‘Begin Again’ Director John Carney Apologizes for Bashing Keira Knightley
When directors or celebrities say stupid or rude remarks in interviews, they often throw the blame at the journalist or offer a non-apology. But it’s most refreshing when someone takes full responsibility for their words and admits to fault.
Irish director John Carney, best known for Once and Begin Again, got himself in some hot water earlier this week. During an interview with The Independent, Carney blamed Begin Again star Keira Knightley for his seeming frustrating while working on the movie. The director bashed Knightley multiple times, claiming her “entourage” prevented him from “getting any real work done” and pretty much said she wasn’t a true film actor. Here’s part of his original quote to refresh your memory:
Mark Ruffalo is a fantastic actor and Adam Levine is 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. 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.
[…] 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.
Rightfully, many people were outraged by his comments, which showed he wasn’t able to take the fall for his own shortcomings, and instead praised the male actors over the lead actress. Other directors who have worked with Knightley quickly came to her defense, including Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go), Lynn Shelton (Laggies) and Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), who praised working with her.
I’ll admit I was pretty surprised by Carney’s initial comments since when I met and spoke with him at Sundance earlier this year he came off as rather humble. When I asked about working with the young cast of Sing Street he told me, “I’m kind of bluffing my way through my career anyway. I’m kind of making it up as I go along, so it’s not like they’re getting some seasoned director who knows what he’s talking about.”
Spending a short 20 minutes with a director doesn’t mean I got to know him at all, but it was a surprisingly nice thing to hear him admit to his lack of experience, as opposed to someone bragging about their talents. But it seems Carney has trouble admitting to disappointment with the films he didn’t love so much, and perhaps working with actors who are experienced. Hopefully he won’t repeat the same mistake. After all, what's a promising director if not one who can ideally learn from and improve upon his or her own errors?