ReelzChannel sat down withThe Duchess star Keira Knightley, who plays the Duchess of Devonshire in late 1700s England. The aristocrat, who led an extravagent personal and professional life, has been called "the original It Girl."
ReelzChannel: Georgiana, she's quite a complicated, very intriguing woman. Did it feel like a rollercoaster playing her?
Knightley: Yeah, a little bit. Certainly emotionally, I think she was an emotional rollercoaster. I just thought she was fascinating -- this woman who was so strong, and in a way powerful, in public. This huge public persona, huge fashion icon. Politically very influential and, yet, with such intense vulnerability and so lonely in the incredibly stifling marriage.
RC: A bit naive sometimes?
Knightley: Very naive, absolutely. I think the journey for her is from fantasy and romanticism into reality. And it's a really harsh reality but, yet, she sort of survives it. She doesn't survive it without scars, but she does survive it.
RC: Acting with Ralph Fiennes is, I would imagine, not difficult.
Knightley: He's amazing...
RC: He embodies this character.
Knightley: Oh, he's wonderful. I think he's a sensational actor. What he does with The Duchess is completely wonderful. What he does brilliantly is make him strangely sympathetic, which on the page would seem like something that's impossible to do. And yet, it's not that you condone what he does or you don't see him as a very strange being, but you understand it's two people that are just from different worlds.
RC: You see a glimmer of hope in him?
Knightley: I think there's a sort of peace with him at the end. A difficult peace, but a peace none the less.
RC: When he went off to be very sad when Georgiana passed?
RC: Why do you think we are so fascinated with royalty?
Knightley: Oh, I don't know. With royalty, I don't know.
RC: They are celebrities in their own way.
Knightley: I suppose so, yes. I'm not particularly fascinated. I think you'd have to ask somebody who was.
RC: That's interesting because you are playing one.
Knightley: She wasn't a royal. She was an aristocrat, but not royalty. I just found the whole thing very interesting -- the story of women at a period of time that was politically very interesting. And socially, particularly, for women a very, very difficult period.
RC: Princess Diana was a descendant of hers. Do you see any comparisons?
Knightley: I thought it was a really interesting piece of trivia that they were related. I wasn't trying to draw parallels with her. I think Georgina, on her own, is interesting enough to warrant one film, if not many films, and doesn't need parallels to anybody else. I don't know the Diana story well enough, really, to say exactly what the parallels were. But I think there are similarities in many different women throughout the ages to Georgiana.
RC: The costumes are quite extravagant, especially the wigs. Were you running into things?
Knightley: Cars are really difficult -- you can't sit in cars. Hayley Atwell, who plays Bess and who's wonderful, we'd be sitting in the back of the car [at an odd] angle 'cause you just don't fit in.
RC: You won awards for Atonement. Do you think there is that possibility here?
Knightley: No. We've had a fantastic reception for this film in England, and so far it's looking really great for America. You can only hope people are gonna see it and like it.