Seeking a Friend at the End of the World starring Keira Knightley and Steve Carell is poised to take summer audiences by surprise. It's a film about the end of the world, but without superheroes or massive special effects. Instead, Seeking a Friend is poignant and funny - and definitely not the typical film about the impending apocalypse.
Steve Carell stars as Dodge, a man who tries to reconnect with his one true love before the world comes to an end. Keira Knightley co-stars as his neighbor who thought she'd missed her final opportunity to fly home to England until Dodge offers to get her to a plane if she helps him find the one who got away. What happens when the unlikely duo hit the road for the last few weeks of life on Earth is refreshingly original.
At the NY press day for the Focus Features release, Knightley - who isn't known for comedies - talked about the appeal of Seeking a Friend, what she admired about her character, working with Steve Carell, and how she'd spend her last days if she knew an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth.
On how open writer/director Lorene Scafaria was to her input:
Keira Knightley: "Yeah, definitely but the script was so beautiful and it was so obviously personal that there kind of wasn’t any need to deviate very far from it. It was partly because you work with somebody like Lorene and it’s a personal thing and you just want to go, 'Okay, were you thinking that?' Because I think it always has to be about one vision and not about everybody’s, otherwise it doesn’t become specific enough. With this it’s very important that it was specific. I think a lot of Penny’s stuff, and certainly of course I think anybody who travels a lot for their business or whatever can understand the idea of being trapped away from your family and something happens, whatever happens, is always a terrifying one, so I found that very easy to imagine that."
On how she'd handle the news, if the world was really coming to an end:
Keira Knightley: "What would I really do? I’d hide in a corner and cry I think. We sort of went through all those, 'What’s on your bucket list? Would you jump out a plane? Would you go to an orgy? Would you take lots of drugs?' Honestly, if somebody said 20 days and then a meteorite is going to destroy the earth, I think I’d be so preoccupied with whether it was going to hurt or not that I’d just be terrified."
On the appeal of playing Penny:
Keira Knightley: "I’d been doing a lot of very dramatic, tragic kind of things and I really fancied doing something that was positive. I did sort of say to my friends, 'Now I’m doing a positive one.' They’re like, 'What’s it about?' I’m like, 'The end of the world.' It’s not really very positive, is it?"
"I thought she’s incredibly positive and she’s one of those people that’s totally able to go, 'This moment is fabulous,' and I love that about her. The whole film actually, it is about something horrendous and death, doom and destruction but the fact that I came out of reading the script and actually found it incredibly uplifting and incredibly positive and going, 'Okay, well, what it really says is what becomes important?' And what becomes important is love and friendship and companionship and the wonderful moments in life, and not the other moments. I loved that about the whole piece and loved that about the whole character."
"What I thought was so brilliant about it and [what] was so interesting in playing the role is you sort of go, 'This is so horrific that it is actually funny.' It sort of comes out the other side and becomes funny. Strangely in playing it, instead of going, 'Okay, well we’ll play it as a comedy,' you sort of go this set of circumstances is so bizarre and so out there, that just playing the reality of that scenario, already there is humor involved in it. And I do think a lot of times you’ll find yourself in the most horrendous, traumatic moments in your life being able to laugh. I think that’s sort of a wonderful thing about human beings. I thought the script captured that really well."
On working with Steve Carell:
Keira Knightley: "Steve Carell is one of the loveliest men on earth in any profession. He’s very quiet. He’s very gentle. He’s incredibly courteous. He’s totally supportive. I can’t find enough good adjectives to describe him. I think he’s just a lovely, lovely man and it was a total privilege to work with him. Because his performance in Little Miss Sunshine I just loved. He’s got that ability of playing [where] you completely believe that he is that character who is on the verge of suicide and is that dark, and yet he can always find those incredibly funny moments within that and lift it. I just think that’s an amazing thing to be able to do, so it was wonderful working with him."
On wanting to pursue lighter roles:
Keira Knightley: "I do get offered comedies, actually. It’s not generally something I go for because generally I don’t watch them. My personal preference of what I love is more of the drama tragedy, actually is more of the costume kind of pieces. I love them. I really do. It’s what my imagination has always gone to from when I was a kid. That’s what I really like. But if you talk about the comedies that I love, it is the kind of Little Miss Sunshines, the ones that are slightly off the wall and kind of odd and based in reality because I think that reality is such a strange and funny place anyway that I think a lot of it, I love those kinds of things."
On how she's different from Penny:
Keira Knightley: "I’m not as positive as she is and I’d love to be. It is the thing that I really loved about the character and Lorene has it in herself, is this ability to go, 'This moment is fantastic.' And actually say it and actually be in a room or be drinking a milkshake and just go, 'I’m really happy right now.' You notice when you’re sad; I don't think you always notice when you’re happy, and I love that about Lorene. I love that about this character as well."
On who'd she call at the end of the world:
Keira Knightley: "I’d be straight with my family. I’m trying to figure it out because you go, 'Friends,' and then you’ve got friendship groups and then they’ve got friendship groups that are over there and you’ve got friendship groups that are over there and you’ve got a friendship group over there. It’s quite tricky when you get to friends, but I guess I’ve got four close friends."
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Seeking a Friend at the End of the World hits theaters on June 22, 2012.