in a way, it restored my faith in humanity [laughs]. You have to check it out if you haven't yet."
Anna Karenina is now available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and Digital Download from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
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• Deleted Scenes
• Anna Karenina: An Epic Story About Love
• Adapting Tolstoy
• Keira as Anna
• On the Set with Director Joe Wright
• Dressing Anna
• Anna Karenina: Time-Lapse Photography
• Feature Commentary with Director Joe Wright