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Joe Wright Directs Jude Law, Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina

By September 8, 2011

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Keira KnightleyToday, Focus Features confirmed the cast details for a project that's been talked about for months: Joe Wright (Hanna) will direct Anna Karenina starring Jude Law and Keira Knightley. Filming is set to begin later this month in the U.K. and Russia.

Tom Stoppard adapted Leo Tolstoy's novel, and for those who've forgotten what it's about, here's the basics:

"The story unfolds in its original late-19th-century Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children. As Anna questions her happiness, change comes to her family, friends, and community."

Anna Karenina marks the third project Knightley and Wright have done together (the previous two being Pride and Prejudice and Atonement). Knightley will play the title role opposite Jude Law as Anna's husband Aleksei Karenin. The cast also includes Aaron Johnson as Count Vronsky, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen (from Wright's Pride and Prejudice), Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Emily Watson, Olivia Williams (from Wright's Hanna), and Ruth Wilson.

In the press release confirming the cast and start of production, Focus Features CEO James Schamus stated, "Joe Wright is a master filmmaker, and with Tom Stoppard's brilliant screenplay this Anna Karenina will be full of both pageantry and emotion. To realize Joe's vision, we have the perfect producing partners in Working Title and Paul Webster, whose acumen is unsurpassed. With Keira Knightley playing this iconic role and a splendid cast supporting her, today's moviegoers will be drawn to this powerful story."

Back in April during our exclusive interview with Wright on Hanna, the critically acclaimed filmmaker talked about his approach to bringing Tolstoy's Anna Karenina to the big screen. "The screenplay is being written by Sir Thomas Stoppard and so he's guiding it. He's done an incredible job with the screenplay. It's an extraordinary screenplay. Obviously, there were some discussions on the ethics of agriculture and land reforms that I had to leave out, but we're focusing very much on a multi-stranded narrative and not just on Anna's narrative."

Anna Karenina will hit theaters in 2012.

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(Photo of Keira Knightley by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

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